Sumi e

This page is for my sister, Jill, for her sixtieth birthday. 

What is sumi e?

Sumi e is an Asian style of painting.  Its literal meaning  is "ink painting".  "Sumi" means "black ink" and "e" means "path" or "art of painting".

The fewest strokes possible are used to express a form.  Sumi e should not be confused with calligraphy even though it uses the same tools.  

                                            Sumi e example                                     

Video demonstrates the basics of sumi e

Sumi e - brush painting

Ink and wash painting is an East Asian type of brush painting also known as wash painting or by its Japanese name sui-boku-ga (水墨画) or sumi-e (墨絵). Ink and wash painting is also known by its Chinese name shui-mo hua (水墨畫 or 水墨画), Korean sumukhwa(수묵화 水墨畵), Vietnamese (tranh thuỷ mặc 幀水墨 ). Only black ink — the same as used in East Asian calligraphy — is used, in various concentrations.

In Western art works on paper in similar techniques are generally classified with drawings.

Wang Yani


There are many videos on YouTube that will show you how to paint/draw specific things like bamboo or sparrows.  Search YouTube using "sumi e" or "asian brush painting".

Basic Introduction 

Students develop skill with bamboo brushes and ink applying wet on wet, wet on dry, and dry on dry. They practice washes and painting bamboo before creating these final paintings.

Before painting the sumi-e painting student built skills using water colors.  They pushed their creativity by using those exercises to weave or enhance.


 What is sumi e?  Philosophy of sumi e
 Sumi e Tools  Wang Yani