8.000 x 8.000 inches
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California Poppies Sumi-e
Beverley Harper Tinsley
Painting - Watercolor
I love the cheerful but fleeting evanescence of poppies, which last individually such a short time, but as a plant are strong, sturdy and reliable in spite of their delicate appearance. The powerful oranges and red tones compliment the soft and delicate bluish green, feathery leaves for a charming effect in the garden and the wild. These spring up joyfully in the dry climate of Colorado. It was my intention to approach this subject with an Asian sumi-e style painting, simple, elegant and expressive.
This is not, of course, a traditional sumi-e, or ink wash painting, as I have used watercolor paints and paper, as opposed to ink and rice paper. Truly, it is more inspired by such works.
Eschscholzia californica (California poppy, golden poppy, California sunlight, cup of gold) is a species of flowering plant in the family Papaveraceae, native to the United States and Mexico, and the official state flower of California.
t is a perennial or annual growing to 5�60 in (13�150 cm) tall, with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are ternately divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2 to 6 cm (0.79 to 2.4 in) long and broad; flower color ranges from yellow to orange, with flowering from February to September. The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather. The fruit is a slender, dehiscent capsule 3 to 9 cm (1.2 to 3.5 in) long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It survives mild winters in its native range, dying completely in colder climates.
The goal of ink and wash painting is not simply to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to capture its soul. To paint a horse, the ink wash painting artist must understand its temperament better than its muscles and bones. To paint a flower, there is no need to perfectly match its petals and colors, but it is essential to convey its liveliness and fragrance. East Asian ink wash painting may be regarded as an earliest form of expressionistic art that captures the unseen.
East Asian ink wash painting has long inspired modern artists in the West. In his classic book Composition, American artist and educator Arthur Wesley Dow (1857 to 1922) wrote this about ink wash painting: "The painter ...put upon the paper the fewest possible lines and tones; just enough to cause form, texture and effect to be felt. Every brush-touch must be full-charged with meaning, and useless detail eliminated. Put together all the good points in such a method, and you have the qualities of the highest art". Dow's fascination with ink wash painting not only shaped his own approach to art but also helped free many American modernists of the era, including his student Georgia O'Keeffe, from what he called a 'story-telling' approach. Dow strived for harmonic compositions through three elements: line, shading, and color. He advocated practicing with East Asian brushes and ink to develop aesthetic acuity with line and shading.
Shading in ink wash painting refers to the varying ink density produced by grinding an ink stick in water. Ink wash painting artists spend years practicing basic brush strokes to refine their brush movement and ink flow. In the hand of a master, a single stroke can produce astonishing variations in tonality, from deep black to silvery gray. Thus, in its original context, shading means more than just dark-light arrangement, it is the basis for the beautiful nuance in tonality unique to East Asian ink wash painting and brush-and-ink calligraphy.
According to Sumi-e Society Midwest:The Philosophy of Sumi-e is contrast and harmony, expressing simple beauty and elegance. The Tai Chi diagram demonstrates the perfectly balanced interchange of the two dynamically opposed forces of the Universe, the dot represents integration.
Sumi-e employs these principles of nature's vitality in its design and execution. The balance and integration of these forces and the eternal interaction of Yin Yang are the ultimate goal of Sumi-e.
The art of brush painting, aims to depict the spirit, rather than the semblance of the object. In creating a picture the artist must grasp the spirit of the subject. Sumi-e attempts to capture the Chi or "life spirit" of the subject, painting in the language of the spirit.
Patience is essential in brush painting. Balance, rhythm and harmony are the qualities the artist strives for by developing patience, self-discipline and concentration.
The goal of the brush painter is to use the brush with both vitality and restraint. Constantly striving to be a better person because his character and personality come through in his work.nk painting has evolved from the elegant Calligraphy of China. The stroke that forms the character for number one, becomes the trunk and branches for the bamboo tree. If you look closely at the Chinese word for horse, you can see the legs, tail and mane.
The basic brush strokes learned in calligraphy are the same used in painting, they are considered to be the "Twin Arts". The fundamental brush techniques are best learned by practicing calligraphy, this allows the painter to concentrate on the brush strokes without becoming concerned with color and composition. It is necessary for brush painters to know enough calligraphy to sign their names and add characters of descriptive or poetic calligraphy to their finished paintings.
The artist must learn to use the ink freely with a controlled brush stoke. The goal is to capture the essence, the Chi, the Qi, the spirit or the life of the subject in the painting, evoking the poetry of nature.
In brush painting, the brush is held perpendicular to the paper, almost at a right angle to the hand, and is firmly grasped at a considerable distance from the point by the thumb, index and middle finger. During the process of drawing, the fingers remain almost immobile and the work is done by the arm unsupported. For painters trained in the Western tradition, this seems clumsy, to say the least. As one wise teacher would say, "If holding the brush in this manner seems uncomfortable, too bad, get used to it." No sympathy! Well, he was right, in time (a long time) it seemed natural.
February 26th, 2013
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