Secrets of Sumi-e Painting

Tamayo Samejima
2 min readDec 25, 2020

The most important thing when you paint Sumi-e (Japanese traditional ink painting) is to try not to paint well. What does that mean?

First of all, try to find something beautiful and observe it closely. If it is a strawberry, touch, smell and taste it. If it is a rose, buy one and decorate your room. If it is a dog, stroke his hair and listen to his barking. If it is a tiger, keep your distance! Just observe her at your closest zoo.

You will know how the strawberry seeds line up. You will count up how many flower petals a rose has. If you go to the zoo with your friends, then talk about the patterns on a tiger’s fur.

Next, sketch your painting subject with a pencil. It does not need to take a long time. Just 5 minutes. The purpose is to remind yourself of your discoveries and reconfirm the features.

Then, pour water in an ink stone and calmly grind a sumi ink stick on it to make Sumi.

It is a time for your mental concentration and meditation.

Time to paint. Remind yourself of the features of the painting subject you observed. If you pin down the main points, you do not need to be concerned with the details. Move your painting brush boldly. If you move from your arm, not only from your wrist, you will get energetic lines.

This is what we call ‘qi.’

If you try to precisely copy the shape of the subject, you will fail.

Because, if you move your brush slowly, the ink will spread freely beyond your control. And the power of the brush stroke cannot be expressed.

Here, you understand why it is important to try not to paint perfectly.

The tips of Sumi-e are:

1. Capture the features of the subject.

2. Reflect your energy in the brush.

3. Express your sensations and impressions on the paper!


Will you join us to paint?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to incorporate Sumi-e artwork into your home or office space? By appreciating these artworks, you can experience the beauty and Zen spirit of Japan in your daily life. They would also make exclusive gifts for yourself and your loved ones.



Tamayo Samejima

Sumi-e (Japanese traditional ink painting) Painter, Online Sumi-e Classes, Items on Etsy