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Sumi-e Philosophy

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.

         


Sumi-e is more than a technique, it is a Spiritual Journey.

THE FOUR GENTLEMEN

ORCHID - Spring BAMBOO - Summer
PLUM BLOSSOM - Winter CHRYSANTHEMUM - Autumn
Orchid
The Orchid represents Spring, a happy spirit, the symbol of grace reflecting the ultimate feminine virtues. The orchid is considered the Mother of Brush Painting. The beauty and grace of the orchid are fragile in form, with no violent tendencies, its fragrance is never overpowering. The wild orchid grows in what is considered the most inspiration of all places, where the mountain meets the water or where yin meets yang. The orchid stands at the gateway of Spring inviting everyone to join in the celebration of life.

The Bamboo depicts summer and is the most painted subject in the Orient. It represents strength and the virtues of the male, reflecting a sense of perfect balance with upright integrity and tremendous flexibility. The "Perfect Gentlemen" with many admirable qualities. The center of the bamboo plant is hollow, suggesting humility. The bamboo seems always ready to be of service and is used in the Orient on a daily basis. The bamboo plant bears no flower or fruit which are considered temporary make-up. The bamboo is thought of as the Father of brush painting, representing simplicity of life and a humble spirit.

Plum The Plum tree is loved for its cosmic significance, expressing the reemergence and continuity of life. In the twisted and gnarled tree displays an appearance of hardness, especially during the barren existence in early winter; yet within itself it holds the mystery and beauty, the promise of Spring. The promise is fulfilled when the delicate plum blossoms appear each January, in time to welcome the new year. The plum, blooming in the January frost, is the symbol of hope and endurance.

Chrysanthemum"Defiant of frost and triumphant in Autumn" is the saying expressing the sturdiness of the late-blooming Chrysanthemum, blooming in the cold autumn air foretells the coming of winter. This is the last of the Four Gentlemen associating fragrant plants with high ideals of moral behavior with the change of seasons.

 

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