What is Sumi-e-old

East Asian brush painting, known as Sumi-e, originated in China centuries ago and spread to Japan and Korea. Today it is practiced throughout the world. The word Sumi-e is the Japanese word for black ink painting. Sumi-e artists use a variety of styles, from representational to abstract and from traditional East Asian to a combination of Western and Asian.

The tools that are essential to this art form are called the Four Treasures:

Ink stone

The Sumi-e painter must learn to use the brush with both vitality and restraint to capture the essence of the subject. The classic subjects form the foundation of Sumi-e paintings are called the Four Gentlemen:  Bamboo, Orchid, Plum, Chrysanthemum.


.2sealAn integral part of the composition is the red seal, which is the artist’s signature. It can be the artist’s name or a philosophical statement.

Sumi-e Midwest is a branch of the Sumi-e Society of America. The national society was founded in 1963 by Professor Motoi Oi. The Midwest Chapter was organized in l982. The purpose of both groups is to foster and encourage an appreciation of East Asian brush painting techniques through workshops, lectures, and exhibits, and to serve as a cultural bridge between East and West.

Sumi-e Midwest has exhibited at the Glencoe Public Library, Deerfield State Bank, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the David Adler Cultural Center, Heller Nature Center, the Evanston Ethnic Festival, and many other venues.

Paintings by our members have been accepted for the Annual Sumi-e Society of America Exhibition in New York, Washington DC, Duluth, Mobile, Minneapolis, Toronto, Virginia Beach and Long Island.

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