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Painting of the day: Splashes 01 | Sumi Ink Portrait

Painting of the Day: Splashes 01, Sumi ink on rice paper, 33×24 cm (13×9.5 inches), 2020

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The “Splashes” paintings are a series made in Sumi ink on rice paper. These artworks combine delicate paper and loose abstract mark-making in a way that creates vivid and emotional portrait art.

Ink wash painting, or sumi-e, is a type of East Asian brush painting that uses different concentrations of black ink used in East Asian calligraphy. Sumi-e painting emerged in Tang dynasty China.

Sumi-e paintings are associated with stylistic features, more realistic techniques, and abstract brushstrokes.

What was the process of creating this painting?

I created the first “Splashes 01” painting in 2020, as I wanted to experiment with different materials and surfaces. I decided to use very delicate, soft, and semi-transparent rice paper and Sumi ink for this painting. It is almost as if I was going against the rules and roughness I was familiar with in oil painting because the Sumi ink integrates with and is absorbed by the surface of the rice paper. It becomes a part of its DNA, if that makes sense.
It is easy to destroy rice paper if too much ink or water is applied. The drying process is not complex but requires some attention. If you leave the paper to dry at the same spot in which it was painted, then the possibility of the rice paper sticking or gluing to the surface is high. Therefore, it is necessary to place the wet artwork on a new dry surface in order to dry completely and properly.
Finally, when the rice paper dries, it shrinks and creates wrinkles that add to the completed work. It almost feels impossible to enjoy this kind of artwork without enjoying the texture of the paper. It becomes a part of the piece, and it isn’t easy to see these appearances on the computer screen.

What did I learn from using Sumi ink on rice paper?

I need to control sumi, and I can’t change anything once I apply ink on paper. I like to be messy with my process, and sumi ink is about control. When using sumi, I had to either decide where my marks were going to be made before I started to paint, or just let go with the flow of my hand and worry about the results later. I decided to choose the latter and let the ink control the flow. After the layers dried, I painted details to define more figurative representation

painting of the day, splashes, sumi ink, bartosz beda, portrait painting 2
Splashes 01, Sumi-ink on rice paper, 33×24 cm (13×9.5 inches), 2020

Make sure to check other blog post from my series of Painting of the Day.

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