The latest issue of Kyoto Journal includes my review of Christine Flint Sato’s Sumi Workbook.
Christine Flint Sato’s Sumi Workbook presents a complete introductory course for amateur or professional artists who would like to try the traditional brushed ink arts of East Asia. Sumi, a black ink made of soot and animal glue, is the essential medium for the arts of calligraphy and ink painting, and, Sato warns, it is “essentially unpredictable.” Even professional sumi artists who have trained for years, do not expect complete control over their materials. So much depends on the thickness or dilution of the ink, the type of brush used, the quality and absorbency of the paper, and of course there is always an element of chance. You never know for sure what you are going to affect. Rather than being a source frustration, however, Sato tells us that this tension between chance and design is a source of endless fascination and “delight, as unexpected effects abound.” We are encouraged to think of the sumi artist’s concentrated response to this moment-by-moment unpredictability as a form of playful meditation, a liberating discipline.
You can read the rest of this review online here: The Unexpected Delights of Brushed Black Ink. The Sumi Workbook is available from Amazon.co.jp or you can order it directly from Christine via her website: http://www.sumiwork.com/
Kyoto Journal #81: Sustained Engagement is now available for download. Here’s a prelude:
Autumn is nearly over—luminous morning mists highlight Kyoto’s eastern hills, tawny hues flare and burn out on the slopes of Mt Hiei, reminding us again of the insubstantiality of day-to-day life. At the core, what lasts? Only sustained, gathered engagement, commitment to strongly-held objectives, carrying us through successions of seasons into the long haul of decades and beyond…
Among articles in KJ 81 we present stories of people whose commitment is manifested in long-term concerns, projects involving sustained incremental effort, where progress is measured not in hours or days or weeks but in years, even lifetimes, among those privileged to find such purpose and the means to fulfill it.
You can read more about Kyoto Journal #81 and download it here: http://www.kyotojournal.org/current-issue-digital-edition/