When we travel the trip begins with the discussion of where to go, often a year before we board a plane. Searching maps, checking hotels and trains, rental cars and restaurants, are all part of the thrill of travel. A trip will go through many iterations before we are done, and it keeps evolving mid-journey. The idea of a tightly planned schedule or a tour group led by someone else holds little interest – unexpected events are the grist for memories and captivating stories.
Like travel, art is best when enjoyed for the moment. This last year has been quite an adventure. After many years of traveling the world with a sketchpad in my bag I took the risk of offering workshops to teach others how to capture their own times and places, thankfully it worked out and the new sketchers I met have become friends.
This year I kicked my acrylic painting up a lot, specifically plein air. I experimented with new techniques, and tools, enjoying sunny days both warm and cold, out in nature. When not outside, my studio was a place to experiment. Instead of just painting from real life or photos I began to paint from what was in my mind, a whole new thing. What I realized was that I was often frustrated “driving around looking for something to sketch or paint.”
All of this primed me for our trip to Japan and Korea. At art stores I had seen these marvelous brushes that they make in Asia, expensive here, so I hoped I could get one while there. My first morning in Seoul, as is usual for me, I rose early and walked. Within a block or two of our hotel i went past multiple shops with entire walls of brushes, every size and shape imaginable. The shops had paper such as I have never seen, shelves and shelves of handmade papers that I had no idea what to do with, but the artist in me just knew it was good.
The first visit to a shop I bought a brush, mostly from size and looks. Nice bamboo looking handle, pointed bristles that were lightly colored at the base, brown at the tip. Little did I know how much I had to learn. It was not a watercolor brush, it is a Combination Sumi-e brush for ink painting.
Thanks to internet and YouTube I started off on a new art adventure that has captivated me. The brushes bend and stay bent, brushstrokes are magic, the art is expressive. My travelsketching is often detailed, Sumi-e strives to capture a feeling with a few strokes, and gray tones of ink. I am hooked.
Two more brushes bought, some amazing papers, and now I am off on the challenge of learning and loving it. Art is not a business for me, art is like travel, and I get to take a trip every time I pick up a brush or a pen. New challenges are like new countries to travel too, both to be savored and enjoyed.
Here are a few of my Sumi-e style so far
This was one of my first, the Kanji symbol is slightly off, but i am learning that as well.
I did these four small paintings as thank you gifts
Here are some others
The lesson, never stop trying new things, you just might find something that you love.