Blog

ONLINE MINI-COURSE Sumi-e Painting of a Rooster Using Its Calligraphy

I am thrilled to announce that my online mini-course for Sumi-e Painting of a Rooster using its own calligraphy is now live! Check out the video below! The post ONLINE MINI-COURSE Sumi-e Painting of a Rooster Using Its Calligraphy appeared first on Lilith Ohan Sumi-e...

Painting Sumi-e with Western Sensibilities

After a long process of bringing together my art and the blog posts on to the same platform/site (a process which took much longer than anticipated), I am back to where I have left, that is sharing and teaching the way of the ancient oriental art (sumi-e painting...

How Does One Apply Calligraphy in Sumi-e Painting?

The idea of using calligraphic strokes as means to create paintings puzzles many, yet it is the most natural way to create paintings of Oriental motives or other motives in the Oriental spirit. My newly published course, “The Way of Calligraphy in Shodo or Sumi-e...

“Zen of Calligraphy in Sumi-e Painting” School

If you are interested to learn more about the method I teach and use in my art, then you can enrol in my "Sumi-e Painting of a Rooster: Method Overview" mini course, which is an overview/demonstration of the process. As I am creating my courses, the original intention...

The Way of Calligraphy in Shodo or Sumi-e Painting

 I am very happy to announce that I have just launched my “The Way of Calligraphy in Shodo or Sumi-e Painting” course. It indeed took a lot of energy and time, but now I am pleased with the result. There is no other Chinese/Japanese calligraphy course that can give...

Upcoming Shodo (Oriental Calligraphy) Course

After a long haul my next and in my opinion the most important course will be published within a couple of weeks. It is a course on Oriental calligraphy. It took me quite a while to accomplish this as I wanted it to be as accessible as possible. Also, I was not sure...

Update On My Online Sumi-e School

 It has been a while since my last post, so I thought I should give you an update on where my online Sumi-e school stands now and the direction that I am taking it to. Here are the courses that I have created so farand are now available through my school:  1. Sumi-e...

Essentials For Learning Sumi-e Painting

 My online Sumi- e school is alive and active now. My first  and second courses were demonstrations of my painting process for Sumi-e Painting. My method is unique. It is based on my late teacher Tomoko Kodama's method, which was developed to facilitate the western...

Sumi-e Painting of Clover Leaf Using “Luck” Calligraphy

In this short Youtube video/class I am demonstrating my process for Sumi-e painting of the four leaf clover, using the strokes of the Chinese/Japanese “Luck” character. I am assuming that you already have a background in Sumi-e painting and hopefully are familiar with...

How Important is Meditation in Sumi-e Painting?

A modern upbringing, regardless if it is of Western or Eastern origin, is heavily outcome oriented. When we start any endeavour, regardless of what it is, we already envision and strive for a specific product/result. This applies to creating art as well. There are...

Why Use Calligraphic Strokes For Sumi-e Painting?

Since I published my course “Sumi-e Painting  of a Rooster Using Its Calligraphy” I have been getting quite a few comments and questions about the idea of using the calligraphic language or calligraphic strokes to paint. It is somehow viewed as an unusual way of...

“Sumi-e Painting of a Rooster Using Its Calligraphy” A Free Course

 As it is the Chinese New Year of the Rooster as of January 28th, I have put the work on my main course on hold and created a  crash mini course to give an overview, an idea of the method that I teach and I use in my own paintings. In this course, I show how to paint...

Learning To Paint Sumi-e

 As I have explained in my previous two posts, we Westerners need to develop few skills that Eastern artists have in them traditionally. To understand this post better, I would recommend you to read them prior to reading this. If you haven't read them already the...

Western Path to Learning Sumi-e Painting (part 2)

In my previous post, I addressed the obstacles that those who live in the Western face in learning to paint in Sumi-e style. Before getting into describing the method I teach, I have to share some background information that served as the catalyst for my teaching...

Western Path to Learning Sumi-e Painting (part 1)

The art of painting and writing started in China and was then later adopted by Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Together they influenced the development of writing within all areas. The key trait which lead to this transparent form of influence were calligraphic characters...

Why Do I Paint Sumi-e

As promised in my previous blog post, I am sharing my thoughts on why I like to paint in Sumi-e style and spirit. I could write a book on this and no matter what I say, I will not do justice to it. To keep it simple, throughout the years of art schooling at Concordia...

Why Do You Want To Learn Sumi-e Painting?

 I have been painting and drawing in a Zen-influenced way or should I say my life and art has been influenced by Zen for many years now. I think I have come to understand (more or less of course) as to what it is that appeals to me about living and creating this way....

Return to Blogging With New Inspirations

After a long break from Blogging, I am back. It did indeed take a lot of time and energy from me to write them, as every sentence I wrote was coming through me, from depth; a place where usually I don't visit often with my mind. I am there though when I paint,...

Not Forcing “Tao Te Ching” verse 29 for Artists

Tao Te Ching Verse 29* Those who wish to take the world and control it I see that they cannot succeed The world is a sacred instrument One cannot control it The one who controls it will fail The one who grasps it will lose Because all things: Either lead or follow...

Sumi-e of Life…. The Game of life

 I am playing the game of life.... better,  a role in the play called “Life” - with ups and downs, certainties and doubts, joys and sorrows. Then, I lay out the paper, prepare the ink, take the brush ...... the story stops like having pushed the pause button. I look...

Accept Yourself “Tao Te Ching” verse 28 for Artists

 Verse 28* Know the masculine, hold to the feminine Be the watercourse of the world Being the watercourse of the world The eternal virtue does not depart Return to the state of the infant Know the white, hold to the black Be the standard of the world Being the...

Sumi-e of Easter

I have started my online Sumi-e school this year. It is interesting how when you are delivering your thoughts and knowledge, you re-evaluate them..... So as it is Easter time, I decided to revisit my Easter blog post from two years ago to see how true the thought I...

Master or Student? “Tao Te Ching” verse 27 for Artists

I want to share with you a "Tao Te Ching" verse 27 for Artists which resonates with me. Mor often then not when I read this verse I find myself pondering master or student relationship.   Chapter 27* Good traveling does not leave tracks Good speech does not seek...

Living the Sumi-e Life

 I have created the first slideshow of my Sumi-e paintings on YouTube. I intend to make more, and most likely, instructional videos. You are welcome to subscribe to my channel to get the updates on living the Sumi-e Life and my current works. Enjoy! There are many...

Artistic Expression Shaped by Differences

This is a short post to announce to my readers the publication of my guest article titled “Philosophical Differences: Eastern And Western Approaches To Making Art” ........in "Painter's Tongue”, a fine visual arts journal with an emphasis on philosophy and a focus on...

What Promotes Your Art?

As my readers know already, I have been interpreting (or attempting to) Tao Te Ching verses, applied to artists. I am a Sumi-e artist and I find these verses complement the Sumi-e way of creating, that is working with the opposite forces (yin and yang) and constantly...

Remaining Centred “Tao Te Ching” verse 26 for Artists

Verse 26* Heaviness is the root of lightness Quietness is the master of restlessness Therefore the sages travel an entire day Without leaving the heavy supplies Even though there are luxurious sights They are composed and transcend beyond How can the lords of ten...

Sumi-e of Life….Love

 This blog post contributes to my Sumi-e of life principle. There is Love in the air....As Valentine's day is approaching, I thought I would write about Love. There is only one word for Love in English, but there are many different forms of it. I am writing about the...

The Greatness of Everything “Tao Te Ching” verse 25 for Artists

Verse 25* There is something formlessly created Born before Heaven and Earth So silent! So ethereal! Independent and changeless Circulating and ceaseless It can be regarded as the mother of the world I do not know its name Identifying it, I call it "Tao" Forced to...

Sumi-e of Life….. Balance

In my weekly blog posts, I have been alternating between analyzing Tao Te Ching, verse by verse from the artist's point of view and my thoughts on Sumi-e painting, teaching and artistic views. As the time passes, I am finding that the spirit of both getting closer.......

Self Promotion “Tao Te Ching” verse 24 for Artists

Verse 24 Those who are on tiptoes cannot stand Those who straddle cannot walk Those who flaunt themselves are not clear Those who presume themselves are not distinguished Those who praise themselves have no merit Those who boast about themselves do not last Those with...

Computer Sumi-e or Can Love Be Programmed?

The computers are an integral part of our lives in practically all facets. And now, when more and more imagery is being produced by them, should we consider them as Art? I am an artist, who aims to work mainly by using nature's contrasting forces  (yin and yang) to...

Know When It Is Enough “Tao Te Ching” verse 23 for Artists

Verse 23* Sparse speech is natural Thus strong wind does not last all morning Sudden rain does not last all day What makes this so? Heaven and Earth Even Heaven and Earth cannot make it last How can humans? Thus those who follow the Tao are with the Tao Those who...

Sumi-e of Life….Harmony

Another year has passed. Same time last year, I had published my blog post titled “New Year, Old Wisdom”. This previous year brought with it seven revelations..Have I applied them? Initially, the revelations touch us in a very profound way. But do we truly understand...

Sumi-e of Life….The Circle

I have decided to do an Enso painting for this blog as I thought it was most appropriate for this time of the year as it is approaching the end. Also, because I find comfort in its symbolic power during these hectic times of the holidays.     As Enso is a...

Yield To Be Whole “Tao Te Ching” Verse 22 for Artists

Verse 22* Yield and remain whole Bend and remain straight Be low and become filled Be worn out and become renewed Have little and receive Have much and be confused Therefore the sages hold to the one as an example for the world Without flaunting themselves – and so...

Artist’s Mission…. Just a thought

Internet has given us incredible advantages for learning, social interactions, entertainment and especially for creative people, a way of showing, reaching with their work to a far larger audience than they ever could. This is only a small portion of it's applications...

Beyond the Appearances “Tao Te Ching” Verse 21 for Artists

Verse 21* The appearance of great virtue Follows only the Tao The Tao, as a thing Seems indistinct, seems unclear So unclear, so indistinct Within it there is image So indistinct, so unclear Within it there is substance So deep, so profound Within it there is essence...

Do You Remember Creating?

 I have posted my Sumi-e painting above on Instagram, as I do periodically. Among many “like”s there was a comment; “Did you paint this? The question surprised me.....”Who else?”, was going to be my reply. With my awakened ego,  I hurried to check who this person was,...

Alone, Yet Content “Tao Te Ching” Verse 20 for Artists

Verse 20* Cease learning, no more worries Respectful response and scornful response How much is the difference? Goodness and evil How much do they differ? What the people fear, I cannot be unafraid So desolate! How limitless it is! The people are excited As if...

Simplicity “Tao Te Ching” verse 19 for Artists

Verse 19* End sagacity; abandon knowledge The people benefit a hundred times End benevolence; abandon righteousness The people return to piety and charity End cunning; discard profit Bandits and thieves no longer exist These three things are superficial and...

Creating Mindfully, Links

  Well it is almost three years that I am blogging. Initially it was one entry a month....and it would take me almost a whole month to write it. I have always thought that my means of expression is only visual and that words have no room in this visual...

Remembering The Way “Tao Te Ching” verse 18 for Artists

  Verse 18* The great Tao fades away There is benevolence and justice Intelligence comes forth There is great deception The six relations are not harmonious There is filial piety and kind affection The country is in confused chaos There are loyal ministers This verse...

Sumi-e With Words

Back to my Sumi-e painting class. I find through teaching, out of necessity, I find ways of making the inquisitive Western minds relate and let go of the habitual ways of seeing and creating. This is the space where Eastern and Western concepts merge...... So what is...

The Art of Leading “Tao Te Ching” verse 17 for Artists

Verse 17 The highest rulers, people do not know they have them The next level, people love them and praise them The next level, people fear them The next level, people despise them If the rulers' trust is insufficient Have no trust in them Proceeding calmly, valuing...

Eastern Art, Western Mind

  I remember when I was a student learning Sumi-e. Having former education in Fine Arts; Western approach, aesthetics and of course the mentality, I was eager to understand, to figure out things and had many questions. My Japanese teacher's (Tomoko Kodama)...

Returning to The Source “Tao Te Ching” verse 16 for Artists

Verse 16* Attain the ultimate emptiness Hold on to the truest tranquility The myriad things are all active I therefore watch their return Everything flourishes; each returns to its root Returning to the root is called tranquility Tranquility is called returning to...

Seeing with the Senses

There is a cup, a simple cup on the table with a single flower in it. You are holding a brush in your hand, you are looking at the flower, you are to paint it. First thing comes to mind “flower” and like a filing cabinet, in your mind, you are trying to establish it's...

Learning From the Masters “Tao Te Ching” verse 15 for Artists

Verse 15 The Tao masters of antiquity Subtle wonders through mystery Depths that cannot be discerned Because one cannot discern them Therefore one is forced to describe the appearance Hesitant, like crossing a wintry river Cautious, like fearing four neighbors Solemn,...

The Breathing Brush

Here I am in front of my students, teaching Sumi-e painting. They are attentively looking at me with their brush in their hands. I explain to them how to hold it, how to feel that brush as part of their body, how to feel the breath down into their belly ( dantian,...

Tao Te Ching for Artists Links

To facilitate the access, I am creating this  page of links to my interpretations of Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" through my heart/mind (verse by verse), geared towards the artist, towards creating...But aren't we all Artists...isn't Creating what life is all about? As I...

Admiration of the Profound “Tao Te Ching” verse 14 for Artists

  Verse 14* Look at it, it cannot be seen It is called colorless Listen to it, it cannot be heard It is called noiseless Reach for it, it cannot be held It is called formless These three cannot be completely unraveled So they are combined into one Above it, not...

Success or Disgrace? Tao Te Ching verse 13 for Artists

    Verse 13* Favor and disgrace make one fearful The greatest misfortune is the self What does "favor and disgrace make one fearful" mean? Favor is high; disgrace is low Having it makes one fearful Losing it makes one fearful This is "favor and disgrace make one...

Less Is More “Tao Te Ching” verse 12 for Artists

Verse 12* The five colors make one blind in the eyes The five sounds make one deaf in the ears The five flavors make one tasteless in the mouth Racing and hunting make one wild in the heart Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause damage Therefore the sages...

The Empty Space “Tao Te Ching” verse 11 for Artists

Verse 11*   Thirty spokes join in one hub In its emptiness, there is the function of a vehicle Mix clay to create a container In its emptiness, there is the function of a container Cut open doors and windows to create a room In its emptiness, there is the...

Is It Possible? “Tao Te Ching” verse 10 for Artists

Verse 10* In holding the soul and embracing oneness Can one be steadfast, without straying? In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation Can one be like an infant? In cleaning away the worldly view Can one be without imperfections? In loving the people and...

Moderation “Tao Te Ching” verse 9 for Artists

Verse 9* Holding a cup and overfilling it Cannot be as good as stopping short Pounding a blade and sharpening it Cannot be kept for long   Gold and jade fill up the room No one is able to protect them Wealth and position bring arrogance And leave disasters upon...

Flow Like Water “Tao Te Ching” verse 8 for Artists

Verse 8*   The highest goodness resembles water Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention It stays in places that people dislike Therefore it is similar to the Tao Dwelling with the right location Feeling with great depth Giving with great kindness...

To Create Selflessly “Tao Te Ching” verse 7 for Artists

Verse 7*   Heaven and Earth are everlasting The reason Heaven and Earth can last forever Is that they do not exist for themselves Thus they can last forever   Therefore the sages: Place themselves last but end up in front Are outside of themselves and yet...

The Creative Source “Tao Te Ching” verse 6 for Artists

  Verse 6* The valley spirit, undying Is called the Mystic Female The gate of the Mystic Female Is called the root of Heaven and Earth It flows continuously, barely perceptible Utilize it; it is never exhausted   The valley of the spirit (that quiet, pure space...

Never Exhausting Emptiness “Tao Te Ching” verse 5 For Artists

Verse 5* Heaven and Earth are impartial They regard myriad things as straw dogs The sages are impartial They regard people as straw dogs The space between Heaven and Earth Is it not like a bellows? Empty, and yet never exhausted It moves, and produces more Too many...

The Empty Space “Tao Te Ching” verse 4 For Artists

Verse 4* The Tao is empty When utilized, it is not filled up So deep! It seems to be the source of all things It blunts the sharpness Unravels the knots Dims the glare Mixes the dusts So indistinct! It seems to exist I do not know whose offspring it is Its image is...

Non Action “Tao Te Ching” verse 3 for Artists

  Verse 3   Do not glorify the achievers So the people will not squabble Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain So the people will not become thieves Do not show the desired things So their hearts will not be confused   Thus the governance of the...

Opposites Create Each Other “Tao Te Ching”, verse 2 for Artists

Verse 2   When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises When it knows good as good, evil arises Thus being and non-being produce each other Difficult and easy bring about each other Long and short reveal each other High and low support each other Music...

No Name “Tao Te Ching”, verse 1 for Artists

  Verse 1* The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao The name that can be named is not the eternal name The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth The named is the mother of myriad things Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence...

Tao Te Ching for Artists

  Happy Chinese New Year On the dawn of the Chinese New Year (the year of the Horse), I have decided to take a big challenge. I am going to try to interpret Tao Te Ching (or Dao De Jing), the ancient Chinese text by Lao-tzu. This will also help me to re-visit the...

New Year, Old Wisdom

Well, it is New Year tomorrow! So what have I learnt? The year has bought me many present moments and also lost in the thoughts moments. So, Lesson 1. Paint and paint more. Here is where one is in the moment, here is where one finds the true self, unaffected by life's...

Everything is Extraordinary

    I have read somewhere a Zen quote, can't find the author...which goes something like this; “ Everything ordinary is extraordinary”. Indeed, everything around us is fantastic. Our mind takes the repetitive events, images, thoughts of the world around and...

Drawing the Soul

"The human body is the best picture of the human soul.”  Ludwig Wittgenstein   Human body... The Doctor looks at it as a structure consisting of organs and systems. The scientist looks at it as complex interactions and reactions of chemicals, pathways, and systems.  ...

No Answer

"Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.” Euripidis Again, questions with no answers...And if you find an answer, then the meaning dissolves. How I feel today, is not how I felt yesterday and hope it will not be the same tomorrow. So, will my opinion...

Interpretation

"Everybody has his own interpretation of a painting he sees..." Francis Bacon Have you on a nice sunny bright day, looked up in the sky and have seen a whole world of moving and ever changing images of fluffy clouds? I think we all have. I also think that the images...

Sharing your Soul

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” Erma Bombeck To help with my own dilemma of my past blog, after a lot of pondering, I managed to come to some understanding, which doesn't mean will not change as my awareness does. So roughly, I divide...

A Dilemma

“Let the beauty of what you love be the beauty of what you do.” – Rumi I am in my studio,......painting/drawing. I love the process. Here I am totally in the moment, free of the mundane thoughts connected with something greater than self, filled with raw emotions,...

Playing With the Soul

"When the Soul wants to experience something she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it." ― Meister Eckhart In my May 2012 blog"Who Creates Art?", I have given a recipe for creating art. "So the art is created by both the artist, with his/her...

Reflection

"Let your mind wander in simplicity, blend your spirit with the vastness, follow along with things the way they are, and make no room for personal views-then the world will be governed..."Chuang-tzu.  Despite of all thoughts, stories that run incessantly in our minds,...

Why Do I Create Art?

“The soul never thinks without a picture” Aristotle I feel the need to quiet the mind, to be able to see and feel things without thoughts, preconceived ideas and beliefs. To be able to tap not only into my own soul, where my creativity resides, I also want to connect...

Thoughts on Originality

  "What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new idea, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough” Eugene Delacroix What is originality or original art? I think there is nothing new. There are only new...

Drawing the Line

  “Art is a line around your thoughts” Gustav Klimt   Presently, until February 13th,  there is an exhibition of my drawings at the City of Ottawa's (Canada), Atrium Gallery.   I gave the “Drawing the Line” title to my show, for a couple of reasons. First,...

Zen of Understanding

“Sometimes it proves the highest understanding not to understand”  Gracian   Sumi-e is a form of oriental painting from Japan. It is a pictorial expression of the spirit that resides in Zen martial arts and meditation. It possesses unique character and beauty...

Music and Sumi-e.

  “The composer’s surface is an illusion into which he puts something real – sound.  The painter’s surface is something real from which he then creates an illusion…Morton Feldman   Painting and music have coexisted for centuries as forms of creative expression....

Mindfulness With the Brush

      "Amidst the worldly comings and goings, observe how ending become beginnings" Tao Te Ching   As we go through our day, we experience life through memories and anticipations, through judgments and analysis. Life does not happen in the past or the...

Seeing For The First Time

"Do not say, 'It is morning,' and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name."  Rabindranath Tagore   Imagine you are just born, or maybe you just arrived from another planet and you see a flower, except you...

Letting Go

  "Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties"  Gail Sheeh   The artist spends years  learning skills and techniques and through trial and error, develops a unique language of expression. This requires devotion and many hours of work. Eventually,...

Without Words

  “Having opinion is closing yourself from seeing the life's full potential”. Aristotle As soon as one puts a name or explanation to anything, one blocks it in that space and stops all of its other possibilities. Words are man's main method of expression, but...

Life’s Painting

  “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Ursula K.Le Guin   We are all on the path of our lives. We all have our own desires, dreams, beliefs, and goals. We all are striving to get somewhere... but where? We...

Who Creates Art?

Art stimulates our imagination, sense of discovery and ability to express a feeling or thought in communicating with others. Art is a way of connecting with that inner quiet space, stillness.  That space is not reserved for artists alone. That stillness is the essence...

Anticipation

  Internet with World Wide Web has opened the ways of communication between people all over the world. People exchange ideas, thoughts, recipes,... share videos, pictures and feelings... It seems that the whole world has become like a big family, with it's...

Art or Craft?

  My thoughts on art and craft. One can find many explanations and comparisons about this matter on the Internet. As soon as one starts to compare, immediately one finds it challenged by opposing arguments. If craft is structure oriented, with predetermined...

Without Expectations

  In the West, most of us are born and raised with result oriented mentality. From childhood, we have been taught to work for the outcome, and we have been evaluated by adults with praise or displeasure. As we get older, the outcome gets judged, not only by...

The Centre

  I was listening to an artist talk about where the creativity comes from. The way she put is it that it comes from one's centre. I always talk about that connection to the centre. The way she presented it was that centre was where all of our previous...

A Thought on Composition

According to Wikipedia, “composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art,... It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art”. In my understanding/experience, it is...

Just Thinking (2)

   I was walking in the park the other day and from a distance, I saw a large black interesting shape. My first thought was that the city had put up a new sculpture. As I came closer to it, I realized that it was just a city sign, covered with a black plastic...

Just Thinking (1)

I would like to share with you my thoughts on what art is. Our thoughts are the interpretations of the mind, based on our believes and experiences...  thus they are subjective.    What is art?  For me, art is a way of sharing the emotion felt, or the connection made,...

My First Blog

  I have decided to take a personal challenge.......that of keeping a blog. Now, how does one blog, if one is running away from excessive words and is preoccupied most of the time in quieting the mind and trying to find that peaceful place within.....a place...

My Journey as a Sumi-e , Pencil drawing Artist

  I was born in Yerevan, Armenia It was part of the former Soviet Union, and freedom of expression in any form was severely restricted. Nevertheless, I found refuge in the study of biology, which presented me with means of connecting with nature's own creativity....