Sumi-e of Life….. Balance

by | Jan 29, 2015 | 3 comments

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…. philosophies merging. This weeks post will focus on Sumi-e as a way of balance.


From Tao Te Ching teachings I am understanding, more and more experientially, the dual nature of things; that everything in the universe contains two opposite yet mutually affirming forces; yin and yang, black and white, ugly and beautiful….. life and death. I am also realizing that the art of living is in finding balance between those in my everyday and creative life. As this understanding and practice deepens, the mind gets quiet, and serene. So is it possible to write or create something that would engage the audience/reader from that neutral place?



I think that if all the statements were coming from the equilibrium, then there would be nothing much to say. Nothing is good or bad, black or white…. everything is just as….



Most of the so called “interesting” ideas that the mind likes getting engaged in, are the ones where the emphasis is put to one side or the other, on exaggerations, creating some kind of imbalance and thus challenging the mind. In my life and posts as well, I try to notice, emphasize one aspect of the topic/event, yet question it. Through this challenge, I find the answers….the balance within. I hope to achieve this with my audiences as well.



This applies to painting and not only to sumi-e style. The mastery of creating successful art is with means of contrasts in expression, colour ….and space, to create a harmonious image.


This is the game of living and if we play it right, through the ups and downs, rights and wrongs, we can create a harmonious life.
Do you exaggerate to make a point? And do you realize that the total opposite of that point has equal merit?


  1. MT McClanahan

    Engaging as ever Lilth. I'm still comparing sumi-e with abstract painting. I hear folks on LinkedIn say that their abstract work is an expression of themselves. But sumi-e is the expression of what is being drawn –it's essence. But it seems to me that they have similar goals. Both seem to seek something that cannot be articulated verbally, really. What if what any artist is attempting to do is connect with his opposite, and therefore his completion. And the work –the process–is everything on that scale between the two, like hot and cold are on the same scale –the temperature scale, or heat scale.

  2. MT McClanahan

    But, I just thought, if the two opposites ever were to combine, they would each get diluted. Not sure that's a good thing. As you say, what they is there to talk about?

  3. Lilith Ohan

    Abstract art, including most of the art created by an artist with western views is the expression of that individual artist's psyche… their statement, idea … as you said "expression of themselves", or their experience.
    The eastern artist is not preoccupied with personal experiences but is pursuing to comprehend the inner nature, the universal, the energy within the subject matter; will it be figurative or abstract. I am just about to finish the post that is past overdue for your blog and is on this subject matter. Hopefully it will clarify a little…


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