This struck a chord with me as I like the simplicity and stripping back of a subject to a few lines and leaving the viewers’ mind to fill in the gaps. This is interesting as I then found out that the earliest practitioners were highly disciplined monks trained in the art of concentration clarity and simplicity. These masters entered a deep contemplative state in order to practice their art and their respect for the Sumi-e demands shaped their aesthetic direction. Their aim was to capture the subject’s spirit. Arthur Wesley Dow, an American artist said of this technique:
“The painter . . . put upon the paper the fewest possible lines and tones, just enough to cause form, texture and effect to be felt. Every brush-touch must be fully-charged with meaning and useless detail eliminated.”
Here are a few Sumi-e paintings:
After conducting some more research I found a photographer who had attempted the technique with a camera – Sumi-e photography – Mikkel Aaland. These are some of his images:
I have been thinking about how I could experiment with my photographic practice to develop a similar aesthetic in my images, providing glimpses of the essence and spirit of my subjects.
I like the simplicity of this art form and also the meditative process undertaken to produce the paintings. I will spend some time thinking and experimenting with my camera and see what emerges. . .