Sumi ink on paper with a green and gold painted wood frame. 10" W x 21" H
Framed dimensions: 19.2" H x 30.5" W
I began this practice 30 years ago under the tutelage of Koho Yamamoto, a Sumi master, who learned the art form during her time at the Japanese internment camps in Idaho during WWII. Sumi-e means “ink picture.” The materials are minimal (brush, ink stick, inkstone, paper). Once one masters the skill of the stroke, the skill falls away along with all thought, creating space for the eye, hand, and brush to move together. I may begin with an intention in mind yet the medium asks me to ease my attachment to this original idea. The brushstroke cannot be altered or erased. Each stroke guides the next thus revealing the present moment on paper. A presence to what is unfolding before me is integral in allowing a state of flow. Some call this “letting the unconscious move through.” I call it surrender.
This calligraphy, as well as all signatures on paintings, are renderings of a pre-colonial writing system from the Philippines called Baybayin. Sumi painters typically paint calligraphy in the kanji (Chinese). Instead, I chose this ancient writing system to honor my cultural roots. - Ayan Rivera