In the footsteps of Sotatsu

I’m finding sumi-e is a good way to unwind after a day of writing. It’s such a different discipline and a good counterpoint to the rigours of stringing words together. I practised two of the four gentelemen last night: the orchid and the bamboo. The long arcing leaves of the orchid have not come out well – I think the brush was too dry – but I am pleased with the flowers themselves.

orchid bamboo puppy haiga
click to enlarge

Sotatsu puppy - detail of hanging scrollOnly two elements of the picture are original – the caterpillar and the rather wistful haiku! For the first few years, a student of sumi-e does nothing but copy the masters, in order to learn proper technique. Even the puppy in the middle is not original – he is from a hanging scroll by a sumi-e master, Sotatsu-Gwashu. Sotatsu was a great artist who lived in the 17th century, and was well known in Japan for the richness of his art creations and the nobleness of his character. He was the inspirer of the Korin School. Take a look at the ear and underbelly of Sotatsu’s puppy and you will see just how far I’ve got to go. Cue Confucius’ thousand mile journey begins with a single step.

I would love to be good enough one day to be able to write and illustrate my own picture book in this style. A goal for 2050!

Published by

Stephen Davies

Children's author: picture books, chapter books and YA novels

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