EDM #19: Draw something you’ve made

It’s been a long-ass week. Undistinguished except for the miserable heat, mugginess, and torrential rain. I’m not much of a drinker but when I saw this challenge, I knew exactly what I’d make: a cool, crispy gin and tonic.

And I’d make it with sumi ink and a dash of watercolor (and a soupcon of salt).

Sumi is the everlasting gobstopper of art supplies. You get a beautiful carved black block embossed with gold and silver designs. You splash your cool stone chalice and rub it with the block a couple of times and, hey presto, ink. But it’s ink that’s so forgiving and compliant. It hits your brush looking all dark and full of intent, but then when you slap it on the page, it backs off, dissolving to a smoky wave.

You can modulate it in so many ways that perfectly suit my way of painting. I can dilute it to a whisper and then build up layers up on layers that transition smoothly into each other like a delicate moire. As it dries, sumi becomes a dusky, matte layer of grey that doesn’t feel like paint or ink or pencil or anything, like it was just meant to be there, like some sort of organic residue left by my gesture. And that ebony brick of oriental exotica last forever, through fecund years of rubbing against the stone palette and daubing on the page. Ah, suuuuumi.

Can you tell by my writing that I’ve consumed my model?


  1. Ruca

    Man oh man, you should work in advertising! ;-)

  2. Nancy Seiler

    Yep, you’ve sold me on sumi painting now!

  3. Andrea Pursch Savee

    Strange, but now I want a cigarette.

    Fine writing, and fine drawing, indeed.

  4. Susan Clark

    Ha, perfect idea! I’m only on EDM #9 the messy desk, and the sumi ink is a great idea for this! Haven’t got it out in years. A scotch and soda is also a perfect idea! (A bit early in the morning, but I’ll keep the thought for later in the day :) ) Love your drawing.

  5. Molly

    Who knew art supplies wereso very erotic. Nicely done!

  6. Cookie

    Your’re a hoot! Love your sketches, love your blog comments. I look forward to them every day!

  7. Nicky G

    Actually you can tell by your whole drawing you’ve consumed the model!
    Also I loved discovering Liz ?(I’ll look later) yesterday. Thank you for that and the many other sharings in your blog.

    • Nicky G

      I am worried that sounded like an insult! It wasn’t intended that way.

  8. Elsie Hickey Wilson

    Nothing like a cool G & T on a hot day after a week of the same…the heat!
    Yes, ad-man, you sold me! Actually, I’ll settle for a glass of icewater and a limewedge! LOL!

  9. Serena

    Holy crap! After that description, I’ve gotta get me some Sumi ink now!! :)))

  10. Kaisa

    There’s an old Chise saying about painting and rubbing ink: it’s not the man who rubs the ink but the ink who rubs the man. Rubbing or preparing ink for painting was (is) considered as the elemental task to prepare the painter for the task too. Painters could spent far more time rubbing the ink agains the stone than actually painting. Some anecdotes from Ming-period tell about painters who give up painting all together and only rub the ink. Hence the saying. They also wrote odes to their favourite brushes and held burials for their worn out ones. Talk about artist going bonkers over art supplies.

    And you can add this to your sale pitch: high quality ink blocks were in ancient China said to maintain their quality for 10 000 years and I’ve been told (by good authority) that thousand years old ink blocks from high quality manufacturers are still as good as new. Now, there’s your money’s worth!

  11. Nikita

    I love the post!!! I want Sumi ink too :0) Where do i get it in Canada?

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