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One Brush Stroke

One Brush Stroke

Published May 21st, 2024 By Jo Stewart

See Jo's art and try Sumi-e Painting for yourself!


By popular demand we have an Introduction to Brush and Ink Workshop coming up!!

Saturday July 20th 2-4pm

Our workshop will be held at Green Monday Studios, 73 Grattan St Carlton (please note our studio space is accessed via a flight of stairs). Pricing is tiered - you are welcome to choose between $60, $70 or $80 according to your financial situation - and we also have two scholarship places available in this workshop. If you would like to attend but finances are a barrier, please reach out via email to Jo

Book in here!

One Brush Stroke

An exhibition of works in ink by Green Monday Painters

Saturday June 1st 11am-4pm (opening event 2pm)
Sunday June 2nd 11am-3pm

Painting Room, Level 1 Green Monday Studios, 73 Grattan St Carlton (please note our studio space is stair access only)

About Sumi-e

Sumi means ‘black ink’ and ‘e’ means painting in Japanese, but this art form actually has it’s origins in China and was introduced to Japan, via Korea 1500 years ago by Zen monks on pilgrimage.

This practice is imbued with Taoist and Zen philosophy, and is a traditional method of training your consciousness, transcending the ego and aligning with the rhythms of nature. Many people use this practice as a form of meditation, working towards a state of mind rather than focusing on the aesthetics of the artwork produced. As Andre Sollier explains: ‘The purpose of Sumi-e is not only to understand the unity of life but to experience it. To paint a tree or a flower by a few ink strokes is to realise it’s unity, to make it real. It is to realise one’s self, and to make that real’ (1)

The idea of ‘one brush stroke’ is an expression of this philosophy - rather than sketching, planning and erasing to try to achieve a desired outcome each stroke is an expression of that moment and often a lesson in non attachment when the line goes it’s own way!

Shen Tsung Ch’ien says:

"The game of the brush must be dominated by the Breath.
When the Breath is, the vital energy is, it is then that the brush generates the Divine." (2)

Bamboo is a traditional subject for beginners to learn foundational mark making techniques, it is known as one the ‘four good friends’ alongside orchid, plum and chrysanthemum. These traditional subjects are a way to learn Sumi-e brushstroke techniques, but also qualities of softness, precision, spontaneity, delicacy and strength.

Within this practice we are perpetual beginners and return to these forms continually, learning something new every time. While we may practice each stroke again and again, the goal is to become more free rather than more laboured.

Master Sung Tung Po says:

"Before painting a bamboo, it is necessary for the bamboo to grow in your soul.
Then, with brush in hand and with eyes focused, the vision will arise.
Capture it immediately and sketch it, because it may quickly disappear like a wild rabbit when a hunter is approaching." (3)

4 treasures

The tactile experience of mixing the ink, using a sumi (ink stick) on suzuri (ink stone) is an integral part of this practice, and a preliminary form of meditation. We have included these materials for you to try along with brushes and rice paper. These are known as the four treasures of Sumi-e. We invite you to try, and as Andre Sollier says ‘let your brush stroke be your own mirror’(4)

kids class

As Green Monday Painters we honour this rich tradition and the peace of mind it gives us, and also our beloved teacher Richard Liddicut and his dedication to teaching and sharing this wonderful practice with us. While the studio has evolved from Mangala to Green Monday, these classes began in the same room as our exhibition takes place and some of the participants have been attending since they were 7 years old!

You can listen to The Flow Artists Podcast interview with Richard Liddicut here!

exhibition poster

1 Introduction to Sumi-e, The Zen Way of the Brush, Andre Sollier



4 Introduction to Sumi-e, The Zen Way of the Brush, Andre Sollier

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