Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Sumi-e or black ink painting seems to be a very calming art project for every age.

The elegant simplicity of the natural elements and the pleasing contrast of black and white with all shades in between lend themselves to a highly satisfying painting experience.

When a classroom full of 25 energetic children is completely quiet and all are engaged, you know you've found a great project!

The paintings displayed above were made on student quality, cold press watercolor paper using diluted black India ink. In order to achieve a softer look, students first brushed clean water across their paper. After the paper had absorbed the water, they applied their brushstrokes using varying amounts of India ink. 

I have purchased specialty sumi-e brushes for my classroom, but a round #6 or #8 watercolor brush works well too.

My students and I took some time to learn about sumi-e painting before we started. It's purely fascinating, and engaging in the process allows for a deeper appreciation of the art.


Third, fourth and fifth grade students sketched wooden mannequins that were placed at each table.

Students focused on using loose lines, and they also paid extra attention to spatial relations. For example, they asked such questions as "Where is the wrist in relation to the hip?" and so on.

Each student appeared to be open to the adventurous spirit that this assignment required. I encouraged them to employ a sense of humor, to do their very best, and to support everyone in their unique approach.

 Displayed together, students are able to appreciate the many different styles, perspectives, and approaches to this project.