Casey Shannon Studio Image

The Sound of One Hand: Reaching Beyond the limits of Traditional Ink Painting

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Saying Good Bye to 2009

Windy Bamboo with Tea
~ Sumi-e by Casey Shannon

Well my dear readers, here we are saying good-bye to this year 2009. What a year it has been with it's disappointments, changes, scares, up's and down's, challenges, surprises, and yes, joys. We have each experienced this year in different ways and in different degrees. And, I am glad to start off a new year and new decade, which I hope will be more loving, tolerant, calm, and peaceful for us all.

Personally,I am looking forward to seeing the 'Blue Moon' tomorrow on New Year's Eve. This astronomical phenomenon will not occur again until 2020 or so I am told by Brian Williams of the NBC Nightly News.
It will not occur on a Thursday New Year's Eve for a very long time.

A blue moon is a full moon that is not timed to the regular monthly pattern. Most years have twelve full moons which occur approximately monthly, but in addition to those twelve full lunar cycles, each solar calendar year contains an excess of roughly eleven days compared to the lunar year. The extra days accumulate, so that every two or three years (on average about every 2.7154 years), there is an extra full moon. The extra moon is called a "blue moon." Do you remember that song Blue Moon? That was my dad's favorite song.

This is my last blog entry for 2009. I have enjoyed communicating with you this year and will continue to do so as long as you bless me with your readership. I wish you all peace and joy in the new year of 2010 and a glorious decade ahead!

Windy Bamboo with Tea Sumi-e Art Print

Casey Shannon Studio

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Take a Chance on Miniatures Art Show

'Take a Chance on Miniatures' Art Show
Napa Valley Art Museum
On display until January 10, 2010
Spirit Standing Sumi-e by Casey Shannon

Museum Admissions

Adults : $4.50 Student/Seniors : $3.50
Ages 7 - 17: $2.50 Children under 7: FREE
Admission and Programs are free to Museum members.


Located in Yountville on the grounds of the Veterans Home. Exit Yountville/Veterans Home from Highway 29 and turn west onto California Drive. Follow the tree-lined drive to the stop sign and turn right.
55 Presidents Circle, Yountville, CA 94599
Phone: 707-944-0500


Open daily except Tuesday, 10am - 5pm

Spirit Standing Sumi-e by Casey Shannon is on display. Proceeds from the sale of my work will be donated to the museum's enrichment.

Casey Shannon Studio

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sound of Water

Are Haiku and Sumi-e related?

What do you think? Now let’s look at the undisputed master of the haiku, Matsuo Bashō, an Edo-period Japanese haiku poet. Bashō’s poetry was quickly recognized for it’s simple and natural style. Sumi-e is recognized for it’s simple and elegant brush strokes. A natural combination.

Let me show you an example of how I have used haiku in combination with non-traditional contemporary sumi-e. For me as an artist, usually the haiku inspires the sumi-e. This results in a simple creative expression and profound experience. The following haiku is considered to be Basho’s most famous haiku writing of poetry.

At the ancient pond,
a frog plunges into,
the sound of water.
~ Basho

The sumi-e below is called 'Sound of Water' by Casey Shannon.

Sound of Water by Casey Shannon

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flowering Alone

Flowering Alone

This contemporary Sumi-e is called 'Flowering Alone' and is painted with Sumi (ink) and Japanese watercolor. This image was inspired by the lonely and lovely little flowers and plants that manage to sprout up even in snow. They are determined to live in the harshest conditions of winter. I am reminded of this haiku:

"Just by being,
I'm here--
In snow-fall."
~ Kobayashi Issa

Now here is a concept we all could live by. We can thrive and live no matter what our condition might be in life. If you look closely at this sumi-e, you see a delicate little flower on a long stem with a few thorns. You see the struggle of beautiful life conquering all and the thorns representing obstacles overcome. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could be like nature and just be? Flowering alone................

The original Sumi-e is for sale in Gallery Noble.

Art prints are available from my Zazzle Gallery. You may professionally finish your art print before purchase with a mat and frame of your choice right on the website. Or, you may purchase the print unframed.

Casey Shannon Studio

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blue Bamboo Midnight

Blue Bamboo Midnight

Ever looked up at the full moon in awe? I have many times and felt bathed in the moon's magical glow. I often wondered who else might be looking at the moon at that moment and feel blessed by it's white glowing light. I am reminded of a childrens song about the moon. It goes like this:

God bless the moon,
And, God bless me,
God bless the one that I want to see!

This Sumi-e is called 'Blue Bamboo Midnight'. Media: Sumi (ink) and Japanese watercolor. This glowing image was inspired by a full moon shinning down on a lovely group of bamboo. In Chinese culture, bamboo represents strength but with the ability to bend. Lovely symbolism.

The original sumi-e painting of 'Blue Bamboo Midnight' has been sold. However, I do offer this painting as an art print at my Zazzle Gallery. You may professionally finish your art print right on the website before purchase with a mat and frame of your choice. I hope you enjoy browsing my gallery. There are many lovely Sumi-e images to select from there. Enjoy!

Casey Shannon Studio

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thank you and Many Blessings!

A Warm and Heartfelt Thank You

This is a HUGE and PUBLIC thank you to my art fans and admirers. I am honored that you have been and are purchasing my artwork to bring into your homes and to give as gifts. I am pleased that you enjoy it. I create Sumi-e because it is my 'breath' and my 'soul'.
Selfishly, I create for me. It is a further gift that it is loved and purchased by others. In our current economy, art is an extravagance. I am overwhelmed at your love for my art.

Thank you. Many Blessings!

Casey Shannon Studio
Artist Chop = Casey

Saturday, December 5, 2009



We are entering the beautiful season of Winter. It can be lovely with it's starkness in colors of black and tones of gray.

This elegant sumi-e is called simply 'Winter'. Media: Sumi (ink) and Japanese watercolor. This image was inspired by the dying of nature in wintertime to make way for the new growth of Spring. Since I was a child, the season of Winter has fascinated me with it's beauty and also frightened me with it's power.

The original painting of 'Winter' was sold. However, you may still purchase Fine Art Reproductions in my Sumi Gallery at Imagekind and art prints from my Zazzle Gallery. You can also professionally finish your reproduction with your choice of frame and mat at both these locations. I would be honored if you would take a look at what is possible. Thank you!

Casey Shannon Studio

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Elegant Winter Card

Snowy Mountain Retreat

This is an elegant and unusual winter card to send to family and friends this holiday season. The Sumi-e painting is called 'Snowy Mountain Retreat'. The glistening stillness of the snow filled image is captured by painting in variations of white ink. There is nothing more beautiful than the season of snow. Stillness and peace are depicted in this painting with a full moon shinning down on a secluded tree top mountain retreat.

This card may be purchased from my Zazzle Galley. It has a lovely greeting printed inside for you. Or, you may customize the card with your own greeting and style of font. Or, you may order the cards blank. It's completely your choice!

Greeting: May the Peace and Love of the Holiday Season remain with you throughout the New Year.

The original painting may be seen in Gallery White.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Art House Sketchbook Project

Art House Sketchbook Project 2009-2010

The Sketc
hbook Project Library sponsored by The Art House Gallery will house sketchbooks by artists from around the world. Visitors to the exhibit will receive library cards and be able to view the books at exhibitions around the country. The goal of the project is to create a giant collective of sketchbooks from around the globe and make it accessible to everyone. The Project was featured on CNN and the library will be touring across the country beginning on January 29, 2010 in Atlanta, GA. Please visit my Exhibition page to see the cities and dates of the tour. After the cities tour, the sketchbooks will go back to Brooklyn Art House Gallery for permanent library display in the gallery.

Rules: Each participating artist was given a moleskin sketchbook and a theme randomly chosen from 30 available themes. Artists were instructed to base their sketchbook around this theme. My theme was 'A Postcard'. Visit my Sketchbook Project page to see all 40 pages of my sketchbook interpretation. Page numbers and captions are below each image. I enjoyed this project beyond words. I used my imagination to create fantasy places, I drew my favorite places that I had visited over the years from memory, and I included beautiful areas from near my home in Carmel Valley. I loved doing this! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Returning to Watercolor--Briefly

Abstract Waterfall

What fun! A little playing with watercolor. I decided the other day to post a watercolor on this blog. Not my present medium but a medium I dearly love and have created with extensively in the past. It's fun to play with paints and colors and just let your mind go! Another way to enter 'a journey into art'.

Sumi-e (my current medium and breath of life) for me is serious business. A meditation and very spiritual experience. Having a little fun with watercolor was very refreshing for me. It was a return to art days past. I will dabble in watercolor from time to time. I enjoyed it. I wonder if the fairies might play and sing by my waterfall?

This image is called Abstract Waterfall and was inspired by the beauty of nature and the spirit of water. Water is ever changing. It is pure. And, it can speak to us words of wisdom, if we slow down long enough to listen and contemplate. A babbling brook is so peaceful. A waterfall is magic.
The ocean is power. Rain is cleansing. Water--we can not live without it nor would we ever want to.

A sudden shower-
I am riding naked
On a naked horse.
Issa Kobayashi

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Napa Valley Art Museum Exhibit

Spirit Standing Sumi-e

This elegant Sumi-e is called Spirit Standing. This image was inspired by the spirit that resides in all of nature. A spirit that is ever present and all encompassing. When I painted this Sumi-e, I was experiencing a little turmoil in my life. We all experience bumpy roads along our life journey. As I was painting in my mind during my pre-meditation, I was thinking how we can choose to have our spirits stand tall in the face of uncertainty and upset. My brush than flowed into this creation of ‘Spirit Standing’.

The original Sumi-e painting is currently on exhibit at The Napa Valley Art Museum, which is located in Yountville, CA. The address is: 55 Presidents Circle. My artwork will be on display until January 10, 2009.

Artist’s Reception: November 28, 2009 at 7PM.

The original sumi-e painting 'Spirit Standing' is for sale at the Art Museum. The proceeds from the sale of this work will be donated to the museum for their enrichment.

You may purchase Fine Art Reproductions of this stunning piece in my Zazzle Gallery. You may finish your print with a beautiful frame of your choice right on the website before purchase. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flower of White

Painting more traditionally.

This elegant sumi-e is called 'Flower of White'. This is a more traditional sumi-e painting and different
than most of my contemporary ink paintings. In this painting I have used primarily sumi (ink stick). This painting has only a touch of red at the flower's center. The original painting can be seen in the Gallery Be Well.

I love painting flowers and I am very inspired by their nature and presence. I concentrate on capturing the special spirit of flowers in my paintings with every stroke of my b
rush. Flowers are very powerful and yet blissfully delicate. They are with us blooming for only a short while. However, their beauty is undeniable and remains with us in our hearts long after their graceful bloom has faded from sight.

This 'Flower of White' image can be purchased as a gorgeous fine art giclee reproduction from Fine Art America. You may purchase your print as a framed piece right on the website or not as you like. You ca
n also mat it if you wish.

Here is an example of this image framed beautifully in a black and gold wooden frame with no mat. Prices are very reasonable at FAA and the workmanship on the frame is flawless and of the highest quality. The inks used for printing are the finest available. You may also choose your grade of paper starting with archival.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn Art Contest

This beautiful Sumi-e is called 'Robin Contemplating Song' and is my entry for the The First Annual Autumn Arts Painting Challenge and Competition on FaceBook. Winners will be exhibited at the Bucks County Gallery in New Hope, PA.

You are invited to enter the excitement and the artistic adventure of October's autumn season of colors. Art works may be representational, impressionistic or abstract. Capture your chosen subject with the media of your choice.

All paintings MUST BE NEW & ORIGINAL WORKS of ART painted during the month of October, 2009. They also must be created without the aid of a teacher and not done in a workshop or any usage of someone else's photographs or magazine/book photographs. They must be totally of your own idea & concept from beginning to completion.

You will have till October 31st to post your entries, although you may post each piece as completed throughout the month. More details and entry information available here.

This Sumi-e painting of mine called "Robin Contemplating Song' was inspired by all the little Robins singing and playing around my home in Autumn.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art for Cancer

This Sumi-e is called Tulips Three and is an Art for Cancer image. The painting was inspired by a visit to my friend's garden where many lovely tulips were playing and dancing with joy in the sun. Tulips Three is available from my Sumi Gallery at ImageKind as a fine art print and as greeting and note cards. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this work will be donated to breast cancer research. I offer several other paintings for AFC at ImageKind in addition to this piece. Please take a peek!

I am a proud member of the Art for Cancer Group. We are a global group of artists that have banded together to help fight the dreadful disease of cancer. We offer selected artworks for purchase and donate a percentage (10% - 100%) of the proceeds of the sale to cancer research. The group is housed at Imagekind. We offer prints and cards at this POD location.

ART for cancer on ImageKind

October is "Breast Cancer Awareness" month and we have just launched our new video on YouTube of artwork dedicated to help fight breast cancer. Each piece of artwork maintains a pink theme and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the work will be donated to breast cancer research. Please take a moment to view our video.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Snow Ensō?

Snow Ensō? Really? Yes. Really.

Last blog post we discussed the significance and meaning of the
ensō. A snow ensō is painted with white ink. A beautiful and inspired variation of the traditional ensō that is painted with black ink. The image still utilizes the magnificent and meaningful circle shape so common in Zen Art . However, it introduces a slight twist.

ensō was inspired by the spirit that is snow. The cold and peaceful time when Mother Earth decides to blanket us with her amazing crystal white. Inside this ensō is painted delicate little snow flowers dancing in delight with their new covering of beauty that sparkles in the moonlight.

This ensō is called simply 'Ensō Snow'. The original painting is in Gallery White.

Art Reproductions of this charming piece are available here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Have you ever wondered what an Ensō is and what it symbolizes? Well, I have the answer for you and have an example to show you. I have been fascinated with the concept of the Ensō for years. It has been only recently that I have been creating them.

In Zen Buddhist painting, Ensō symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body and spirit create in full moment-to-moment concert.
The Ensō is one of the most prevalent images of Zen Art, and it has become a symbol of the clean and strong Japanese aesthetic. The ensō is an expression of the mind of the artist who brushes it. As a symbol, the circle expresses the totality of our being. The circle points to the most vital aspect of our essence -- it's ultimate wholeness. The ensō symbolizes enlightenment, power, and the universe itself. It is a direct expression of thusness or this-moment-as-it-is. Ensō is considered to be one of the most profound subjects in zenga (Zen inspired painting). - Loori

This Ensō is called ' Ensō Willow Bud'. The original painting is located in 'Gallery Ensō'.

Click Here for this image as a Fine Art Print from my Zazzle Gallery.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More White Ink Painting!

Last blog post I introduced you to my white sumi (ink) style of painting. I am so excited about sharing this with you that I wanted to re-visit this technique.

Painting with white ink is tremendously inspiring and a great fun way to create Sumi-e. It is a marvelous variation on the traditional process of ink painting.

This Sumi-e is called 'Red Snow Bird Contemplating Spring'. This image was inspired by all the red birds playing near my home. What if they suddenly found themselves covered in snow?

The original painting is in the Gallery White.

You may purchase prints from Sumi Gallery.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sumi-e Painting with White Ink

White Ink!

Here is a fun twist on traditional Sumi-e ink painting. Painting with white ink! This is a creative and beautiful alternative to the traditional practices.

There is no beauty quite like that of snow and winter time splendor. As an artist and a lover of the outdoors and nature, I have come to love our magnificent earth in all her wondrous seasons especially her magical glistening snow.

The original Sumi-e painting is located in
Gallery White and it is called 'Noble Snow Spirit Like Bamboo'. It was inspired by bamboo leaning into the weight of snow.

The materials I used to create this sumi-e included traditional ink stick and Japanese watercolor. However, in addition, I used Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White ink. And, the image was painted on Canson Ingres paper from France.

Fine Art Reproductions of this image are available at The Untapped Source. Art Prints are available from my Zazzle Gallery and in my Sumi Gallery at ImageKind.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Leaves of Life

The college where I teach recently started the new Fall semester. Getting students organized and settled into my courses is always a challenge. It takes up all my time and leaves me very little personal time for things like blogging about art, which is one of my favorite things to do! Today I blog!

The sumi-e you see here is called 'Leaves of Life'. The original painting can be seen in my Gallery Journey into Art. This painting was inspired by the beauty and spirit of life. And, how life enfolds us in experience. This sumi-e just flowed from my brush as if directed by divine intervention and was an incredible experience. It was a complete journey into art!

This painting was created on Arches hot press watercolor paper and painted entirely with a Hake brush, which is a flat wash brush. I find this kind of brush very useful and versatile when painting freely. The sumi (ink) was ground using a stone. Japanese watorcolor was also used. Fine Art Reproductions of 'Leaves of Life' are available from the Untapped Source. Poster Art Prints are available from my Zazzle Gallery and Art Prints are available in my SumiSpirit Gallery at ImageKind.

Friday, August 28, 2009

World Art Media and NY Arts Magazine Scam!

Possible Money Art Scam!
Posted so you can make an informed decision for yourself!
Art World Media and NY Arts Magazine (same company) is a possible huge scam praying on vulnerable artists. Watch out for these folks. I received an email on my website from a woman claiming to be a NY art rep with Art World Media. At the end of this post I have included the email that I received, which I have learned is similar to what other artists have received on their websites.
The first two lines of the email sent to me seemed personal but the rest of the email sounded 'canned'. I viewed the websites I was directed to and those looked pretty good. I looked at the person's email address and it was @gmail, rather than a company email. I became suspicious. I forwarded the email to my friend who is the undisputed 'Internet Queen' and within minutes she found a lot of negative talk out there about this group on a reputable art community website called ArtBistro. I went there and found more information on various artist's blogs who had also been approached by these people.
Blog Resource

It appears World Art Media and NY Arts magazine (same company) send out thousands of unsolicited emails each month to artists on their websites promising art representation via online sources, publications, gallery shows etc. for a FEE. They do not advertise their fee on their website anymore, but I learned from other artists the fee starts at $500 and goes up from there to $4000 and $6000 depending on what they say they are doing for you.

World Art Media
does publish your work in the NY Art magazine. However, it does not have the millions of viewers, buyers, and following that they claim. One New Yorker said it is sold only in the newstand down the street from their NY office. 

NY Arts Magazine promises promotion, publicity and articles in their magazine and an art show in their gallery, 450 BROADWAY GALLERY, which, although it exists is in the inaccessible, interminable, un-climable 4th floor walk-up at that address. The gallery isn't even listed on the local Gallery Guide. However, It is listed in, where else, the NY World Arts Magazine. It is also my understanding, that even the so called 'Marketing Associates' get ripped off. Most of their positions are continually advertised on Craig's List. When they sign on, they are promised wonderful commissions. After working like crazy soliciting artists, they are not given these commissions. One guy wrote, that after working for World Art Media, he could have made more money had he been employed flipping hamburgers at McDonald's.

World Art Media seems to be just 'legit enough' to keep from getting arrested. However, they operate in an unethical manner. They don't tell the entire truth about what they can/will do for artists and actually charge you ridiculous fees for their services. This is not the kind of company I choose to do business with ever! My advice? far away.

The email letter I received:
Dear Casey,
I have just reviewed your website ( and I am very impressed with your body of work, particularly the Sumi-e brush paintings..

My name is Annie Scott and I'm an artist representative with World Art Media (a dynamic international arts publicity and PR company based in NYC). We promote galleries, museums, art fairs and committed artists. After briefly reviewing your works I feel its possible to explore some form of collaboration. Working closely with our affiliates at many international art companies and exhibition spaces (including the Broadway Gallery NYC and New York Arts Magazine), we are able to offer different exhibition and publication options.
I feel very strongly that your current body of work is ideally suited to a publication project I am coordinating for the near future. I want to discuss the possibility of having your work publicized in an upcoming print issue of the magazine as well as in the different online venues.

We've been successfully working with artists like you and with our partner NY Arts Magazine for more than 10 years. The homepage now gets over 2 million hits per month, and the print version, with international distribution, reaches a large sector of art professionals and art enthusiasts. I believe this would be an important step toward gaining more attention for your work by offering you a number of opportunities to expose your work.

Our package, a combination of print and on line publicity, also includes a month of exposure with another affiliate: Art Fairs International The introductory promotional package is priced to meet your particular needs and our low prices and high quality are unmatched anywhere else in the art community.
WAM is dedicated solely to artists-providing them with the best possible options to further their career. Please see, to find more about the different and exciting projects we have to offer. I would be delighted to send you further information regarding this project, as well further options and costs. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any further questions you may have as well. I look forward to hearing from you soon, and our working together.

Annie Scott
Marketing Associate
World Art Media 473 Broadway, 7th floor, NY NY 10013
Do your research. Follow the links that I have provided and you will find even more negative information. Don't be fooled. We artists always want our work to be exhibited and appreciated. We are flattered and get excited about stuff like this. And, we are vulnerable to scam. Watch yourself!!!

Be sure to read through the blog comments on this post from other artists. There is more information and experiences contained here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why do I create Sumi-e?

Why does any artist create anything? This is an interesting question. Each artist will have a different and usually very emotional answer.

Here, in short, is my answer to this question. I create for the sheer joy and pleasure of creating. I create for myself. For me, the creative process is spiritually personal and is a meditation. Being still and meditating allows the creative juices in me to start flowing. Creating my art allows me to be in the present right NOW. I focus only on painting and allow all else to fade away. Worries, plans, responsibilities, what I should do, etc. all become less of an immediate presence. In the act of painting, I attain a level of peace that I achieve no place else. Creating is a selfish act most satisfying. I create for me.

That being said, I humbly offer my paintings for others to see and hopefully enjoy. It is my wish that viewers find in my painting a sense of beauty, peace, something that moves them, and a feeling of ‘wow, I really like this’ or ‘jeez, what was she thinking?’ I would hope the first reaction is obtained. Although, whatever one feels about my artwork is OK. Viewers were moved in some way. They may or may not purchase my work. Either is fine. If they do, I am always very pleased. If they do not, that is beautiful too because that was not the painting’s purpose. The painting 'just exists'.

The sumi-e painting you see here is called 'One Pelican Waiting' by Casey Shannon. It was inspired by all the pelicans that swoop and glide in a line across the waves of the ocean. Pelicans are my favorite bird. I always see these wonderful creatures along Highway One as I drive up the coast to the college where I teach. They seem to gather at Moss Landing and greet me as I drive along the road. Seeing them is always such a delight and I look forward to this treat along my journey. A reproduction of my pelican painting can be purchased from my Zazzle Gallery. The original sumi-e can be viewed at Gallery Journey into Art.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cause/Effect Challenge

I decided to take on a Cause and Effect challenge raised by, Diane Clancy, an artist acquaintance of mine. She challenges artists to intrepret 2 words. This week the challenge is Cause/Effect. In general, Sumi-e lends itself to the concept of 'cause and effect' very easily. Sumi-e is rooted in Chinese philosophy. The idea of 'yin and yang' is used to describe how seemingly opposing forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn. This concept is at the heart of Sumi-e and the artist's mind as one paints in peace.

This Sumi-e painting is called 'Dance of the Pollen'. This painting was inspired by all the pollen dancing in our air during summertime. I think it's relationship to 'cause and effect' is obvious. Wind blows. Pollen dances. Reproductions of this work are available two places: at my Zazzle Gallery and from my SumiSpirit Gallery at ImageKind. Each gallery offers special printing choices. The original work can be seen at my website in Gallery Journey into Art .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sumi-e and Haiku

Branch of Persimmon Sumi-e by Casey Shannon

The sumi-e I have created above is called 'Branch of Persimmon'.

Expressed in words by my Haiku:
” juicy ripe, branch of persimmon, gently live.”
- Casey Shannon

Since Sumi-e or brush painting is minimalist painting and Haiku is minimalist writing, it would be reasonable to say that the two ancient art forms would naturally support one another and often be studied and exhibited together. Both Sumi-e and Haiku are strikingly beautiful and are a compliment to one another.

In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku. Such as :

The fragrance!
Though I know not
Whence it comes.
~ Basho

Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century. The typical length of haiku appearing in the main English-language journals is 10–14 syllables and have a symmetrical line arrangement such as 5-7-5 or 3-5-3. Some haiku poets are concerned with their haiku being expressed in one breath and the extent to which their haiku focus on “showing” as opposed to “telling”. Therefore haiku is concerned with showing minimally as is Sumi-e. Sumi-e is concerned with 'showing' spirit minimally.

Now let’s look at the undisputed master of the haiku, Matsuo Bashō, an Edo-period Japanese haiku poet. Bashō’s poetry was quickly recognized for it’s simple and natural style. Sumi-e is recognized for it’s simple and elegant brush strokes. A natural combination.

Let me show you an example of how I have used haiku in combination with non-traditional contemporary sumi-e. For me as an artist, usually the haiku inspires the sumi-e. This results in a simple creative expression and profound experience. The following haiku is considered to be Basho’s most famous haiku writing.

At the ancient pond,
a frog plunges into,
the sound of water.
~ Basho

The sumi-e below is called 'Sound of Water' by Casey Shannon.

Sound of Water by Casey Shannon

Friday, August 14, 2009

More on Artist Seals

Artist Seals.
These are some of the artist seals or chops that I use. These are my favorites but I have many. They are so beautiful that you tend to collect them as you are drawn deeper and deeper into the ancient art of Sumi-e.
Not only is the seal impression a thing of beauty the seals are actual works of art in and of themselves. They are beautifully carved with lovely images such as dragons, lotus, bamboo, fish, turtle, and more.

Using artist seals on your finished work can compliment the composition, i
f used properly and placed with care. The seal is generally red so it draws the attention of the viewer. The viewers eye is drawn to the bright red color which contrasts to the rest of the painting. Although sometimes small, seals are visually powerful giving the painting an important balancing effect.

The red paste used for seal ink is
made from finely pulverized cinnabar (mercuric sulfide), mixed with a seed oil from Fukien Tea (the best) or caster oil, which has been exposed to the sun for three years, then added to the finely ground cinnabar. This is just one of many formulas. The photo to the right is an example what the seal paste looks like. There are many online suppliers of Asian art supplies. We will discuss resources in a future blog entry.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sumi-e Artist Seal

The ancient art form of Sumi-e utilizes another ancient practice and that is the use of artist seals or chops. The seals or chops pictured on the right are called 'Little Treasures'. Using the seal as an integral part of the composition in ink painting is uniquely Asian. To authenticate and to show approval of his/her work, the artist uses a personal seal in red along with his signature. In addition to the personal signature and seal, most traditional Chinese brush artists use seals to enhance their compositions. Antiquity, artistry, and the quality of the material from which a seal is carved determine it's value.

I use a variety of artist seals or chops in my finished sumi-e. I have several of these little treasures and use one to three on any given finished artwork. The number and kind of chop used depends on the subject matter and composition of my painting. The sumi-e pictured on the right is called Bouquet of Be Well by Casey Shannon. I have used three artist seals or chops on this painting. The large round red seal translates into 'be well'. The square chop translates into my name 'Casey'. The small round chop above my signed name translates into 'spring'.
Chops are pressed into Asian seal paste and then pressed onto your finished
painting in the desired position. Seal paste is generally red. However, you can buy it in other colors as well such as blue, yellow, and white. This is a photo of an artist seal or chop and the red seal paste.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sumi-e Ink Stone

Above is an example of a Sumi grinding stone. This inkstone is an ornate one and very beautiful. This ink slab was carved in a 'cucurbit' shape. This shape stands for good fortune and every success. This is the stone that I use.

The Sumi stone for grinding the ink is an important tool in the creation of Sumi-e. An inkstone is literally a stone mortar for the grinding and containment of ink. Traditional Chinese ink was usually solidified into sticks for easier transport and preservation. Even a small amount of water could be applied to the end of a stick of ink, and that end would be ground with the flat surface of the ink stone. A larger quantity of ink could be ground from a small pool of water placed on the inkstone. Water could be stored in a water-holding cavity on the inkstone itself.

The inkstone, together with the
ink brush, inkstick and paper, are the four writing implements traditionally known as the Four Treasures of the Study.

Each artist prepares his/her ink in their own special way creating a calm and empty mind. I generally use a black Shanghai Premium stick. I moisten the slab and use a circular motion to grind. I like my ink to have a dark and smooth consistency. The contemporary sumi-e you see here by Casey Shannon is called Winter. This image is an example of the various shades you can create by adding water to your ink. Variation in color of ink adds depth to your painting.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sumi Preparation

Traditionally, Sumi (ink) was made by grinding an ink stick on a moist ink stone. This method is still favored by many brush painters today. Shanghai Premium Ink Stick produces a smooth, shiny brown-black permanent ink for calligraphy and painting. Black ink sticks range from the inexpensive to the very rare and quite expensive. Ink sticks come in color also. However, black ink sticks are commonly used in the creation of Sumi-e. As the artist grinds the ink stick on the moist stone, the mind is cleared of all thought except for preparing the ink. In this way, the artist is moving gently to the space that allows one to create and capture spirit. The Sumi-e you see here is called Orchid Yellow by accomplished artist Casey Shannon. This painting was inspired by my friend's orchid garden where you can sit, breathe, and meditate. Many beautiful orchids are displayed there and this one caught my eye dancing in the breeze.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From the Artist:

As a Sumi-e painter, for me, the grinding and preparation of the ink is a wonderful meditation before I begin my painting. I prepare my work in the traditional way. However, my Sumi-e style is 'Contemporary Sumi-e'. My intention is reaching beyond the limits of traditional ink painting. This Sumi-e is called Snowdrops on a Quail Waiting by Casey Shannon. It was inspired by the many beautiful quail found in Carmel Valley. What if it snowed there?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sumi-e Tools

In ink paintings, as in calligraphy, artists usually grind their own inkstick (Japanese: sumi) over an inkstone to obtain ink, but prepared inks are also available. Most inksticks are made of either pine or oil soot combined with animal glue (Japanese: nikawa). An artist puts a few drops of water on an inkstone and grinds the inkstick in a circular motion until a smooth, black ink of the desired concentration is made. Prepared inks are usually of much lower quality. Sumi themselves are sometimes ornately decorated with landscapes or flowers in bas-relief and some are highlighted with gold.This Sumi-e you see here is called Noble Snow Spirit Like Bamboo by Casey Shannon. It was inspired by bamboo gracefully bending in snow.

Friday, July 31, 2009

History of Sumi-e

Wash painting developed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Wang Wei is generally credited as the painter who applied color to existing ink and wash paintings. The art was further developed into a more polished style during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It was introduced to Korea shortly after China's discovery of the ink. Then, the Korean missionaries in Japan, in helping the Japanese establish a civilized settlement introduced it to Japan in the mid-14th century. This Sumi-e is called Forest of Shadows by Casey Shannon. It was inspired by the forest of oak trees surrounding my home. It is a forest of shade and shadows.


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