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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Painting with Tea

Strong Black Tea

Ever painted with tea? Ever created a back wash with tea?

Doing a wash or painting with tea is great fun and can produce very interesting results. The color is usually delicate and the intensity depends on if you use the tea alone or mix it with ink or watercolor. How do you  use tea in painting you might ask. This type of painting is best when doing sumi-e on rice paper but it can also be used on watercolor paper for an antique effect.

First thing is to brew some very strong black tea. I usually put three to four bags of black tea in a small cup and fill the cup with boiling water just enough to soak the bags - about 1/4 full. I let this sit until it is cool. Then I take out the tea bags and squeeze them into the cup letting the rest of the water drip into the cup. This produces a strong brew.

Below: This is a sumi-e painting where I used a back wash of tea. This painting is done on mulberry paper which is a kind of rice paper made from the pulp of the mulberry tree. It is a very  thin paper (unlike watercolor paper) but it is strong in wet applications. The painting was turned over and a wash of tea was applied to the back of the painting using a 1" hake brush in the rocky area of the landscape. The wash then bleeds and shows through to the front. A back wash tends to make colors used in the painting more intense on the front and also provides a delicate background color.

 Sky High - Let the Birds Fly
by Casey Shannon

This is the 1" Lacquered Handle Hake Brush used for the back wash.

 This brush is available at:
Yasutomo and Company located in San Francisco, CA.

The "flying whites" (term in brush painting meaning white spaces in a single brush stroke) were created with this specialty combination brush of sheep and mountain horse hair. With this brush you get a combination of soft and stiff hair. I really like using this brush for the quality of the texture I can get using it like you can see in the rock formations seen in the above painting. This is one of my favorite brushes to paint with for 'happy' results.

This specialty brush is available from Henry Li at:
Blue Heron Arts located in Rowland Heights, CA.

Below: This painting has rolling hills painted directly on the front surface of the mulberry paper with the tea and the tip of the brush was dipped in ink.. The distant mountains are painted with just straight tea for a more delicate and distant effect.

Carmel Valley - La Mesa
by Casey Shannon

There are many ways to use tea in painting. These suggestions are only two of the ways.
Happy painting!


Director of the North America Branch - ICCPS
International Chinese Calligraphy and Ink Painting Society


国際中国書法国画家協会アメリカ支部:Ms. Casey Shannon アメリカ現代水墨画家

Copyright ©  Casey Shannon Studio Art. All rights reserved.

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