Xiaoyu Liu: Sumie

I did Sumie for my CIP activity. It was very fun. Sensei is nice and friendly. The class size is small, so everyone gets equall attention. Maybe because I’m the foreigner and the only young people there (other people are around 50s 60s), I get more attention from sensei. Every class is very relaxing, we sit around a long table, talking while drawing. the lesson holds once a week, and two hours long. the lesson breaks into two sessions. During the first one-hour session, we learn some drawing tactics, and keep practicing. then we have a ten minute break. during the break, sensei makes green tea for us, and we drink together while having a short conversation about our past week’s life. then during the next one hour session, sensei let us draw whatever jumps into our head at that moment. sensei always mentions that for sumie, self-imagination is important. Because I’m a beginner, I usually draw something thats very easy to draw, like flowers. Sometimes, I find inspiration through online photos. Every week, there’s a different topic for us to draw things, for example, this week’s topic is christmas! Anyway, I really enjoy my sumie lesson, and I can do sumie now! Because the class, I also really like my sensei, 上村先生. she’s so nice and friendly. Kyoto rains often during the fall season. Sensei would drive me to the station if there was raining outside. If anyone’s interested in Japanese traditional arts, I highly recommend 上村先生’s sumie lesson!!!!

8 thoughts on “Xiaoyu Liu: Sumie

  1. Wow, this sounds like it was a great opportunity!
    I’ve enjoyed sumi-e every time that I’ve tried it, and to practice every week and see yourself improve must be very rewarding.
    Do you feel that you have more confidence in your sumi-e ability after this semester?
    What did you end up painting for the Christmas theme? 🙂
    I would love to see some of your work.

    • haha I’m definitely more confident about my sumie ability than back to September! and yeah we had the Christmas theme for yesterday’s lesson. I drew deers, ribbons and socks on Christmas cards. Now I have my self-made Christmas cards!

  2. Vera, it sounds like sumie was really fun and relaxing! 🙂 I also loved hearing about your relationship with 上村先生 – from making tea to driving you to the station, she seems like a really kind person and a great connection to have in Kyoto. On another note, I feel like a lot of people look for CIPs that have other similar-aged college students. What drew you to take a sumie class, and what was it like being the youngest person in the room? Do you think you learned/noticed anything by spending time with older people that you wouldn’t have been able to gain elsewhere?

    • I decided to take sumie because I found 上村先生’s instagram haha! I thought the paints she posted were so cool and beautiful, so I took the lesson with her. Being the youngest student there, older people would treat you with extra patient and tolerant, they were always worried if I didnt understand what they were talking about and always praise me like the way they would do to their grandkids. I found that was interesting.

  3. Wow Vera! Sumie sounds amazing! Pretty similar to some experiences that I had with calligraphy, too. Will you be continuing sumie after you return to your school in Boston? Even though it sounds difficult, it also sounds like it was really fulfilling to learn a traditional art. Personally, interacting with mostly older people was really calming for me. They were very patient and caring, and I felt at ease with them. Did you have a similar experience?

    • oh dylan, unfortunately I’m not able to continue the sumie when I back to Boston, because I dont have brush, paper and ink there. But I’m very glad that I experienced it here in Japan. The older people in my lesson place was so nice. They got me involved in the conversation and super patient and caring. even I made mistake or couldnt express what I want to, they would just wait and smile. I love them!

  4. This sounds like such an amazing experience!!! I wish that I was able to paint! It seems like it would be such a nice/therapeutic way to destress at the end of a long day/week. Plus, having a small class size and getting lots of attention seems like it would be a great way to really make the most of each lesson.

    What advice would you have to people with very little art/painting experience? Is sumi-e relatively accessible to beginners, or do you think it’s best to only start if you have prior experience in something comparable?

    • I had no experience about sumie before I took this class. Sumie lesson doesn’t require any experience, its definitely beginner accessible. the teacher would adjust the difficulty level for each one student there. teacher would teach you the drawing strategy before you get to practice. so dont worry if you were a beginner.