Palka offers an accessible introduction to sumi-e, or Japanese ink painting, through simple illustrated techniques and appealing animals.
Friendly pandas and swallows greet readers prior to the table of contents. A succinct welcome and brush-stroke overview sets the stage before readers explore the sections, each differentiated by animal type and/or technique. A swirl or “gray blob” transforms into snails, mice, and rabbits; while curved strokes become birds. Like Ed Emberley, the artist offers clear, step-by-step instructions. With just four blobs, patches, and strokes, playful pandas appear; and in five “S” or press strokes, a swirling, atmospheric dragon materializes. Resources and background information bookend this appealing introduction, with how-to information on holding, loading, and caring for the brush. Adults and children alike may find the brief history, folklore, and poetry of sumi-e equally fascinating as they learn about the art form’s “Four Treasures”: the ink, inkstone, brush, and paper. An excellent guide regarding the practical aspect of sumi-e, it also begins to skim the surface on the spiritual, acknowledging the desire to “create paintings that are full of energy and life, and capture the essence of the subject,” as traditionally, Asian brush painters are taught that the energy they impart through the brush stroke is what breathes life or gives meaning to their subjects.
Charming, practical, and a good guide to using a brush to create simple illustrations. (Informational picture book. 7-12)