About Sumi-e

Oriental brush painting, which includes Korean, Chinese and sumi-e or Japanese brush painting, is rooted in a tradition over two thousand years old. In China this art was first practiced by the Zen priests to improve their spirituality and meditation through artistic concentration, inspiration and perfection.

Sumi-e is more than just an art form. It is a spiritual discipline requiring co-ordination of the physical and spiritual. To paint in sumi-e is to experience the difference between likeness and truth. Likeness can be obtained by shape alone, but when truth is reached, spirit and substance are both fully expressed. In sumi-e it is more important to capture the inner nature of the subject than to reproduce its exact outward appearance and form.

Sumi-e is noted for its spontaneity. The nature of the paper and ink demands an instantaneous technique. Energy, force and movement are inherent in each rapid brushstroke: alive and irrevocable. Once placed on the paper, the brushstroke cannot be modified or erased. A feeling of freedom and effortlessness results from the precise expertise of a perfectly disciplined brush.

Another distinctive feature of sumi-e is asymmetry and the related concept of positive space. This is an original idea found in oriental brushstroke painting which can be traced to the philosophical thinking predominant in both Taoism and in Chan Buddhism: the concept of emptiness contrasting with the positive void, suggesting both no-thing and inexhaustible fullness at the same time. This profound and lucid space harmonizes all the elements in a painting and hints at the Infinite, imparting a poetic feeling and a spiritual dimension.

Sumi-e aims for direct simplicity in spirit, concept and execution: a classic elegance that portrays the artist's personal spirit and will on paper.

Roslyn's Work Area and Sumi-e Supplies

About Roslyn Levin

Roslyn painting at Monora Park

Roslyn Levin, Résumé

I took my first class in sumi-e, my chosen medium, from Tomoko Kodama at the Ottawa School of Art in 1976. I have been practicing shodo (Japanese calligraphy) since 2009 with Noriko Maeda in Waterloo, ON.

I lived in Ottawa from 1971 to 1990 and then moved to Balderson where I farmed organically while continuing to pursue my artistic career.

I have been painting professionally since 1981. My work has appeared in both national and international exhibits in Canada as well as in group exhibits in China,and Japan sponsored by Group Yohaku--white space. My work has also appeared in juried exhibits in London, England. My paintings are in art collections in Holland, Australia, Great Britain, the United States and Canada.

In 2009, 2010 & 2012 my work was accepted into the David Shepherd Internationally Juried Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibit held in The Mall Galleries in London England. In 2011 my painting was short-listed and was included in the brochure for the exhibit. My work has also been selected for the City of Ottawa's Corporate Collection, as well as the Perth War Memorial Hospital in Perth, ON.

My art was chosen as the cover piece for the second book of poems by Grant Johnston titled Mirrors on Uncertain Mornings. Grant Johnston is the great-great-great-great-great grandson of Susannah Moodie, one of Canada's greatest poets. Johnston chose my work because it so reflected the mood of his book of poems. Johnston and his wife also purchased the original for the cover of his book for their own collection.

Three of my paintings were juried into the book A Flower Unfolds by Kwan Yin, a non-denominational spiritual work.

In 2006, my banner was chosen by the Mayor of Orangeville and city staff, from over 200 banners submitted by local artists, to be used for advertising in In the Hills magazine and in local papers.

I am a Studio Artist at Dragonfly Arts on Broadway in Orangeville, Ontario: 519-941-5249

I am a member of Sumi-e Artists of Canada (SAC), Brushfire Artists & the Society of Canadian Artists (SAC).

Current Galleries:
Dragonfly Arts on Broadway, Orangeville, Ontario
Macdonald Stewart Public Gallery, Guelph, Ontario

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