The Four Treasures: Ink, ii

This really is my home-made video debut.  For my birthday, I got a Kodak Zi8.  I’ve never shot a video in my life.  It’s been in the back of my mind for some time to try to create videos on various subjects, in particular those related to sumi ink painting.  I’ve long admired a number of ink artists, and have learned a lot from watching their videos.  So, I decided to make a video today, just to see what I can do.  Already, I know that what I have done is incredibly amateur, but for a first try, I decided to go ahead and post what I’ve done.  Just making the videos gave such a greater appreciation for the thought which goes into a good one, as well as having good editing software.  The Kodak Zi8 comes with MediaImpression for Kodak, by ArcSoft.  I’ve managed to add a title and an ending to the file, but nothing else.  What you see is really unedited footage!

The Art of Grinding an Ink Stick

Many authors of Japanese and Chinese ink-painting books will tell you that while you grind the ink on the stone, with gentle motions, it is a good time to collect oneself.  I agree.  I like to take my time, listen to calming music, and relax.  Focusing on breathing helps – in, out, in, out – slowing down.  Given the permanency of every ink stroke in sumi, it makes sense to calm down, to control one’s energy, and to take time to become centered.  Breathing helps.  I know that if I start out feeling stressed, my painting is stressed, tight and unhappy.  Grinding ink is a period of transition.

Making the Video

Well, making the video was a pain!  At first the camera was too low, and the field of vision too narrow.  I had to build up the height of the camera, and retrain its focus.  Looking at the video, certainly lighting needs to be improved, and the camera should be coming over my left shoulder, and lighting needs to be less yellow (maybe use the no-light setting!?!).  Shadows need to disappear.

Purpose of the Video

  1. Show the ink stone, with water
  2. Demonstrate the ink stick
  3. Demonstrate the upright position of the ink stick, and the motion on the top of the stone, as well as pulling the water up from the well of the stone, to continue the grinding process
  4. Show the creation of dark ink, show the creation of medium ink, and the creation of light ink
  5. Show through the time of the video that grinding ink for sumi does take time – it’s not something poured out of a bottle.

The Video

Let me know what you think!  Try it in HD and full screen, too.


2 thoughts on “The Four Treasures: Ink, ii

  1. Fascinating!
    Myself, I do not have the patience to use the ink stick for that long a time, nor to dilute the result to get the three colours.

    Well done!

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