From one starting point ….

…. a Sumi-e painting workshop

During 2020 I was fortunate to attend a half-day Sumi-e workshop with Ken Lamb* – a master of the art. It reignited a joy in me that I felt back in the 80s when I first tried my hand at it. I will always be a beginner and a wayward one at that, but there was a joy in the quiet of it. I came away with lots of bamboo paintings – pages and pages of just leaves, or just stems, each attempt uniquely different though the aim was always the same.

Practice makes perfect! But in the days and weeks that followed, my wayward self emerged. Rather than practising to perfect the forms, I began experimenting. Although everything was inspired by that beautiful Japanese aesthetic, and the stark black ink on rice paper, I found myself exploring:  Different papers, adding colour, definitely not sticking to the classic compositions and forms. It was fun.

…. a Calendar

Each year, beginning around the middle of the year, I begin to design a calendar for the following year. I design and do the artwork, get it professionally printed, and gift it to friends and family, plus sell many, donating the profits to a local school. I’ve been doing this since 2008, and each year the design is very different. In some way it reflects where I’m at in my creative journey. In all previous years, photography was the basis for the artworks. My feeling for the 2021 calendar was leaning to use the best of my Sumi-e works. For some reason this was quite scary. It seemed like I was bearing my soul more than usual. But 2020 was like that in many ways.

…. Online Marketplace

Whether it was a way of connecting during lockdown or not, I decided to upload my calendar images to Redbubble. Redbubble is a global online marketplace for print-on-demand products based on user-submitted artwork. It’s an Australian company, gone global, that I haven’t connected with for quite a long time. It was fun to choose which designs would work with which items – so many to choose from – clothing, home furnishings, bags and phone cases. I was astonished at how their offerings have expanded. Again, this was fun!

…. Wall Hanging for Home

We moved into a new home at the end of 2018, and have spent much of that time renovating and redecorating. The spaces are tall and airy, and the main entry hall with the downward stairs is no exception. This large expanse of blank wall was always one we wanted to decorate but had never been able to decide on just the right thing. Having discounted a few ideas, we decided we would make and hang three wall hangings, using three of the calendar images. It was a great project, getting the sizes and spacing correct, then arranging the printing. The hanging of them was the most precarious, suspended over the stairwell on the end of a ladder. But to us, they look great.

 I’m not particularly good on the longterm commitment. I like to try lots of things, using the excitement of learner’s energy. But from one starting point, that initial Sumi-e workshop, I have journeyed into other experiences, adapting and exploring rather than starting anew.

* Ken’s workshops can be found at