The gifts of Sumi-e

This post is about inner peace and the joy you can find in practicing the beautiful art of Sumi-e painting. But, heads up. I’m not a Sumi-e expert of any sort. I’m an illustrator who loves this art form and wanted to try it as a gift for herself.

The kind people from generously sent me a beautiful Sumi-e kit that included: three brushes, a Suzuri stone, three ceramic dishes, a stick of professional Sumi ink, and a pad of Hosho paper. They packed a little surprise, a cute origami dog. How nice! 

I set up my kit on a piece of felt. It’s essential to protect the surface you’re working on because the ink tends to bleed.

The first thing you need to do to start your Sumi-e journey is to grind some ink. I have to say that I love this part. I enjoy it so much because of the scent of the ink. I’d describe it as the smell of rain or moss. It takes me to a meditative state, a total delight! 

To begin, you need to pour some clean water on the Suzuri stone, starting on the flat area and letting the water flow to the concave side of it. Then, gently and slowly rub your ink stick on the flat area using a circular motion. It’ll create a beautiful shiny puddle. You’d need around 15 to 20 minutes of grinding to get a dark ink.

Then, pour some water on your small dishes and create two shades of grey; a medium dark and a lighter one.


Now it’s playtime! Let yourself paint freely, for the joy of doing it, without judgment or perfectionism. One of the qualities that attract me the most about Sumi-e is that you create an image building up from single strokes, so you need to trust yourself and be brave to let your brush flow and express itself full of energy and emotions. What is in you will show.

Sumi-e is a gift to your inner peace. From grinding the ink to the moment the tip of your brush touches the paper, it’s a complete experience of serenity and relaxation. 

Thanks, Yasutomo, for making available a fantastic array of products that make easy and affordable the experience of Sumi-e.

Escoda. A journey of tradition and beauty.

Barcelona is Escoda’s birthplace. They have a long family tradition of brush artisans and many curios anecdotes, including making forty-eight meter-long handle brushes for Salvador Dali.

They are well known in the art community for their wide range of brushes that cover various mediums. In my case, I was very interested in putting my magnifying glass over their watercolor brushes since I’m all in about this medium. I had two requests; first, they need to be synthetic. So no animal harm is involved in my art making -I’m working toward making my practice 100% cruelty-free. I’m not there yet, but I’m close (I’ll tell you more in future posts.) Second, the portable factor. I love going out to paint, and taking my beloved non-portable brushes is a thing. I don’t want them to be damaged in any way. So, I was on the look for a great, synthetic, portable pal-brush to hop off in my watercolor journey, as many of you probably are too.

I contacted Escoda, and they kindly send me a Black Synthetic Travel brush set. It includes a #16 round Versatil, a 1/4’ Sable Perla, and a #12 flat Perla.

The first thing I got to say is how beautiful the brushes’ bodies are, with their shiny silver ferrule and cap. They are also very light, so it’s a pleasure to hold them. Each one is made in two parts: a short body brush and a sturdy cap/holder protecting them while traveling.

Let’s get into the business. I tried every brush separately, starting with the #16 Versatil round. Its synthetic fibers are designed to mimic the performance of Kolinsky sable brushes. It has excellent water/pigment retention, which is a gift for me because I can go a long way with just one load. Making my painting process easier and faster. I love how soft the fibers are and how they glide over my paper. It also has a great snap, keeps its shape intact, and has a very reliable sharp point. So you can paint a large area trusting its water holding capacity and tackle small details with just one brush.

I painted a cute illustration using the set. You can take a look at it here.

The 1/4’ dagger Perla is made out of White Toray fibers. It has a fantastic snap and the sharpest point. I got to say it is a great discovery for me. I love painting flowers and leaves, and it’s the perfect tool for that. I don’t know why I haven’t tried a dagger brush before, but I’m happy I had my first experience with the Perla.

Nonetheless, I have a little disclaimer. If you are like me and haven’t tried this kind of brush before, you’d need a little bit of time to understand how it works, but once you do, you’d spend hours on end with it (so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it at first.) In the small illustration I mentioned before, you can see the beautiful leaves you can achieve using this brush.

The #12 flat Perla is also made of White Toray fibers, so it shares the same fantastic characteristics with the dagger. A great snap and softness. It’s convenient to have a portable flat brush on your outdoor watercolor set. You can give a natural appealing to a tree trunk with just a quick dry brushwork or even paint a whole piece with its beautiful clean brush stroke.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I invite you to try and enjoy the endless possibilities of this high-quality set. And if you do, please let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience.

All the opinions are my own. I was not paid to do this review.