Fanning the Flames
Balancing the Blanks
There is a beautiful and ancient Japanese art called Sumi. Sumi (or Sumi-E) is deliberate and deceptively simple brush strokes on rice paper with a carbon-based ink. Sometimes there are colored inks, but the most common and traditional is simply black ink and water. It's almost meditative, as each stroke is meaningful and simple subjects often convey complex emotions and stories.
But what is NOT painted is just as important as what is. The art is also about balance. Each composition takes into consideration not only where the brush stroke will go, but how that is balanced with the white spaces as well. To the Sumi painter, the blank parts of the paper are equally a part of the artwork. This is usually in great contrast to most Western art that seeks to cover and fill a canvas completely with paints. The only similar technique I've found that incorporates some unpainted areas at times is watercolor. Usually to use the blankness as the highlight instead of a white paint, but it doesn't always leave large areas unpainted.
Indeed, if other things were completely filled in our lives, we would miss out on a lot. If every glass in your house was full of a drink, you would either be overwhelmed with choices or unable to bring in any new flavors. If your written page was completely full of words, reading paragraphs would be very difficult. If your schedule was completely full all the time, you'd be utterly exhausted and burnt out pretty quickly. If we colored the entire background on every coloring page as well as the subject, we'd use up our crayons a lot faster. If the surface of a pair of dice was entirely filled in, you couldn't tell the number of dots on it.
Where are some blank spaces in your creativity or life? Do you take five minutes sometimes to just breathe and recuperate? I invite you to try to create some blankness in your creativity and see how that makes you feel. Write half a page, act without moving from one spot, create only in the center of the canvas or paper, sing with more pauses between lines or verses. or just sit and do nothing for 2 minutes.
Don't forget to breathe.
Are you feeling unsure as to which blank spaces can benefit you?  I can help you with that. Contact me and together we will investigate how leaving a little open can balance you.
Around the Hearth
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Fanning the Flames, copyright 2019 Meghan O'Connor, all rights reserved.
Photo of Sumi master Misturu Nagata and his art
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Keynote Creativity Coaching  •  PO Box 7053  •  Albuquerque, NM 87194

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