Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sumie and Baybayin


My Japanese brush painting teacher says that on good days, her work is inspired from above.   On bad days, it’s all due to her.  I finally had a good day in sumie class, resulting in the paintings below.  It was ironic that I was extremely stressed at work that day, and when I hit my limit, I swore to myself that I would leave for my class instead or working long hours.  In class, I focused on grinding the ink, a meditation unto itself.  As a scientist by trade, I tend to overthink instructions.   This time, I relaxed and played, even experimenting with a signature.   Japanese artists sign their work using a stamp in red ink, the Kanji characters symbolizing their personality. I asked my Japanese classmates to make a Kanji character for my name.  Unfortunately, my name (Rachielle) is not easily translated nor pronounced in that language.   So I dove into my own history and to my delight, discovered an indigenous form or writing.  Baybayin is experiencing a revival in the Philippines, instilling pride in the culture before colonization.


Combining sumie and native Baybayin, indigenous (pre-Hispanic) Filipino writing 

Grapes in sumie Japanese brush painting.   The signature spells my maiden name, Ragasa, in Baybayin.

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