Recently I took my daughters to the Boston Children’s Museum where they were instructed in the art of Suminagashi, the ancient art of ink marbling. It is said to be perhaps the oldest form of Japanese art, its intricate secrets kept sacred between master and student for centuries. It is the simple and lovely art of marrying nature and artist. Ink derived from burned pine is touched to the surface of water, alternating patterns and ripples of obsidian ink, bleeding into the water before being kissed by the wind that flows from the life breath of our softly pursed lips which is then pressed to rice paper, becoming lasting, indelible art.
The instructor, a woman with such poise and equanimity in the midst of clamorous children, advised that this work could not be done if the waters were not still, if the tip of the brush was not dipped and then delicately rendered with focus and intention, nature is a vital part of this process, as is a calm, clear, placid mind and a sense of purpose.
One child exclaimed “I don’t get it!” as the ink almost imperceptibly sank into the water, to which she replied, “there is nothing to get, just wait.”
Watching my own beautiful daughter render her piece, intuitively able to bring to life on a gossamer sliver of rice paper, her vision…a gift….as was the acknowledgment that her teacher today was my guru as well. Calm waters and intention must be cultivated for all artistic and spiritual endeavors to unfold…
For isn’t all art and life a wondrous blend of our own hopeful paintbrush touching the waters and trusting nature to guide our journey?