Japanese Darkness and Light Sumi-e Watercolour Set


Proudly presenting our latest, in a series of Japanese watercolour sets - please meet Darkness and Light - 20 shades of black, created by combining pigment and ancient Japanese ink. Sumi ink, a rough translation of the Japanese word for stain, can be linked to the arrival of Buddhism in Japan, imported from Korea and in turn China sometime during the Nara period in the 7th century AD. Not surprisingly the best ink makers are still based in the ancient Imperial city, where our ingredients originate. 

Sumi-e ink is derived from soot obtained first by firing vegetable oil such as canola or sesame, then mixed with gelatin carefully, kneaded by hand and foot, shaped into wooden moulds, left to dry on wet ashes until 70% of moisture has evaporated resulting into a hard dense stick of black. This process can take from 1 to 8 weeks depending on the ink type and primarily made in winter as to not spoil the ingredients. 

Mixed with pigment to formulate paint, the Sumi ink gives each shade's colour spectrum an extended layering of contrast where darks are deep and cavernous, highlights possess great clarity and intensity and mid-tones offer shine and gloss.

These 20 shades are designed to be used straight out of the box, requiring little mixing, they offer a great base for monochrome painting, especially for preliminary sketches where suggestive touches of colour suffice. Consider Darkness and Light for painting where colour conservatism might be a welcome liberator, leading to minimalism and simplicity. 

Each is delivered in an attractive silk screen printed Japanese paper depicting mountains - a wink to Sōtō Zen Buddhist thought as expressed by Eihei Dogen (1200-1253) in Sansui Kyo's aka Mountains and Waters Sutra - an existentialist contemplation of mountains and rivers as the very expression of the Buddha; and the perfect philosophical partner and instigator for the development and use of this paint set. 

We recommend our Aquarella (white) and Aquarello (off-white) for the perfect paper pairing.

Material: Gansai watercolour

Included: 20 colours in chiyogami paper presentation box.
Vegetarian/ Vegan: No (contains gelatine glue binder)

Made in Japan