Two brushes, one colour, water and paper. That’s all it takes to draw bamboo leaves. Sounds pretty basic, which only means one thing: it looks easy, but it’s not.Bamboo is probably the most used subject in both Chinese and Japanese traditional ink painting, so the varieties and techniques to draw it are infinite.
But being a modest beginner, I try to keep in mind just a few of basic rules:
– The base: Draw the “skeleton” of the plant with a small, precise brush.
– Dimension: Try to draw different sized leaves to give a more natural look to the composition.
– Colour: Draw the leaves with different gradation of black by mixing some ink and water in a separate bowl to obtain grey. Different gradation will give a three-dimensional effect.
– Position: Try to scatter the leaves along the branches randomly. If leaves are placed too perfectly the composition may not result as dynamic as it should.
– White space: In sumi-e, the blanks are as important as the drawing itself. So don’t feel the need to fill all of it. Let the drawing sit nicely and have a airy feeling!
– Finally: When the leaves are dry, draw the small branches to complete your artwork!