Endorsements for Super Simple Sumi-e

Palka offers an accessible introduction to sumi-e, or Japanese ink painting, through simple illustrated techniques and appealing animals.

Friendly pandas and swallows greet readers prior to the table of contents. A succinct welcome and brush-stroke overview sets the stage before readers explore the sections, each differentiated by animal type and/or technique. A swirl or “gray blob” transforms into snails, mice, and rabbits; while curved strokes become birds. Like Ed Emberley, the artist offers clear, step-by-step instructions. With just four blobs, patches, and strokes, playful pandas appear; and in five “S” or press strokes, a swirling, atmospheric dragon materializes. Resources and background information bookend this appealing introduction, with how-to information on holding, loading, and caring for the brush. Adults and children alike may find the brief history, folklore, and poetry of sumi-e equally fascinating as they learn about the art form’s “Four Treasures”: the ink, inkstone, brush, and paper. An excellent guide regarding the practical aspect of sumi-e, it also begins to skim the surface on the spiritual, acknowledging the desire to “create paintings that are full of energy and life, and capture the essence of the subject,” as traditionally, Asian brush painters are taught that the energy they impart through the brush stroke is what breathes life or gives meaning to their subjects.

Charming, practical, and a good guide to using a brush to create simple illustrations. (Informational picture book. 7-12) Kirkus Reviews

Follow these whimsical drawing instructions to create your own bird, or perhaps you’d prefer some mice, but a panda would be sweeter, perhaps a dragon to get everyone’s attention. Yvonne Palka is an accomplished sumi painter who transfers her love of this ancient Chinese style of brush painting through books and workshops for children and adults. In a delightfully illustrated pictorial instructional guide, the reader is shown how to use a few simple strokes using brush, ink, and paper to animate a page. The magical rhythmic instructions are clear-cut and point out the supplies required and how these are used. These essentially include sumi ink or black tempera paint, sumi brush, newsprint paper, and a few other ancillaries easily found around the house. Techniques for working with the supplies and shaping the various forms are clearly described. The details make this Asian brush painting technique so appealing that both children and adults will be tempted to work at it together, transforming this activity into a true family experience. Also learn more about this ancient form of ink painting and its relationship to calligraphy. Now, if only this book came packaged with brush and ink for a quick start into this delightful art form. — Seattle Book Review

This is soooo fun (sumi-e painting, that is)!  I don’t want to go back to class.  I just want to paint all day!  — 6th grade student at Fernbrook Elementary School, Maple Grove, MN

Super Simple Sumi-e is a visual delight. Short phrases weave their way around the charming, step-by-step illustrations, making the painting process easy to follow. As I turned the pages, I felt I was entering a new world, a wonderful treasure hunt. — Marilyn Webberly, Artist, Seattle, WA

This little book will bring hours of creative fun to anyone who picks up a brush and follows along. The author/illustrator shows you how to make your own birds, rabbits, mice, pandas with bamboo for them to eat, and even dragons! And who knows, perhaps you will create creatures of your very own.— Marilyn Webberly, Artist, Seattle, WA

Yvonne Palka’s Super Simple Sumi-e is a playful and clear introduction to the time-honored art of Asian brush painting, inviting young people (and the child in many an adult) to try their hand at expressing their own creative spirit. With its magical creatures—from creeping snails and nibbling mice to its rotund pandas, and finally its fierce dragons literally bursting from the page—it is engaging, never heavily instructive.

Super Simple Sumi-e is a most delightful “un-coloring” book, encouraging each participant through playful experimentation to become familiar with the heart energy that underlies all true creation. This is a book sorely needed in our increasingly mechanical times.  — Eva Sher, Poet, Sumi-e Artist, Author and Illustrator of The Scintillating Little
Medina, WA

My 8 and 6 years old granddaughters were over this weekend and we had a Super Simple Sumi-e painting party.  I went over the basic brush strokes with them first, then we started out with snail and mouse pictures. Ruby, my 8 year old, tried the panda on her own by looking at your easy to follow instructions and did a terrific job.

The book is nicely laid out, and the few steps involved are perfect for kids of all ages. We’ll try painting new critters from the book next time they’re over.  — Susan Frederickson, sumi-e artist, Minneapolis, MN 

My daughter couldn’t wait to get in the house and get her paints out after your presentation at school and then she independently painted 4 beautiful pictures.  They were very meaningful to her.  She has continued to paint the panda and bird pictures.  Thank you for inspiring my daughter with your art! — Caroline S., Parent, Weaver Lake Elementary School, Maple Grove, MN

This is soooo fun (sumi-e painting, that is)!  I don’t want to go back to class.  I just want to paint all day! — 6th grade student at Fernbrook Elementary School, Maple Grove, MN

See this cute art from our Colorado grandkids…apparently they did all their Christmas thank you cards with the sumi materials  (book, ink and brushes) I gave them for Christmas.  Look at how well they turned out!!”  — Bonnie Bledsoe, Artist, Seattle WA

Your book is not only inspiring, but also taught me a great deal about the history and techniques of sumi-e.  Although it is supposedly a children’s art book, I learned much from it. — Cilla Walford, Artist and instructor, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis, MN