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Frequently Asked Questions

Ink Wash Painting (Sumi-e/Literati)

Ink Wash Painting or Literati Painting, is an East Asian type of brush painting that uses black ink—the same as used in East Asian calligraphy, in various concentrations. For centuries, this most prestigious form of Chinese art was practiced by highly educated scholar gentlemen or literati. Ink wash painting uses tonality and shading achieved by varying the ink density, both by differential grinding of the ink stick in water and by varying the ink load and pressure within a single brushstroke. Ink wash painting artists spend years practicing basic brush strokes to refine their brush movement and ink flow. In the hand of a master, a single stroke can produce astonishing variations in tonality, from deep black to silvery gray. Thus, in its original context, shading means more than just dark-light arrangement: It is the basis for the beautiful nuance in tonality found in East Asian ink wash painting and brush-and-ink calligraphy.

Ink wash painting is usually done on xuan paper (Chinese) or washi (Japanese paper) both of which are highly absorbent and unsized. Silk is also used in some forms of ink painting. Many types of xuan paper and washi do not lend themselves readily to a smooth wash the way watercolor paper does. Each brush stroke is visible, so any "wash" in the sense of Western style painting requires partially sized paper. Paper manufacturers today understand artists' demands for more versatile papers and work to produce kinds that are more flexible. If one uses traditional paper, the idea of an "ink wash" refers to a wet-on-wet technique, applying black ink to paper where a lighter ink has already been applied, or by quickly manipulating watery diluted ink once it has been applied to the paper by using a very large brush.

Names used in the cultures concerned include: in Chinese shui-mo hua, in Japanese sumi-e, or suibokuga , in Korean sumukhwa, and in Vietnamese tranh thuỷ mặc.

Archival Print (AP)

Archival Print/Archival, means that the print has good aging properties. Used to describe any process or material meant to forestall or prevent an artwork's deterioration. Archival Prints are printed using high quality ink that will not fade or deteriorate for many years to come. 


Giclée, is a printing process for artists' to make reproductions of their original two dimensional artwork in photography, oil painting, watercolor, acrylic painting, etc. Inkjet printing is the "giclee" process where the original artwork is scanned and then printed with archival high quality ink. This allows the artist to follow a just-in-time business model in which inkjet printing can be an economical option, since art can be printed and sold individually in accordance with demand. Inkjet printing has the added advantage of allowing artists to take total control of the production of their images, including the final color correction and the substrates being used.


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