Now you can make a Brush Dance and Ink Sing - in Durban!

A course in Japanese brush painting - conducted by Louis van Loon

Louis was taught the ancient eastern art of Sumi-e (Japanese Ink Brush Painting) by one of the last remaining elderly “Living Legends” of this exquisite form of art at a small sumie studio in Kyoto, Japan, in 1959. Since then he has taught sumie to appreciative students at The Buddhist Retreat Centre and at Art In The Forest (previously Tretchikoff’s studio) in Constantia, Cape Town.


The illustrations above show two of the traditional Ten Zen Ox-Herding pictures Louis painted in Japan which depict how our journey through life can become increasingly meaningful by paying close attention to the way our mind and emotions (our ox) respond to the circumstances we find ourselves in - whether these are painful or pleasurable - and by remaining calm and staying focussed. This we learn through the practice of Zazen: Sitting Meditation.

After many requests he has agreed to run a course at his home/studio in Morningside, Durban. You will learn how the unique deer-hair sumie brush and the liquefied pine-soot ink is able to produce a variety of strokes and shades that can capture the innate characteristics of the shapes and textures we see in nature around us. We will use this technique to paint bamboo and other plant and flower compositions, landscapes, etc. Louis will show how this art expresses the unique character of the philosophies of China and Japan: the nature mysticism of Taoism and contemplative Zen Buddhism. The course will therefore include short sessions of Zen Meditation before each painting session. This is how Louis was taught in Japan.

The special imported traditional deer-hair brushes and solid pine-soot ink used for this art can be hired or bought.

Sumi-e: Making a Brush Dance and Ink Sing

Participation: limited to 8 students

Duration: 8 sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9h30 – 15h30, on the following weekends: April 9/10 - April 30/May 1 - May 28/29 - June 18/19.

Catering: Bring your own lunch. Tea/coffee provided.

Cost: R1,600 for the course. The sumie brushes, ink and suzuris (slabs to liquefy the ink) can be hired (R. 80.00 for the duration of the course) or bought (R. 700.00)

For more information and bookings: write to