Heather MacDonald

Ink painting is a sensual experience...

it engages all the senses and completely captures my attention. Ink has its own magic, its own way of moving and creating a bond between the brush, the paper and the mind and heart of the painter.

Ink has life.

My fascination with the medium of ink as it is used in Chinese and Japanese art is a passion that began many years ago. In 1999, I began formal study of Japanese calligraphy and sumi-e with Sensei Tomoko Kodama, who was also my honoured mentor for teaching, and continued my studies later on with other master artists Sensei Kaz Tanahashi, Sensei Hekuin Oda of the Oda Calligraphy School in Illinois, and Master Rujin Qin in Ottawa.  There is always something new to learn.

I've been teaching at the Ottawa School of Art since 2010, taught privately, and I hold seasonal workshops or short courses elsewhere in my community. As an artist, I do commission pieces as well as create for commerce. 

My focus remains firmly rooted in the traditional practice of Shodo (Zen calligraphy), yet I am always working to create new pieces and explore new avenues of expression in both shodo and sumi-e (ink painting). There are strong elements of impressionism in this genre, and of the gestural, and the avant-garde. It is the power of line.  Both shodo and sumi-e have moved beyond the traditional use of rice papers to include other surfaces such as print-making papers and canvas; in addition to water-based mediums, acrylics are also being used in this genre. That is how it should be. This ancient art has survived over the centuries because the scholar-painters, poets and other artists were unafraid to venture into new territories of visual expression.   But the new has not displaced the old, however.  On the contrary, the 'old' traditions continue to thrive and excite; they co-exist peacefully with the abstract or the contemporary approaches. And the interest, which has always been steady if somewhat 'underground' in North America, is becoming more mainstream as once distant cultures move closer together.

Teaching sumi-e and calligraphy has led me to so many wonderful moments with my students. I treasure them and thank them for sharing their joy with me - they have helped me to grow as a teacher and challenged me to find new and better methods of communicating The Way of the Brush.  Please enjoy my website and check back often as I add new works.

Ink is beautiful.