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Japanese Black Ink Painting for Beginners Online Program

Learn brushstrokes and techniques for painting grasses, flowers, trees, mountains, landscapes and more in our beginner's online blended learning program membership and Workshops.


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Live Online Learning

Our live group learning online sessions include guidance and feedback to improve personal progress.

Pre-recorded Classes

Access the relaxing pre-recorded instructional videos and learn at your own pace in your own time.

Pop-Up Cafés

Join in our pop-up online Cafés where you can meet up for a friendly cup of tea and a chat.

Learn at Your Own Pace

There are many different ways to engage with this online program membership, and each member can decide on their own way to engage with the learning to suit their own needs, level of experience and availability.

Our Community is Included with Your Membership

Enjoy our online Private Members' Art Community where members can make friends, share their art and keep in touch. Our 'Members' Art Club' also includes our own 'Live Room' for meet-ups, events and relaxing challenges.


Try Something Relaxing, Creative and Inspiring.

Sumi-e: Japanese Black Ink Painting is a unique art form using only black ink, handmade paper, and a special brush. In this beautiful art form, the fewest possible strokes are used to capture the essence of the subject being painted. It is a calming and relaxing activity. No previous art experience is necessary for this course.


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What People Are Saying: 


 "What a great way to learn about the art of Japanese Black Ink Painting from a very knowledgeable teacher. I love the mixture of practical exercises, background information and interaction with the teacher and other students. Such a fun, calming, creative way to spend some time."

Denise, Tipperary


"Would highly recommend taking sumi-e with Karen, not only is she extremely welcoming, but her classes are informative and fun. There's a wonderful blend of theory and practice which I love!"

Aishling, Ireland


 "I completely enjoyed the first weekend course I took with Karen. She is a highly skilled artist and a born teacher. She is encouraging, patient and very organized. Highly recommend any teaching offered by her. She also manages to make it all fun-she is a joy to work with!"

Nuala, Dublin


"I started Sumi-e classes with Karen 3 years ago and I am hooked ever since. I find her classes so relaxing and also really interesting. Love my Sumi-e."

Colette, Co. Kilkenny


STAY CONNECTED WITH NEWS AND UPDATES on both new in-person and live online Workshops and Programs.

"I really recommend joining the Sumi-e online members programme with Karen … I find her passion and wonderful years of knowledge and kind patience know no bounds. The enjoyment I get from this art form is so relaxing, stimulating and inspiring. I have been a member for many years. I’ve learnt so much and there's so much more to learn … Enjoy."

Jo Embury

"Japanese Black Ink Painting is such a joy in my life. I became a student of Karen's last year on a week's retreat to study Sumi-e painting. She is a superb teacher, gifted in conveying the details and nuances of the art, with patience and humor. I am delighted to become her student again-and now that she is teaching on-line, I won't be flying over from New York for a class! (At least for now.)"

Linda, New York


"Delighted to be a founding member of Karen's online Japanese Black Ink Painting group... Her videos are clear, concise, aesthetically pleasing, precise and informative. Our live guided painting zoom meetings are relaxed and friendly... Really happy that I signed up for the year."

Barbara, Dublin, Ireland


"My experience with Karen's painting courses, both live and online, has been wonderful! She brings so many years of experience to the classes along with a very clear, calm, meditative and gentle approach. I enjoy each class immensely!"

Patricia, Co. Waterford


"Karen's classes are always welcoming and informative. A great balance between technique and a background to the Sumi-e painting. This style of painting is different from a western style, but Karen is always on hand with tips and encouragement."

Brian, Co. Tipperary

"I have learnt so much and had such good fun on this site that I intend carrying on indefinitely!"

Navan, Co. Meath

"I took part in a day long course with Karen earlier this year and really enjoyed the introduction to Japanese ink painting. I found it relaxing, engrossing and almost meditative in its gentle focus on brush and mark making. I am looking forward to learning more and developing a greater understanding of the processes involved in producing a Japanese ink painting."

Gillian, Ireland


"From the first notes of birdsong and measured introduction, and on through all aspects of sumi-e painting techniques, you will be enthralled. Karen will take you carefully through every process. Beautifully produced to inspire you, this is a real joy so please watch and fall in love with the art of Japanese Black Ink Painting!"

Wendy, Ireland


 "Karen's Sumi-e classes are my relaxation and meditation. Karen's teachings are excellent and supportive. Having no formal artistic tendencies, I have discovered a passion for this wonderful artform."

Karen, Wexford


 "It is interesting, with some good background stories. I am looking forward to applying it soon."

Anne, Ireland

"Since starting the Sumi-e course with Karen, it's been a lovely journey of developing a new skill in a very relaxing and mindful environment. If you are looking to try something new and different, then this course is one to try. I love it because it's more about the process and your own personal response to this ancient art form while developing a whole new skill set. We also do a lovely relaxing introduction to the start of the class which helps get you into the right mindset. It really is a lovely class to try, and you will get to meet a great bunch of people too."

Co. Westmeath, Ireland

Frequently Asked Questions

No previous experience is necessary: this online program is for complete beginners.

LIVE GROUP LEARNING ONLINE SESSIONS including guidance and feedback to improve personal progress.

ACCESS TO PRE-RECORDED INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS that you can watch in your own time.

POP-UP ZOOM CAFÉS where Members can meet up for tea and a chat and, if they'd like, show their paintings.

REVIEW/REFRESHER WORKSHOPS Half-Day Online Workshops that also review Introductory material.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' ART COMMUNITY where Members can meet, relax, learn, share, grow, make friends, and have fun! 

QUIET ONLINE PRACTISE SESSIONS  in our own Community Live Room for when Members feel like a quiet practice session painting whatever they choose, but would like a bit of company.

RELAXING 'CHALLENGES' including Meditation, Forest Bathing and more.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' WhatsApp GROUP where Members can keep in touch.

No previous experience is necessary: this online program is for complete beginners.

Yes, you will need some basic art materials. Details on what materials you'll need and where you can order them will be available.

The course instructor is Karen Colbert. Karen received her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting and later studied Japanese Black Ink Painting (Sumi-e) with Professor Emeritus Shozo Sato. She is a professional member of Visual Artists Ireland and has been exhibiting her work and teaching for many years.

There are monthly and yearly options for your Membership Subscription. To view price offers, CLICK HERE.

To become a Member, CLICK HERE and choose your Membership Subscription type.

You can cancel your subscription yourself at any time. If you have a monthly subscription, you will not be billed for the following month. For yearly subscriptions, you will have access for the full year and will not be billed for the following year.

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Find out more and keep in touch.

Detail, Japanese Scroll

Butterfly on a fan. Signed (signature below), mounted on silk. 105 x 74 cm.

See More Examples of Japanese Black Ink Painting (Sumi-e) Below

Title: Kingfisher and Bamboo. Artist: Formerly attributed to Sesshū Tōyō (Japanese, 1420–1506). Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (OA)

Slideshow of Sumi-e Examples Below

Slide 1: SPLASHED-INK LANDSCAPE by Bokushō Shūshō. Slide 2: BIRD ON A BRANCH by Unkei Eii. Slide 3: ZEN MASTER WITH MEDITATION STAFF, AND CHINESE-STYLE LANDSCAPES (scroll a) by Unkoku Tōeki. Slide 4: LANDSCAPE IN MOONLIGHT by Kano Tan'yū. Slide 5: FAMOUS THEMES FOR PAINTING STUDY KNOWN AS "THE GARDEN OF PAINTING" (GAEN) by Kano Tan'yū (section 1 of 5). All slideshow images credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (OA). For dates/periods, see:

Course Instructor

Visual Artist and Course Instructor Karen Colbert was born in Chicago and has been based in Ireland for thirty years. She received her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting and later studied Japanese Black Ink Painting (Sumi-e) with Professor Emeritus Shozo Sato. She has been exhibiting her work and teaching for many years. Karen is a professional member of Visual Artists Ireland, the Representative body for professional artists in Ireland, and IVARO, the Irish Visual Artists Rights Organisation. VAI is the Irish representative within the IAA (International Association of Art).

"Japanese Black Ink Painting is a remarkable art form."

Karen Colbert, MFA
Visual Artist and Course Instructor



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