Welcome to my Japanese ink painting world

This page is meant to give you a quick overview of my artistic work from the past years, in addition to the weekly inspiration dose found on zen Mondays here. I create ink paintings in the Japanese zen style, where the main goal is to convey the essence of a topic through a few well placed strokes and the beauty of black to white infinite gradations. Birds and flowers are the most frequent subjects, and I use selected color accents for the subject in focus on every painting. My work can be split into two main categories – zen journals and stand-alone ink on paper works. My personal journey towards Japanese ink painting is a long, curious one. You can read more about it on this artist interview with Candace Rardon at http://www.momentsketchers.com/mafalda.

Zen journals

My smallest size paintings are 10 x 15 cm, created with Japanese ink brush pens. These are my “zen journals”. Zen journaling is a daily opportunity to connect with the nature and seasons and celebrate transience. To refocus one’s mind to truly see and be grateful for the beauty surrounding us. It is also a nifty “hack” to restore energy and creativity to the levels demanded by my professional activities. I paint on my zen journals every day. I share some of my daily creativity habits in a concise format in the notebook “The Tea House Diary”.

Although Japanese-looking in their aesthetic feel, I have zen journaled my way through subjects as varied as the gardens of Zurich, the birds of New Zealand or sea creatures of the Maldives. In 2020, I inked my way through one hundred Japanese bird species. You can read about that extraordinary undertaking here.

Book editions

All my zen journals are handmade sketchbooks. Based on a selection of images from my zen journals, I published a first mini art edition, “One Moment, One Drawing”. The second edition of this art book is available here. This was followed in 2021 by the “The Tea House Diary”.

All of the above are handmade art books too, collaborations with artisans and others, shining a light on details of ink painting and Japanese culture. I plan to develop more art projects and collaborations going forward as an independent art book publisher. “Autumn in Japan” was recently released under the same imprint.


Original ink paintings

In addition to the book edition projects above, I create a number of original ink painting works every year. Some in pure monochrome black and white, some with a restricted palette of Japanese ink colors. I paint on washi (Japanese paper). Preparing an ink on paper work for sale through the traditional “backing” process is a cumbersome, labor intensive and lengthy task. Some of my works have been assembled as scrolls and hand fans, but the lead-time can be close to a year for such pieces. For this reason, the most frequent formats available for sale online are:

  • shikishi (Japanese paper already backed on a square hard board format with a gold coloured rim)
  • tanzaku (Japanese paper already backed on a narrow rectangular hard board format with a gold coloured rim)
  • Awagami Art Cards, Gasenshi or Bamboo Paper (Japanese paper in a square format, these paper stocks are thick enough they can be framed as is for a Western style display)

All my original works are signed in black ink and stamped with my artist seal (or a positive wish seal in the smallest works).

How you can enjoy my art works

You can enjoy my works and process in several manners:

  1. follow this site
  2. subscribe to my “Art Journey” letter, a long read which I send out twice a year only
  3. subscribe to “zen Mondays” for a weekly dose of ink painting and poetry straight from the artist desk
  4. follow my instagram account @mtenente
  5. attend a collective exhibition or event I participate in

All of the above are free ways to engage with my art. Or you can choose to own some of my work. You can do this by:

  1. purchasing a copy of one of my book editions
  2. buying some art cards or signed prints
  3. purchasing an original
  4. commissioning an artwork

Book editions and art are available on my online shop, and at exhibitions or public events related to Japanese culture, ink painting and art publishing. If you are interested in another work you have seen on my site or instagram account, please contact me directly here.

If you’d like to learn more about my ink painting practice, stock my books or collaborate on a specific project involving my painting skills or edition development, contact me here. As ever, thank you for visiting today!

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All rights reserved. “One Moment, One Drawing. Twelve ink drawings to chase the seasons”™, “一期一絵、水墨画で描く十二節気”™, “The Tea House Diary”™,“茶室記”™ , “Autumn in Japan”, 和秋“™, are the intellectual property of its author Mafalda Tenente, 2018-2023