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Graduation Ceremony - June 14th, 2008

Getting your seal is a special event for sumi-e artists, who typically spend five years in classes to attain it. When sumi-e graduates complete the classes and receive their seal, we invite them and all our members to a special ceremony where the graduates add an imprint of their seal to the Sumi-e Artists of Canada scrolls containing the seals of many sumi-e artists in Canada.

This year we had 8 graduates from the sumi-e painting program taught at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre under chief instructor Hiroshi Yamamoto. These artists are given a free year's membership to the Sumi-e Artists of Canada.

What is a seal? It is a unique saying in Japanese that identifies an artist. It is carved in stone and imprinted on a completed work of art usually in red ink.

At the graduation ceremony, the artist's seal was added to the list of seals from past and current members of the Sumi-e Artists of Canada.

The name of the artist, the seal and the meaning of the seal was inscribed.

The 6 graduates who attended the ceremony are shown with Sumi-e Artists of Canada president, Gary Bist. From left-to-right, the artists are Hideko Adachi, Fumiko Uyenaka, Darleen Clay, Toshiko Ochiai, Elizabeth Knebli and Natalie Griller. Two graduates, Donalda McGeachy and Jeffrey Snape could not attend.

A test piece is created by a sumi-e artist and assessed by the sumi-e painting instructor as the final stage before receiving a seal. We were fortunate in that the sumi-e artists brought their paintings to this this year's graduation ceremony.

Hideko Adachi's work showed a dramatic collection of stark, barren trees in a winter setting.

Hideko's work was a blend of classic sumi-e painting techniques wrapped in a Canadian landscape.

Fumiko Uyenaka created a landscape mixing agriculture and natural images with a dream-like quality.

Fumiko's landscape stretched into a distant, almost mystical environment filled with vibrant trees and golden fields.

Darleen Clay's painting had a classic style and subject. Like some of the other artists, Darleen's work was done completely in sumi-e ink.

Darleen's painting featured a waterfall in the midst of a rugged Canadian setting complete with pines, which is balanced with a mountainous background.

Toshiko Ochiai, shown here with Marie Ikeda, created an almost magical winter scene with panda bears.

Is a mother panda bear protecting a cub from a winter storm or are the bears oblivious to it? Toshiko's painting drew the viewer into the relationship of the panda bears.

Elizabeth Knebli's work demonstrated the power of nature as symbolized by the mountains that dominate the work.

The man-made boat and houses are dwarfed by the forces of nature.

Do you think you have a long commute to take sumi-e classes? Natalie Griller came all the way from Nunavut. Natalie created a harsh northern landscape as seen from within a cave that offers shelter from it.

In a painting within a painting, the cave walls themselves have art on them.

At the ceremony, the executive presented an update of their activities. Kathy Matsushita filled us in on our members' adventurers. We really have a lively group both inside and outside sumi-e painting.

Dianne Kitazaki and Gail Pahwa helped us out with goodies.

Our irrepressible treasurer, George Nakamura, kept us abreast of our financial state, which fortunately is in the black.

The graduation ceremony was also a social occasion to discuss all things about sumi-e.

And of course it was a time to receive all the congratulations the graduates deserve from friends for all their hard work and perseverance.

A seal is just the beginning of a life of continuous learning in sumi-e painting. We look forward to seeing all the graduates at our workshops and shows.