I really know nothing at all about traditional sumi-e brush painting. It's always embarrassing when someone who does stops to admire my work, and asks who I studied under, which school or style I belong to. (This seems to happen most often in Seattle, for some reason.)

None of them, I admit. I make all this up.

No, I tell a lie. I do know one, actual, bona fide sumi technique. I learned it from Denise, who once took a Chinese brush-painting class at the UO Craft Center. It's the traditional way of painting bamboo, sliding the side of the brush up the page to paint stems, stamping the brush side to make leaf imprints. It's very cool and non-intuitive.

And that's why I paint pandas on pots.

Okay, pandas are exciting in their own right. They're strikingly graphic, awfully cute, and a mama panda nursing her cub just makes me go "awwww."

But they also live almost exclusively on bamboo, which means I can paint it on cookie jars, serving bowls, baking dishes, and the occasional teapot.

Along with the pandas, of course.