Meet Monika Cilmi

Monika Cilmi has has exhibited her artwork internationally, and she works as both an artist and a tutor. She is passionate about both Korean and Japanese art, and she is guided by the relationship between nature and gesture. Monika is the author of Beginning Chinese Brush and Mindful Artist: Birds & Botanicals. We asked her a few questions about her artistic process.

Quarto Creates: How did you first become interested in brush painting?
Monika Cilmi: I believe I felt the connection with this form of art and Japanese culture since childhood but it all really started when I was at the university and read a book on Zen painting. Then I worked on a project based on the unique power of the line and it all clicked in my artistic practice.
QC: What is your advice for those who want to try it but aren’t sure where to start?
MC: I would advise to start familiarizing with the philosophy behind it to understand the approach and the process but then mainly I would say to go for it. People can start with a clear step by steps book that also give you basic info about the style, materials, and tools.  There are also few courses available which are a great way to start too.
QC: Who was your most influential teacher, and why?
MC: I do not really have one influential teacher but I have been always inspired by the work of Sesshū Tōyō, who was the most prominent Japanese master of ink and wash painting and Tanchu Terayama, Master calligrapher, whose book on Zen brushwork became like a bible to me and a starting point on my love for Oriental brushwork.
QC: Where do you find inspiration for your art?
MC: Everywhere and in everything. All my surrounding and my feelings and emotions are part of my work.  Nature and energy are one of the strongest inspirations to me.
QC: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from creating?
MC: I have learned so many lessons from creating but mostly what is stands out to me is learning to let go and express myself without judgment or being too self-conscious and therefore feel with all my body. The ability to create is the most important gift to me.

Learn more about Monika’s work on Instagram @monicacilmi and online at Be sure to get your copy of Mindful Artist: Birds and Botanicals, available now!