GregorySumida's Biography

Sumida was reared largely by Spanish-speaking nannies while his “very progressive” father and mother worked. Sumida’s first language was Spanish. Art became his second language. Sumida had many insecurities. He stuttered and stammered so badly, he had to have special treatment and had a very difficult time communicating. When he began to draw on his own in the second grade, drawing became a new language. Soon, drawing began taking him around the school, teaching art to students all the way up to sixth grade. Having no trouble ‘conversing’ in this new language, he knew that he wanted to be a painter. By high school, Sumida excelled in watercolor landscapes, often capturing in earthly tones the majestic mountain ranges of Southern California. He remembers, he became obsessed by watercolors and was just naturally moved by people and by landscapes right from the beginning. “I was also drawing horses and many other different things, but I actually got thrown out of one high school because I was drawing nudes.” From very early on, Sumida also became attracted to capturing certain tribes of people as a pointed reminder of when times were slower.

Gregory’s primary subjects are Plains Indians in landscape.  Sumida is self-taught and sold his first painting to a gallery at age 15. His life-changing inspiration came from a high school trip to the Los Angeles Art Museum and from a conversation. Ever since, he has gone on to defy expectations in any number of ways. An artist equally confident with gouache, charcoal, watercolor, oil, and egg tempera, Sumida is known for powerful realist western landscape paintings and for beautifully observed scenes of Crow and Shoshone Indians. His styles vary from impressionism to realism to western to Japanese influence, and he is dedicated to continually changing and growing. He is also esteemed for vividly impressionistic, ineffably spiritual pieces depicting mermaids and for Asian-inflected pieces that speak of simplicity. Sumida’s work is so wide-ranging that attendees at one of his one-man exhibitions told the gallery owner they were certain they had just seen a two-man show.

 Gregory Sumida is a painter of “Old World dedication”.  He grinds his own paints, stretches the canvases and makes his own frames. He also built his own guitar on which he composes in the tradition of some his musical heroes. He feels lucky to have met a few of them, like Paco de Lucía and Andrés Segovia and Narciso Yepes, who influenced Sumida’s guitar building technique.

Through the years, Sumida has developed his own artistic language whether it is gouache, Egg tempera or oil; an intrinsically soulful and haunting impressionism.

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