After attaining perfection in swordsmanship, Musashi turned to calligraphy, poetry, sculpture and painting, applying his exemplary insight and resourcefulness to these arts.
Even though, according to Musashi, the “Way of the warrior does not include other ways,” he also states that “if you know the Way broadly you will see it in everything.” His multifaceted talent is evidenced by his extant artistic works.
Musashi’s peculiarity as a painter was his powerful and direct style, as well as the amazing economy of his brushstrokes. He excelled in suiboku-ga or sumi-e (monochrome ink painting). His greatest contribution as a painter could perhaps be his paintings of birds, such as "Koboku Meikakuzu" ("Shrike on a Dead Tree"), and "Rozanzu" ("Wild Geese Among Reeds").
Later in his life, Musashi said in his "Go Rin No Sho" that he didn’t feel the need for a teacher in any field when he applied his principle of strategy to the Ways of various arts and crafts. It was by creating calligraphy and classic ink masterpieces that Musashi proved that idea.
What characterizes his paintings is the efficient use of ink washes and his unique and economical way of using brush strokes. He became a master of the "broken ink" school of landscapes, and he later applied this technique to other subjects in paintings, as can be seen in "Koboku Meikakuzu" (‘Kingfisher on Withered Branch’, which was part of a triptych of which the other items were "Hotei Walking" and "Sparrow on Bamboo"), "Hotei Watching a Cockfight" and "Rozanzu" ("Wild Geese Among Reeds").