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Monday, May 25, 2015

May Challenge: to learn from Hokusai

CJT's Celebration of Hokusai's "Big Wave"

I have decided to challenge myself each month to copy artwork from a famous artist, so that I may learn something new.  Each artist has a style, a flair, a signature look that we like but we don't always know how they came up with it, let alone how to do it.  So like Nike says -- just do it!

A very long time ago I was lucky enough to be an exchange student to Japan.  This was when I first saw Hokusai works.  I loved his wood block prints.  They had so much rhythm, flowing lines, mysterious cliffside dwellings and amazing bridges.  And always, there was the famous and poetic Mount Fuji.  All my memorabilia is in the storage shed, and I all but forgot about Hokusai.

Fast Forward to this month - we recently went to Boston where I saw a beautiful Hokusai show at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.  He was a prolific artist (tens of thousands of works) who lived and worked until he was 89 years old.  He moved constantly (more than ninety residences).  Many of his works were published in books, one was of the many views of Mt. Fuji.

I have always loved "The Big Wave".  It is so different from western art, and yet so descriptive in a stylized way.  So I copied it in pen and then watercolor.  I omitted the two boats that were in the Hokusai print.  I just wanted the wave and Mt. Fuji.

This challenge taught me to see the interesting flowing lines he drew and especially the complicated claw-like lines of he foam on the wave.  I hope I take with me a sense of rhythm and flowing line in my future original works.  It was a fun project and I am happy with my representation of it.

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