- Sailing a felucca down the Nile River
Apr 05 2016
- Music Inspirations: Sunday Morning
Mar 13 2016
- Journal Entry: Venice
Jan 10 2016
- Poem 4
Nov 01 2015
- Poem 3
Oct 24 2015
- Poem 2
Sep 17 2015
- Poem 1
Aug 10 2015
- Journal Entry: Train ride to Scotland
Jun 13 2015
- Japanese prints
Nov 23 2014
- a note about inspiration
Aug 02 2014
- Creating Deliberate Art: Choosing a Medium
Dec 07 2015
- Creating Deliberate Art: Introduction
May 30 2015
- Creating Deliberate Art: Compositional Elements
Apr 24 2015
- Creating Deliberate Art: Unifying Theme
Mar 17 2015
- Creating Deliberate Art: Capturing the Inspiration
Feb 10 2015
- Technique: pierced metal
Dec 30 2014
- a note about process
Sep 09 2014
- Venice, June 2000: Masquerade of Intimate Affection
Feb 24 2016
- Like a Fly
Dec 29 2015
- Art Nouveau Necklace
Jul 03 2015
- African Padauk Wood
Jan 06 2015
- Castle by the Sea
Oct 16 2014
As an art student studying abroad, I was exposed to many things. One of the amazing places that I traveled to was Giverny, and the home of Claude Monet. Monet had never been a favorite of mine, but as I expected, viewing his beautiful gardens gave me a new appreciation for his work.
What I did not expect lay inside his house. For someone with such a drastically different style than my own, I did not expect to find much in common with the painter. I knew Monet for his water lilies, like those I had just seen walking around the pond. I had expected to see other paintings of flowers, still life, landscapes, and the like, in his living spaces. When I stepped into his house I stepped into a vision of a extraordinary land and people. A thorough collection of Japanese prints adorned every wall.
Walking from room to room gave me a new, intimate look at an art form I was completely unfamiliar with. I was totally enraptured. The colors, the scenes, the line work, pattern, and composition, were all just so different. Exotic and extraordinary. And made all the more clever because they were in Monet’s house! An impressionist painter (known for serene landscapes) walked by shrieking samurai and irresistible geisha everyday of the week. I was floored and delighted. I also had a new love for Monet. I bought a book of Japanese prints with beautiful full color plates which holds a cherished place on my shelf to this day.
Japanese prints are known as Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.” This style of art became popular in Edo in the 17th century. In the early 1600’s the shogun Tokugawa created a new shogunate in Edo. The construction boom that followed flooded the area with a new middle class population yearning for a culture to call its own. Japanese feudal society at this time had a very strict ‘ruler and ruled’ social and economic system, but the burgeoning middle class was beginning to take advantage of some new found freedoms at the end of a war-torn era.
Before the Edo period, most paintings were original paintings by prestigious artists on silk screens. This style of painting, called yamato-e, was a sign of the wealth and prestige of the ruling class.
Along with Edo’s rise also rose the popularity of woodblock printing. This technique became an inexpensive and easily reproduced way for middle class urban artists to share the culture of the local population. These prints were from a domestic perspective rather than the bird’s eye view of the commissioned yamato-e paintings. This gave an intimate, in the moment, impression from the prints, which generally depicted the everyday life of Edo’s population.
Tokugawa unified Japan which entered a new era of peace and prosperity. In turn, Japanese lifestyle took a turn from a culture based on warfare, to the sensual delights of fashion, dance, and theatre that are so clearly depicted in Ukiyo-e.
This time period also saw the consolidation of “pleasure quarters” in the cities specifically for prostitution and entertainment. These areas became a nexus where Japanese culture merged and strengthened. This paved the way for the geisha, the rise of kabuki theatre, and ukiyo-e, to become icons of Japanese culture.
These “pictures of the floating world” capture all the magnificent beauty of the landscape, culture, and people that were glorified for a moment in Japan's rich history.
Being a person who is fascinated by world culture, I find scenes of everyday life in Japan during this period to be like running into the ocean on a hot day, I can never get enough.
Today’s modern communication is slowly bridging the differences between eastern and western cultures, but comparing our modern day western society to 17th century Japan is like teleporting to a completely different universe.
From the elaborate sweptback hairstyles of the geisha, to the imaginative curves of the juniper tree, it is a world of fairytale and legend. Wide-sweeping is the romance and intrigue of a culture so ornate and fatastic. It hints at a life filled with deep feelings, meaning and the hope that anything is possible.
One of the compositional elements that I love most about Japanese prints is the separation of colors. The definition it gives to each element on the print highlights its form and hue. Colors are minimal and complementary, and compositions are balanced by broad applications of specific color.
Also, the use of black line to further add to the definition gives an impression of stark contrast between the "real world" and the world of Ukiyo-e. The illustrative nature of the black line is used to define shapes, rather than realistic shadows. This makes the scenery and personal expressions richly imaginative.
Images of Ukiyo-e thanks to http://ukiyo-e.org/