Thursday, 28 January 2016

Hokusai Surimono

#surimono #ukiyo-e #hokusai

Surimono is a kind of ... well art print with limited editions often given as new year gifts or created as mementos of special occasions.

Here's a selection of some by Hokusai

The lines of calligraphy are poems.

I have a special fondness for this one due to its depiction of the tools used for painting and calligraphy, an inkstone for grinding inksticks, one of which is shown resting on one edge of the inkstone, a water pot with a flower placed in it not just for painting but perhaps water for the ink too, and the brush pot in the background shows us Asian style brushes. The long slender rod in the foreground is probably for keeping sheets of paper flat and aligned.

A simple yet elegant image of a snake surrounding two gourds or melons showing once again Hokusai's gift for interesting compositions and eye for the details of nature.

This is part of a larger sheet that would have been folded into a pamphlet.
Note how Hokusai takes the horizontal format of a scroll and uses a prolonged S curve layout to show all the objects and lead our eye to the text.

Coming soon. 
The Year of  the Monkey 
so Monkeys and Apes as a theme!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Hokusai Manga

#Hokusai #Manga

Here's a couple of Hokusai's Manga.

Yes the word manga really did originally refer to plain drawings and prints with only one color!

Hokusai published many of his drawings in what was originally a multiple volume set of books. 

Hopefully your library has books showing some of his drawings but if not I've hunted for images to save you time googling.

Whether he's drawing people or objects you can see how Hokusai considers their interactions and placement within a larger setting and thinks as a designer about leaving blank spaces for  the final layout.

Hokusai was a designer and also draughtsman and yes  a diverse artist!

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Monday, 18 January 2016

Hokusai Willow and Crows

#Hokusai #painting #jpaanese apinting #ukiyo-e

Yes I know I showed you a painting in an earlier post but here is another that shows his compositional skills were used for both painting and print design.

I rather suspect though these crows are mobbing an intruder from a different flock trying to drive him or her out of their range.

Hokusai  is usually  mentioned in text books as a printmaker but we need to remember he painted too!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Two of Hokusai's Bridge Prints

#hokusai #ukiyo-e #japaneseprints

Hokusai is well known for his series of views of Mt Fuji and he also created print series on topics like famous Bridges.

Note how he makes use of traditional S curve compositions in the context of a print rather than a scroll or screen painting.

Yet Hokusai could also create compositions full of angles like this one!
Notice how the verticals of the reeds the tree and pillar complement the bridge supports and counter balance the curved areas and the circular forms of the hats and umbrellas!

Truly a masterpiece!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

More Hokusai Paintings

#HOKUSAI is one of the most unique geniuses of Japanese and World art.

Painter and designer  his images were used on just about everything!

Packaging lanterns toys fans popular prints art prints scroll painting screen paintings art instructional manuals ... frankly I wouldn't be surprised if a kimono turns up with Hokusai art on it. This a festival banner with an image of #Shoki #Zhongkui the demon queller.

I'm sure the only reason there are no handpainted Hokusai collaborations with potters is that most of the major potteries for polychrome and enamel wares were down further south!

This is a silk scroll painted by Hokusai. The subject also used by other print makers and painters is or rather refers to the famous Tang Chinese poet Li Bai or Po looking at a waterfall. I say refers because his costume seems an odd hybrid of Chinese and Japanese and Hokusai has focused our attention as much on the waterfall as the poet.

Finally a painting that is thought to be a collaboration of Hokusai with his daughter OI also a painter partly because the flowers are rendered in a slightly brush style and partly because OI was known to have painted chrysantheums and other flowers. 

This is suppose to be a lion by the way. Unfortunately while Japanese artists may have occasionally had access to tiger skins their ideas of what actual lions and tigers looked like allowed room for imagination!

Wikipedia Commons and various museum sites has excellent Hokusai selections so you can download images that are far closer to the original size if you have  a large monitor and view more detail than a simple blog post allows.

I hope this rather simple limited introduction tempts you to learn more about Hokusai.

Saturday, 2 January 2016


#Hokusai is well known for his landscape prints and his famous #Manga sketchbooks but he was also a painter and designer of surimono prints. 

#surimono #japaneseprints #ukiyo-e #phoenix
I've shared 2 of his lesser known surimono prints and in the middle is part of a screen painting of a phoenix for contrast.

I have used this one a few times before as as well as being a well designed print it shows traditional asian brushes,an inkstone, and a block of ink. 

This is a detail of a 8 fold screen set of paintings probably used in a bedroom.

Japaneses prints had a variety of formats.

Surimono often feature long horizontal formats as they were frequently folded into pamphlets and given as newyear gifts.

More Hokusai soon! 
I'll try to find some unusual images that illustrate all aspects of his work.