I usually try to make at least one of the gifts that I give to Sharon for our winter holiday celebrations. Often, this is a sewing project because it’s easy to keep those a secret. I was kind of at a loss this past year regarding what to make, because we don’t spend much time out of the house. So, I decided that since the Gray Smock that I made for her last year was a success, and since I found some knit fabric in a bright robin’s-egg blue that is near to her favorite color, I would just do another poncho smock.
It came out pretty good. I managed to get an actual narrow collar band in there instead of a facing, so I am pretty proud of myself. Of course, I couldn’t post about it before late December, and then I totally forgot to get a picture of her wearing it until recently.
I did a third portrait of Hitomaro while doing the ones described in Poetic Brushwork. I did this one on larger paper, with the intention of mounting it as a kakejiku hanging scroll. There was a lot of work involved in that, but I’m happy to say that this is now complete.
In addition to mounting the painting on more paper, the fabric all had to be backed with paper and attached around the outside of the painting. Then, the oak rod and half-rod had to be cut and added. Following that, I had to braid the suspensory cords and figure out how to mount them to the upper rod. I made the weighted ends for the lower rod and finished them with tinted shellac.
When I started doing research on kakejiku, the advice from most sites was to leave it to professionals. You can see pretty clearly that this advice was sound. I never really did get the painting flat, and there are a host of other minor problems with this. Now I have a portrait of Hitomaro that I am not afraid to take camping, though!
After completing the Mahogany Solar Flicker Lantern a few weeks ago, I was able to get a nice evening picture of all six lanterns in the project (with lighting units installed) hanging from the Belfry. Most of the glow in the background is actually coming from the streetlight which is hidden behind the belfry roof, but this angle makes the lanterns look much brighter than they really are.
The Chōjū Jinbutsu Giga emaki is an ancient wordless scroll of “frolicking animals”. It is generally considered to be a satire of the habits and behavior of the nobility. There are four scrolls in the collection, which does get displayed occasionally. The first scroll is the most well know, and the most popular images from the scroll are available as all kinds of merchandise. I bought some postcards and rubber stamps when I was at the Tokyo National Museum in 2016.
This image is one of the less popular ones from right near the beginning of the first scroll. It shows what is probably a ritual bath before the day’s activities.
Yes, I got the image backwards in this first one. My process involves scanning an image, darkening the primary lines on a printout with a marker, and then tracing from the modified image. I use a light panel for all this, and I usually darken the back of the printout. This makes the primary lines easier to see when it’s time to trace in ink onto the final paper. I forgot to flip the printout before starting on the ink tracing. Oops.
I think I got the facial expression on the seated monkey much better in this version. I also did a third copy, but this one is larger and does not leave much room on the paper for the words of a scroll, so it will probably just go into my portfolio.
As pre-elevation ritual for a Knighthood in the SCA involves a ritual bath, maybe this would be a good image for a writ scroll? /shrug
One of my secret plans is to eventually reproduce the Choju Giga (at least the first scroll) in its entirety. It may take a team of people to do it. I need a lot more practice on these less-popular sections, though.
This might be the last painting for a little while. I have some sewing to do, but I wanted to get to this portrait before I took a break.
This is a copy of a portrait of Hitomaro, one of the most famous and revered poets of Japanese history. He is so revered, that he was eventually made a Kami (divinity) of poetry. Essentially, he is a Patron Saint of poetry.
The above version was colored to match the original portrait I was imitating, which we saw in the Kyoto National Museum when we went to see the exhibition of panels from the Satake family version of the “36 Immortal Poets” scroll. I did a second copy of this image, but I colored his robe red for Aethelmearc and changed the “medallions” on the fabric to escarbuncles.
I have a third copy of the image that I did on larger calligraphy paper that I am attempting to mount as a kakejiku hanging scroll. Apparently it is the practice to hang a portrait of Hitomaro to oversee your poetic endeavors, so I wanted to have one of those handy for future use.
I finished up the last of the six solar flicker lanterns today! The pieces for this one have been sitting on the workbench since before it got too cold to work out in the garage, so it’s a relief to be able to check this project off my list. Here it is hanging from the shourou:
This one is not just special because it’s the last one in the project, but because it is made from some mahogany that Sir Ogami Akira, the O-daimyo of Clan Yama Kaminari gave to me years ago from the surplus of his boat building supply. I’m pleased as punch to finally be able to do something with it, and to have that thing be for the Clan. I had just enough wood to make the lantern, though some of the sticks are a little thinner than specification. The construction is all mortise and tenon, with little 1/4″ tenons.
I also managed to get a picture of this one before the paper went on, to show you how the lighting unit just rests inside the rails on a couple of angled braces:
The paintings are not actually diseased, of course. The original scroll is called the Yamai no Soshi emaki, which is “Scroll of Diseases and Afflictions”. This is a pretty unpleasant scroll overall, but there are some nice details. I particularly like this image of a calm maidservant carrying her mistress’ burden.
I’m clearly back into the swing of painting by now. The inking is smooth, the color is even, and the shading is good. I even put little escarbuncles on the package.
One of my favorite comic books is Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. Even when he’s working in black and white, he usually adds graphic interest to the clothing of characters by embellishing the fabric with repeating graphics. I decided to use this effect, adding little cherry blossoms to the maid’s kosode.
Here I added little ikat patterns to the kosode, and gave the package a tie-dye coloring. This started when some of the blue from the robe ran over into the wrapping cloth, then I tried to cover it up with some red, which just made it look like whatever was in the package was leaking blood. So, I had to do still more work.
This one got a reasonably smooth gradient coloring, made by mixing up some yellow paint, then adding orange, then adding red. I’m happy with how this turned out. The coloring is pretty smooth, too.
When Sharon and I went to Iga, Japan for the braiding conference in 2019, after the conference was over we spent a few days in Kyoto to see the sights. One of those days we walked over to the Kyoto National Museum. They were having an exhibition of most of the panels that used to be part of the Satake family version of the “36 Immortal Poets” scroll. this scroll was infamously broken up into individual hanging scrolls about a hundred years ago, and this was the most complete exhibition since that time.
Since I knew that eventually I would want to get back into scroll painting, I bought the book of the exhibit. This is first of my copies from this book, a portrait of Yamabe no Akihito. He is considered to be a poet only slightly less great than the famous Hitomaro.
This one is OK, but not great. The coloring is uneven and the shading is not very good. The original has terrific shading. I wish I’d thought about all the little details in his writing box (suzuribako) before I got started.
This one is much better. The coloring is almost completely even, and the shading is great. I even added the “medallions” to his hitoe underlayer that are visible in the original. Although, I seem to have forgotten the brush next to his foot.
This one I colored in red, and made the medallions into escarbuncles in honor of my home kingdom of Aethelmearc. The coloring and shading are good, and I like the way the escarbuncles came out.