bookmark_borderDesktop Castle Wall

How about a new desktop wallpaper image? This one is in high-resolution, so it should look nice on one of those 4K monitors if you have one.

Iga Ueno

This is one of the foundation castle walls of Iga Ueno Castle in Iga, Japan. Sweetie and I were in Iga for the Braid Society braiding conference, and on Wednesday afternoon we climbed the hill up to the castle and took a bunch of pictures. The sun was setting, and it lit the Western side of the castle beautifully.

bookmark_borderRedux of the Brushwork

When I started tracing emaki images for scroll blanks, the very first one I did was from the Eshi Zoshi emaki. This emaki recounts the rise and fall of a young poet appointed to the court. I decided to do some “back to the well” blanks as part of my current work, just to see if I’d gotten any better over time.

The outlines are good, but clearly, I had forgotten everything I ever learned about coloring this image. This one went straight into the “scrap” folder as soon as the paint was dry.

That’s better.

This one’s OK, although the skin tone came out a bit dark. I added some Hojo mon to the zabuton pillow for some reason.

Now I’m back in the swing of things! Good inking, good coloring, and I even added some light shading to give it a bit more dimensionality and texture. I’m pretty happy with this one.

bookmark_borderKoi Kosode

When I was in the fabric store to buy the flannel for the new pajamas, I took a browse through the selection of “Asian”-themed cotton prints, and found this colorful “koi in water” fabric. I don’t really need another kosode, but I need to make something out of this.

Cotton Koi Kosode

Here are some details that will mean nothing unless you are a kosode geek: The fabric was a little narrow, but I can still get away with wearing 14-inch wide panels, and I had gotten enough fabric to make it knee-length like I like them now. The sleeves are almost fully attached to the body, but I still like to give them a little flappy bit at the bottom. The sleeves themselves are about 18-inches tall, and the opening is half of that. It has a 3-layer neckband that is only about 2 inches wide.

Here is a close up of the fabric so that you might appreciate how pretty it is:

13 colors in that print

bookmark_borderReturn of the Brushwork

These three scroll blanks are traced from a frame captured from “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” a 2013 animated film Studio Ghibli. This film is beautiful, and has a large number of beautiful images in it.

This modern animated film is based on an anonymous 10th-century folk tale called “Tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. It follows the life of a mysterious baby girl who is found in a shining bamboo stump and raised to be a princess by a poor childless couple.

For almost a decade following its release, this was the most expensive Japanese film ever produced, possibly due to the art style that is based on the Yamato-e style of old Japanese illustrated scrolls (emaki). In 1999, director Takahata published a book called “From a Painting” in which he explored traditional Japanese art and its ties to his animation.

In this image, the devoted maidservants of the Princess ready her cart for travel.

This one, I think I laid the color on a bit heavy. It’s vibrant as heck, but you can’t tell that the maid’s gowns are four different colors.

This one’s a bit lighter, but still too heavy. I tried a different green on the cart, and embellished it with bamboo leaves the way it is in the film, though.

This one is so much lighter, and you can really see the different hues on the robes. I’m starting to get the hang of using really watery mixes of paint to wash color into the paper. The paper is super-absorbent, so you need a light touch to keep from creating blobs of color. Super happy with this one.

bookmark_borderBlue Shibori Pajamas

After 16 (!) years, my hydrangea-print flannel pajamas (the first pajamas I ever made) are well on their way to being entirely worn out, so I decided to get around to doing some more sewing and make myself some new flannel pajamas.

Pajamas from blue shibori-print flannel

These use a great shibori-print “Snuggle” brand flannel from the fabric store and (again) my favorite sewing pattern of all time. Again, though, I left the pockets and false fly out of the pants. I did wind up cutting the fabric too short for the pants legs, so I added the same style cuff to the legs that the pattern has for the sleeves.

bookmark_borderHey, it’s Brushwork

Sometimes, you just have to go back to basics and see if you’ve actually improved or just think so. I pulled this figure detail from the Heiji Monogatari, which details a series of civil wars in ancient Japan between the Heike and Genji clans.

This one, I just gave a light ink wash to his robe. (Plus a little detail color on his arrow fletching.) Hey, that looks all right.

This one, I used light color washes on his clothing, and a bit of peach pink on his flesh. At some point, I flipped this image left-to-right in my library. His sword is on the wrong side.

One more with watercolor washes. Maybe I can actually learn how to do this? If the outline for the soldier looks a little crude, he is fairly small in the original scroll, and I only have a very bad black+white image in my reference. These images will make good scroll for minor archery recognition, I hope.

bookmark_borderDear North American Retail

I understand that your timetable says that your stores should start preparing for Spring and Summer, but really most of us still have needs for winter.

Ever decide in February that your old winter coat really isn’t cutting it? Good luck finding any winter coats in stores!

Ever run out of ice melter in February and you know there are three more storms before thaw? Good luck finding any in stores! Ever have your snow shovel break in February?

Just come on. Stores like hardware stores used to be about selling you relevant supplies you need today, not luxuries like patio furniture you won’t be able to use for three more months.

bookmark_borderOld Brushwork

It seems that I did this copy of a portrait from the Zuishin Teiki emaki back in June of 2019, but never bothered to scan it in.

This emaki (illustrated scroll) presents portraits of the members of the Imperial Guard Cavalry, and is representative of the highly realistic “documentary” style of emaki that flourished in the Kamakura period.

It is interesting because although this emaki is from the time period when the black-and-white hakubyou style was the dominant expression of Yamato-e, it has light washes of color on the clothing of the rider and the tack of the horse.

I have exaggerated the coloring on this copy, but left the horse pure white.

bookmark_borderMore Brushwork

Next, I decided to copy another image from Sesshu‘s “Long Scroll of Landscapes”. Sesshu is one of my favorites, and I bought book about the Long Scroll when I visited the Tokyo National Museum during my first trip to Japan (for the TV show) in 2016. They have an excellent bookstore in the TNM, but I knew that I didn’t have a lot of room for books flying back, so I just bought this one. Anyway, the copies:

This first one is done primary with black ink lines, then some shading in paint (mostly gray) to simulate the light ink washes that Sesshu was great at and I am not.

For this one, I added a little bit of color, mostly from my smaller set of sumi watercolors. I’ve done this kind of thing before, and I really like the effect this produces. It’s less traditional than the pure ink style that Sesshu used, but I like it anyway.

For this last one, I used entirely paint and no ink. Even the black lines a re black paint instead of ink. I was trying out some of the color variations in my larger set of sumi watercolors, some of which I had never used before. The overall effect is a little impressionistic, but I like the way some of the background washes came out.