bookmark_borderFrolicsome Brushwork

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.

bookmark_borderPoetic Brushwork

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.

bookmark_borderMahogany Solar Flicker Lantern

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:

Here are links to the posts about the other five lanterns in this series: oak, maple, cherry, poplar, mulberry.

bookmark_border36 Immortals Brushwork

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.

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_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_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.

bookmark_borderPicking Up the Brush

I was recently inspired to start painting SCA scroll blanks again, like I did (gulp!) six years ago. My first recent efforts were these, traced from a photo I took of some Azalea blooms in Sharon’s garden.

Original images are all about 8.5″x5.5″ in size. These are all done with Sumi ink and watercolors on 9″x12″ hosho paper. I’m still in love with my “Kolinsky small” brush from Kuretake. Preserve the kolinsky!

The third picture is probably the least “medieval Japanese” of all these, but I think it’s the most attractive. It is difficult to get good shading and depth in watercolor, and I’m just not good enough yet. The outline form is a little easier to achieve.