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.

bookmark_borderKarabitsu Lid Repair

Going on 13 years ago, I made five white karabitsu to replace the plastic “tucker totes” we had been camping with up until then. They have held up pretty well, all things considered. I sold one of them as surplus, but the remaining four have been camping with us at Pennsic and other events ever since. I did fail to anticipate how often they would get used as seating, however, and the constant flexing of the lids had led to some deteriorations. One of the lids was damaged a few years ago, and repaired, so it was time to extend those repairs to the remaining chests. Here are the lids with their final coat of paint drying.

Paint drying on karabitsu lids

How to fix karabitsu lids: First, sand all the paint off the top of the lid. Then, cut a rectangle of plywood slightly larger than the top of the lid. Coat the lid with exterior wood glue, and clamp down the rectangle. Once the glue is dry, trim the edges of the wood with a router. Then, round off the corners using a different router bit. Now, it is time for finishing. I did two coats of primer (with Insuladd), three coats of flat white enamel, and two coats of gloss white enamel. That should be enough.

Next year, I’ll repaint the exteriors of the bodies. Some of the corners are looking a little beat-up.