View Full Version : Classical Art: Non-Western Cultures

10-18-2009, 02:29 PM
Welcome to the Classical Art: Non-Western Cultures ongoing thread.

This is the place where you could post all your efforts in the different genres, media, support created in classical styles of non-Western cultures including but not limited to the following: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Islamic, Southeast Asian, Aboriginal Art, Middle Eastern Art, African Art, non-Western religious art, erotic art of the East, and art of the Pacific, South Pacific.

As I discover each area, I will post links to them. Feel free to add your links so we could enjoy them together.

When you do reproduce these art, please ensure that you don't infringe on copyright and the artist concerned has deceased prior to 1939. If it is within the last 70 years that you are basing your work on, please do it in the spirit of and in the style of the work concerned but not an exact replica.

I look forward to seeing all of your artwork.

To start, I'll post a few links that are good to explore.

Art of Asia

Islamic Art

Indian Art

10-18-2009, 03:05 PM
First off, I'd like to introduce the ones I'm most familiar with: Chinese brush paintings.

There are many schools of Chinese brush painting and over the years, many styles have evolved. Compared to Japanese art, Chinese brush painting focuses on bold brush strokes and techniques. The way they ink a brush plays an important role in Chinese brush painting. If you compare early Japanese art and early Chinese art in painting form, Japanese art were more line work. Chinese art has few brushstrokes and yet depicts entire terrains of foggy hills and imaginary landscapes.

The best way to learn about the evolution of Chinese art is to get a library book on Chinese art and you could see how it evolved from mostly black ink of different shades to the more watercolor approach of present days of contemporary artists.

To start, Chinese students usually learn the basics of drawing bamboo, chrysanthemum, plum blossoms, then rocks, mountains, then insects, and other life forms. People don't seem such a priority it appears though necessary to dot the paintings with. You rarely see huge portraits in the early paintings.

The Mustard Seed Garden is the manual most students learn from in the past and it comes in four volumes. You buy them in two sets or one whole bundle.


Set 1


Set 2


There is an English translated version here.


Here is a digital print of the Chinese one Book 2 dealing with plants.


For those who would like to buy Chinese painting supplies, here are some links.


Chinese painting uses Chinese brushes because it holds much more ink than watercolor brushes or acrylic brushes. In the beginning, I didn't think it was important because I was drawing them small size most of the time of 4x6 inch each image but the more I learn the techniques, the more I realize I need bigger sheets of paper and bigger brushes to have that effect. The key is to load the brush with varied hues to effect the simple strokes of Chinese art.

Most online stores have Chinese brushes/sumi-e brushes. MisterArt by far is the cheapest.

For ink, you could buy bottled sumi-ink or grind your own with Chinese ink sticks. Some companies also sell color chips and you just wet it with drops of water, very much like using pan watercolors.

The above three are waterproof. Marie's watercolor which many Chinese online stores sell are not waterproof. It wouldn't matter if you are not using the Lingnan style of brush painting which requires a lot of washes on the back of the sheet of rice paper/sumi paper.

If you don't have the above supplies, you could still do Chinese painting with normal acrylic paint and watercolor paper. Just thin the acrylic paint.

Rice paper has its frustrations because it warps and crinkles terribly but if you starch it later on, it will flatten and look very presentable in the end. I use mostly newsprint for practice of dry brush work but for traditional landscapes and Chinese subjects, I go back to rice paper.

This shop sells the color chips which you just wet it with water and you could paint right away. It has no residue because it turns to ink.

Here is a close up of what the chips look like.


The site has 12 rules for Chinese paintings.

http://www.blueheronarts.com/article...?articles_id=2 (http://www.blueheronarts.com/article_info.php?articles_id=2)

Here is a book with 40 pages of review!


Here are some simple exercise practices.


This is a contemporary Chinese art site thanks to brusher. Very exciting developments of the Lingnan style which requires a lot of washes.


Zeng Gang 曾刚 seems to be a very popular Chinese artist in China and here you could watch a lot of his demonstrations. He deals with Chinese subject but with a bit more realism and color but still maintain Chinese brush techniques.


two on youtube.

Here is his official site and you could see his masterly work.

This is his gallery under NEWS and it has four pages. I like page 3 works a lot.


Here is my set up. I use a piece of felt underneath to absorb the moisture.


How to stretch cockled rice paper

I found the answer in this book called "Chinese Watercolor Techniques - Painting Animals" by Lian Quan Zhen.

Here are the detailed steps.

Buy wheat starch from art store - pH neutral ones. I got mine from an Asian grocery store to make buns with.

1:10 ration wheat starch to water. Put in pot to simmer like cooking gravy and until it becomes like clam chowder. Not the lumpy potatoes but thick. But not too thick or it'll be hard to spread.

Get plexiglass as backing or any smooth surface. I have tons of transparency film at home of all sizes and that's my backing.

Put the painting face down. Backside facing up. Spread wheat starch with a soft brush from the center out in one direction. You go back and forth you are going to tear it. My mom gave me just the same type of brush that the book prescribed. I even used my finger to smooth it out lightly. When it is all straight and flat, put a backing paper to it.

The backing paper is double layer raw Shuan paper. I just used the same Chinese rice paper. I tried using the Japanese sumi paper as backing and because it's a lot thinner and finer, it tore very easily. Make sure the side is 2 inches more than the painting on all sides. Clean up the plexiglass around the painting and then align your backing paper and on it with equal sides width. Then I use my play dough rolling pin to smooth it out from center out again. Not back and forth. Incredibly easy to smooth everything out.


Then lift it up from the corner at once gently, and two corners and peel off the piece and the painting would be mounted. Attach it to a board on four corners to dry for 2 hours plus or half a day.

I pinned all four corners down to my kid's cork board. Thank goodness I didn't give those away yesterday.

These used to be cockled but now with wheat starch, it's totally flattened out and the crinkles are only from the side of the backing paper that doesn't have more paintings to straigten with.

And I tried the Chinese ink stick piece and it doesn't bleed or lose color at all. This guy does not recommend you to use watercolor with sumi ink because the moment you put more sumi ink in, the watercolor will be reactivated. Use Chinese ink all the way. But if you use watercolor, use it first and then detail with Chinese ink if you really have to.


This one has two layers of backing sheet and it made it even firmer!




10-18-2009, 03:21 PM
I will now post some of my early attempts/horrors a year and a a half ago and you could see the improvement over the months.

May 2008




June 2008


July 2008


November 2008

watercolor in sketchbook and Chinese ink in waterbrush


Same thing here but the white dots are done by liquid paper correction pen


This is Chinese ink in waterbrush and the second one is photoshopped with stamp effect which I prefer because it's starker.



10-18-2009, 03:35 PM
January 2009




This one is neither Chinese brush, nor Chinese ink, nor sumi e paper. But it is a Chinese subject :lol: . It would be a pity not to put it in Chinese thread somewhat.

Crayola watercolor, Kimberley General's watercolor pencil, and Canson sketchpad. I'll try to use at least sumi e paper next time.


April 2009




I used ground Chinese colored ink stick.






10-18-2009, 03:39 PM
Chinese brush and Chinese ink stick on Canson 70 lb paper 9x12 inch. I really like this paper because it has a beige tone to it and it's cheap.



On newsprint



May 2009

Here are two on rice paper with Chinese ink, Chinese color ink sticks and Chinese brush.

In real life, no one would draw to the edge of the paper. I misjudged once again but the perspective on this tall stalk in front of me is just that!



I've been practicing tonight how they load a brush with 3 or 4 shades. The books never showed how and in the end, I dipped the tip of my brush in prefabricated ink that is darkest as compared to ground ink and I think I am getting some results. Here are a bunch of exercises I did.







More Chinese brush practices today following a Japanese sumi book. I scanned these even before the ink was dried so it wouldn't cockle so much.




10-18-2009, 03:45 PM
Here's another landscape piece. Because it was too wet, I let it dry this time on the felt mat and anchored down with weights in front of the heater. It still cockled.


So I ironed it. Haha...don't bother. It only makes it worse.


I used my Chinese ink color sticks and ground them well and mixed colors for once. This time, I used Chinese rice paper in a roll rather than the Japanese sumi-sheets which cockle terribly. There is limited cockling but at some point, I'll mount this the same way as my the other pieces earlier.

I went by feel and didn't outline it first as the author did. I feel that it's important to feel our painting even if it may not be anatomically correct.


Here's a slightly brigher one and you see that I use weights to anchor down the paper while I drew.


I did a few experiments following the book, Learn to Paint Chinese Brush, by Jane Evans.

She has a few pieces that looks like watercolor works that is filled with soft colors all over unlike the traditional Chinese paintings that has a lot of white space and bare minimals to depict the subject. I have always wondered how people put in landscapes with background colors in Chinese painting and now, with this book I understood.

I knew from the last book that I shouldn't mix watercolor in a Chinese painting if I don't want the paint to run. I wonder, why would it run?

She actually puts the background color last by flipping the rice paper over and apply it from the back after she sprayed the entire sheet wet.

I never knew I could spray the sheet wet, let alone painting from the back. So here is the flower piece that has the background yellow from the back. I starched it already to take the cockles out. In fact, there is very little cockling when I sprayed the entire piece and it dried together. I suppose if it were watercolor, everything would run. She said gouache is the next closest thing to Chinese watercolor that has glue and doesn't run. My gouache can be rewetted so I'm not sure if that's true or not.

I just know that this Chinese ink stick colors, once I diluted the leaf color, I could paint right on top of the original blades and it would sink right behind while the water is still wet and it wouldn't do a thing to the original blades. And I had fun mixing up the colors with just the blue, green, yellow and red ink sticks that I have.

Iris - Chinese ink and rice paper


This one is done with "borrowing" from Derwent Inktense, applying a wet brush to the pencil. Only a couple of blades, I used the pencil directly on wet. It's very difficult to borrow for large backgrounds. :lol: It took me a while. It's not as pretty as the Chinese painting.

Iris - Inktense on Canson 90 lbs watercolor paper


Here are two koi fishes in Chinese ink.

Koi Fishes with Chinese ink on rice paper


Here is the borrowing from Derwent Inktense again and I used the Koi waterbrush.

Koi Fishes with Derwent Inktense on Canson 90 lbs watercolor paper.


June 2009

I was too lazy to take out my Chinese art supplies and grabbed my roll of poster paint paper to do quick copies of the work in the books. Yarka watercolor and Chinese prefabricated ink. Chinese brushes.



Previously, I have stained a few patches with coffee and I used that area for this one.


Chinese brush, Chinese ink stick, Japanese thin calligraphy rice paper. It dries superbly surprisingly. It doesn't wrinkle that much. I haven't even mounted it.


10-18-2009, 03:50 PM
June 2009

Here are my three experiments. All of them, after spraying with water, they didn't need starching and they are flat after I put it under some books. All are on Japanese rice paper. All the black parts are completed with Chinese ink and brush.

Acrylic paint on rice paper with wash on the whole sheet after all the drawing of leaves and the crane. The colors are bright but I have no problem of it buckiling or tearing the sheet.


Higgins Permanent Ink - red, blue, white plus Chinese ink. I put Higgins white on the crane and when it was drying after I sprayed it, the white was very obvious but the moment it dried, it blended it as though I didn't paint it. But it is an important step to preserve the white of the weathers. When I did the wash, even when I swiped over the white with background colors, it didn't affect it at all. The colors are okay. A bit artificial in color.


This last one was done with Derwent Inktense colors on the pencils. I shaved a bit into a plate and put some water in. I guess it's okay. But very troublesome after a while. I used a wet brush and borrowed some white for the petals but it feels belabored with way too many strokes. At that point, it'd be easier to use ink stick.


These three, I tainted the Japanese rice paper with tea at the back of the sheet after I drew in black and color. Chinese ink, Chinese color inkstick and Chinese brushes.


I didn't wait for this one to dry completely so I could see how much it would run. It actually looks good to have some run.


Shoreline in fog.

This one, I dabbled more red here and there to enhance the colors other than just the tree.



This one is a wet on wet, except the mouth and the legs of the creatures.


Chinese ink stick, color and black, Japanese 6kg sumi paper, Chinese brush.



I gave the male duck on the left a companion on the right.


I'm very happy with this eagle even though it looked a bit frazzled like it was being chased by a bigger enemy and darting away. :lol:



I used the Chinese ink stick white to color all the body so that when I painted the backside of the painting with wash, it didn't take on the blue paint at all. Great concept.


This is the first time I used acrylic white on a Chinese painting. The really bright white is acrylic. The lesser white is Chinese ink stick. The wash is done overleaf.


The book only gave me one mouse on the left but I gave it companions. Guess what is coming their way?


10-18-2009, 03:56 PM
August 2009

Here are some of the practice work I did. These are starched later on.

Chinese ink and Japanese rice paper and Chinese brush



By now, I was losing patience. :lol:


So, it was time to experiment.

I have a Western waterscape book and I wanted to try them with Chinese ink.

Chinese ink sticks are waterproof once they dried and I could use white ink stick colors as masking fluid or resist. But I was curious at how far I could go with milk.

So here you see, some parts of the blades of leaves on the bottom left are 2% milk first, then black ink over it. Since I didn't wait till it was totally dry, due to my constant impatience, it didn't show much. I was thinking of lining some on the verticals but then, Chinese brush could be frayed to replicate that. In fact, the whole painting doesn't need resist seriously. What was I thinking? :lol: So this piece has only the lower left corner with milk. Also, the original is these very detailed waterscape as in all books but with a Chinese brush, I just can't help splashing ink here and there. I guess once I hold a brush to landscape, I just can't stop myself from making bolder marks than the very detailed marks of some paintings. I get very impatient with details.


I had some space left and tried another piece. I could see how useful masking fluid/ milk/ white resist makes life so much easier in these cases but by now I feel it's cheating for some reason.


I tried one more piece and this one really got me thinking. Why do I need to do the resist portions? If I just avoid painting on them, it would leave them white to show snow and water. But I did use milk extensively on the tree trunks and the grass in the foreground. I guess it makes things easier and you could splash more freely once you have laid the milk down for some tinier details as branches.


This one I tried it on Academie Heavyweight Sketchbook. The Chinese ink loses its shine on normal paper and it is more blotchy. But at least it didn't crinkle as much.


I used Chinese brush and Chinese ink on 130 lbs Pentalic sketchbook here. I'm totally lost as to how to go about doing it. The ink just pooled and it doesn't absorb as fast as the rice paper albeit it being so much thicker than the rice paper and I couldn't get dry brush on just when I expect the ink to dry out. :eek: Then when I finished with the mountains, I started wondering how do I show fog on this paper. It's going to be a learning curve.



Then I used Yarka watercolor on rice paper for the huts and the red flowers, Chinese ink and brush for the landscape, and turned it over, wet it with a sponge and dotted blue watercolor all over.


This one has red watercolor on the top and reverse is green and blue watercolor.


This one I thinned Liquitex acrylic paint from a tube. The color blue is so dull compared to the Yarka watercolor. Perhaps it's because it's student grade? These two I have to increase saturation in Photoshop to show the blue.


10-18-2009, 03:59 PM
The fish has a back wash of water just to flatten the page.


I didn't starch them but hung them up at the cork board at once while they were wet. It dried very flat almost like the starched ones without the stiffness. But when I scanned it, the cover crunched it up again.

That's all the Chinese paintings I've done so far. I'll continue to work on them and will post more in future.

You don't really have to have all the Chinese supplies to do the Chinese paintings. Any paint that could be thinned could achieve similar results.

I often replicate Chinese paintings with charcoal now. I'll post them tomorrow.

10-19-2009, 12:05 AM
Ah, already quite a lot of very nice stuff here! Alas, I'm starting my fearsome week of long night shifts again this week, so I'll only be able to make a proper study of this thread when I come back next week. But have fun, everyone.

To close with, a link to what must the oldest and most classical of classical art, but a form which has produced some great work:


I have always liked this, for example:


10-20-2009, 09:18 AM
Very inspiring, informative and interesting, Sandra. I have some Chinese ink sticks and some brushes...but I have never used them. So I am looking forward to giving this a go very soon.

10-20-2009, 06:43 PM
June, yes, please do try them. It's not as hard as it looks.

Brian, I just got a job today and I'll be doing swing swift and probably graveyard shift from time to time. How do you keep awake?

I like that horse too. I happened to have a cave painting book and it briefly showed the Altamira cave paintings in Spain. Bisons!! I assume the red is from blood.



My youngest son was told that in the US, barns are red because in the beginning, people smeared blood on barns. (I wonder if it was a result of bloodshed or just for decoration.) And since then, most barns are painted red. :lol:

Today, I was going through my Persian Art book and understood that while they had cave paintings too, the well preserved ones are mostly the miniatures around 5 to 7 inches in general. There were many styles but initially, most of the art had people at the bottom of the painting. Gradually, they used more space. The more spectacular ones are those that depicted court life. Their script faciliated the smooth lines of their art and yes, they are line art heavy. Lots of gold and opaque colors.

I want to copy a few of the intricate ones.

Their early art was traced back to 1370 and the height of their art was in the 15th and 16th century.


But here is one that originally was brush, ink, watercolor.

Mu'in Musawwir - A Camel 1678

I used Chinese brush and ink and Bombay India colored ink on Bogus Recycled Rough Paper.


Talking about Persia, I read that the griffin, a protector against evil, first appeared in the Persian empire in 4-5 BC.

I have once drawn a griffin based on this sculpture but now can't find it. If I find it, I'll post it.


10-20-2009, 11:17 PM
This one is after another Persian painting and it was very delicate but very plain line drawing. I added white highlights and colors to the background with oil pastel, white colorpencil. The lines are Chinese brush and Chinese ink. All small bits of colorings are Bombay colored india ink. Love those inks. So convenient.


10-21-2009, 03:00 AM
I love the cave art of animals! I think they used mainly ochres (red, yellow, white) dug up from the earth! Maybe charcoal for the black.

10-21-2009, 07:53 AM
These are all very beautiful Sandra. The horses are great. There is one of your drawings that has three trees, a feeling I'd love to get with my landscapes.

It's all new to me, but I think I will give it a try. I'd like to get that looseness. :heart:

10-21-2009, 09:04 PM
Thank you, Janet. Looking forward to both of your work too.

For those who don't have Chinese supplies, you could always simulate the paintings with other medium. I did a few these two weeks.

Oil pastel


Graphite shavings smudged all over


Vine charcoal



The colors here are with Bombay India Ink.


10-22-2009, 09:37 PM
wow!!!!!!! Sandra - your really accomplished

I'd love to own the mustard seed garden instructionals but I already have 3 books on chinese painting and I have only used one once...:eek: But I didn't know such a instructional existed.
Really though I just need to start working with it all and practice....like everything else.

Thanks for posting all this. I'm hope to get something done.

10-23-2009, 03:17 PM
Love those horses.

10-23-2009, 08:50 PM
Thank you, Robin, Lawrence, for your comments.

That instructional guide is not essential if you have a few others already. The key is to look through the 3000 years of art of China and learn from the masters.

In the past, Chinese students were not allowed to do their own creative art but has to spend a long time copying masters' work to hone their skills.

10-25-2009, 05:32 PM
Dunno if the horse looks Japanese but those pictograms--the yellow ones--say "Black Horse".........(I think :) :) )


10-25-2009, 07:24 PM
Lawrence, the characters at the bottom are Chinese and on the left says long life and on the right says blessings. The black horse character is Japanese. The Chinese words are well done. During Chinese New Year Festival or when older people have birthdays, the family wish them "Dragon, Horse, healthy" meaning wishing them as healthy as a dragon or horse.

10-26-2009, 05:09 PM
Sandra, thanks so much for all that interesting info.

Don't the Chinese and the Japanese use the same pictograms? Come to think of it, the Japanese have 3 types, don't they?

10-27-2009, 02:38 AM
The Japanese has hirigana, katakana and kanji.

I learnt Japanese first with hirigana, which are the symbols for the sounds. Katakana is mostly reserved for writing Japanese pronunciations of foreign words. Then they also use kanji which are modified Chinese characters.

In a sentence, they would have all three forms in them. I could read kanji and hiragana and terrible at katakana and I could understand a bit of Japanese when I read them.

Chinese nouns and characters are very commonly adopted in many Asian countries. The Vietnamese, Koreans have a lot of words in Mandarin or Cantonese that I could understand too.

10-30-2009, 12:27 AM
Sandra, If I may ask, what was your motivation for learning so much about these orientals????

10-30-2009, 10:27 PM
Robin, I'm Chinese from Hong Kong and lived there for the first half of my life. And I worked among different Asian nationalities so naturally, I'm into their culture and languages too.

Today, I was trying to simulate African sculptures with playdough. LOL.


10-31-2009, 02:41 AM
I drew the sculptures instead. It's easier. :lol:

Prismacolor pencil and Prisma Verithin


10-31-2009, 05:47 AM
LG, love the simplicity of the horse and that fabulous color.

Hey, Sandra...I like your sculpture. I'll have to see if I have any clay around here. I want to try one. :heart:

11-02-2009, 08:08 PM
Thank you, Janet, for your comment.

This is sort of following an African mask but I did a 3/4 profile on it myself and introduced more dreadnoughts and different markings.


11-04-2009, 12:38 PM
These are great.....I'm a big texture fan and these got that going on. I like the sculpture alot. Especially the tooth.

11-05-2009, 11:12 PM
Robin, looking forward to see your piece.

I'm now onto Indian art.

Here is Sultan Muhammad Adil Shan from India based on a painting in 1653.

Kimberley General's Color pencils
50 lbs Aquabee sketchbook 8.5 x 11 inch


These are not based on old paintings but photos of old India's mosques. I'm sure the Sultan lives in something elaborate as these.



11-06-2009, 11:09 PM
Here at the dentist while waiting for my son, I copied from my Persian book the following 13th century paintings.


This one I improvised the root system and gave the tree more shading. One could say that the Persians don't have a lot of 3 dimensional feel to their drawings. Buildings look flat and people look flat.


11-07-2009, 01:34 AM
Nice work Sandra. I like Persian miniatures very much.

11-07-2009, 01:50 PM
The first one is especially nice.

11-11-2009, 10:06 PM
nice sketches, especially like the shadows from the buildings accross the street. That Sultan ? looks like he is quite intent on that bead.....maybe it's magic. Great job on the lady sketch too. I like the improvisational element with the tree trunk.

11-11-2009, 10:17 PM

I love some of the work on here but can I post a link?

This is a nice website for Chinese ink on silk paintings.
If you have a fast connection you can zoom in on some famous Chinese art


11-12-2009, 12:30 AM
Thank you, Lawrence, Robin, B125, for your comment.

B125, great link there. Some really nice pieces!! Perhaps you would like to post some of your trials too?

A couple of days ago, I finished reading the manual Kama Sutra. It is really a manual of ancient India that teaches the public what makes a gentleman and what they could do to entertain themselves with what type of women and etc. There are these descriptive passages of how to approach a girl in bed. :lol: Then last night I was browsing through the book Kama Shilpa which is a collection of sculptures of some of the positions described in Kama Sutra. OMG, these are real statues in temples and they show everything imaginable. Some older statesmen wanted them destroyed but in the end, they were preserved because they were supposed to be guidance for young men and young girl in the art of love and part of India's heritage.

Here are two that I like especially. The others are too explicit to draw.



11-12-2009, 11:00 PM
Today, I set my heart to do at least one decent Indian piece and this one is based on a work of around 1900 and this is supposed to be Tilakayat govardhanlalji, probably a prince or a lord of some time in India.

Derwent Graphitint pencil to outline lightly
Yarka Professional Watercolor pan set 24
Derwent Graphitint pencil and Inktense pencils to detail and more washes
Michael's own housebrand watercolor paper 90 lbs
(not very sturdy paper - definitely need 140 lbs for repeated wetting)

I kept falling asleep in the afternoon as I started detailing the necklace and the pearls on the ear. :lol:


11-13-2009, 04:37 PM
Today, I used Derwent Graphitint to do yet another kama shilpa sculpture. Really, I shouldn't bother with using Graphitint pencils to do extensive background coloring. It is so slow and tedious. In the end, have to darken with photoshop because the original is very light since I used a light gray. I have to remind myself from now onwards to use darker colors or it just wouldn't scan well.

I'm often very attracted to drawing sculptures. I understand that Michelangelo's sculptures are the best to learn from.


11-23-2009, 05:08 PM
Just read through your wonderful new section here, Sandra!:clap:

Your Chinese brush painted work is lovely to behold; I particularly like your Koi ...very light and lyrical renderings...the one done in acrylics particularly caught my eye...

But the wonderous simplicity of your running horse on newsprint caught all the essential movement and spirit of the word "Horse" to the nth degree!:thumbsup:

So different from the classic Lascaux Cave painting of a horse in style, but sharing the same kind of elegance, economy and surety of line...marvellous feel in both!:D

Thank-you and others for all the interesting references!

What a very very rich umbrella of cultures that will be shared here!:cool:

Regards to All,

11-25-2009, 10:08 AM
Sandra - You really captured the Indian facial expression well - his chin is delightful
I REALLY want to do some Chinese brush work but the closest I've managed to come is looking at the pictograms on the green tea bag wrapper......uuuuugh.

11-25-2009, 04:23 PM
I got out The Ch'i of the Brush and am preparing to practice.....but first I got on and ordered the English Mustard Seed Manual from Amazon....:clap:......now to the art table

11-26-2009, 12:33 PM
after Kawanabe KYOSAI - Man in European ha running with tsutsumi
found in Drawings of the Masters -Japanese Drawings from the 17th through the 19th century.

Sandra What is a tsutsumi? I did this bigger than his . I'm gonna do it a few more times.

11-26-2009, 10:45 PM
Neat brushstrokes, Robin. Very smooth and fluid! Hope you would do more. What kind of paper are you using?

A tsutsumi is like a cloth that wrap a lunch box in Japan.

11-30-2009, 11:54 AM
Thank you, Chris, for your comment, and Robin's too.

Do join in, Chris, when you have time. I would think you would like doing some Indian ones since you are so good with intricate color work!

A couple pieces of African art. The first one is a copy and the second one is half my creation.

Charcoal sticks, Prismacolor pencils, conte sanguine. I should have just done it in black and white and not do the background and colors. It got messier and messier along the way.


I like this one better. The face is a copy of an ancient piece but the body posture is mine.


12-01-2009, 03:18 PM
I love these latest African drawings, Sandra. Great textures with the conte!!

12-03-2009, 05:32 PM
Thank you, June. I like conte and charcoal more and more.

Here is another sculpture copy from the book Kama Shilpa. Beautiful statues.


12-03-2009, 11:52 PM
This is not a Chinese subject but I used Chinese brushstrokes and concepts for the December Southwest Challenge (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8337032#post8337032) (lots of great rodeo pix). I started with a pencil rendition of the lady riding around the barrel and realized I just didn't have the patience for straps and muscles. Took the easy way out.


12-05-2009, 10:05 AM
I rather like Indian/Hindu art myself!!

12-10-2009, 05:31 PM
I needed to do some Asian brush work today after so much charcoal work. I kept falling asleep on the coloring parts.

The Japanese woodblock prints in general did not take into consideration shading to their fabrics. Some do but mostly they are flat one piece colors. This one was based on Takeda Katsuchiyo's Killing an Old Badger. I didn't draw the badger and the scenery and flying furniture around and I improvised on the coloring and pattern of the clothes.

The story is about Takeda Shingen, one of the ablest generals in 1500's, who was studying in the backyard and was startled to hear the wooden horse on which hhis saddle was stored ask him a question about military strategy. He struck it at once and an old badger which took the form of the saddle-horse fell dead at his feet.

Elmer's Paintastics Brushpen - black, purple
Prismacolor for the rest of the colors

8.5 x 11 inch


12-11-2009, 08:28 AM
Such beautiful movement here, Sandra. I love those folk tale stories which accompany the works. Makes it all the more intriguing. Have you thought of making a collection of retellings with illustrations?

12-11-2009, 05:02 PM
I used to illustrate a little story that I wrote for my kids but I didn't go on because I got sidetracked with improving on techniques, especially for scenery and figure work. But that is one of my goal - to illustrate stories.

Thanks for your compliment.

12-20-2009, 02:09 AM
This is not exactly any particular style from Hong Kong.

I browsed through some Japanese manga from my kids and am always amazed with the simple black and white illustrations by Japanese manga artist and have always wanted to recreate Hong Kong that way.

This is a common scene in Hong Kong - Temple Street where hawkers put up stores on a street at night. I improvised mostly on the signs and stores and gear it a little bit manga styled but with my own mixed media and coloring. Manga hardly have color because there are so many pages and so many illustrations and they have to keep the cost down and so apart from the attractive color cover, everything is in black and white. In Hong Kong, in contrast, the children's magazine and comics are often in color and are not too expensive.

This would be my version of a Japanese manga interpretation with color for a Hong Kong scene but without the crispness of pen but mostly done with erasures of General's Graphite Powder smudged all over the page.

Erasures is not the only way to make a drawing. With this graphite powder, you could use soft pastel to draw right on top of it. I did erase some parts for lighting and it is very useful to show different shades.

People : Derwent Drawing Pencil - black, Derwent Tinted Charcoal Pencil - peat color
Elmer's Paintastics Brushpen for orange characters
Loew Cornell soft pastel sticks for the rest of colors
Uniball black rolling pen for outlining of characters
Pacon Drawing pad 9x12 inch - this kids' pad is quite something. I've erased multiple times and it didn't even break or tear or wrinkle. I do most of my colored pencil work on it. Got it for $2 from Target a year ago.


12-21-2009, 12:02 AM
kinda has an eery feel to it

01-08-2010, 06:30 PM
I took Robersloan's hint and went ahead and tried a piece of Japanese painting with pan pastels. What a laugh.

I went ahead and ventured with rice paper because while one side is silky shiny smooth, the other side has texture. I went and used some dark color to do the sky and then realize I have to make up some turquoise colors. I was thinking, shoot, if I were using bombay india ink, I would just need to reach from my turquoise color ink. I put some of the pastel dust in one of the containers and some of the other...fine, I couldnt' make turquoise. Just plain blue then. So far so good. Then as I got to the water, I started to realize how not cool this idea was. Dust particles are falling off the sponges and are not erasable! Can't even be picked up with the kneaded eraser.

I gritted my teeth and continued and comforted myself that this is just a trial piece. Don't get upset. Put in blocks of color for the birds and the hills...even took a photo of it.

Then when I got to the saint, I saw my mistake in even trying. I'd need to use inklines to flesh this guy out and it is going on my expensive calligraphy pocket brushpen. :crying: :crying: I could have used the Chinese brush but I was not in the mood to starch the painting because Chinese ink has much more viscosity and the sheet curls in all directions. I have to stick with the Japanese brush pen.

Then I stopped. I can't put the black lines in first or when I add the color, it will blur the lines. I can't flesh the guy out in color accurately and I can't do draft with pencils. This blocking of colors is not working with me. Nor the blocking of the colors of the bird. There are these beautiful tubs of color pigment that I can't pick up except with the sponge like things...geez...(that's an understatement - in my head, there were multiple expletives by now.)

Then the beaks...if anyone hear what I was saying in my head, they would think I'm a truck driver. I couldn't get the pastels in the narrow strip of that XXXXing beak nor the xxxxing eye. :lol: :lol: :lol:

I put black onto the background and the reeds looked messy. I had to use brushstroke in the end to fix a few to make it look like reeds or blades. The straight edge of these sponges are beginning to bother the heck out of me. Robert's nightscene with dark blue was tremendously pretty but a Chinese painting does not use rectangular stippling or patterning. This is as bad as putting it through photoshop with that angled filter....hahaha...This will be the last time I'd attempt a Chinese painting with pan pastels unless it's blurry fog burying countless steep cliffs...Even then, I have to find a brush with fibres that will pick up the pigment like a Chinese brush. No way I'm going to use the edge of sponges.

So here they are. Oivay...Good thing I'm going to watch my kids play basketball now and not have to be continuedly aggravated by my experiment. LOL.

Based on Yo-shi-toshi's Saint Nichiren Saves the Cormorant Fisherman. This is only half the painting. One day, I'll do the entire painting in real Chinese brush painting.



01-31-2010, 11:09 PM
This one is based on an Islamic paining of 1600: Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II Riding an Elephant by Bijapur.

The Islamic paintings are similar to Indian paintings in that they are very 2 dimensional with little values and shading to give forms. This particular painting really caught my eye because it has volume especially the elephant. I gave them shadows to ground them but the real painting has more flowers. I did it with ball pen meaning for it to be only a pen drawing but then I pulled out watercolors and Inktense pencils too.

Academie Heavyweight Sketchbook half page of 8.5 x 11 inch
Sakura Koi Pocket watercolor set of 18
Derwent Inktense Pencils
Black ball pen from a competing motel :lol:


02-01-2010, 02:30 AM
Sandra, you really captured the feel and colour of the Islamic style. I love those Islamic/Indian miniatures. Now if I could find the time to copy one....

The man with cormorants looks really good too. Are those your pan pastels dotted around? They look rather inviting.:thumbsup:

02-01-2010, 09:50 AM
Thank you, June, for your comment. Do try one. Islamic paintings are so simple to be honest and the Indian paintings at times look naive. But they have very intricate colors and decorative flowers most of the time.

Yes, those are the pan pastels. A bother to use if you are aiming for small details but they are great for mixing your own color background! I use sticks and pencils now for small details rather than fighting with it and I'm a lot happier now.

I got the Painting set of 10 and Drawing set of 10 and I could mix a lot of colors from those two sets.

02-13-2010, 04:36 PM
This is the young general Minamoto no Yo****sune of Japan in late 1100's when he dressed up as female while crossing a bridge to do surveillance. A skillful swordsman, he defeated the legendary warrior monk Benkei (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benkei) in a duel. From then on, Benkei became Yo****sune's right-hand man, eventually dying with him at the Siege of Koromogawa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Koromogawa). Source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamoto_no_Yo****sune)

This painting was based on Yo-shi-toshi's work. (WC is funny. They put stars for the word s-h-i-t. :lol: )This paper doesn't take yellow well but the other colors come up well.

Chinese brush and ink
Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay India ink
Gray paper 9x12 inch


02-25-2010, 03:20 PM
Some Hokusai sketch practices. Some I added with my own interpretations.

Manila paper
Chinese brush and Japanese bottled ink



Canson 120 lbs watercolor paper 9x12 inch
Chinese ink and brush
Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay India Ink

The Hokusai sketches don't have colors. I'm just testing how this paper takes India ink and Chinese ink. Seems quite sturdy just like Bristol but cheaper. In between vellum and smooth Bristol.


03-03-2010, 10:52 AM
Sandra, really like your work here...need to take some time and read everything and see if I can do something. Glad we are letting this run along and give us some time to absorb. :heart:

03-21-2010, 02:30 PM
Here's an imitation of Hokusai using my new horde of soft pastels. Hokusai would turn in his grave if he knew I pastelized his work. :lol:

I put my observations on how each brand of pastel worked here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=548096).

65 lbs Black Cardstock 8.5 x 11 inch from supermarket which didn't even curl after I put the Acrylic pastel ground on.
My new assortment of soft pastel


03-21-2010, 05:34 PM
This one is also based on Hokusai's work.

Warning: Explicit!!

Warning: Explicit!!

Strathmore Pastel Paper 11x14 inch
Assortment of artist quality soft pastel
Primo 3B charcoal pencil
General's 4B charcoal pencil

Warning: Explicit!!


Well it's too late now if you scroll all the way down.


04-29-2010, 03:30 AM
Today in the morning and at lunch, I quickly did these two based on Yos-hi-tsune's work.

Photo Album Scrap Book Spiral Bound 8x10 inch
Daniel Smith watercolor from lego palette
Pentel Pocket Calligraphy Brush
Large parts of black with Chinese ink and brush



05-07-2010, 01:41 AM
Tonight, I crunched up the Chinese rice paper and it became a heavily textured paper after I unfolded it and then I slathered ink on it and water all over with my brushes. This is my third piece already because the first two pieces, I wanted to spray and flatten it quickly to show you all but inadvertently tore them. But that's okay, it gave me practice how to position the hills better in my third piece.

Imaginary landscape. If I had time, I would have starched it and flattened it but I ironed it tonight. A no-no in general for Chinese painting.


05-09-2010, 11:43 AM
I keep forgetting this thread,so have put it at the top of my painting to do list. I love the energy in your work and the list and use of your paints, brushes, inks, etc. You must have a pantry full of art ingredients. Here are a few envy faces :envy: :envy: and a :heart:

05-09-2010, 05:07 PM
Thank you, Janet. I do have a bit more these two weeks. Working is bad because I get to spend now.

This is Gray Paper primed with Golden Acrylic ground 8 x 11 inch.
A mix of Sennelier, Holbein, Van Gogh oil pastel
Derwent Drawing Pencil black to to black outlines. It seems to work very well.
Image based on Hiroshige's work Odawar: Sakawa River

Not exactly like the original. Changed things here and there. And it's not traditional medium which is woodblock print since I don't have that facility but I like using oil pastel more and more to flesh out woodblock prints.


These were done at the university testing out colors and proportion while I waited for my youngest son to finish his piano lesson.

Academie Heavyweight 80 lbs 8.5 x 11 inch
Upper image: Daniel Smith lego palette
Lower image: General's pastel chalk pencils


05-10-2010, 11:15 AM
I love the design of these last two, Sandra. One forceful, the other soft and liquid.

Well here is my attempt...pen and ink with neocolor II Watersoluble Caran d'Ache.

Guardian Spirits
The Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD:



05-11-2010, 03:11 PM
Lately I've been working with some Hiroshige images and woodblock cuts. I've also been learning watercolor and scratchboard techniques, so any critisims would be highly appricatated.

These are all WIPs while I figure out how to finish them.

(oh, almost forgot, they have been cross-posted to the Scratchboard Forum)

The flowers are based on Hiroshige's Flower series, and the watercolor is from his Flower Gardens in the Four Seasons

05-11-2010, 03:12 PM
It would help if I actually uploaded the watercolor...

05-11-2010, 09:31 PM
Very nice, Janet. Totally Chinese in flavor. And you added a whimsical touch to them.

Zeenjan, wow, very intricate work. I didn't even know Hiroshige did flowers. I only recognize his work of the female subject and the landscape pieces. You are very devoted indeed. And what great patience to do all the pattern of the kimono. Great effort there.

05-12-2010, 11:50 AM
Thanks, Sandra...Hope to do a few more.

Zeenjan, absolutely beautiful work. Hope you will post more of your work as you go along.


05-17-2010, 06:56 PM
Here are two of the flowers finished. The photo for the poppies is a little mangled, but hopefully I get the idea across.

The poppies and the hygranga

05-18-2010, 12:50 AM
Crystal, I like the colors of the first one. It's very oriental in flavor! Very intricate scratch art! Do you always prefer applying color to your scratchart?

05-18-2010, 01:33 AM
I color about 2/3 of the scratchboards, I think. Some I only color part, especially where I have an interlace peice.

06-14-2010, 08:51 PM
I now hove go to go back and track this down, but I just couldn't wait any longer.

This is probably from one of the various 36 views of Mt. Fuji. I"m blaming the bronchitus and the fever.

8x10 ambersand scratchboard, untitiled as a WIP. I have to decided if I want this to be a day or night view, and wherther or not to paint it.

Thanks for looking!

06-14-2010, 10:15 PM
Wow, Crystal, this is very beautiful. If you do a day time piece, does it mean you have to scratch more for the wave under the crest to give it color? I suppose if it is night time, you only see the slight white crest on the top.

Photocopy it and then apply some color to see if you like a night time view first. Whichever version, the waves look very good already in its intricate pattern. Very well done and such patience!

06-18-2010, 10:00 AM
A quick sketch to test out my pen last night before bed.

Canson 120 lb watercolor pad 9x12 inch 1/6 page
This one is based on Hiroshige's work.
FC Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils
Daniel Smith Primatek colors
G-nib with Kuretake manga ink


06-22-2010, 01:30 AM
This is inspired by Hokusai and several of the prints from his 36 views of Mt Fuji.

This is a night view, with bands of stars and ocean spray. I might need to add more to these to make they more interesting.

06-23-2010, 01:15 AM
It does look elaborate, Crystal. I like the spray of the water at the crest!

06-26-2010, 04:57 PM
These are from yesterday.

The next three are adaptations of Hiroshige's work but I changed things around here and there.

Daniel Smith watercolors
Details are Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils - they don't do well on parts that has watercolor on for some reason. I have to explore some more. Perhaps the paper wasn't totally dry.
Pentel Pocket Calligraphy brushpen



This one I was testing out how else I could paint the people after I laid the background colors without reserving white for them.

First I detailed in black, then used Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils but it was still not opaque enough.

I used Caran D'Ache Neocolor II without wash for the raincoats and the hats and it worked.
The limbs initially were done with Sakura Koi pan watercolor peach color which almost was opaque. I added some white of Caran D'Ache and it made it worse.

Nevertheless, the experiment pointed to the possibilities of using Neocolor so I could paint backgrounds freely without having to use mask. Worse come to worse, I use gouache. But I don't like my cheap gouache.


So here is my breakfast, break, lunch time full page effort.


These are from this morning.

Daniel Smith watercolor
Academie Heavyweight Sketchbook 8.5 x 11 inch half page for each painting
Pastel pencils Carbothello Stabilo
Pentel Pocket Calligraphy brush
Wolff's Carbon pencil



07-01-2010, 11:08 AM
Inspired by an Australian aborigine art style.


'water rat and duck', 7 by 9 ins, gouache on cartridge paper.

This is a quickie design to see how it might work on animals...although inspired by Australian art its not a direct copy of any artwork. My own design based on aborigine patterns.

This first one is a tad small and delicate as I wasn't sure it would 'work'; but I so enjoyed doing it, I think I'll try another one ...maybe using acrylics, and in a much bigger size.

I'm off to have my dinner but I'll be back later to comment on previous works in this thread!!:D

07-01-2010, 12:37 PM
Hi again, dinner is done!!

I've been admiring the work on this thread. Sandra, your copies of Japanese art are a marvel...lots of experimenting going on with imagery and mediums. I particularly like the back view of the lady. I like your ink lines with touches of watercolour. I have never done scratchboard and wouldn't know how to start...or even what a scratchboard is???? But the works on it are impressive!:thumbsup:

Janet, good to see your work here. I like the guardian spirit. That's the beauty of non-western art, the imagery is so different to the western images we are used to and that is very inspiring, I feel.:clap:

Zeenjan, . I do love your lady with the flowers and the b&w wave pattern is lovely too.:heart:

07-06-2010, 03:00 PM
Sandra - your work here has a free feeling. I love the last landscape in post #80 with its solid forms and solitary feeling.

Zeenjan - nice work - the wave is a beautiful copy!!

Janet - the icons with the plain palate are fun art.

June - really nice , smooth shapes, tactile and peaceful.

07-06-2010, 10:31 PM
How did this thread ever elude me? One of the things that used to irritate me about the Classical Art boards was the fact that so many had a constricted notion of what "classical art" was... usually limited to art from the High Renaissance through the late 19th century academics. My own admiration of Modernism has as much to do with the fact that it opened up the world to other possibilities... including Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, Native-American, Medieval European art etc... as it does with the actual achievements of Modernist artists.

My own art has been profoundly impacted by Japanese art (especially the great screen paintings and Ukioyo-e prints), Persian and Middle-eastern art, the art of Islamic Spain, Byzantine art, and Indian painting and sculpture. Perhaps I might offer up a brief look at some of the Non-Western art that has impressed me. I have been looking at recently at Japanese literature/poetry and the art that went with it. In the West since the era of the standardization of letter forms under Charlemagne (who couldn't read) and the introduction of the movable type printing press by Gutenberg, calligraphy has lost its status as one of the central art-forms. Indeed, today it would be hard to think of a single known calligrapher or when I last witnessed an exhibition of recent calligraphic art.

Certainly, since Charlemagne there have been book artists for whom the layout and the look of letters on the page has been imminently important; I think especially of designers such as Aldus Manutius, founder of the Aldine Press...


...and William Morris, especially famed for the Kelmscott Chaucer...


But none of these equal the expressive quality of the written word... of calligraphy... as a visual form of communication as one might regularly find in Islamic manuscripts...


or in the spontaneous calligraphy of Chen/Zen calligraphers in China and Japan...



or even in earlier European books.:


Perhaps the only major artist/author to come close to such a merger of the written word as both a visual and literary art was William Blake...


As an artist/bibliophile... and ardent admirer of the book as an art object, it probably shouldn't be so surprising that Blake is such a central figure to me.

Exploring Asian art and literature recently... and especially that of Japan... I have been greatly enamored of what must surely be one of the greatest creative partnerships in the history of art. The artists of whom I am speaking are the Japanese masters, Hon'ami Kōetsu (本阿弥光悦)-1558-1637 and Tawaraya Sōtatsu (俵屋宗達)-early 1600s. Kōetsu was born into a family of swordsmiths and mastered the craft himself. Like many aristocratic Japanese artists of the era (and not unlike the Renaissance artists) he was accomplished in a broad array of artistic forms, including ceramics, enamels, lacquer, and calligraphy. As a calligrapher, he was deeply inspired by the great poets of the Heian period (794 to 1185)... the so-called "classical era" or "golden age". Sōtatsu was primarily a painter and creator of beautiful papers for use in calligraphy. He is credited with having developed a "wet into wet" style of painting in which one color is dropped into another still wet color so that the two "bleed" together forming a marvelous atmospheric effect that is difficult to control and is deeply admired by the Japanese, who had a great respect for the spontaneous in art. Kōetsu and Sōtatsu worked together for some 15 years producing marvelous works of art in which the text, calligraphy, paper, and painting all merged to create a marvelous visual and literary work of art. There are suggestions that the close relationship of the two artists may have been so long-lasting due to their being related by marriage.

Kōetsu and Sōtatsu developed a form of visual art in which calligraphy was equal to painting... a concept not uncommon in Japanese, Chinese, and Islamic cultures. Both painting and the calligraphic forms served to illuminate the classical Heian poems. In this work...


... the artists illustrate a poem describing thunder in the pines. Bolder calligraphic characters... closer to Chinese in manner... suggest the explosion of sound that thunder makes, while other... more elegant and more characteristically Japanese-style symbols suggest the rain falling onto the pines below.

In other examples the calligraphy and painting merge into a single entity to an even greater degree. Of course the artists had the advantage of building upon a poetic tradition that was very image-based. Most of the classical Japanese poetry is very short and simply paints an exquisite and intensely imagined visual image:

In a gust of wind the white dew
On the autumn grass
Scatters like a broken necklace

-Bunya No Asayasu

In the spring garden
Where the peach blossoms
Light the path beneath,
A girl is walking.

(both tr. Kenneth Rexroth)

Kōetsu and Sōtatsu often created works in which the calligraphic form is almost an inseparable part of the visual image. Here, for example, illuminating a poem upon willow trees, the characters are lost within the foliage of the tree:


In another example, the calligraphy illustrates the water and water-lilies as much as the painted image:


The same can be said of this illumination of a poem upon bamboo:


Or that portraying a beach with pines and billowing clouds:


One of the most marvelous creations of the partnership of Kōetsu and Sōtatsu must be the so-called "Deer Scroll" in the collection of the Seattle Art Museum:




The Deer Scroll illuminates 28 poems of autumn from the Shin Kokin Wakashū (新古今和歌集) or New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems, an anthology compiled beginning in 905 and concluding c. 1439. The Seattle Art Museum owns but half of the entire scroll, or about 30 feet. The scroll was divided by a Japanese collector in the 1930s :flare: and the remaining portions of the work are owned by 5 Japanese museums and several private collectors. There are also a few missing pieces. The interactive Deer Scroll website at the SAM...


...offers a pdf. file going into greater detail exploring the scroll and the artists involved. More importantly, it offers an interactive view of the entire scroll as it originally existed... using computer enhancements of black and white photographs of the missing portions. One may scroll through the work and zoom in close upon the imagery... or click upon links to translations of all of the poetry. The site offers a fabulous view of a fabulous work of art.


07-07-2010, 12:31 AM
Wow, David, beautiful examples of calligraphy and painting. The Islamic script itself is also very fluid and romantic looking too. Thanks for all the examples of the scrolls. I was in Seattle Museum and totally missed this piece. I only saw a few huge screens of Chinese painting when I was there. I always wanted to try to draw a long scroll that tells the life of villagers in an Asian setting too.

Japanese poems like Chinese poems are so succinct and simple, aren't they?

Beautiful pieces. Thank you. Do you paint also in the style of Asian art too?

07-07-2010, 01:07 AM
Beautiful pieces. Thank you. Do you paint also in the style of Asian art too?

Not exactly... although I draw inspiration from Non-Western art sources... especially Japanese Screen painting, Ukiyo-e prints, Indian sculpture and painting, and Persian/Middle-eastern painting.

07-08-2010, 02:05 AM
How did this thread ever elude me? One of the things that used to irritate me about the Classical Art boards was the fact that so many had a constricted notion of what "classical art" was... usually limited to art from the High Renaissance through the late 19th century academics. My own admiration of Modernism has as much to do with the fact that it opened up the world to other possibilities... including Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, Native-American, Medieval European art etc... as it does with the actual achievements of Modernist artists.

You can thank me for it - I was the one who originally suggested that this thread be started... :)

07-08-2010, 08:31 AM
and a very good suggestion it was, Brian. And it is great to have Sandra hosting and posting!!! (Poetry? the heat must be fuzzing my brain!!)

07-08-2010, 11:46 AM
Kitagawa Utamaro 喜多川 歌麿c. 1753-1806

Kitagawa Utamaro... generally referred to in the West simply as Utamaro was one of the greatest Japanese artists... a master of woodblock, painting, and drawing. He was reputedly born in Edo, Osaka, or Kyoto (the three largest Japanese cities) and his art consistently conveys an urban sophistication and subject matter. He was quite probably the pupil of Toriyama Sekien 鳥山 石燕 and possibly even his son. He was originally trained in the aristocratic Kano style of painting, but soon gravitated toward the more popular Ukiyo-e.

Ukiyo-e or "pictures of the 'floating world' " was a genre primarily of Japanese woodblock prints or woodcuts (although it also employed painting and drawing) produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, illustrations of historical and fantastic narratives, erotica, and the theatre and pleasure quarters. The "floating world" (ukiyo) refers to the urban culture that bloomed especially in Edo (Tokyo) and was a world unto itself. While the traditional classes of Japanese society were bound by numerous strictures and prohibitions, the rising merchant class was relatively unregulated, therefore "floating."

Utamaro, rather than presenting the more "eternal" themes of gods, heroes, great rulers, etc... that were the themes of much aristocratic art, was fascinated with the subject of fleeting beauty. His work focused largely upon the world of women. He had the most sophisticated eye for capturing the telling gestures of lovers, mothers, courtesans, concubines, actresses, geisha, etc... involved in their activities of everyday life. The turn of a finger, the curling toes of a lover, the delicate act of applying make-up... one often senses that one has stumbled upon Utamaro's women in their most intimate or unguarded moments. This feeling is often heightened through the artist's masterful use of the point-of-view. We often approach Utamaro's women from behind and witness the scene as if a voyeur. It should not be surprising that Degas was probably the most inspired by Utamaro among the Japanese print masters.

Scenes of beautiful women... courtesans and geisha... looking at themselves in their mirrors were a favorite subject of Utamaro:




In the print just above a geisha applies the traditional white make-up of a geisha. In another marvelous erotic Shunga print (not shown here) a courtesan seems far more concerned with checking her reflection in the mirror than in the lovemaking (rather graphically depicted) at hand.

Utamaro was adept at portraying women of various social classes. In the following image we see working-class women employed at gathering the silkworms required for the creation of the marvelous silk kimonos worn by the wealthier classes:


Patterns of the traditional Japanese robe are exquisitely captured by Utamaro. His range of designs and colors (often reserved to the most subtle burgundies, plums, grays, ochres, and other earth-tones) are quite marvelous and and convey a subtle harmony and delicate refinement.

In several other prints Utamaro contrasts women of the various social strata. In one print a geisha is seen at her hairdresser:


In another charming print a geisha is seen interrupted at he mirror by her young son who has escaped the oversight of her maidservant. At the boy looks up at his mother she playfully sticks her tongue out at him while her maidservant charmingly muffles her laughter in her sleeve:


In still another image portraying the interactions of the different classes a wealthy geisha traveling (perhaps even shopping) with her maidservant who carries all of her needed boxes of supplies. The maidservant is not merely seen dressed in a more humble manner, but she carries a fan with a painted image of a Buddhist monk... conveying a sense of the greater faith or concern with the spiritual rather than the material of the humbler classes:


In one lovely suite of prints, Five Inks of the North Country, Utamaro presents images of the various levels of courtesans (usually living in the "North Country" or Northern suburbs of Edo) ranging from the lowest common prostitute, a slovenly overweight woman who lets it all hang out, to the highest caste of courtesan (shown below), a sophisticated looking woman shown immediately after washing her hair in the process of applying her make-up:


One of the most magical of Utamaro's prints is a scene showing a geisha in the act of lighting (or putting out) a lamp. The manner in which the artist has conveyed that which is seen in the full glow of the lamp-light as opposed to that which is in the shadow is absolutely marvelous... all the more so when one considers that the technique employed in Ukiyo-e woodblock prints demands a separate wood block to be cut and registered for each individual color!


It comes as no surprise, considering Utamaro's focus upon the life of women in the pleasure quarters, that the artist made his share of Shunga or erotic prints. The majority of Shunga prints are quite graphic to the point that they verge upon "pornographic" by Western standards... albeit exquisitely gorgeous pornography. There is a certain shock to the best examples of the genre in the contrast between the most luxurious flow of patterned draperies and the most exquisitely observant and telling of details and the most graphic portrayals of sex. Utamaro, however, produced some of the most refined and subtle of all Shunga. The following elegant scene of lovers is not merely one of the most poignant and outstanding of all Shunga... but certainly one of the most memorable works of all Japanese art... and one of the loving and extraordinarily sensual works of erotic art ever produced:


07-08-2010, 10:24 PM
David, thank you for the write up. Totally love Utamaro's work. I always enjoy Japanese erotic art and his is very subdued. Thanks for pointing out that plate for putting out the light. Japanese woodblock prints is just amazing I think and the elegance of their ladies and kimono is just fabulous considering that they have to chip, chip, chip the wood to attain that.

07-08-2010, 11:15 PM
Here's my attempt at Utagawa Kunisada's actor dancing beside mortar with pestle c.1840.

Doing this type of work is fun, relaxing and nice change from western forms.

07-09-2010, 08:37 AM
This is turning into a fabulous thread.

Zeenjian's Mt. Fuji and all of Sandras work (especially like the people on the bridge) with notes on process to June's aborigine art and now Robin's Kunsada's actor dancing.
....and then we have David's very informative post with beautiful images.

We are looking good. :thumbsup:

07-09-2010, 09:34 AM
[quote=trafford]This is turning into a fabulous thread...quote)]

Yes, really a fabulous thread by now.
I was happy that calligraphy has come to the floor. I believe you can't learn Chinese brush without learning Chinese or Japanese calligraphy. Am Vietnamese and Chinese is a foreign language to me. Here is a copy exercice of the famous poem of Basho. I added the background just for fun.
Thanks Sandra et al for all the contributions and references.

07-10-2010, 10:19 AM
I love the movement in your drawing Robin.

And the calligraphy of the Basho poem is beautiful,Nguyen

07-10-2010, 05:02 PM
Robin, totally lively brushstrokes. It brings a smile to my face when I looked at it. Pls do more.

Nguyen, welcome to this thread. I love your simple background to the piece. Absolute simplicity and elegance. Were you trained with the Chinese brush when growing up? I grew up using the Chinese brush for calligraphy but not for painting. I'm originally from Hong Kong and my husband is Vietnamese. Good to have another Asian here. We don't have enough of us at Wetcanvas. Please post more as you paint more.

Last week, I wanted to draw a fisherman as I was waking up one morning. So took my Chinese brush and improvised Hokusai style without the exact toe count.:D


Then took out the Marie's Chinese watercolor and first did a few strokes of water, and then the rock. Then it all came together what I wanted to paint. To bring color and a fuller view to Chinese painting in traditional subjects.

I photographed it wet so that it's not totally wrinkled yet.


07-11-2010, 01:16 AM
Thank you, Sandra. Yes, I learned a bit of chinese writing when I was in the secondary school. It was longtime ago.
Surely, I'll post some drawings, but I'm new here and need some times to be familiar with the procedures. WC is huge, and one get lost.
The master who most inpires me is Chu Ta.

07-11-2010, 10:56 PM
welcome to WC nuguy - this place is good - all kinds of art , & commaraderie

Sandra - thank you for the encouraging word.

07-13-2010, 12:24 PM
nguyen, this is very pretty. What is it? A flower bud on a twig?

07-16-2010, 12:54 AM
Yes, Sandra. Thank you
Thanks to ArtByJune, Robin.
I'm wandering through the immense WC world.

07-16-2010, 03:27 PM
Like that fisherman Sandra...and Nuguyen you manage to paint a lovely picure with so few strokes.

Here is a cave painting "The Honey Robbers" the Arana caves, E. Spain.
Watercolor and saran wrap.


07-16-2010, 04:11 PM
all very well done.

07-18-2010, 04:04 PM
Here is a cave painting "The Honey Robbers" the Arana caves, E. Spain.

"Sober and elegant ! "
are my words!

07-19-2010, 12:52 AM
Very nice rendition, Janet!! Very colorful too.

09-11-2010, 10:23 PM
This afternoon, spent all the time getting familiar with the W&N Designer's Gouache.

All the following are on Artist's Loft 90 lbs watercolor pad 9x12 inch

Drawing inspiration from Japanese quilt designs. I learnt from a previous watercolor book that if we use the pointed edge of the brush to etch lines in while wet, it would give a nice darkness. So now, I could do these lines without using a brush and paint/ink.

full page


By now, I have to add Daniel Smith watercolors for variation of richer colors.

1/3 page


1/3 page


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09-13-2010, 04:12 PM
Sandra, these are just lovely. My favorite is the last one, because of the beautiful colors :heart:

12-26-2011, 07:55 AM
Hi Sandra, such beautiful flowing watercolours. You have a lovely connection to Japanese art!

12-26-2011, 07:58 AM

'Small green statue', acrylics, 6 by 8 ins., paper. Inspired in part by a statue of S. American origin. At least, I think the original image was S. American...I forgot to note the details. In future, I will note them!:thumbsup:

01-08-2012, 02:35 AM
Checking posts