With this seventh piece, a milestone is met. I drew my first horse and to be honest, it took me almost two weeks to force myself to work on it, not just the horse but the entire piece is something. There are many little details that make this composition work.
Not only the big horse stands out but also the fence in the middle right, the fisher man and his companion, everything is touched by trees and many of the colors are multi layered.
For me the highlight of 武州千住 (Bushū Senju) came in the form of the two distant trees in the middle, rising up from the underbrush. Mount Fuji here plays no role at all, other than reminding us that this is indeed part 7 of 36 views of Mount Fuji.
This is a simple thing. Tape a postcard or series of postcards to a board, wet them all over and then splash in some complimentary colors. Let dry thoroughly and then follow the color borders with a black pen. It allows me to get the know the various materials I own but not use much, how the pigments works on a specific type of paper without the fear of ruining a pen drawing I spend hours on. An added bonus is that all the doodling is meditative and rests my brain.
And in the end, I have nice looking postcards that I can send to internet friends!
This is the sixth piece I did for the 36+10 Views of Mount Fuji series and I must admit it grew on me. The ones I did so far were obviously special to me, for a wide variety of reasons. The “Cushion Pine at Aoyama” ( 青山円座松 Aoyama enza-no-matsu) initially did nothing for me.
Only when I was putting down the color, it became clear this is a very well balanced piece of work. Keep in mind that Japanese writing goes from right to left.
The flow of this piece will naturally go from the people in the bottom right over the high end of the pine trees up to Mt. Fuji and then back down to the houses hidden away behind mist and trees. The horizontal clouds cut the field of view flat through the middle where everything below it is obviously close and that above it is obviously far.
Then from the houses flows the bottom open space back past the shrine to the people where a lot of details make an interesting scene. With the mountain as the biggest part of this piece and right in the middle of the paper, it plays only a background role to the traveller’s picnic and the father walking his child.
Finally, the mist line acts as a mirror across the paper, the trees go down where the mountain goes up forming an elegant negative of each other. The soft background of very light pink in the low mist, the light shading of the mountain and the strong Prussian blue in the high and low sky makes this piece a very special work.
Already on the fifth of this series, it is a really enjoyable pastime and creative endeavor. Sundai, Edo (東都駿台, Tōto sundai) seems to be a nondescript picture of a road with travelers, a big pine tree and mount Fuji in the background. While I would love to say it is so much more, sometimes a road is just that. Making more of it would be wrong.
The biggest challenge in this piece is that every color used, touches on of the other colors. There is no escaping drying time per color and care should be taken to indeed fill all the spots where a color is to be used to prevent more drying time.
The paint used is a 36 color palette Mijello Mission Gold, a very nice shaped box that comes with small tubes that you can fill in the palette yourself. Gives you a nice case of the IKEA effect but aside from that the paints are really good. Activate really easy and give a very smooth, even layer of paint. My main gripe about this palette is the high amount of mixed colors but the St. Petersburg paint did worse in that regard.
For the trees I used Hookers Green and that worked out way better than expected. A downside of very fine paint is that to get it to shade well, you cannot escape glazing. With this green however, the paint was heavy enough to stay in place when applied in larger amounts but still giving a smooth gradient.
For the yellow I used Yellow Ocher as I found the other yellows in the palette far too artificial. While it has a tendency to dominate it is balanced out by the green, making this an even work.
Without needing to go into detail, 2020 was a weird year. At the beginning of the year, around the same time as I am writing this, I decided to do more drawing and painting outside. Got myself a nice satchel ready with all my drawing and watercolor supplies needed to just grab and go.
Drawing urbanscapes in groups, called Urban Sketching, was on my todo list, I would visit all weekends and getaways I could join by train such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Paris. Things went a bit different.
Now it is 2021 and that same itch is coming over me, I want to go outside and draw. Visit cities and paint, join with other painters and do my solo thing but more in a group. It should be possible, I think.
Last week it was nice here in the Netherlands, we had 17 degrees Celsius temperatures on Tuesday and I drew the playground near my house.
Today it cooled off a lot but I figured it would be fine with 7 degrees. Something I keep forgetting with this temperature however is that water will evaporate so much slower than I am used to in my house. So you have to wait longer if you want to do a bit of shading and glazing. Sit still longer, in 7 degrees. Over time I will figure out what the minimum is to be able to go outside comfortably and have the paint behave, for now I will try again at 12 minimum.
So we continue this series with the fourth piece out of 46, a very different setting from the previous three that were all about natural shapes and how nature is kicking ass. In this, the viewer is positioned in such a way as to view Mount Fuji framed and surrounded by all man made structures.
Another thing I noticed while drawing it is the huge amount of geometrical shapes: straight lines in the bridge and background buildings, circles in the hats and umbrella and partial ellipses in the bridge but also in the boats.
The thing that is really astonishing in this piece is the use of vanishing point perspective, a rather new thing in mid-19th century Japan and rather uncommon to see used correctly. This could have been a coincidence tho as some later pieces are wonky in places, when it happens I will point it out but I will follow the artists’ perspective instead of correcting it.
The piece took something of 6 to 8 hours of interrupted work, a full Saturday in fact. Included in that is the waiting time for the various layers of paint that had to dry, something I have a hard time getting used to in watercolor. These complicated pieces teach me patience already. Rough sketch, line work, paint, wait, paint, wait, etc.
Everything considered, it worked out really well. Normally when I do a complicated work by the time the line work is finished and that looks good, I am concerned I will ruin the piece by painting it sloppy or just plain bad. Of course, the color composition was done for me and the block print technique has few blending washes, making it easier to paint. In this case, I went in confident that I could pull it off if I took the time for it. I feel the confidence paid off.