Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ukiyo-e Art with a Side of Manga and Kanji

Bear Paw Studio is finally back in operation with an exciting art class for middle and high school age students on Japanese art, specifically Ukiyo-e, or "Pictures of the Floating World."  This is probably the most famous example of an Ukiyo-e woodblock print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, painted in 1831 by the master, Katsushika Hokusai.

Hokusai, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" 1831

In our first 3-hour session we learn about the origins of Ukiyo-e from a slide presentation and an excellent short You-Tube video by Phil Hansen,, along with several good library books I found on this art form.  In the presentations and books, we are introduced to two famous Ukiyo-e artists, Hokusai and Hiroshige, and view examples of their work.  The connection between Ukiyo-e and Manga graphic art forms are explored a bit, and by the end of the lesson, we will learn how to write our names in Kanji.
Jillian draws a Geisha girl in preparation for painting.

Ukiyo-e designs can be found on a variety of objects.

Additional Japanese art and our class project (lower right).

To begin our Ukiyo-e paintings, we make a free-hand drawing from reference materials, trying to develop our ability to see and draw shapes instead of objects or features. To help accomplish this difficult task, we turn the reference material and our drawing paper upside-down and draw the shapes we see bottom-to-top, trying not to recognize the actual objects or features they represent.  This technique forces us to observe shapes more carefully. It is challenging, but avoids the pitfall of letting our minds short-circuit our eyes, and rely on our often faulty mental image instead of reality.

This horse drawing by Gretchen was made using the upside down technique.

Here you can see Gretchen drawing from bottom to top,
with her reference photo upside down and partially covered.

Jillian's Giesha drawing.

Jillian's second drawing is another Geisha.

Melody works on her drawing of a Geisha atop a giant Carp.

Melody's drawing.

In the next session, we will use watercolors to paint our drawings, sign our names and titles in Kanji, and mount them on a paper "scroll" for display.  

 To be continued!  Please stay tuned for the rest of the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment