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My Tokyo Blog

    I hope you enjoy traveling with me to Japan, seeing and experiencing a new and historical culture. Check out the entries above as we visit shrines, festivals and the everyday aesthetic that is Japan.
     Below are a few of the images from my trip. I wanted to share with you why I painted them and the story behind it.
     I hope you enjoy seeing them go from camera to canvas. They are for sale if you see a special one that speaks to you, let me know.

 

 

 

Old Asakusa, Tokyo

     Japan is a country of rare beauty.  A sense of quiet and serenity filled the air, even amid the bustle of Tokyo, there seemed to be this ever present feeling that all was still and ageless.
     There were so many images that warrant a painting, sometimes it is just the natural beauty of the place, other times I am inspired by movement or colors.

     For Beauty, I photographed this Geisha in a parade in Asakusa, the oldest geisha district of Tokyo. This ancient area of the city houses the Sensoji Temple and was celebrating a festival that day.
     Walking past escorted by the tradesmen of the area as well as the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia), the scene was one of colorful costumes, interesting dances and beating drums.

                                                          Beauty, acrylic collage, 16" X 20"

   I was drawn to the colors of the kimono and the movement that seemed to bring it alive. Focusing on just one section with her feet, I wanted to depict that energy.

     In the painting to the right, I have blended modern and ancient. Colorful washi paper covered with parasols depict the modern designs of Tokyo. The bright robe, aged newspapers and stamps to the right, signify the old Japan, that of tradition and ancient beliefs.

    The pattern of the parasols is repeated to the left of the geisha with the word character for "Beauty" tying both together. The background brings in the colors of warmth through the use of browns and reds, giving a strong sense of composition to the piece.

 

A Visit to Nikko, Japan

     One day we traveled to Nikko to visit a World Heritage Site. On the way you will pass the Shinkyo Bridge one of the most unusual in Japan. Legend has it that when a certain saint tried to cross the rapids of the Daiyagawa River, two snakes formed a bridge for him to walk across.
      I was in awe of the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The bright red bridge spans the clear blue water and gives a wonderful view of what old Japan looked like.

Many years ago I found an old photo album from 1934 of a travelers tour of China. The black book was cracked and old, but filled with images that were beautiful. For this painting, I wanted a simple composition, allowing the focus to be on the landscape. So I replicated the old album color of soft black for the background . I trimmed the image in red to tie in with the bridge and added the Japanese characters "Beautiful Vista" to the painting as a finishing touch.

Beautiful Vista, acrylic, 12" x 12"

 

Geisha,  captures all that makes Japan unique and is was painted from a photo taken in Tokyo. She is a mature Geisha as represented in the black kimono and simple Obi.
    Kyoto is known for their Gion district which contains some of the old Geisha training houses. If you are lucky as we were, you might catch a glimpse of one at dusk hurrying to an appointment.

    In the background of the painting you can see the
Kiqomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto. Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most celebrated Buddist temples in Japan and its present buildings were constructed in 1633. The temple is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Perched on a hill, the shrine juts out and gives a spectacular view of Kyoto rooftops.                                             
                                             Geisha
, acrylic and multimedia, 14" x 18"

    Geisha blends a portrait and landscape in one, depicting the tight coorelation of people to their city. The traditions run deep in Kyoto and you have a sense of going back in time as you walk the narrow streets. I wanted to capture her quiet sense of beauty and the painted veil that hides her personality, allowing only old world Japan to define her.

    The montage contains patterned washi paper, stamps and the red bordered Obi sash setting a red rhythm across in a diagonal pattern. I have also balanced the green at top behind her with the panels of greenery on either side in the background. The dark vertical lines remind one of the bamboo that seems to grow everywhere.

 

The Little Geisha

A parade in Kyoto included this little girl dressed up as a geisha. Complete with parasol toting companion, she walked in full dress down the streets with others celebrating the Kamagoryo shrine.

Men in traditional costume carrying the local portable shrine, already with too much sake to drink, are the masters of the parade. Horses, children and different organizations fill the parade route.

The famous Kiyomizu Temple sits on a hill overlooking Kyoto. This favorite landmark is a wonderful backdrop to the painting.

Little Geisha was painted on commission to give as a gift. The recipients spent time in Kyoto and will have the painting as a reminder of that special time and place.

If you have a special memory you would like captured in art, give me a call and I can design one specifically for you.

 

"Little Geisha" acrylic
11" X 14"