Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The woodcuts of Utagawa Hiroshige

I was going to make a start on a large Life piece next, but although I have the necessary poses from one of the ladies who does life modelling for me, I'm not happy about the quilts that will make up the background yet.  I still need to think it through properly; for example I'm not sure how controversial I dare be!

However, all this did free up some time at the weekend for some more work towards the Orientation exhibition.

 I've been looking at the woodcuts of Utagawa Hiroshige and felt inspired to attempt a landscape, based on one of his pictures at the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford.  I was very aware that I didn't want to make a slavish copy of course, but liked the apparent simplicity of his style. Mount Fuji seems to appear in just about everything, so it's in mine. Blossom trees feature heavily too so I have included a couple which I hope are in a similar style but also quite different.

I wondered if you'd like to follow progress so far?

Here's the plain white (unironed!!) cloth on my easel. I've put pencil marks where I think the water, hills, and Mt Fuji etc ought to be.

I then stuck bondawebbed fabric shapes onto the white cloth. Now this fabric is very special, as it's some that Laura dyed. When you look at a gorgeous piece of cloth, it takes courage to cut into it and use it. Part of me just wants to sit and stroke it, but I was brave. 
 I wanted to paint the sky rather than use cloth so that I could calm things down a little.  I used turqoise, white and black paint to get this effect.

And then I've added some figures and some trees to give a little perspective. There will be hogweed in the front (what else from me?) and possibly some Japanese anenomies too. The picture will be heavily stitched and painted as usual.

Obviously there's much to do, but it's a start.

The haiku which goes with this one will be by Yoshi Mikami Issa (1762-1826)

In my old home
which I forsook, the cherries
are in bloom

(slightly puzzled as this haiku doesn't follow the normal format, but I'll check it out at some point)


  1. It is looking lovely, I look forward to see how it progresses!

  2. Beautiful colours. And great choice of fabrics. Can you see a sheep bottom left?

  3. Thank you Chloe and Amanda, and yes, aren't the fabrics gorgeous! I'm not sure if this one will be good enough for the exhibition to be honest; I'll wait and see how it looks stitched and painted. If not, I will use it for something else. I don't think I've ever done a landscape before so it's an interesting change. I've been drawing Japanese anenomies and love the little clump of leaves they have around a bare stalk, so a few of those will sneak in somewhere. Not sure about a sheep Amanda, but you never know! Watch this space :)