Zen art, nature, and Ukiyo-E

Outside the fine art and historical world, most of the interest and support for Ukiyo-E is in the Manga community. The positive there is that comic books and anime are constantly drawing young eyes to a much broader world of expression (just like they have always done). The negative is that a great deal of beautiful work gets ignored in favor of battle scenes, yokai, and other more graphic forms.

As for myself, my first exposures to Ukiyo-E came through an interest in Buddhist art, and an attraction to the simple elegance of Japanese art in general.

Some of the most under rated Ukiyo-E images are portrayals of nature. This is the point where a more scholarly sort would talk about the development of the style and how it came to Japan through mimicking the Chinese style of landscape and so on…but I am not here to provide art history so much as to talk about the art I am presenting.

At any rate, I do not attempt much in the way of nature art…for reasons previously discussed in a post about an oil I did (Painting hard feelings). The painting I am posting today is an exception to that and I kind of painted myself into a corner with the need to do it when I decided to do a series based on Ukiyo-E.

The reason I felt like it had to be done is because no nod to Japanese art and beauty could ever be complete without several subjects being covered. Amongst them would be Samurai, Geisha, Buddhism, Mount Fuji, and of course Cherry blossoms. In this series, so far I have addresses all but Mount Fuji… and of the ones completed I have shared all but one of a Geisha here on this website, after this post of course.

Todays painting is titled “Sparrow and Cherry Blossom” and is simple image of a sparrow perched on a cherry branch in bloom.

Sparrow and Cherry Blossom

“Sparrow and Cherry Blossom” is an 18×24 gouache painting on watercolor paper. The original piece and prints are available here.

Painting hard feelings.

The piece I am featuring today was curative.

It let a lot of sadness out of me.

It was done right around when my father was dying, another relationship that I valued very deeply was falling apart, and another (that persevered) was greatly challenged by all of that suffering.

Like with most of the things I create, I let the feelings come out through my hand.

Artistically this one is different because I don’t do a lot of still life, nor do I do a lot of flowers. I don’t have any negative opinions about either type of painting. I just don’t like doing still life in general, and well I seldom feel like a flower is done justice in my artwork.

I do intend to challenge myself with flowers in the near term, in my personal journey I have learned to see them differently, and I am curious how that will translate through my hand.

That said, todays image is …

The Dying of the Roses

This 18×24 oil on canvas board currently hangs in my office. While it could be sold, I would have to be enticed to part with it.

Currently it reminds me how good things are, by reminding me of the darker places I have been.

If you wanted to acquire a print of this little piece of sorrow, it is available here.