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Influence: Katsushika Hokusai

Best known for: The Great Wave of Kanagawa, 36 Views of Mount Fuji When I was little I thought I knew a secret: that Japanese art from the Edo period is wonderful. Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji is a very well known series, and The Great Wave off Kanagawa is the most recognizable and reproduced piece. I first encountered this piece as a young girl inside a Japanese restaurant. It was printed across two pieces of cloth that were hanging over a doorway. It was love at first sight. Over the years Hokusai has remained my favorite. Once while cutting through the Art Institute of Chicago (a common student practice for SAIC students looking for a break from the cold), I looked over and stopped dead in my tracks. There were the 36 Views of Mount Fuji just twenty feet away! I later stood in that exact spot and looked at where they hung and I am not sure how I even saw them from that angle. At that moment they jumped out and grabbed me. I hurried over through the intricate maze of museum walls in the Asian wing and arrived before them. They were so small. I couldn’t believe it (they’re approximately 10” x 15”). I stood there for an hour. I returned over and over, always finding new moments with these pieces. When I said goodbye before the show closed it was with tears in my eyes. Luckily, these wonderful artworks are prints so there are many copies and many chances to see them. There was a different perspective in traditional Japanese art. The art shows a...

Never Out of the Tube! 9 Reasons to Mix Those Colors!

  I don’t have a lot of rules for myself when I am painting. But, I do have on cardinal rule: Never out of the tube! What does this mean? I mix all my colors before they touch my canvas. Why?… well, there are a few reasons. Honestly, the number one reason I’d have to say is ego. Someone once said (in art school) “hey, you sure use a lot of sap green out of the tube.” I was pretty embarrassed. They had a name for my tree color? Not cool. I want them to see a tree, not a paint label. I want to pick my colors. When they come out of the tube the paint company is picking my color. I am probably choosing that color because it is simply there, looking at me from my box of paint or palette. Yes, I hear myself say “But blah-blah color is just the right color I need!” And, I mix it anyway. I have never been disappointed that I didn’t use it straight from the tube. Color theory! Ever mix a bunch of gray or browns? After a while you can tell what kind they are. Yellow/purple, red/green, or blue/orange. Then after a while you can tell what kind of each color went in. Was it Cadmium Red or Alizarin Crimson? If you are working with a limited palette and then you reach over and put some other random color in, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Zen. Some people meditate. Some people run. I mix paint. The little tap tap tap of the palette knife. Adding...