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  • Heron and Crow

    Heron and crow are a curious painting theme in Japanese art. Representing seemingly opposite nature of Ying and Yang, they are a joy and a challenge to explore with ink. In this three days workshop you will have the opportunity to learn the basic brush strokes of the birds amongst their natural habitat. Each morning will commence with a calligraphy practice and will continue with learning exercises to paint the birds with Live demonstration by Talia and accompanied with worksheet for you to use and take home. We will also explore the meaning of herons and crows in Japanese art and view masterpieces by the Japanese ink masters of the 18th C. Time permitting we will enjoy painting within the Almond grove studio. Day 1 - Intro, calligraphy, herons Day 2 - Calligraphy willow, water and more herons Day 3 - calligraphy, crows and pine barks, summary time Based on simplicity and minimalism, this work is a form of active meditation, a training of discipline of hands and mind. It enhances self-confidence and flow with the brush, promoting new sets of drawing skills. You will learn about core features and ideas of Japanese ink painting, alongside key brush strokes, using traditional brushes, ink and fine paper. Fees include: • Study work-sheets to form your personal booklet. • All tools and materials for the course. • 1-2-1 with Talia, plenty of practice time and group discussion. • local fresh fruits, tea / coffee and light refreshments. • Professional painting sets made in Japan to include brushes and paper can be purchased direct from the studio during workshop time. • Spaces are limited up to 5 students. Fees: €360- / £315- Fee may be paid online or in-person. Dates: Friday 28th - Sunday 30th of October 10am-1:30pm Please add your whatsApp phone number to receive the studio pin-location after booking as it is rather rural amidst a hundred almond trees. You will need a car or taxi to get to the studio which is about 20 minutes from Palma. To be notified of future Japanese ink painting workshops, please sign up for our newsletter below. ** When booking go the Ocotober 28th on the calander and choose any hour to go to booking.

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  • A secret about being an artist

    Notes to self on the artistic journey Being an artist is not about some kind of a chaotic state, it is about an internal order that makes very clear sense. It is creating light from within by understanding the greatness that is possible. Being a student of the arts, means that we are interested in beauty, aesthetic, shades of light, proportion and glorious images that enhance and graces our being. And whilst practicing our skills, the big secret is, that we are learning this about the way WE are. About what moves and makes us who we are. By practicing art, we are exercising these very spaces in our being. Allowing our lives to glow a little more, with the feeling of beauty, finesse and powerful serenity. And so, even if for a short while, WE become part of it. And so it is not the art that is the journey, it is our own life that is the journey. When asked once, what is the difference between being a professional artist and an amateur one... well, I could say, it is to do with making a living out of ones art, or if you exhibit or show your art, or if it is a full time occupation. As much as all this is true, within the persona of what being an artist is, on a deeper level, any one who is touched by the creative mode, is an artist for that time. It can be in the way that we articulate and put our words together, which is the same way as blending ink on the palette. Or it can be in the way we look at another person and make it count, or not. The way we make a single brush stroke on paper count, or not. So really, when you are practicing art, you are the artist of your life, no less. It really is so, whatever shape and form you choose to do it with. The secret is, that it is within this glory of the moment that we are the power of what can happen, we harness our lives to make sense of it. To make it beautiful, to make it a useful struggle. To make it poetic, and romantic, and fantastic. To overcome the fear of non relevant, non important, or not good enough, or impressive enough. Once this bridge is crossed, over and over again, it is the art of living well that is celebrated in many moments of crossing, and finding new aesthetics to dwell in, to enjoy, to celebrate and to be part of. Find out More > You can find out more about Talia's art in the GALLERY or connect direct for interior design projects and commissions HERE. > The journey with ink paintings have allowed me the discipline and practice to journey the path of art. You are welcomed to explore highlights of this journey with ArtBrush Online tutorials and read more writings on ArtBrush Library > For Japanese ink painting foundation course 'The Four Noble Ones' Sign up for a one-time payment of £220 > > For other individual painting tutorials check ArtBrush Online HERE

  • Chrysanthemums by the Stream

    From Jackuchū to Murakami This hanging scroll of chrysanthemums by the stream was painted by Itō Jackuchū (1716 – 1800), one of Japan's most ingenious artists of the 18th Century. He is presenting an ethereal range of chrysanthemums flowers by a stream that seem to grow out of an old ragged trunk covered with moss. Four little song birds can be discovered as one observes the painting, adding sound to the flowers fragrance and the movement of the water. And suddenly, our senses are fully engaged within this scene. It is part of a series of thirty scrolls painted by Jackuchū over a decade, known as 'The colourful realm of living beings' (dōshoku sai-e) , created around 1765 when the artist was in his fifties. This painting, on silk, is a wonderful demonstration of the artist versatility in mastership the way of ink. On the whole, it may seems like a traditional theme, but on a deeper observation, you may begin to find the work reveals itself as almost abstract, and does not really make 'sense', in the logical way. For example, the white flowers at the top could not really, physically, be held by its fine dark branch. And the background river, itself designed as three shades of decorative patterned ink, is really only reminiscence notes on the flow of water. This abstract format and the realistic images somehow come together to make sense in our imagination. Itō jackucho (1716-1800) Jackuchū is one of the most prolific artists of Japan. He is loved and revered by the Japanese, and his unique style does not fall really into any school of practice. That is why he is often relates to as one of the 'eccentric' artists of the 18th Century. And yet, one can challenge the notion of eccentricity. As it can only be related to, if there is a 'norm' to be eccentric in contrast to. His extraordinary mastership of the brush demonstrate both strength and finesse. Manipulating the brush and ink in creating beautiful original compositions. A true pathfinder of the art of ink painting. Born to a wealthy family of fruits and vegetables merchants in Kyoto, Jackuchū, as the eldest son had to handle the business for the first part of his life. Although he painted throughout that time and was already well known, he has began his first most ambitious work when he was forty two and well into his fifties, creating the series of thirty large hanging scrolls of which this painting of chrysanthemum is part of. Jackuchū was a devoted buddhist, follower of Zen. His work range from the most wild abstract like images, such as, his well known cranes and roosters, to the refined detailed of buddhas images and the natural world around us. From seashells to landscape, from flora to fauna, his work essentially carry a deep sense of the buddhist belief in the universal unity of all things. The chrysanthemum The chrysanthemum is one of the four main subject to be mastered by the ink practitioner, known as the 'four noble ones'. It has a history within ink painting tradition which originated in ancient China. It is said that when an artist can master painting the leaves of the chrysanthemum, they can paint anything at all. In the two chrysanthemum painting here, we can see Jackuchū mastership of the two main schools of ink practice. Both line strokes of the flowers, on the left scroll, as well as the free brush stroke as seen on the flower on the right. Playful, detailed and ingenious, shifting our perception from the known to the imaginary (no flower grows in this fashion really), he is working the narrow space of the scroll format to its uttermost. The flower represent the season of autumn, the air is getting colder, time to prepare for the harsh season ahead. Chrysanthemum painted by the stream, carry a reference to deep healing, strength and longevity. It was told of a hidden water stream, in a small village in Japan, which had chrysanthemum flowers growing alongside it. The petals would fall into the water, and it was believed that they transformed the quality of the water so that those who drank it lived well for many, many, long years. We can find three styles of Jackuchū chrysanthemum painted here. Using white for the largest flowers, with a hint of green in the centre. Jackuchū only paint the edge of the white petals, creating an illusion of a whole flower. He then uses the same white with a hint of green to creates a smaller flower, adding orange red to define its contour edges. And in the third design, he picks the orange-red to create yet another type of chrysanthemum using the two painting styles of lines and washes together. Dream world Jackucū's creates a unique dream world and invites us to dwell in it. If you look carefully you begin to unravel the way he does it. We actually view the painting from multiple view points. To begin with, we view the stream from a bird's view, and the flowers from a side view. Oh, but then, some flowers are seen from above, as well as below, and from the front flower as well as the back, revealing all sides of the flowers as well as the sculpted trunk. We are not outside this dream world, we are inside it. The stream runs in a beautiful silhouette of a wave. It goes from the top of the paintings down the bottom of it. The stem of the chrysanthemum does the same movement, but mirror the stream. Together they make an eternity like sign. The dark trunk with its radiating malachite green, repeats yet again the wave shape, bringing it to a pause at the bottom centre, where we find a little bird. The artist invites us to look more carefully and find the song bird, and then another and another, like the very hidden soul of the painting. Each bird, glance to a different directions as if to make sure it covers the whole universe of the artwork. With this unique style of his, using no western vanishing point or shadows of any kind, Jackuchū creates depth and layers to the work as a whole. His dream world is alive and vibrant. Takashi Murakami chrysanthemum by the stream This circular print 'jumped' at me when visiting by chance an auction house in London many years ago. It was hang amongst a mix of contemporary western prints, and was clearly very different. At the time, I did not know the artist, however, I did recognised the theme of chrysanthemum by the stream. As the only bidder, on a rainy London day, I was delighted to walk home with it and hang it on the wall amongst my own artwork collection, only to discover later on it was actually the work of contemporary Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami. Born in 1962, Takashi Murakami is one of the most well known contemporary Japanese artist of today. In keeping with the Japanese ink painting tradition of following the footprints of masters of the past, Murakami has taken up Jackuchū theme of chrysanthemum by the stream, giving it his own unique signature interpretation. Using the latest print technology of colour and gold, and a good amount of humour with his flower faces, His skilful executed print echo the theme of Jackuchū's, exploring it afresh some two hundred years later. In a way, like the longevity essence nature of the chrysanthemum, both artworks are timeless. Perhaps their reflected atmospheric feeling rises from the same timeless source. Learn More > For an in-depth tutorial on how to paint chrysanthemum, using Japanese ink and water colours painting check it out here Sign up for a one-time payment of £65 > > And for the complete foundation course tutorial 'The Four Noble Ones' , which includes the chrysanthemum lesson, you are invited to join ArtBrush Foundation course Sign up for a one-time payment of £220 > > For other individual painting tutorials check ArtBrush Online HERE Images details * Chrysanthemum by the stream - hanging scroll / ink and colour on silk / 142.8 x 79.1 cm / ca.1766 age 51 / Sannomaru Shōzō-kan Museum, Imperial Household Agency, Japan * Portrait of Ito Jackuchū - by Kubota Beisen (1852-1906) / colour on silk / 55 x 35 cm/ Shōkokuji, Kyoto * Two chrysanthemum (from a set of three) - hanging scroll / ink on silk / 94.3 x 32.3 each / Kyoto national museum

  • Painted Poetry or Poetic Painting

    The unique genre of haiga in Japanese ink painting Within the rich tradition of Japanese ink painting the painted image and written word have always been interrelated. The artistic training included both writing beautiful calligraphic characters, as well as painting various themes and subjects with minimal strokes. Painted ink poems has evolved as a unique artistic format that has come to be known as haiga. What is haiga? Combining the three arts of calligraphy, painting and poetry, haiga is a unique form of Japanese artistic expression. It is a composition of a painted image and an inscribed three lines poem, known as haiku. Hai as in haiku poem, and ga for picture, thus haiga- 'haiku picture'. Haiga aesthetic intends to convey a moment in time that has captivated the poet’s heart and mind, giving it expression with few strokes of ink-brush on paper. Such haiku painting developed from the 17th century in Japan, out of a long tradition of hand written poems and paintings, which evolved earlier in the Heian and Kamakura periods (791-1336). But it is only in the middle of the 19th century that the term itself came to be used to signify an artistic genre when it appeared in a block-print album by Watanabe Kazan (1793-1841) called ‘Album of Kazan’s haiga’ (Kazan haigafu). The affinity between painted images and written words is Chinese in origin. In a colophon attached to a scroll, dated to the Tang dynasty (618-906), it stated the three arts of calligraphy, painting and poetry, to be considered by the emperor, as the ‘The three perfections’ (san chueh) and were highly regarded. To follow on, during the Sung dynasty (960-1279), both calligraphy and painting, were two of the arts known by Neo-Confucian scholars as 'The four accomplishments’ (kinkishoga) - painting, poetry, music and gō (or chess). They were valued as part of the stature and standard of a person’s capabilities. This influence was transplanted to Japan, and mastership of word and image was developed and cultivated from as early as the 10th century. The belief that handwriting reveals the inner virtue of the writer was a source of emphasis both in poetry and literature such as in the famous Tales of Genji. From waka to haiku poetry Poetry was practiced by aristocratic class of emperors, courtiers and court ladies, as well as by Buddhist monks. Known as waka (or tanka) poems, they were most popular in the Heian and Kamakura eras. These court poetry were written to a meter of 31 syllables with a rhythm of 5-7-5-7-7. By the 15th century it had become popular to compose poetry by groups of poets working together, making chains of waka poems, called renga, keeping to the rhythm of 5-7-5 then 7-7 syllables and repeating it. Each poet added another layer of meaning to the chain, which could continue for hundreds of lines. Eventually each link became a format in itself, especially the 5-7-5 syllable poems, which was the beginning of haiku. Haiku, emerged from an interaction between the new popular, largely urban commoner and samurai-based cultures that came to the fore in the 17th century, and the residual classical official courtly poetry tradition, which haiku transformed into a contemporary language and form. It was different from court poetry, which was restricted to the literate intellectual class who mainly used natural imagery to express emotions, often related to love, its joys and sorrows. Haiku evolved when education and cultural experience became more widespread, drawing less from romantic notions, it infused humour and insight into life with a lack of pretension. The shift from court poetry to haiku influenced the shift from poem-painting to haiga. The first was detailed, elegant, accurate and refined in style, while the latter was free and minimal, using expressive brush strokes. Now, lets look together at two quite different haiga examples: 'Melon Blossom' In ‘Melon Blossom’, the viewer first takes in the visual image, followed by reading the poem. The making of haiga starts the other way around; usually the haiku is put together first, even if not finally inscribed until the visual image is brushed in. Matsuo Bashō, the most distinguished Japanese poet, presents here his talent and control of the three arts. Mostly painted in soft colours, the black ink marks of the melon’s branch and leaves lend a contrast to the work, giving it tenacity and balance. Resembling the calligraphy lines, they shift the viewer’s attention from the bottom left of the composition to the top right of the poem. 'Neither to evening Nor to morning does it belong - The melon blossom.' 'Melon Blossom' / Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) / Hanging scroll, 32.8 x 48.5cm. Ink and watercolour on paper The poem is written in a fluent, balanced grass (sōsho) script. Also known as ‘reed handwriting characters’ (ashide-moji), grass script uses kanji and kana characters to form a particular style, favourite by calligraphers and artists alike as words became image. The calligraphy frames the composition and brings attention back into the painting. The signature and seal on the left side nicely balances the whole. Affinity with nature is created in a sensual way, smelling the blossom, sensing the daylight or darkness of night (nor evening nor morning). Bashō presents harmonious existence within the natural world, rather then standing in awe of it, as a philosophical idea, as was the case with court poetry of the past. He involves the viewer by revealing an inner meaning and perhaps his own feelings as well. Linkage between the painting and the poem is made by the melon’s image and the melon blossom associating with each other. Big and round on the outside, it is empty inside, drawing attention to the undefined illusive moment of blossoming in contrast to the grand blossom itself. A fragment of a bigger scene, the fact of being ‘unfinished’, is a virtue of the poem, rather then a fault. In keeping with the nature of haiga, it allows the viewer to be involved and complete the story/image in their own mind. With the strong, solid calligraphy balances, the background is left open, empty and unformed. It remains a mystery. Haiku evokes rather than states; haiga minimalist information suggests a scene, a place, and a form. Using hints and sensitive details, it echoes into the viewer’s perception and understanding. 'Moon' 'Through the ages Rising above the mountains - Tonight's moon.' 'Moon' / Inoue Shirō (1742-1812) / 31 x 50cm. Ink on paper Inoue Shirō, a follower of poet painter Yosa Buson, was a doctor by profession from Nagoya whose highly simplified work is unique. One fluent brush line marks a whole mountain, with a changing tonality of colour; perhaps like ‘the ages of time’ in the poem, it flows to meet the haiku on the right top part of the haiga. Where is the moon then ? The calligraphy itself changes tonalities, like moonlight shadows, and the character for moon, tsuki, in Japanese, is somewhat elongated and isolated from the rest of the poem, like a moon rising above the mountain. The empty space, which is most of the haiga, can be considered as whiteness of snow, or as darkness of night, or as reflected light of the rising moon. The suggestive language of word and image corresponds to the empty space, giving the viewer’s freedom to meditate on the images proposed. Simplicity is an important character of haiga. Executed with monochrome ink, it is sometimes described as a rough or ‘abbreviated sketch’ (ryakuga). The visual image seem to be quickly executed, and it stands at the borderline of literal representation. The painting- poem presents an exact combination of minimal information of the mountain’s silhouette and the calligraphy, transferring the essence of nighttime and the atmosphere of the rising moon. Haiga aesthetic and artists The way a poem is written and the image that is associate with it, creates a new imaginary world. A world greater then each art form in itself. Making more then anything, a new rhythm and pace, a dwelling space invitation to the viewer. The achievement of complementary or confronting connections, or even linkage by absence of word or image, between painting and calligraphy to evoke the poem’s atmosphere, is part of the virtuosity of haiga artists. Haiga is a lyrical, expressive fine art. It is the result of a myriad of influences. Drawing from Chinese aesthetics, and the traditional Heian court poetry, it was also impacted by Zen thought, and ideas of traveling poets. And so those who practiced haiga were equally diverse in styles. Men and women artists, poets, painters, travellers, Buddhist nuns and Zen priests, all worked within the genre. Although not as easy to define or categorise, haiga aesthetic has evolved with a stylistic criteria of abbreviation, selectivity, and simplicity along with the corresponding minimalist brushwork of calligraphy and painting. It heightens the awareness of nature, including human nature, with a hint of a season or other specific time. Using everyday scenery as subjects, and encompassing the senses, haiga leaves empty space for the viewer to engage in a process of a suggested art rather than a confronting one. In conclusion In haiga we can see how the painting amplify the poem's emotion and add layers of context and insight. It offers a slight change of focus, a shift in attention and so invites us back to the inner appreciation of beauty. Rather then seeking it outside, reflection of the inner life might resonate in the beauty of external things, but it is essentially evoked from within. The different intensity of atmosphere and feelings, from solitude to longing, to awe-inspiring joy and humour, expressed in a variety of styles and ways, makes haiga a truly unique genre of artistic expression. Learn More > For the complete essay on haiga with a selection of 5 more artworks, discussed by Talia, you are invited to subscribe to ArtBrush library - HERE Sign up now for a one-time payment of £55 > In the library you will also find various essays relating to Japanese art history and aesthetics, as well as notes referring to the practice of ink painting, recommended resources and artist contemplation. > For an in-depth painting course tutorial 'The Four Noble Ones' you are invited to join ArtBrush Foundation course Sign up for a one-time payment of £220 > > For individual painting tutorials please check the link HERE > Recommended further read - Haiga, Takebe Sōchō and the Haiku-Painting tradition / Addiss Stephen and Fumiko Y. Yamamoto, exhibition catalogue. You can get your copy on this affiliate link > Purchase on Amazon HERE > Recommended further studies - In depth FREE, U-tube recorded series of lectures on 'The three perfections' in