Author Archives: Reluctant Rat

Not just another dog, painting wolf

We grew up in fear of the “wolf at the door”.  It took me a while to determine my parents and grandmother were speaking figuratively (life altering abject poverty) and not literally (the wild beasts occasionally spotted in our wilderness … Continue reading

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Mountains on my mind: Tree lines

The master horse painter Lok Tok often presented his animals in a mountainous setting. The distinctive rugged cliffs of China offer a fittingly magnificent background for singles, pairs, and of course the conventional eight lucky horses. He also depicted mountains … Continue reading

Posted in Chinese Brush Painting, painting landscapes, painting mountains, wolves | 1 Comment

The Big Strokes (Hokusai on Painting with Contour Lines)

Depicting animals and figures using a ‘continuous line’ in the manner of acclaimed Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) led to mixed results for me. I easily painted cats, bunnies, turtles, and human figures, but struggled with cranes. His drawing lessons … Continue reading

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One stroke challenge from The Old Man Crazy To Paint

Towards the end of his life, acclaimed Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) went by the name Gakyo Rojin Manji, meaning Old Man Crazy to Paint.   With challenging health issues (not the least of which was partial paralysis from being … Continue reading

Posted in Chinese Brush Painting, continuous line, painting crane, painting figures, painting turtle, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

What is old is new; lessons (circa 1812) of Katsushika Hokusai

I like to keep a watchful eye on numerous online booksellers, paying special attention to their oriental art instruction and collective works. Every so often I am rewarded with books on my favorite topics or containing work of acclaimed artists. … Continue reading

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Building bridges right: consider both ends

For my first year at university I lived on the fifth floor of an all women’s residence overlooking a bend in the Red River.  Every morning I awoke to sunrises over the muddy waters, occasional glimpses of wildlife, and often … Continue reading

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The ripple effect—painting net water

I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the bow of a canoe staring at water. I’ve seen the wind whipping small wavelets flat as it gusts, the afternoon sun glint off gently rippling diamond-shapes, and many ugly greys and greens of … Continue reading

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Water village necessity—painting sampans

“It is more skillful to paint half a boat than a whole one. A common load on a sampan is the wine that will encourage the composing of poems. This boat would never be shown in rough waters; place it … Continue reading

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The gift (horse) that keeps on giving: a Japanese Ema board

Sometimes when I trip over a legend, myth, or traditional belief from another culture I am totally amazed at the complexity and the “rightness” of the various nuances to the concept. Thus my appreciation of the Ema or Japanese Shinto … Continue reading

Posted in Chinese Brush Painting, Ema board, painting horses | 2 Comments

Capture the breeze—painting kapok trees

While studying the body of art by contemporary artist Zhang Shipei I spied a distinctive tree appearing in his village scenes. In most instances the tree was large, spreading limbs almost horizontally near the tops, and frequently sporting red dots. … Continue reading

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