Japanese Artwork

The image above was produced by the wonderful woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai ,who lived from 1760 to 1849, and is an icon of Japanese artwork. He had a great influence on many European artists, especially the impressionist painters Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir. He began to sketch as a very young child before training as a woodblock engraver. He had a very long career and wrote that he felt he did not produce high quality artwork with a natural theme, such as birds and plants, very well until he was 72!
In this workshop we are going to experiment with some mixed media work in the style of Japanese artists.

  • Watercolour paper
  • A collection of collage items (from newspapers or magazines)
  • Coloured /wrapping paper
  • Small scraps of coloured material
  • Paints – watercolour / acrylic
  • Felt-tip pens
  • Pencils
  • Glue
  • Small pieces of shiny paper or foil

1. Japanese Landscape Work

Hokusai produced numerous views of Mount Fuji. His landscapes were known as ukiyo- e which means pictures of a floating world.
Using a piece of good quality watercolour paper (either A4 or smaller) draw with pencil a lovely scene. Try and include mountains, water, trees, and rocks. You could include a cherry tree which is a Japanese sign of hope and renewal.

2. Now have fun painting your scene. Try and use blocks of colour. Work on adding textures for trees using a dabbing method with your paint brush or fan brush. You can use either acrylic or watercolour paint.
3. Figure work collage/painting
Many Japanese pictures depict figures. These are shown in a variety of ways demonstrating activities that are part of their culture such as taking tea, meeting friends, acting and singing. They also show the fabulous diversity of patterns and designs seen on kimonos, along with amazingly decorative hair accessories and parasols.
Choose a picture that inspires you and draw a design carefully. You could use parts of several pictures.
Now have fun putting a variety of colour to your work. I have used a mixture of paint, felt pens and a jigsaw mix of collage pieces.
Mixed media