My partner and I love Japan. We went for the first time last March and it was the best trip I’ve ever been on. So much so that we’re planning on going back for our honeymoon. We’ve got a bit of a Japan-inspired interior design theme in our flat (wallpaper, a screen) and it’s something that we both truly love.
When we moved in to our flat there was a well-shot but depressing photo on a canvas already hanging up. It wasn’t bad, but was black and white, dark and didn’t suit the flat.
So in September I painted over it with a design that suited us better. I used leftover white Dulux paint (several layers) and acrylic paint to create the washes.
We knew the inspiration was going to be Japan, and we knew the colours would be teal/green and gold (the colours of our flat). I looked at several reference paintings of traditional woodblock prints and put this together. If memory serves, I think it was an adapted version of a Utagawa Hiroshige print.
- I started by sketching out a design and working out which areas would need to be masked, washed and removed in what order. Making notes really helped so that I could remember. It was also really helpful to get an idea of colour. I ended up changing quite a few things.
- Once the white wash was dry and I’d masked the main areas (Mount Fuji, the hill next to it and the sails of the ship) I started to layer the colours for the background. This took longer than I was expecting to get the vibrancy where I wanted it.
- Next up, the wash on the hill and the mountain. I needed to be VERY patient with this.
- The final steps were clean up and definition. Even though I tried my best to be careful, there was some bleeding between the layers or areas where the paint was peeled up by the masking tape, especially on the low clouds around Mount Fuji. I used some thin layers of white acrylic to neaten it up. Truth be told, this was the most frustrating bit – you never know when you’ve done enough! Finally, I used a thick black pen to outline certain areas like the mountain and the sailboats.
And there it is! It’s still hanging about our sofa.
I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I’m not always that patient, so being able to go from sketch to fully executed piece in a few steps is just the kind of art I like. Having to do a few washes and leave it also suits my schedule. I can’t really commit to hours of painting, so this was much more effective.