Monday, September 2, 2013

Japanese Watercolor Class at LACMA

Can you believe it's already Labor Day Weekend? That it's September? Of course, in Southern California, that means there is a good chance you will be having the warmest heatwave of the year. This is the current situation. Actually, that is why I haven't been blogging!

My desktop lives in my living room, which is the hottest room in my place. The only AC is in the bedroom, so that's where I live when it's hot.


In July, I decided to see if there were any watercolor classes going on, and after using my handy smart phone to Google classes ...

I saw that there was a five week class starting soon at the Los County Museum of Art, in Japanese watercolor painting ... which I had never done, but what the heck? It would be a lovely place to spend Friday evenings for the rest of the summer! Plus, I was inspired by teaching the kids watercolors at art camp and there is always more to learn, when it comes to any kind of painting.

Museum Trees ...

The first class, and every class after, our instructor Hisako Asano brought us cookies from Japan. Sweet huh? She was a total kick. She taught for several decades at USC after receiving a masters there. 

The first class, we did a landscape. We wet the paper twice and it took some getting used to ... using the  Japanese flat brush for everything but the little lines, which we did with a coffee stirrer!

I wish I had a photo of her version to show you! Anyway, this is mine.

She gave us hand outs to follow after doing a demo for us.

The first night I'd parked in the underground parking and it was fun to walk through the area where they do Friday night jazz. Hundreds of people were there, listening to music, having wine and socializing. It was lovely out that night.

The second week, we did flowers and leaves. The petals weren't so bad but the leaves were quite a challenge and took every bit of concentration I could muster, which is why there is no sense of composition, with my leaves. I was just focusing on trying to do something that looked like a leaf!


You dip your brush in about 4 colors and try to do it in one stroke. the couple of leaves that look the best on there were done by Asano, when she was trying to help me.

I felt better that she told us when she was a little girl of 8 years old, in Japan, that she would spend 8 hours doing the same stroke, with her brush, so clearly a lot of practice is needed! She also said the zen priest would wack her with his cane when she did her sumi brush strokes incorrectly. Doesn't sound very zen to me, but obviously the guy had issues. 

Anyway, she has a great sense of humor and was full of stories and anecdotes. 

The classes, at LACMA, apparently used to be in a basement area under the museum. Our class was the first to use the new art classroom. Huge windows looking out to the beautiful trees behind the museum. It also happens to be right next to the new coffee/tea snack shop! 

Across courtyard from the classroom is a very popular sculpture with the kids ...

The yellow "strings" hanging are rubber or something of the sort ...

The 3rd week we stayed with flowers ... and those are green tea cookies.

We used a little wax candle, and rubbed it on the petals, which created that groovy speckled effect.

I had time to do a second. Better, I think. The leaves and the composition of leaves are a little nicer.

I started parking over at the Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits) next door, because they leave the lot open until 10 and I would walk through the area behind the museums at sunset, and it was beautiful!

Some sort of prehistoric bear, in the park. They also have a giant sloth. (Part of the Page Museum, not the Art museum!)

Week 4, back to landscape ...

Week 5 ~ finish with flowers.

I can't believe how fast time flew by! There was something so lovely and clean about the Japanese watercolors. You aren't allowed to go back into a stroke. What is done is done. You move on. You wash your brush before every stroke. You squeeze a small amount of water from the brush onto a soft paper towel ... without touching the tip of the brush! (Very very important, as we were told many times.)

Time for two, though I don't remember which I did first. Asano was a great teacher. Lots of instruction and very present with us. She's been at LACMA for many years teaching, as well.

The classroom from the original museum courtyard.

She gave us this handout, to remind us of the 7 elements. You don't always use all of them but you keep them in mind.

This is Asano's palette! So classic!

And here are her demo's which she said she throws away because instead of minutes, she spends hours in her studio on a piece. 

Hisako Asano
watercolor demo

Hisako Asano 
Watercolor demo

Gorgeous, huh? In person, even more stunning.

By the last week, the light had already started to change and it was getting a little darker earlier.

Ms. Asano told me she studied traditional dance and music as a child, as well as learning sumi brush painting. I loved hearing about it. I have always had a strong connection the Japanese arts and their beauty.

My neighbor, when I was growing up, had lived in Japan, just after the war, and would tell me stories and show me her antique kimonos. And, when I was in 5th grade, we had an exchange student from Hokkaido. I have never been been but it's one of the places I long to go, especially Kyoto.

One of the PBS shows I watch is, "At Home with Venetia in Kyoto," about this British herbalist who moved to Japan in 1971 and lives in this old Japanese home. 

Here are autumn leaves in Kyoto Japan. I love Japanese gardens and You know how I love YouTube!

Hisako Asano teaches at various times during the year at LACMA, South Coast Botanic Garden and Los Angeles Harbor College extension program. She retired from U.S.C. in 2008.

Oh ... and have you seen Miyazaki's Spirited Away
So creative and amazing!!!

For information on LACMA adult classes, click here.

When you look at Japanese traditional architecture, 
you have to look at japanese culture and its relationship with nature. 
you can actually live in a harmonious, 
close contact with nature - this is very unique to Japan.
~Tadao Ando 

Almost caught up and I'll back to posting Italy!
Blessings and light!!!


donna baker said...

"I'm turning Japanese..." I've been singing that ditty over and over in my head for a few years now. I am so interested in the culture, history etc. The Last Samurai and Cherry Blossoms are two of my favorite movies. That class must have been wonderful, I'm sure, and I know you must have gotten a lot from it. My husband's been there twice, but I always had to stay home with the kids. Kyoto's calling me too.

Laura said...

I love japanes theme...your reportage is simply fantastic!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

First of all, I remember those HOT days of getting back to school in Los Angeles! No air conditioning, not being able to walk, even in shoes, on the hot asphalt! My dear, these watercolors are unbelievable. I don't ever recall seeing this type of art, ever...and I've been to Japan! I find it pure joy to explore the pen, the brush and the minds of other cultures. Even the TEXTURES and perception of color are different from our own. What a history lesson it is to have a first hand experience trying to paint in this style.

Thank you for coming by to visit; it is yet another art to teach and watch people speak another language. It too is a history lesson, speaking from another perspective of light and shadows. Anita

Karena said...

This is so wonderful to me. I would LOVE to take a class exactly like this, spontaneous yet controlled strokes. Oh and you can bet I would be taking your instructors demo paintings out of the trash; beautifully done!

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Victoria said...

Wow..stunning...your art is super beautiful..such uplifting paintings..delicate and peaceful! Love all of these beautiful sceneries too..the colorful sky and trees..all look like gorgeous visual poems..magnificent..Thanks for sharing these gems!A very magical journey!!

Candy said...

Lucinda, you do the coolest things! I think I would have loved your instructor. Your paintings are lovely. Oh, and the location of the class - beautiful.

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