Saturday, December 06, 2014

3 Years in Sendai - 21 -In the Footsteps of Hokusai.

While living in Sendai in  December 0f 1997 I made a short visit back to the San Francisco Bay Area in order that I may renew my passport entry permit into the USA. During this visit I made a trip to green Gulch farm and Zen Center  where i had spent sometime as a Zen student. Upon my visit I was shocked to find that the night before the oak tree that grew next to the main office and close to the Zendo where we used to sit in meditation was split in two by a lightning strike. 
I did this sketch of the tree from a different angle and it was quite an experience to find a tree that is so familiar to me when I was living at the Center to be struck right through  the center I wondered what it would have been like if it had happened during one of our Sitting  periods. Imagine the shock it would have caused to all those while their minds were in deep meditation. 

I took a short trip back to Malaysia together with the rest of my family on another occasion and  was asked to do a mural inside a bar which one of my nephews had design. The job was needed to be completed in three days and i did it earning me  RM 3000.   

This was done on the river in Akiu, a small mountain town quite near to Sendai. It has a small artist community which included sculptors and woodworkers, potters and  musicians.  

These next few pages of sketches were done in imitation of the style that was Hokusai's. It is a very oriental if not Japanese style that has its own unique character and has its own  simplicity yet very appealing.

Hokusai captured the everyday life of people in action doing what their vocation  was and in his simple style he captured them with full passionate artistic talent that few great masters were able to.

Although I have managed to imitate his style, it was still not anywhere as near as what it was to the original works and his 'Manga' or comic as they are called went on to become one of the most sought after  collections of artworks in history.

I stumbled upon Katsushika Hokusai as i might have mentioned before while i was working as a Librarian t the University of Wisconsin , Green Bay, Library. I came upon the two volumes of Hokusai's Manga and absconded them immediately, I borrowed them permanently pretty much until I left the university.

To me Hokusai had tripped an instinct within me as an artist leading me to my own quest for a recording of life as is in the form of sketches and  pantings. There is no subject taboo nor any technique foreign, i tried anything and everything throughout my life so much so the i have been considered as 'Not and artist' by one of my Art teacher and mentor in Malaysia in later years.

Art ofr Art's sake or Art for fun's sake was my motto  and  one of my sister in laws upon viewing my sketches at one time made a comment to her husband that my works were too childish to be taken seriously.Perhaps she was right and i was glad for myself that i kept my childhood  and playfulness in my artistic expressions throughout my artistic life; i abhor getting myself too serious about doing art. I  am still the same after all these years and perhaps why I am  still a starving artist.

Hokusai reminded me very much of my grandfather who was also a fulltime artist and had kept his own journals of sketches but sadly all his sketchbooks were destroyed by my relatives who considered them to be not good for Muslim taste. I was very young when i saw his sketchbooks and had no idea of how precious they were to save them when he died but i saw them  and Hokusai's collection of works reminded me of them.

If one keep sitting long enough and study the rooster with all its movements one can make a good collection of sketches and this was the essence of how artist like Hokusai cam to create myriads of sketches in the form of 'studies.' 

These studies can later become a piece of art themselves as htey allow for others to enjoy all the motions that the bird would get into giving it a lively feeling. 

One of my grand nephew who will inherit my style someday, perhaps.

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