Creating a Gold Leaf screen for a Cherry Blossom celebration in Ellsworth Maine.
Gold Leaf requires very careful planning especially the negative spaces. I worked 15 + sketches looking especially at how the branches and trunks move across the picture plane.
Next I set up the panels looking at how the gold has matured.
Then blocking in the branches and trunks. I have a tendency to make things parallel so must watch this as i block in the tree. Parallel lines create dead space.
Next is choosing the colors I will use. Colors are ground rocks so I am choosing not only color but also texture. Japanese pigments are made from rocks and colored glass ground to 16 different grinds.
After choosint the colors, they are mixed with a water soluable glue.
I have chosen for the boat a large grind so that I can float the particles onto the gold spacing the pigment by floating the particles into different areas of the boat surface.
Gold Leaf 6
It is hard to see in the photo as gold leaf is very difficult to captuer, but the grind is a 5 (1 largest 16 finest).
Last picture is placing the cherry blossoms making sure that again, their placement breaks up the negative space in distinct non geometric patterns.
After working on the blossoms, next is placing the rocks in the foreground. Again, placement is critical. But also, since I am using variegated gold, this process will take 5-8 steps in order to build layers in front of each other creating depth and volume to the rocks.
Asian brush work, plane delineation, charged colors and spatial relations speak Maine landscape. Every time I paint, the Asian skills I learned come in to play. First, the sensitivity to the importance of negative space is critical to western composition. The space between two trees must be as aesthetically rendered as the trees themselves. The space between the rocks, the area between an outstretched arm and a person’s side must be as dynamic as the figures. Try drawing 2 objects. Make the space between them a geometric shape. Redraw them, then, making sure that negative space is not a geometric shape. Look at nature as well. In nature everything is slightly torqued.
A brush stroke in an Asian Ink Painting delineates a shape. In order to do such rendering it is important to understand the underlying construction of the object. For a plane shift shows volume when exposed to light. Asian Ink Painting trains one’s mind and eye to see plane breaks. Think of the Maine rock and how it is a volume with progressively smaller plane shifts.
Carving out rocks with a pastel stick or an oil brush can be done with the quick fluid strokes used with an Japanese brush. Viscerally knowing in the hand, eye and heart how a rock is formed makes for a more energetic stroke more likely capturing the hard surface and structure. Painting water and rocks while holding up the Buddhist awareness of how water shapes rock and rock shapes water imbues the sketch with the essence of this relationship.
Asian Art uses physics, biology, mathematics and chemistry to deeply know what is in order to feel the essence of an object. Everyday I use my knowledge and training in Asian techniques to go beyond the physical to understand the spirit and reveal it using assured confident, succinct expression.