There is a great book (featured above) called "Kimono and the colours of Japan" by a kimono collector called Katsumi Yumioka. (Also "Summer kimono and the art of Japan) These books are fabulous references for colour theory about Japanese colour schemes and their use in kimono.
Each page shows a single colour in a photo of a kimono with a description of the colour and its meaning in a Japanese context. For example, white, black and gold is an expression of cheer. Red represents the sun, blood and fire. Various botanical motifs are also explained in context of the traditional kimonos.
So, with being inspired by colour theory and Japanese style, I completed a new painting featuring a Geisha in a blue kimono (below right). This was actually a re-creation of an earlier painting (below left) taken from the same source photo. I wanted to show the kimono in full length this time and experiment with more unstructured background styles... The paintings are about ten years apart, so as you can see, my style has really not changed at all...
The Cherry Blossom (or Sakura in Japanese) is the flower of the Japanese Cherry tree. It is said to be native to the Himalayas, but is widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere and can be found in Europe, Korea, China, Japan and parts of the US. Most varieties cultivated for ornamental purposes do not produce fruit.
"Hanami" is the popular tradition of picnicking under the Sakura. The blossoming of the Sakura lasts for about a week or two and reaches Tokyo and Kyoto usually at the end of March or early April, signalling the Spring season arriving. At this time, Japanese people hold flower viewing parties and celebrate the beauty of the Cherry Blossom.
The Cherry Blossom represents the ephemeral nature of life - the transience, extreme beauty and quick death is symbolic of mortality.
I was lucky enough to visit Tokyo during the Sakura season and took many photos of the beautiful pink and white colours of the blossoms. They look best against a bright blue sky, unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy most of the time I was in Japan, so was not able to get the nice shots of the pink against the blue background and had to improvise the colours in my above painting. The older trees are valued for their thick clusters of the pale pink flower. It was very spectacular to see many of these trees in a row in some of the parks and flower viewing areas of Tokyo.
Sakura are very popular motifs in traditional Japanese painting. Below are some woodblock prints by famous Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. My above left small painting tries to capture this traditional style of painting the Sakura. The above middle painting was done in a modern style from a photo I took in one of Tokyo's parks.
Sacha Grossel is a practising Visual Artist from Australia.