Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 12, 2012 -- Patterns of Old Japan

My book on Japanese patterns arrived in the mail two days ago, and I’ve been poring over it, along with my other books on Japanese art and design, thinking about color and pattern  mixing.
I believe I’ve found the perfect color palette in a ukiyo-e print by Hiroshige (19th c.). 

On a 2010 trip to Japan, I admired the variety of colors and patterns and textures seen in kimonos worn by the geisha, noting how the women mixed patterns for the various elements of their costume with exquisite sensitivity to color, scale, and seasonal theme. 

On a 2010 visit to Kyoto, we were fortunate to cross paths
with several geisha in traditional costume.
As a mosaicist, it’s my challenge to come up with a way to interpret those textile patterns—most of them created by silkscreen, some by weaving—in an art form where pattern is developed unit by unit, tile by tile. It’s like trying to speak a new language when there is no common vocabulary. I will have to look for patterns that lend themselves to translation in mosaic.

Today I’ve divided a large sheet of Kraft paper (about 35 inches high x 72 inches wide overall) into six vertical panels, pinned the paper to a wall in the foyer, and started planning a mixed pattern design. I’ve printed out about a dozen possible patterns and scaled them up in various sizes. (The desktop copier, with its enlargement feature, really comes in handy when you’re playing with pattern and scale.) I’m taping in areas of pattern across the composition, but finding that on first pass most of the patterns are too busy (too densely figured) and not working together as smoothly as I had hoped. Will put this aside now and come back to it with fresh energy.

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