Japanese Art Experiment

I recently experimented on a new painting style (new for me!)… I tried to reproduce a Japanese painting, finding inspiration in Ito Jakuchu’s painting “Tiger” and adding some other Japanese elements including Japanese writing (apologies for all the Japanese-speakers out there: I have no clue how to write / speak Japanese so I simply copied some characters I liked, trusting the website’s translation). Here’s the original painting by Ito Jakuchu:


The first phase was about learning how to use black ink. Thanks to YouTube, I followed the amazing 3-part course by Anna, an Italian art teacher – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NutpxPq99RA. I highly recommend her course, although you will need to understand Italian to follow it! I was stunned by how quickly I learnt by following her clear directions and instructions. These were my first attempts:


I then decided I would start off by drawing the contours of the main image by pencil:


Next, I used both traditional watercolours and water-soluble pencils (Caran d’Ache) to obtain a nice variety of yellow-brown nuances for the tiger.


Finally, I reached the stage of using the black ink for the first time! I was rather nervous, I must admit. I had spare paper with me and I was prepared to have to start the entire work all over again, being aware a little drop of ink could quickly ruin the entire picture. Happily, things went very well and I saved the painting when two drops came out rather heavily by using kitchen towel and then slighlty adapting the image to cover-up my little mistake. I don’t think it shows too much and I absolutely love the resultImage

Next I added some personal touches: I added a butterfly (again inspired by another Japanese painting, of which I cannot recall the name / author), a Japanese background with Mount Fuji (inspired by Hokusai) and Japanese characters (supposed to mean “Live, Laugh, Love”) . And here’s the final result:


I absolutely loved painting this and I hope you like it too! I can’t wait to experiment some more with ink which is definitely a new tool I’ll add to my painting instruments.

I Found a Key

Autumn in London always carries a magical, theatrical atmosphere with it. The unusually warm months of September and October are now sliding away and Guy Fawkes’ fireworks and a mild fog are announcing the first days of cold.

The anti-capitalists’ tents are still outside of St Paul’s, although there are rumours that many are empty at night. The theatrical feel that I get of London is a constant theme from the smallest streets to Buckingham Palace. It goes from fascinating to creepy.

Covent Garden, with its street artists and spectacular displays of lights and themed art installations, is an open-air stage. Yet it is not rare to see homeless people grotesquely sleeping under a pile of dirty blankets right on the side of glittery high street shop displaying piles of fancy clothes and shoes. Their shivering bodies illuminated and defined by white neon lights from the shop windows; make the cold penetrate even more deeply inside me.

My favourite theatre seats in London are the front seats on the top floor of double-decker bus. Not the London Eye or the Oxo Tower. They only give you a limited perception of London’s grandeur. But from the bus seats, you see everything, including what you wish you could not see. The young businessmen are happily enjoying their pints at the pub while an old beggar is sipping his beer can just around the corner. You see a beautiful woman covered in pearls and diamonds walking besides a pale guy kneeling down, while looking for some food or drugs in the waste bags along the pavement.

And London is all that, breathtaking beauty and unbearable dismay. Modernity and decadence. Ostentation and poverty. The fireworks are crackling and illuminating the sky with various tones of pink, green and red as people are getting on their tip toes in Theobald’s Road to see Gray’s Inn spectacular display. They only last for a few minutes, but those minutes are the theatre play for the night.

Tonight, as I got home after the fireworks, I was tidying up my room. Suddenly, my eye caught a glimpse of something shining on my carpet. I moved my desk chair, and there it was: a key. A tiny key, just about the size of a bean. I have no idea of how it got there and why, but I know it looks like the magic of London has unexpectedly entered my room on this cold night of Guy Fawkes.

Chagall painting: photos!

A long time ago I wrote about a painting I made copying a famous Chagall painting which I love! You can read all about it here… http://wp.me/s12zme-chagall

Here is the photo of the original painting. It is a painting which is part of the Biblical Cycle of the Song of Songs. In particular, it represents the Song of Solomon IV.

In my post, I had written that “as soon as I retrieve the photograph of my version of this painting I will publish it here!” So…I finally have the photographs! They are not very good because they are photographs of a photograph (which had been cropped, thus the whole painting is not visible)…however I thought they were decent enough to be published here!

The colours are a bit too bright …In the real painting I made they were darker, but I had to edit the brightness settings otherwise the photos would have been too dark to see all the details.

My favourite detail of the painting are the two faces of King Solomon and his bride. This post has made me feel like I want to paint again! I wish I had some free time to do it!!!
What about you?

Do you paint? Do you like painting or drawing?


I Remember / Mi ricordo

When he was a little boy, Filippo used to blush whenever the little girl with the red skirt looked out of the window. As a teenager, the thrill of going to the cinema with ‘her’ was as exciting as watching his favourite team winning the soccer championship.

(Source: Erika’s photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/korny_84/2673401977/)

The theatrical transposition of Aldo Nove’s book “Amore Mio Infinito”(My Infinite Love) follows the biographical novel’s approach of recalling through flashbacks the various episodes of an ordinary man’s love life.

The focus is love, but not love in an obvious, naïve or romantic fashion. Love is a concept explored through the witty eyes of a child who grows into a teenager and then a young adult. Love is funny and scary. Love is desired and rejected. Love is necessary yet fugacious.

Perhaps, the child’s journey in understanding the ‘game’ of love is a metaphor of his path in life: in the end, the adult will come to realise that there is no solution to understanding the game of love just as there is no right answer to the quest of the metaphysical understanding of life in general.

So, who better than a group of young talented actors could interpret a theatrical pièce centered on and dedicated to the world of children and of young people? The Tangram Theatre in Torino offered last night a beautiful interpretation of a play in two acts: the first act illustrating some excerpts from Aldo Nove’s novel, while the second part consisting in an experimental illustration of the actors’ own memories from childhood.

The red thread connecting the entire play was the playful yet serious exercise of remembering and recalling thoughts, feelings and emotions of the time before awareness (and, arguably, cynicism) typical of adult age have kicked in.

It was refreshing to see new and young faces focusing on small and big problems of childhood and youth, and, most of all, showing all of their liveliness and creativity through art.

“Due passi” in Turin

Last night I went for a short walk around the centre of town on my own. In Italian we say ‘andare a fare due passi’, literally meaning ‘going to walk two steps’.

The street lights were being lit up and people were mainly on their ways back home or, as in my case, on their way out. I love it when I have some spare time on my hands to walk around alone.

At first, I generally feel that I am not sure where to go and what to do. I feel like I need to talk to someone about my day, about what is bothering me or what is new in my life. But after a couple of minutes an amazing feeling kicks in and I breathe in the freedom to walk wherever I want, stop by any shop window I want for as long as I want or even just stop somewhere an look around.

I also love listening to random conversations in the street and smiling at funny comments, stories, situations. But there is more than words that I listen to, I look around and appreciate the beautiful buildings around me, the sun setting, the cold air on my face. It is no longer about ME, but about what is AROUND ME.

This allowed me to notice and visit an open-air photography exhibition in the centre of Turin on the ‘Spirit of Nomads’ by Gianni and Tiziana Baldizzone. The photographs portray nomads from various parts of the world in their natural settings, from the Tuareg in the Sahara desert to the Dolgan in Syberia.

I love the light in the last picture. There were about 100 photos exhibited and each was accompanied by a detailed comment on the nomads and their habits. The focus of the captions was on the relation between humans and nature.

It was a perfect way to end my solitary walk!

Below, I post some of my own photos which I thought could somehow relate to the topic of ‘Nomads and Nature’ – with a bit of irony or not, it is up to you to decide on how to interpret them!


In 2008, I chose to copy myself a painting I had seen in its original copy in Nice in 2004, in the National Museum of Chagall. It is a painting which is part of the Biblical Cycle of the Song of Songs. In particular, it represents the Song of Solomon IV.

I chose it because, to me, it is a very emotional representation of love in its purest form. It is a mixture of reality and dream. The newly-wed royal couple is flying in a red sky symbol of strong passion and warmth. Chagall added in the lower right corner the image of what appears like a burning bush recalling the Biblical episode when God manifested himself through the flames of a bush to prove to Moses that he really did exist.

The bush is surmounted by an upside down sheep, traditional symbol of sacrifice and innocence. To the very left we can see a group of people – representing the Isralites – stretching towards the king (Solomon) and his wife. There are men, women and children to represent the entire population. Below the flying horse, there is a city maybe Jerusalem – as we might imply from the dome and the architectural style of the buildings. Although none of the photographs below show it, at the very bottom of the painting, there is a ‘hidden’ couple lying down taking up the entire width of the painting and maybe representing the physical aspect of love and marriage.

Everything is wrapped up in deep red overtones, which give a special atmosphere to her whole scene.

As soon as I retrieve the photograph of my version of this painting I will publish it here! My latest post includes the photographs: https://littleexplorer.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/chagall-painting-photos/

Kandinsky-inspired glass painting

Inspired by Kandinsky’s “Yellow, Red and Blue”

The first thing is to do is make sure you are prepared to work safely and in an organized way.

1) Recycle a light plastic folder and use it as a base for the painting.
2) Use specific glass colours.
3) Do not forget to use protective gloves.
4) Keep some nail polish remover on your table with some cotton wool to clean yourself and your mistakes in the painting (I also used cotton buds for detailing).
5) Work in a room where you are sure you can leave the window open for a good few hours, even an entire day – the colours smell and can be toxic.

Now it is time to start!

The initial step is to draw carefully a draft of your work on paper.
Remember that the draft must be the mirror image of what you want as a final result, because the image will be transferred from one surface to another.

This can be laid behind the light plastic folder so that it is easier to draw the contours of the image with the black ink.
The black ink works as a ‘wall’ to contain the colours so make sure you do not leave any gaps between the black ink and the plastic surface.

Once the black ink has dried (this might take a very long time, at least a few hours, depending on the ink you are using),  then you can start filling in the spaces with the chosen colours. These colours ‘flood’: they behave like liquids, so no matter how much colour you use, they go to fill all gaps on their own. Depending on how transparent you want the colour to be, you will use more or less.

At this stage, it is necessary to let the ink and the colours dry properly for at least one full night.

When you are sure that the image is entirely dry, it is time to transfer it to the mirror or glass surface that you want to decorate.

This is a very delicate stage, as the image could tear itself and parts of it could fall off or not transfer to the desired surface – as it happened to myself! I found that the image was sticking very well in the coloured areas, but not as much on the black ink. Overall, it peeled off the plastic very easily and the harder thing was to make sure it all stayed in one piece once it had been transferred.

Another important point is that once you have transferred it from the plastic, the image of course will be the reflection of what you have planned and painted: make sure you realise this beforehand otherwise you will be very disappointed!

I used cotton buds with nail polish remover to clean the mirror in the corners where the colour had blotched or stained.

So here is the final result of the glass painting: