I’m so happy to have these! I studied both Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige in college, and I fell in love with ukiyo-e, or woodblock prints. Who are Hokusai and Hiroshige? They are ukiyo-e artists who changed both the techniques and styles of ukiyo-e into what we know it today. Hokusai created unique compositions in 36 Views of Mount Fuji (find the repetition of three in The Great Wave off Kanagawa), and Hiroshige developed color gradients in ukiyo-e like Plum Tree at Kameido.
My last project for Japanese art history was to practice the funpon, or copying the master, technique. We had to find one artwork from all that we had studied and reproduce it using any medium. Of course, I chose Utagawa Hiroshige’s Plum Orchard at Kameido Shrine (1857) from 100 Famous Views of Edo. It took me 6 days to make it because I could only work on it between classes and work.
I started with the background before painting the rest of the image so that the oil paint would set by the time I started the foreground images.
When it came to the little people in the background, I used several twigs to get the details. At the time, I didn’t have money to get really small brushes.
Vincent van Gogh also painted this ukiyo-e (on the right), renamed Flowering Plum Tree (1887), in oil paint.
Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e (on the left) was considered a higher level than other ukiyo-e artists in his time. While other artists were using a traditional method of simple block coloring, Hiroshige used gradients in his work as you can see in the trees’ realistic shading and the background. If you’d like to know more about Utagawa Hiroshige, you can check out my Art Project Presentation.