I just finished painting this interpretation of Hokusai’s “A View of Aoigaoka Waterfall in Edo” using ink and acrylic wash on canvas. The dimensions are 36″ by 24″. There were a lot of steps involved in getting from a print in an art book to the final result, and I thought it would be fun to document some of the process.
The request to do this painting came from viewing a sketch seen in an earlier post to this blog. That sketch was done over a year ago using a Pigma Micron pen on a 5″x7″ sketch pad. A view of Hokusai’s original woodblock print that I was using as a study may be seen here. That is the inspiration; I love Hokusai’s work.
Now, on to the process. First, I scanned an image of the woodblock print into the computer and cropped to the form factor of the final painting, which is 3:2 (36″ x 24″). I printed the cropped image on standard office paper using a laser printer. I then divided the image up into eight sections; each section corresponds to a 12″x9″ sheet of drawing paper. I further divided each of those sections into twelve squares, each representing a 3″ square on the drawing paper. In short, the enlargement process was done using the grid method.
Here is one of the 12″x9″ drawing paper panels, with a completed pencil drawing on the 3″ grid of twelve squares. Much of the challenge for me with this project was working with limited time and space. I drew these while sitting in a comfy chair at the library during lunch hour. This was slow, but it allowed me to become more familiar with the details of the subject.
After all twelve of the pencil drawing panels were completed, I took them home and pieced them together with tape. I then taped them to the canvas for support, taped tracing paper over the drawing, and traced the main features of the drawing to the tracing paper using a black fine tip marker.
You see this sideways because most of the work at home was done with the painting in a horizontal position. I was working with a tabletop easel on a small table, and the canvas fit better horizontally rather than vertically. At this point, horizontal and vertical do not matter to me; I am just drawing shapes and lines.
The next step did not proceed as I had planned. I thought that I would tape the tracing paper to the back of the canvas, put the canvas up in a bright window, and then trace the image onto the front of the canvas. However, the tracing paper did not cooperate with being taped to the back of the canvas. It did not like the frame support on which the canvas was stretched. I ended up adding a step and tracing the image onto the back of the canvas.
After drawing on the back of the canvas, I mounted the pencil drawing and laser printout on the wall above my drawing table, put the canvas on my easel, and went to work. Another trace was required, shining a light behind the canvas and referring to the pencil drawing while drawing on the front of the canvas with a Faber-Castell Pitt Brush Pen.
I used highly diluted acrylic paint to emulate an ink wash. This created a problem with adhesion; the paint lifted too easily, much like a watercolor. I solved this by sealing the finished painting with gloss acrylic medium to hold the acrylic wash in place, followed by an acrylic varnish. This had the added benefit of livening the color, giving the painting more depth and contrast.
This was a fun and challenging project. I hope you have enjoyed sharing it with me.