Sunday, 28 September 2014

Culture Class: monochrome art lesson

My third culture class lesson from GenkiJACS was a short lesson in traditional monochrome painting techniques. I've previously done something similar in China (sadly don't have any photos with me) so had some idea what to expect. I'm bad at art, but really enjoy drawing stuff anyway, so I was looking forward to this one.

As with the previous two lessons, we travelled to an artist's studio. All of these are within a few minutes' walk of the school, and all are basically just large apartments that are used as business premises. It was a bit of a surprise to me initially, but I got used to it. This apartment was exactly like you'd expect a busy multi-medium working artist/art teacher's studio to look like: paintings on the walls, racks of pottery and supplies everywhere, and a general atmosphere of the workplace.

Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the teacher for this class. He was affable in a taciturn sort of way, which was a contrast from our chattier experience with the cooking class, but shouldn't be read as a criticism. Our furoshiki class had begun with a bit of historical discussion, but here we moved more-or-less straight into painting. The teacher had prepared some templates for us to practice particular styles of brushwork on and try a couple of different inks; we gradually built these up into more detailed pictures.

Obviously, in a brief one-off class, nobody's going to produce any masterpieces. We all came out with something reasonable, and it was fun to try doing something different and practical. As usual, I would have enjoyed doing some more of this. It's a shame that there aren't ongoing regular classes for some of these activities, so you could go along and improve and try out different things during your stay. However, most people aren't here for very long, and there's a lot of turnover, so I can see it wouldn't be practical. It would also be hard for teachers to handle having students doing different activities or at different levels of experience.

To some extent I would have liked to have more background information on the art style and its history and theories; however, this would have cut down substantially on the time available to actually paint, and omitting it was definitely the right decision given the limited time. I may look out an art book on the subject, if I can find one that's got a reasonable mix of history and actual exercises - always the problem.

If you haven't done something like this before, but enjoy art, I'd definitely recommend going. If you do a lot of painting or have already done similar things, this is an introductory class, and may not be challenging enough to be interesting for you.

1 comment: