Japanese Painting Lesson


In Japanese painting, artists use pigments from nature, washi(Japanese paper) and haku(gold or silver leaf) along with other materials and techniques. The main idea is usually about the exploration of spirit found in nature, but modern scenes can also be found.

1.First lesson, stretch the paper on board, use watercolour or gouache to paint (Oil painting is no good because of the thickness)

image2 (1)


2.Second week, use washi to soften or strengthen the image, with only paints, the whole body could be too bright and lacks depth, using other materials to support the balance of the image seems to be important in Japanese painting.

Use of Washi: the washi that we used is named ‘Tengucho-shi’, cow skin glue were used to apply them on the images

Use of Haku: it was my first time to use golden and silver leaves, fragile things; but it has a quality to brighten the whole image

image6 (1)


3. Third Lesson, using Sulfur to create images. I’ve never relate Sulfur(with fungicide) with art practice, but it actually creates amazing effect on images. Sulfur can only react on haku(probably other metal as well) under 80 degrees temp, the reaction of time decides the colour that haku is going to be in the end

1-2 seconds →red / 2-4 seconds →blue/ >5 seconds→black or grey




4. Fourth lesson, the finishing work. take the masking tape off, as well as adding lines to enrich the image.

The final images.


After making the four images, we were asked to do a collage out of them. The collage has to contain an element from Choju Giga(The earliest comic in Japanese history).It’s a task more difficult than I thought, in terms of balancing the colours and composition, which is deeply referring to Japanese traditional aesthetics. The whole process took three lessons to complete.


The third part was to transfer our collage into a real Japanese painting. We learnt about pigments in this lesson, the traditional pigments are made from natural stones like Malachite(green), Lapis Lazuli(ultramarine) or Orpiment(yellow)

Although in modern Japanese painting, because of the high price, artificial pigments are widely used. In Japanese painting, the white colour has to be painted first, silver leaves are used underneath the white to make it shine. The white pigment comes from powdered calcium carbonate.

The painting hasn’t been finished yet due to the difference of exchange term time.


      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *