This Winter View painting was very much a chaek-kŏri. This is a Korean term that means painted scene of the scholar or artist’s studio with their favorite and most precious objects, such as paper, brushes, brush holders, ink stone, desks and bookshelves. Here are some of my favorite things and the photos below show where I got my painting inspiration.
‘The Winter View’ by Jean Tori 2005 ©
I was inspired by some of my favorite things that surround me daily, such as a wooden chair with my painted teapot fabric.
Chair with Jean Tori painted teapot fabric
The Foo Dog (Lion Dog) in the painting is my favorite incense burner that I use every day.
Lion Dog incense holder
I also included some of my favorite Chinese carpets with chickens, roosters and cranes.
Chinese chicken and rooster carpet
Chinese stork carpet
Here is one of those stories about artwork getting around. Dr. Gianni Bonadonna is my friend and aside from having been one of the leading oncologists in the world, he is also the founder of Fondazione Michelangelo (a cancer research charity foundation www.fondazionemichelangelo.org). Gianni also writes books and occasionally he asks me if he can use one of my paintings for a book cover. For his most recent book “Appuntamento Col Padreterno” (Appointment With God), Gianni asked if he could print one of my cat paintings, titled Moon Gazing I .
Moon Gazing I by Jean Tori
I originally painted the cat watching the moon for a “Moon Gazing” collection of cards for our design company, Kimono Rabbit (www.kimonorabbit.com) [which supports the Michelangelo Foundation with its Christmas card sales].
Lots of people like the cat. I think it’s a simple image yet very symbolic. It was a good choice for Gianni’s book cover.
Gianni Bonadonna’s book, Appointment With God
A few days ago, Gianni was in Rome visiting Pope Francesco and gave him the book. Here is the photograph of Gianni and the Pope, who is holding a copy of the book with my cat on the cover. A very well traveled piece of artwork!
Gianni Bonadonna with Papa Francesco 17.9.2014
Inspiration comes in all forms, mediums and above all experiences, from real life travels and daily views to stories overheard and sometimes even a collection of photographs can trigger a creative idea.
After Anthinula (my daughter) returned from Amsterdam with a great series of images, this is what I painted. (There’s a Kimono Rabbit watermark as it’s now a card and print in their new collection.)
‘Yellow Tulips’ by Jean Tori 2014 © for Kimono Rabbit
The trees lining the canals in the following photograph must have had a trickle down effect in my mind and that’s why there are trees outside of the window in the painting.
Canals of Amsterdam, photo by Anthinula Tori
I’ve painted tulips, which are everywhere in Amsterdam (even in the museum shops), but they are also all over my garden in the spring, and bunches of them are always an inspiration to paint.
Blue and White Dutch designs, photo by Anthinula Tori
For the table cloth I used one of my favorite Art Deco designs and I painted it in blue and white inspired by Amsterdam’s fabulous blues on the façades of the houses.
Blue painted houses of Amsterdam, photo by Anthinula Tori
Here is the Kimono Rabbit website www.kimonorabbit.com
Sometimes what surrounds the painting adds to the painting. I often frame my paintings with different textured mounts (also known as mat, border and passe-partout). I went a bit crazy with this mat, but it was a lot of fun and I love the completely different juxtaposition of whimsical rabbit eating carrot painting and passe-partout collage of fish. I was given the mount-type-paper-frame, which had cut out fish prints from early 20th century books glued on to it. I added to it by cutting out a postcard of a Japanese black and white carp (on the right) and filled in the rest with my painted coloured fish.
Carrot Rabbit II by Jean Tori 2011 with fish painted mat
Here is a flower painting with an embroidered flower mount Continuity in flowers.
Yellow Flowers by Jean Tori 2004 with embroidered flower fabric
See a past post for more examples and ideas: http://jeantori.com/2012/02/mats-around-paintings/
In Seoul, South Korea, many moons ago (we’re talking early 1970s) I had a showroom/ workshop with a friend in an original Korean home with wooden beams and paper screen doors. We had some things made by the craftsmen and craftswomen who produced Korean Folk Art, for example, potters, box maker, fan maker, comb maker and wood carvers.
South Korea arts and craft show room photo n.1
Sometimes, the box maker and wood carvers would make certain things to my specific requirements such as wooden animals and wooden framed mirrors, which I would then paint.
South Korea arts and crafts show room photo n. 4
The other thing I used to design were giant dolls that a seamstress used to sew. My friend was the one behind the padded jackets and jean dresses decorated with her appliques.
South Korea arts and craft show room photo n.3
There was also the artisan who produced ox horn beads and the silversmith who made jewelry pieces according to my designs so that I could make necklaces. (That was me in 1974 and you can see my necklaces hanging behind me.)
Jean Tori in the arts and crafts show room in South Korea 1974
Finding all these old photographs of the workshop/ showroom was a fun visit down memory lane and it is almost like a then and now with our little cottage industry – then, 40 years ago in Asia, and now with Kimono Rabbit in Umbria and England. I’m not painting on boxes for Kimono Rabbit’s home decor and greeting card business, but I am painting a lot pictures for their cards and cushion cover designs. It’s quite a déjà vu!
I’m working on some new paintings for new card designs for Kimono Rabbit. I’ve been asked to work on a blue and white Ming ceramic collection. Here is the final version of the first painting in the series with two tea cups and a ‘ginger’ jar (vase) on a red lacquer tray.
Ming Ceramics and Roses by Jean Tori 2014 © for Kimono Rabbit
Here are the dog roses that inspired my floral design.
Dog roses in Umbria
Painting as a work in progress.
Work in progress ‘Ming and Roses’ Collection by Jean Tori 2014 © for Kimono Rabbit
To see the website of paintings already turned into cards visit: www.kimonorabbit.com
I’ve been painting lots of different things lately, from illustrations for our children’s books to new card designs to blue and white patterns for a silk scarf project with Kimono Rabbit.
I love blue and white, especially indigo blue and I’ve also added a pattern in cobalt. I’ve take basic Asian flower designs and made a few of my own variations, including adding a phoenix, Chinese clouds and a palm tree.
Since I’m painting with only two colours, I’ve had to simplify the drawings. Here are some images of the work in progress.
Blue and White Designs by Jean Tori 2014
The flower design.
Flower drawing for blue and white designs by Jean Tori 2014
The phoenix and water lily design.
Drawing for blue and white designs by Jean Tori 2014
We all have our tried and tested methods when creating. How I got to the landscape in the photograph is a three step drawing and painting process, along with much paper and many cups of tea.
‘Castle and Mountain Tops and Morning Sun’ by Jean Tori 2014 ©
Once I’ve made my paper canvas with mulberry paper and flour glue (past posts show how: http://jeantori.com/2012/08/paper-making-lessons-part-4/ ), and know what I’m going to paint, I draw the design on plain paper with a pencil. I use pencil because I make lots of edits and am constantly erasing and re-drawing. I don’t usually fill in details as seen in the photograph, or do any shading, but here I was having fun and wanted to see what it would look like as an etching.
Rough drawing of Castles, Montain Tops and Morning Sun, Jean Tori © 2014
When I’m completely satisfied with the final drawing, I trace it with a pencil onto tracing paper. I then take the tracing paper, pencil side down, and place it on my final paper canvas and then retrace the drawing. This leaves an imprint on the canvas, which I then redraw. This rather long, but pleasurable process is done to avoid having to make any corrections on my canvas by erasing, which spoils the surface of my paper.
Tracing paper drawing of the landscape, Castles, Mountains Tops and Morning Sun, Jean Tori © 2014
My Year of the Horse pop-up page is in this year’s M Diary (M-Restaurant Group) and I love it!! Michelle Garnaut has done it again with her absolutely stunning diary/agenda. To order a copy, or find out where the bookshops are in China and Hong Kong go to: http://www.m-restaurantgroup.com/mbund/m-diary.html
I like all the variations of artwork that go into making the pop-up because it’s like a miniature paper installation. It’s also a big challenge to think of the final image as three-dimensional and then actually make it! Of course, the pleasure of seeing the final product is always very fulfulling!
Final Year of the Horse pop-up page by Jean Tori in the M-Restaurant Diary
As for the artistic process, which started last year in March 2013, I painted the main page and then all the pop-up pieces separately (horses, trees and hillocks), cut them out and then did my own mock up.
First mock up of the Year of the Horse page by Jean Tori for the M Diary
Here are the separate painted horses.
The orginal painted horses for the pop-up page in the M Diary
Here is a piece of the main page and some painted trees.
Main page and painted trees by Jean Tori for the M Diary
To see last year’s Year of the Snake and Year of the Dragon, you can see my last posts:
Once upon a time down Pedder Street in Hong Kong, having turned left for the Chinese Tea Shop, enhanced by fresh Oolong tea, with pen and piece of paper asked for from the owner of the shop, who instantly ripped a piece of paper out of her ledger book (which explains the accounting lines and format), I roughly sketched a Christmas idea, having previously been asked to make a card for the Society for the Relief of Disabled Children. The other day I found the piece of paper and I was reminded of the tea room and Christmas in Hong Kong a long long time ago.
Original drawing of Christmas card, Wise Man by Jean Tori
And then I painted the first card. The idea being, one sleeping Wise Man, two palm trees, three sitting camels and four shining stars. Since this was a bit long for the title, I ended up calling it “Beneath the Stars”.
Beneath the Stars, Christmas card by Jean Tori 1990©
After the card was made I sold the painting, but since I liked it so much I decided to paint another one (1990). To make it different I reversed the image and experimented with some different colours. 23 years later this is one of the designs that Kimono Rabbit has chosen as part of the Christmas card collection, now titled “The Wise Man”. I do prefer when one receives an actual card, but for now I send you all this virtual one with very Happy Christmas wishes and thoughts, Jean
The Wise Man, by Jean Tori 1990 © for Kimono Rabbit