One of my favorite moments of quiet joy is visiting an art museum. My local art museum recently had an exhibition of woodblock prints. It featured famous Japanese prints from the Edo era alongside mid-century European and contemporary American work. I left wondering—why can’t reality be as serene as the landscapes captured by these master printmakers?
There’s a simplicity of composition and color in woodblock prints that I admire. Some of the beauty arises from the constraints of the technique. The artist is limited to defined lines and color washes, so composition and design grow in importance. Each image is carefully planned and painstakingly executed.
A fun challenge: go out with a sketchbook, a camera, or just your eyes, and try to frame your surroundings like a ukiyo-e print. Ask yourself, “What would Hokusai see?” It’s an exercise in joy. Especially if you wander into a plum garden on a spring day when the trees are in bloom. But if you’re in a boat…watch out for waves.
For more drawings on looking, thinking, and feeling, check out my latest book of comics, THE ART OF LIVING:
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Beautiful. The message of the last two panels is really wonderful.