Archive for September 20th, 2022

The Living Dot/ Hokusai

Hokusai Two Fish

At seventy-three I learned a little about the real structure of animals, plants, birds, fishes and insects. Consequently when I am eighty I’ll have made more progress. At ninety I’ll have penetrated the mystery of things. At a hundred I shall have reached something marvelous, but when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, the smallest dot, will be alive.

Katsushika Hokusai

I really like the bit of wisdom above from the great Hokusai, both for his optimism on aging as well as the idea that as he continues to progress his work will reach a point where everything he paints– even something as simple as a dot– has a life force within it.

Attaining that life force, where the painting transcends what you put into it, in any one piece is a rare and difficult thing for any artist to achieve. But that idea that you might one day reach a point where your work has moved from a product of thought and craft to a transcendent expression of the spirit is something that seems beyond our reach or even our aim.

But perhaps we should keep it as an aim in our mind, along with the idea that we will continue to progress as we age, even if it is stored in rarely visited corner. If we hold on to it perhaps we will subconsciously find our way to that goal. And when we are a hundred and ten, the dots we paint will have that same life force as those created by Hokusai.

It’s something to hope for…

I’ve included a few of Hokusai’s paintings beyond his famed wave and landscapes. I love his fish pieces and the raven is wonderful. Enjoy!

I am busy on a new piece this morning and am running the post above from several years ago. I am a big fan of the work of the Japanese artist/printmakers such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. But as large a fan as I am of the work, I love the words at the top from Hokusai. It reminds me of the potential for continued progress as an artist even as I move into those years where most folks are retired or at least contemplating the idea.

The idea that art and creation have no endpoints within a person.

I sometimes need that reminder.


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