This pile of stuff is really just a glimpse of what I've been up to. The real problem for me is to pair things down or Kiss-Keep it simple, stupid. I have to keep reminding myself that it's only a 12 in. piece and I must think in the spare, Asian tradition of less means more.
In line with that notion, I got out a book of woodblock prints by Hiroshige. His 100 Views of Edo is very famous and when the plates are viewed individually what comes across most is the simplicity and deeper meaning of certain images. For any of you who are not familiar with these prints-Edo was the ancient name for the village where Tokyo stands today. As with all places depicted in ancient times-much is different. However, in Japan, the ancient is revered and kept sacred so there are many items within these views, such as bridges and temples and even prefectures that remain essentially the same. I decided that since I am using the shoe and bag theme in Japan, I would also incorporate the element of the seasons since they play a very important part in Asian culture. They provide a rhythm for celebration and honoring the families departed members as well as honoring the living. There are festivals for sending the souls on their way, and honoring ancestors by sweeping of the grave stones and placement of favorite foods for the departed spirits. There are children's festivals-boys day and girls day in late spring, I think. Some celebrate the full moon by having a festival for viewing it and the there are lantern festivals and a personal favorite of mine is the day in January when women have traditionally taken sewing needles and put them into large beeswax blocks in temples where they are blessed for the coming year. The sewing of Kimono in Japan is done by artists who are sometimes made official national treasures by the government. They are a dying breed as the money culture has taken young people away from traditional arts &crafts. Anyway, as you can imagine, there are so many things churning around in my head that I am tempted to use a line from Monty Python-"My brain hurts" So as hard as it is for me-I'll try to keep it simple because as it is in Asian culture...simple is what best illustrates something of dignified beauty. So for my first piece I plan to use "winter" as a theme as well and since I'm making four of these I'll go along with the seasons.