A Shin Hanga Heron

I had another go at trying to create a Shin Hanga styled painting this week.  It taught me a lot about how I need to find the vision of a piece of art before I start to paint.
As before I began with a quick sketch in my sketchbook and then planned how I would paint it.  I chose only one reference for the shape of the heron, but used six for the colours.  I worked out what colour I needed where and then made a plan to get that to happen.  Here’s my plan…
Then I started painting.  I began with a variegated wash in paynes grey and ultramarine with a little cerulean blue added towards to the top half of the paper…
Then I painted it according to my plan.
Here’s the final painting…
I’m not overly keen on this painting.  I think what is wrong is that I didn’t quite have a fully formed vision for the painting before I painted it.  I went straight into the ‘how’ questions before I was really clear on what exactly I wanted in my final picture.  I also made assumptions about the colours and didn’t think out the perspective I wanted with the shapes I have in the water.   In the Shin Hanga tradition an awful lot of thought is put into colour and tonal choices as well as careful work on perspective and reflections.  So if I want to make Shin Hanga styled watercolours I need to put in the same work, I need to find the vision for the piece and see it in my mind and heart before I start the technical side of the venture in actually painting the picture.  So that’s what I’m going to do next time.

13 thoughts on “A Shin Hanga Heron

  1. I know what you mean about making the background contrast against his body more, but the effect, I think, is interesting. It’s given him a little bit more of a glow around his face and neck the way it is.


  2. Yes, and the way I painted the water doesn’t show off the heron’s warm grey/cream plumage on his chest. It would have been so much better to have some of the darker water shadows come out to around the front of his body, and more light behind to accent his blue grey back feathers. Ho hum, quite a few missed chances I think!


  3. I’m sorry you weren’t satisfied by this, Jo, to me it’s both impressive and sensitive. I loved the treatment of the ripples and the echoing of the colours of the water in the feathers. Simply gorgeous.


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