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Landscapes with Hiroshi Yamamoto - May 12th, 2007

Hiroshi Yamamoto brought along his students to a workshop on landscapes. This led to an interesting mix of younger and older participants learning a lesson in English and Japanese. Hiroshi, a well-known Toronto artist, is the chief instructor in sumi-e at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. He also teaches at a Japanese school. In his workshop, Hiroshi worked exclusively in sumi-e ink.

Hiroshi Yamamoto begins workshop with handouts

The workshop began with a study of types of painted trees, which are used frequently in sumi-e paintings.

The workshop begins by looking at trees

Hiroshi Yamamoto first painted the classic pine tree with its needles on the branches.

Pine tree is drawn first

Then a tree was added with five strokes for a cluster of leaves on each branch.

A tree with clusters of five leaves

Another tree was created with a trunk and some branches.

Tree trunk and branches

Leaves were added with a horizontal brush stroke over the trunk and branches.

Leaves added by horizontal strokes

Several more trees were added with tall thin trunks and leaves added with the horizontal, flat brush stroke.

Tree trunk and branches structure

Next came a few more trunk-and-branch tree structures.

More tree trunk and branches

Over the trunks and branches, Hiroshi Yamamoto used a large, thick brush to add the leaves in a vertical stroke that also used the flat of the brush.

Vertical stroke adds leaves

Hiroshi added several variations of trees using the previous techniques.

Each tree had its own characteristics showing the many ways of painting trees.

More trees with leaf variations

Afterwards, Hiroshi Yamamoto reviewed the trees he had drawn. The trees were also included in a handout for the workshop.

Hiroshi Yamamoto compares his trees to others drawn for a handout

Hiroshi turned to the landscape he would work on. He discussed the work with the workshop participants. Hiroshi reminded us that a painting was a composite of elements such as the water, shoreline, trees, mountain, and clouds.

A light stroke created the shoreline.

Hiroshi Yamamoto sketeches shoreline

A pagoda was added and a bridge to it.

Pagoda added with bridge

Hiroshi Yamamoto studied the work as he sometimes does before moving on to the other elements of the painting.

Studying progress

He then turned to the trees using forms drawn earlier.

Adding trees drawn earleir

A pine tree, a tree with with a few leaves and a tree with the horizontal brush stroke for leaves were added.

Adding trees with horizontal brush stroke

Skeleton trees were drawn that would use the vertical stroke for leaves.

Trunks and branches added for more trees

After the trees were drawn, Hiroshi stopped again to look at the overall composition again.

Trees with vertical stroke for leaves

Next came more distant trees in another part of the painting.

Adding more distant trees and bushes behind pagoda

A mountain was sketched into the background.

Outline of mountain

Details were added to the mountain including some small, distant trees.

Details of mountain

Moving to the foreground, Hiroshi Yamamoto added the water.

Water in foreground

The water was still and reflected the trees on the shore.

Hiroshi Yamamoto adds reflections in the water

Using broad stokes the water was completed.

Water added to front

The painting was almost finished.

Water completed

Clouds were added by pressing the brush.

Clouds with larger brush

Hiroshi discussed the elements of the painting with the workshop participants in English and Japanese.

Hiroshi Yamamoto discusses composition with students

The finished painting united all the elements created earlier in a balanced, serene work. This painting is based on an actual scene from Japan where Hiroshi grew up.

Sumi-e painting up close

This handout helped workshop participants in the creation of their trees for their landscape. It showed the strokes for the leaves and the strokes for the trunk and branches. Then it put the two together for the tree.

Trees in handout

Everyone then began working on their landscapes.

Workshop participants go to work

Landscapes remain one of the fundamental icons of sumi-e painting. Hiroshi Yamamoto's workshop proved that the landscape will remain as challenging and as fascinating to sumi-e artists today as it always has in the past.