博麗靈夢

610mm x 300mm, HB pencil and Watercolour Paint with Brush

So one day back in my upper school years, there was a friend who challenged me. To test me of my skills of art (simply just because I was an art student) and I gladly accepted it. So he told me to replicate the following wallpaper in whatever media I wished:

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If you are a big fan of the Touhou Project or have been following this blog for quite a while, you might have noticed that this character is Hakurei Reimu, also featured in one of my previous paintings.

The size of the painting was more to the larger side as I thought it would be necessary for me to have enough space to squeeze the details of this visually complex image. Watercolour was used since it was the most accessible medium I could find that would involve colour as it would be a waste to just leave it monochromic considering the vibrant colours that are involved in the image.

Dimension-wise, I had the piece of paper that I was working on slightly longer than intended. This was such that I could incorporate some calligraphy in respect to shuins (朱印) which are seal stamps that could be purchased in Japanese Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples.

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This was done in relationship to Reimu’s occupation as a Shinto shrine maiden and guardian of the Hakurei Shrine. Moreover, the seal itself and the calligraphy involved could also be considered as art to accompany the main painting itself too, as huge amounts of effort is usually put into making the seal stamp itself to look aesthetically pleasing since it would represent the shrine or temple once it is printed onto paper.

In red, I had Reimu’s full name “printed” onto the paper in reference to the red ink seals that are usually applied onto oriental paintings and other works of art and calligraphy. Secondly, I chose to have her name written in seal script, an archaic script that had been used in China and later Japan about three thousand years ago. Although it is no longer used in modern writing, seal script is still used in calligraphy and of course seals mainly due to its association with the ancient times and aesthetics. As the religion of Shinto is quite prominent in the image through imagery involving Reimu’s shrine maiden outfit, the Torii gate, lanterns and purification paper charms, I thought seal script would be an appropriate form of writing to express the existence of Shinto practises since antiquity and also how myriads of deities have been watching over the islands of Japan since the ancients of days (also why I chose to use traditional characters rather than modern ones since they had undergone simplification after the Second World War). Finally, the black words show when this painting was done. This was added because I thought it would give the painting a more personal approach.

I did not think that the sketching out of the image with pencil was challenging, but certainly time consuming. But I had quite a lot of friction going on when it came to mixing the right colours and how I should apply the paint such that it would look similar to the image – this came to trial and error to see what was effective and what wasn’t, e.g. the sky was done with adding paint onto wet surfaces; the ribbons were done in a same manner but with more delicate mixing of two and more different colours.

At first I kinda expected to have this done within a month or two, but then procrastination took over me… and yeah. This took me three years to complete. I feel guilty about it.But at least it’s finished. 😛

Credits: Shuin Scan

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