Mieko Okuda: Signs of Life in the Forest

By Miura, Hiroko | Ceramics Art & Perception, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Mieko Okuda: Signs of Life in the Forest


Miura, Hiroko, Ceramics Art & Perception


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"Echoes of life in and around the mountains; forms of the forest--harbouring, giving birth to and recirculating nature."

THE CHANGING ATMOSPHERE, FRAGRANCES, BREEZES flowing water, and hints of forest life drift across large ceramic plates. White spaces between the abstract black lines, painted with a long-tipped brush, give us a sense of three-dimensional depth within the flat design. The brush speed, glaze-flows and overlaps add to the expressive language of the pottery, conjuring up a range of forest scenes. These could not possibly be expressed in painting. It is precisely the unique features of pottery--the glassiness of the glaze, and the glaze flows produced during firing--which add a shimmering quality to the colours, creating a mysterious depth which draws us in. In a one woman show at Okayama's Chuo Garo in 2001, Okuda exhibited her Green Series which employed this type of technique, painting on plates and other three-dimensional works.

The process involved in making the works illustrated here begins by making the clay plates from rough white Shigaraki clay, ladling white slip over a section of the piece and biscuit firing. Then an abstract design is painted in black onto the white ground. After that the artist uses a ladle and a heavily soaked brush to apply Oribe glaze over the black painted lines. This means that the black lines are blurred by the glaze, just as the lines of an ink-painting blur as the ink soaks into the paper. Oribe glaze fires to green in an oxidised environment, and to pale red in a reducing kiln. Sometimes Okuda fires the pieces at 1000[degrees]C in a reduced environment and then switches to an oxidising 1250[degrees], so both the green and the red colours are produced. She says that her work differs from painting in that the firing "makes the glazes glow, creating a sense of light in a natural setting, which gives Oribe pieces their special beauty". Okuda's earlier study of dyeing and traditional Japanese painting has made her particularly aware of the distinctive and specific appeal of pottery.

Okuda arrived at her current style after learning traditional Japanese painting at a senior high school specialising in the arts, and then majoring in dyeing at Kyoto Seika Junior College. After graduation she was involved in producing traditional kimono dyes for the design department of a Kyoto kimono company. Those experiences will have familiarised her with a traditional Japanese aesthetic and the spirit with which it is infused. She went on to participate in ink-painting classes with one of Japan's most prominent traditional painters, Hitoshi Komatsu. Her encounter with Komatsu, known for his unique and powerful style of ink painting, proved to be a turning point in her career.

Although in former times traditional Japanese painting stressed the spirituality of painting in line, the Japanese painting style that Okuda had studied to date favoured a thick application of paint over linear work, and she harboured serious doubts about this approach. Komatsu's method, which he demonstrated to his students, was to give a rough idea of shape and then continue painting directly onto the picture surface without taking one's eyes off of the subject. Okuda felt that Komatsu's powerful black lines had a life of their own. His description of "painting lines as though slicing the paper with a Japanese sword" provided Okuda with a solution to her long-standing conundrum of how to capture her subject in line.

Okuda's study with Komatsu was followed in 1989 by a trip to America with her husband Hiromu. Throughout the six months that they spent there she only made pots, not picking up a paintbrush once. After returning to Japan Okuda was struck, while out walking, by the beauty of moss-covered rocks in a river and started to dig up lumps of clay to make Rock Pots. She also began making plates with images of rocks and water painted in Oribe glaze. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mieko Okuda: Signs of Life in the Forest
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.