Return to the Arts; The Anchorite (Digital Collage)

My triumphant return to the arts. I have created a digital collage in the style of Inq28, which is the general genre of my miniatures painting journey.

But there is a uniformity between that and my thematic interests in general: The medieval, the disturbing, and especially the religious.

This is but the first of many such experiments to come, in many mediums. I have been invested with great spirit these past weeks, as if something holy have poured into me. I itch to create all matters of art, to try all matters of new techniques, and to hopefully develop a voice and settle into a medium of choice.

We shall see.

The Anchorite
Digital Collage, the Anchorite.

The Thinker (Lovecraftian Reinterpretation)

A Lovecraftian Reinterpretation of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. I took a bit of inspiration from Lovecraft’s ShubNiggurath, you know, the Black Goat of the Woods and a Thousand Young. I was originally going to give it a Tentacle Head and call it the Strangler.

Technique: Much like the previous entry in this series of mine, The Red Eminence, I painted directly over the original image (of the sculpture of the Thinker), drawing from the same colour palette. Painting in the backlight was a stroke of inspiration— it looks so much more incredible and macabre. Mysterious and terrifying!

My Lovecraftian Reinterpretation of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker. 
My Lovecraftian Reinterpretation of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.
The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin, at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor
The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin, at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor

The Red Eminence (A Lovecraftian Reinterpretation)

Introduction 

So, astute readers (do I even have any readers in these early days?) may recall my post some days ago about the validity of painting over public domain images (specifically classical art) in order to do something new, as part of a larger discussion on the validity of collage art, found art, matte paintings, etc.

Naturally, works of this nature are strongest when they act as a commentary on the original work; a lot of erasure literature and poetry creates satirical commentaries on the work in which they transforming.

A good friend of mine told me that this form of art is “Artist Reinterpretation”, and true enough, google yields a not inconsiderable amount of artists who have done similar things, albeit they don’t usually go the horror route.

I was a tremendous fan of H.P. Lovecraft and of cosmic horror in general, so this series of projects (I already have another one done) was cosmic horror themed. Your favourite classical works of art transformed into unknowable horrors.

The Process 

Rationale: His eminenceCardinal Richelieu (“The Red Eminence”) was a figure of significant bloodshed with his participation in the European Wars of Religion (the 17th century); where he notably came down on the Protestant side of the war, to curb the power of the Spanish Habsburgs. In all fairness however, the Cardinal was a product of his time, and I actually admired him as a Statesman—however with a monicker like “The Red Eminence”, and due to his noble bearing, sheer charisma, and political acumen; one cannot help but imagine in this Prince of the Church a supernatural creature, like Count Dracula. This reinterpretation was about revealing a supernatural version of the Cardinal, as a supernatural being.

From Boreas to Fujin: The Iconographic evolution of a transcultural wind god

Introduction

Before we begin, this paper was actually written on November 29th, 2015, during my college days (I was in the Design Foundations program at the time).

I finally dug it out! I presumably have a copy on my old PC hard-drive, as I couldn’t find any in either of my Google Doc accounts. However, I actually discovered an attached copy in my FB messenger app, because I had sent one to a friend while I was writing it years ago…so, here we go.

I hope you will learn something absolutely fascinating about Buddhism, Alexander the Great’s Conquests, Wind Gods, and how Art and Religion are interwoven.

This paper actually reminded me why I was sold on the idea of starting a blog. Ask interesting questions, find interesting answers, and share them with people. What could be more fun?

Without further ado, the full transcript:


Justin Hsu

COMM1825-15F-Sec2

Mini Research Paper

From Boreas to Fujin: The Iconographic evolution of a transcultural wind god

The Japanese Buddhist Wind Deity, Fujin had his origins as the Greek Wind God Boreas. This short research paper will explore the iconographic evolution of Boreas through several different cultures, finally culminating in his final form in Japan.

It is often easy to assume that different cultures are isolated, developed separately and have no relations to one another, but this is often untrue. Indo-Europeans for example, counts amongst their descendants everything from the Irish to the Hindus. Austronesians can be found in Taiwan, New Zealand and even Hawaii. For this reason, art and culture can often transcend their boundaries. The Japanese Wind God, Fujin is but the final form of a long line of wind deities that have their origins in ancient Greece.

After Alexander the Great passed away, he left behind a sizeable Hellenistic presence in the East. In parts of what we would call Afghanistan today, his subordinates set up an ancient Kingdom known as Bactria and they became a bridge between East and West, a kingdom right alongside the silk road (Crabben 2011).

In the Indian subcontinent, the Mauryan King, Ashoka the Great rose to power and converted to Buddhism. He commissioned great missionary expeditions to spread Buddhism to all four corners of the world, and erected stupas- pillars with religious inscriptions in multiple languages that also housed the ashes of the Buddha- wherever Buddhism spread. (Szczepansk).

Eventually, the Bactrian King invaded India and created what is now known as the Indo-Greek Kingdoms “Indica served as an important source to many later writers such as Strabo and Arrian. The 1st century BC Greek historian Apollodorus, quoted by Strabo, affirms that the Bactrian Greeks, led by Demetrius I and Menander, conquered India and occupied a larger territory than the Macedonians under Alexander the Great, going beyond the Hyphasis…” (Sanujit, 2011, para.31). The Indo-Greek Kingdom was eventually divided into several kingdoms. Greeks living in India at the time were referred to as Yonas in Pali or Yavanas in Sanskrit (Simonin, 2011, para.2).

So where does Fujin come into all of this? Well, Boreas, the Greek wind deities were brought along with the Greeks, and found their way into Ghandara (a geographical region in Pakistan bordering the Kush Mountain range and the Himalayas). There, Ghandara artisans created incredible fusions of Greek and Hindu styled Buddhist art.

Here, the Buddha himself was given human form, modelled after Apollo. Now, these sculptures and reliefs often have decorative deities accompanying the central figure or story. Some of these included Centaurs or Tritons. One of these was the figure of Boreas, who was depicted in the classical style with a bag of wind. Eventually, this Greco-Buddhist version of Boreas became known as Wardo.

Iconographic Evolution of Fujin
Figure 1. Boreas to Wardo to Fujin. From Shizhao (2006, Wikimedia)
Did you know that the Japanese Wind God Fujin evolved from the Greek God Boreas/Aeolus? This is a case of art influencing the creation and depiction of a deity. In the Indo-Greek kingdom, Boreas became the Greco-Buddhist Wardo, was transplanted to China as Feng Bo and then to Japan as Fujin (all because of the spread of Buddhist decor and iconography). In all incarnations, he carries a bag of wind. The following images shows his iconographic evolution. Image 1. Left: Greek wind God (Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara), Hadda, 2nd century. Middle: Wind God from Kizil, Tarim Basin, 7th century. Right: Japanese Wind God Fujin, 17th century by painter Tawaraya Sotetsu. 

Wardo was transplanted to the nearby Tarim Basin in Northwestern China. He became the Taoist wind deity, Feng Po, literally, “Uncle Wind (Andrews, 2000, p.68). When Buddhism reached Japan, they brought with them Feng Po’s iconography, and he became Fujin, literally, “Wind God” (Petretta, 2014, para.3). He was adopted into Shintoism and given name and narrative. To be clear, Fujin is not a native Japanese deity that was given the iconography of Boreas, but he literally is Boreas. They are one and the same. “The Japanese wind god images do not belong to a separate tradition apart from that of their Western counter-parts but share the same origins.” (Tanabe, 2003, p.21).

In all incarnations, they have carried a bag of wind. “One of the characteristics of these Far Eastern wind god images is the wind bag held by this god with both hands, the origin of which can be traced back to the shawl or mantle worn by Boreas/ Oado.” (Tanabe, 2003 p.21).

 

And that was how Boreas made his way to Japan, carried forth by the passage of time, the syncretism of human cultures and the expansion of Buddhism.


References

1. Crabben, J. (2011, April 28). Bactria. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.ancient.eu/Bactria/

2. Szczepansk, K. (n.d.). Learn About Ashoka the Great (and Terrible). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/a/ashoka.htm

3. Sanujit. (2011, February 12). Cultural links between India and the Greco-Roman world. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.ancient.eu/article/208/

4. Simonin, A. (2011, April 28). Indo-Greek. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.ancient.eu/Indo-Greek/

5. Andrews, T. (2000). Dictionary of nature myths: Legends of the earth, sea, and sky (p. 68). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

6. Petretta, D. (2014, November 22). Fujin: Origins Along The Slik Road | Global Connections. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://globalconnections.champlain.edu/2014/11/22/fujin-origins-along-the-slik-road/

7. Tanabe, K. (2003). Alexander the Great: East-West cultural contacts from Greece to Japan (p. 21). Tokyo: Tōkyō Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan.

8. Shizhao, (2006, April, 20th). WindGods.JPG [digital image].

Retrieved from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/WindGods.JPG

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Jesus, a Digital Painting Study

Digital Painting of Jesus.

JesusPortraitCOMPLETEV2
Digital Painting Study of Jesus. Portrait.

A study I painted awhile back when I was just literally starting out with digital painting (I had very little idea what I was doing at the time).

It was also, uh, miraculously drawn without reference (I wouldn’t recommend drawing anything without references, not unless you’re already very familiar with human anatomy as a whole— and I am not even that good— but this gamble seemed to have paid off, after some rough starts).

Of course, my visual library had a lifetime of seeing depictions of Jesus in various medias, so this wasn’t a radically different interpretation of Jesus. It’s your classical European Jesus. Why blue? Because it’s more ethereal and gets away from the race debate. And you know, some religions likes their holy figures in blue (like Krishna), so I was like, “why the heck not?”

What the tarnations is a visual library, you ask?— well, my hero, Sinix, of Sinix Design, can tell you all about it in this handy video he made.

And I also did fun stuff with this piece, for example, as an illustration of a bookcover project.

BibleBookCoverMockup_GOOD.png

On the validity of collage art, found art, matte paintings, etc

So, I asked this interesting question on Reddit, mostly to assuage my own doubts and feelings of fraudulence with regards to art projects that didn’t strictly involve me painting literally every pixel (yes, I realized that many creatives have experienced the Imposter Syndrome, but this intellectual understanding didn’t necessarily help me with dealing with it in an emotional, subjective way).

Before we begin in earnest however, first, let’s get some elaboration on the arts referenced in the title.

Collage Art: Bashing different elements (that are often not made by you) together to create a composition.

Found Art: For example, a toilet turned into a fountain. Or just tipped over.

Matte Paintings: An old technique where painting is applied to film strips in order to add elements that weren’t filmed by the camera (ie, painting a Sphinx on a desert). These days, mean any kind of digital environment creation, where some artists would photo-bash a layer that they paint over, or construct a 3D model to paint over, etc. Or just slap 3D models AS the background. Whatever saves time, since this kind of painting is mostly used in applied arts where production must be timely.


My Question on Reddit:

Alright, so recently, I’ve been exploring digital paintings, and that’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been learning a lot of the foundational principles to digital paintings and am making tremendous progress.

However, I also want to explore side projects that involves transforming public domain photos and artworks into new forms. However, these kinds of project feels instinctively strange to me for many reasons, mostly because it doesn’t feel entirely like real art. I know that collage, found art, etc are considered valid art forms, and that concept artists often use matte painting techniques or incorporate 3D models and existing photos into their work…but even so, I would like the public’s opinions.

The kind of projects I want to explore: I want to take existing public domain photos and paint over them to create sci-fi/fantasy environments. I also want to take classical paintings and paint over it/modify it to create something new. And of course collage art could be very interesting.

What are your opinions about such works of art?

And the (somewhat few) folks on that particular SubReddit have this to say—

thePopefromTV:

Not all art is good, but all art is art. Even satirically creating found art is art in its own way. When I see art that really makes me question its validity as art, I quickly realize that the piece is making me think and I usually come to the conclusion that it’s certainly art simply based on that alone.

GlitterGear:

There’s someone who paints over Pokémon cards, and they’re amazing!

I’m not a visual artist, but I view it as analogous to fan fiction. With fan fiction, you’re taking someone else’s content, transforming it and making it your own. I feel like it’s similar to the art you want to explore

charlzandre:

It’s still art. Tracing another image is questionable when you’re just making a painting, but if it’s a collage I feel like the rules are out the window.


These comments actually do help assuage my doubts, and I had expected comments along these lines; mostly because these comments are what would have said if I had to respond to my own question.

On a related note, a lot of folks often claimed that digital art or digital painting don’t constitute “real” art, when in fact digital paintings are exactly like perfectly ordinary physical paintings in terms of the actual painting process (differing for medium).

This article talked about this bias, but it also pointed out something quite interesting: We digital painters also like to accuse artists who practices photo-bashing and collage art of doing “fake art”. Hmmmm. I admit, I do often see it as a “lesser” art form, even though the difficulty of doing collage art well is beyond me, generally. And of course, found art/erasure art gets accused of this as well, along with things like blackout poetry/found poetry.


Now, below is an example of something I did, to experiment with my idea to transform classical paintings into a different form:

Cardinal de Richelieu (1642) by Philippe de Champaignecardinal_de_richelieu_mg_0053

And my experimental transformation of it. Painted over by me.

experiment_bloodcardinal-2

The rationale here was that Cardinal Richelieu (“The Red Eminence”) was a figure that had caused significant bloodshed with his participation and role in the European Wars of Religion (the 17th century). In all fairness he was a product of his time, and I actually admire him as a Statesman, however with a monicker like “The Red Eminence”, and due to his noble bearing, sheer charisma, and political acumen; I have always though of him as a kind of supernatural creature (like Count Dracula). Therefore, this transformative work was about revealing a supernatural version of the Cardinal. 


This is nowhere close to the level of detail I wished to create, but would you consider something like the above to be valid art?

Comment below!

PS: Yes, I missed a day of the Daily Logo Challenge. Don’t you worry, I’ll make up for it.

 

Logo design process work, the First 11 Days— Daily Logo Challenge 2019

Process work for the first 11 days of my Daily Logo Challenge. For those curious, Harris Robert’s Daily Logo Challenge are email prompts you can subscribe to that is automatically sent to your inbox everyday for 50 days straight. Those prompts inspire you to create logos, push boundaries, and improve yourself— and I have found this practice invaluable. I’ve been out of practice since graduating college, and can already see tremendous improvements in my logo design process.

Here are the process work for the first 11 days, I make it a point to show my work whenever possible so people can learn from it.

I’ll upload the completed logos for those 11 days in another post.

You can follow my progress day by day on My Instagram, @justonky.

Dabbling in Webcomics

So earlier this year I started to dabble in webcomics, and while that was fun, my focus eventually went into the arts in general, and the next thing I knew, I had picked up digital painting. If I had to do a comic now, I would be far more skilled. When you’re learning something, your art style tend to change very quickly, which honestly is a bad time to be doing a comic of any sort.

I also attempted an actual serial, called Savage Yeeden, but for the same reasons I had given that up (also more on that later).

These are really here for archival purposes, but please enjoy them— I think I told some pretty funny jokes.

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