Updated: Aug 13, 2020
A little story about my painting and this wonderful piece of Japanese art history, Gekkoso.
Painting is one of the true joys of my life. It gives me so much peace and every painting is an unfolding adventure. From a simple thought or feeling, I see it take form in beauty and wonder. I live it.
Before a painting finds a new home, I love to sit with it and really get to know it. They always speak to me in some way and often have layers that can be perceived by others too.
Probably like any artist, I could do it more often. Once I start, I sometimes wonder why I waited so long. A Teacher of mine had suggested I paint some years before I did my first one, which was in 2003. I remember going into that eclectic store which had a mixture of various supplies and was also a costume warehouse of some kind suitable for buying all sorts of things for dressing up. I loved the engagement I felt as I explored the aisles and also, the chats I had with others as they did the same.
In Tokyo, I found the big well known places which had ample to choose from but it has been the smaller shops where I felt more at home. One particular shop happens to be the oldest paint shop in Tokyo. They make their own paint and the shop has a sweet feeling to it. I like the feeling of the canvas/frame combo and like to beat it like a Japanese Drum (Taiko) a few times before I commence with painting.
Let me share a little about this historic shop with information extracted from their homepage.
Gekkoso, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan (Est.1917)
Born in 1894, Hyomoto Hyozo started his working life as a mailman and then proceeded to study calligraphy. Forming a deep and lasting friendship with Poet Tetsukan Yosano and his wife Akiko san respectively, they often gathered together with artists and soldiers and had wonderful discussions.
Noting local dissatisfaction with art supplies, Hyozo imported paints and used his mailman skills to deliver them personally.The first shop was established in Kakuhaku, Shinjuku, Tokyo in 1917. It was opened with song and poetry and Hyozo became known as Gekkoso Oyagi or Gekkoso Uncle. A name he developed to show his undying gratitude to his friends.
During war time, the Government was pushing researchers to master cobalt for weapons. But it was Hyozo, reading texts from cover to cover and experimenting greatly, who was able to create the first ever paint produced in Japan. It was Cobalt Blue, (1940). The development was so remarkable, some doubted it was possible.
During war time, the Government was pushing researchers to master cobalt for weapons. But it was Hyozo, reading texts from cover to cover and experimenting greatly, who was able to create the first ever paint produced in Japan, (1940). The development was so remarkable, some doubted it was possible. Cobalt was created for art, not war!
The creativity continued and Gekkoso Pink, created in 1960, won 1st Prize in the 1971 World Colours Competition. At the time it was announced as a miracle to have such a paint produced outside France.
Since 2006, Gekkoso has been in its current modern home in Ginza, Tokyo, and it maintains the warmth and character of its beloved founder and the poets, artists and soldiers that all are part of this wonderful tapestry.