Blue Angel

Blue Angel Portrait of Satohana of Kamishichiken, Kyoto.  345 x 485 mm.  May, 2014.

Blue Angel
Portrait in coloured pencils and crayons of Satohana of Kamishichiken, Kyoto. 345 x 485 mm. May, 2014.

I can’t go for too many months without drawing a maiko or geiko (geisha).  The last one was finished in September 2013 – so – time for another.  I try to be restrained but I continue to sprinkle a few throughout each year because I can’t help it!  I drew a portrait of Satohana last year (“Waiting“) and it was intended for my up-coming exhibition in September 2014.  However late last year it sold so I embarked on another portrait of her a couple of weeks ago; not from the same photo of course, as I had taken several of her.  This time I used crayon within the composition so it has a different texture to the first portrait which had been entirely coloured pencils.  In fact this is the first time I have used crayon within a maiko or geiko drawing.

I called the drawing “Blue Angel” as the name has an other-worldly suggestion to it.  Seeing a maiko or geiko, a friend who visited Kyoto wrote to me, is like coming across a unicorn.  She is such a rare and glorious sight, enveloped in mystery, materializing as if from another dimension.  I also use ‘blue’ in the context of mood.  Satohana looks introspective as she waits outside the theatre after the Kamishichiken spring dance she had just performed in.   The combination of atmosphere, profile, downcast eyes, hair accessory (kanzashi), white face and black hair reminds me of the piece of New York street art I drew in January 2014 called “Low”.   Both pensive subjects are ‘contained’; framed within their stylized clothes and blue-grey environments.

Low A drawing of New York street art from January, 2014.

Low
A drawing of New York street art from January, 2014.

Did I think of geisha when this street art ‘spoke’ to me last August in New York?  Not at all.   It was only when coming across Satohana in my photo file recently that I made a connection.

To jog your memory if you were reading my posts last year, or to introduce you if you weren’t, here is another drawing of Satohana.  She was waiting for a family group in the top drawing.  She was very relieved and joyous when they finally emerged from the theatre.  In “Rare View” she is walking away with (perhaps) her little sister.  Because I had never seen a maiko holding hands with a child before, I called the drawing “Rare View”.  I was playing with similar-sounding words because this is also a ‘rear view’.

Rare View The title of this drawing is a play on words as this IS a rare view, but it is also a rear view.

Rare View
Coloured pencil drawing, 2013.

The two drawings are identical in size.  They would make a lovely pair.  Perth people will see them at Elements Art Gallery in September.

Return to Contents of Posts page           Related posts:  Rare View        Low       Waiting

About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
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11 Responses to Blue Angel

  1. Absolutely stunning drawing, Julie! I love how your writing brings the entire scene to life.

  2. You are so right about the connection with the girl in Low – it could be the same girl in two, so different, cultures. The universality of expression and composition! But more than that, it is the pose, the hair ornament and most of all the pensive expression (although Low goes beyond pensive, with a teardrop appearing). And you are right, the two drawings of Satohana would make a perfect pair, both lovely pieces. On a technical note, when you say ‘crayon’ is this oil pastel? (Growing up in the UK we called coloured pencils crayons, but here it generally seems to refer to the wax crayons children use, and I can’t imagine it is those!)

    • Anna, the ‘crayon’ is Neocolor II Watersoluble wax pastel (used without water), also Neopastel oil pastel, both artist quality, made by Caran d’Ache. Yes – I probably shouldn’t have used the word ‘crayon’. That’s how I think of them though. (They are both shown on my Art Materials page on the blog.)
      Actually, there isn’t a teardrop on “Low”. What may look like a teardrop is a crease in the paste-up. I even draw in creases, you see, when I draw paste-up street art. The paste-up girl’s eyelashes are rather stylized so it may also be those which look teardrop-y.

      • Ah, yes, you have mentioned these pastels before, and I have probably asked the same question! I just looked again at “Low” – I see now what I thought were teardrops are stylised lashes, but I think the implication of teardrops still works, it is such a despairing image. The Blue Angel isn’t despairing though, just thoughtful.

    • I like melancholia, Anna, in all its shades from thoughtful to despair. It is such a part of life…and there is some kind of beauty in sadness…sometimes.

  3. I still love “Rare View” as one of my favorite maiko/geiko images that you’ve done ❤

    It's so sad to know that Satohana is now gone; maybe it fits with the mood of your latest image?

    • Clearly I haven’t been following the news from the hanamachi lately, Justine. I didn’t know that Satohana quit. Thanks so much for telling me. You’re right, the fact that she quit and the mood of my drawing fit together.

  4. Robyn Varpins says:

    this exquisitely rendered strange sculptural creature….she is such a distorted figure with all that delicious fabric draped and tucked around her…which she holds with such poise….she is so much like poetry….not quite human….that I can’t write in sentences

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