Young Artist, Old Artist

Satsuki-san Portrait of Satsuki-san in coloured pencils. 285 x 375 mm. August 2014

Portrait of Satsuki-san in coloured pencils. 285 x 375 mm. August 2014

Do you know what ‘gei‘ means?  It means ‘art‘.  A geiko is an arts person.  Maiko and geiko are practitioners of traditional Japanese arts.   (‘Mai‘ of maiko means ‘dance‘.)   When teenage girls start out as shikomi (the first step towards becoming maiko then geiko) they learn to play instruments, sing, dance, study tea ceremony and write calligraphy.  They don’t just learn basic skills and then stop.  For their whole careers they refine and perfect their artistic skills.  Each will find her particular artistic strength, growing and specializing in that one – just like any other artist, just like I do!  Art education is lifelong and artists relentlessly strive for higher levels of understanding and achievement.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been drawing a portrait of Satsuki-san.  She is the ‘young artist’ of this post.  She posed for many photos at the ozashiki I attended on 27th June.  I used one of the photos as reference for my drawing.  It was such a pleasure to see her smiling face each day on my drawing board.

The ‘old artist’ refers to me.  A short promotional film was made for my upcoming exhibition “Life is Beautiful”.  If you have 2:78 minutes to spare, I invite you to view by clicking on this link,  Life is Beautiful – Julie Podstolski .   The film was commissioned by Elements Art Gallery and directed by Mustafa Al Mahdi; co-directed by Bonnie Stewart.

I don’t just love maiko and geiko because they have pretty faces and wear colourful costumes.  There is something essential at the core of their world that I recognize. The heart of their (and my) world is the same; art.

Young artist, old artist Satsuki-san and me. (I am a geijutsuka.)

Young artist, old artist
Satsuki-san and me. (I am a geijutsuka.)

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10 thoughts on “Young Artist, Old Artist

  1. Melanie

    It really is more than just their beautiful faces and costumes, but having said that, this portrait does embody all the beauty, elegance and youthfulness of the lovely Satsuki-san. I love the delicate pencil work on her face.
    They have to work so hard at their art, with determination and discipline, which is something I admire greatly. I’d certainly like to be more disciplined with my own art.
    Such a lovely photo of the two of you together as well.

  2. Ann Kullberg

    Oh wow. Julie, I absolutely love, love, love this one. Incredible. I just love the simple humbleness of the old-fashioned paper “uchiwa” (fan) contrasting with the refined opulance of her silk fabrics, ornaments and obi, etc. And your post is so beautifully written….


    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Thanks, Ann. So ‘uchiwa’ is the word for fan. Thanks for that. I’ll write it down somewhere. I got to keep the uchiwa Satsuki is holding. Yay! It is in my studio where I can see it every day.

  3. occasionalartist

    Lovely post Julie, and I really enjoyed the promotional video. You have done such a great job in describing the essence of your work. It is so important for people to see the beauty that surrounds us. To enjoy the simple things and to make the simple things beautiful. Karen

  4. anna warren portfolio

    I always learn something from your posts – there is always something behind what you choose to draw, its not just a pretty picture, and that gives an added depth to the image. This is a beautiful one, a simple pose imbued with meaning.


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