Her First Day

Her First Day Portrait of Kiyono-san on the occasion of her misedashi (debut) as a maiko. 210 x 260 mm. August 2015.

Her First Day
Portrait of Kiyono-san on the occasion of her misedashi (debut) as a maiko.
210 x 260 mm. August 2015.

In March 2013 I took a series of photos of Kiyono-san during her misedashi.  Over two years later I have finally made a drawing from that day.

So what is a misedashi?  It is the very first day that a girl becomes a maiko.  I have only witnessed one misedashi – this one.  Usually a girl is around 16 years old.  She has already spent a year or thereabouts training (and working extremely hard) to get to this point.   Misedashi means ‘open for business’.  From now on she will attend ozashiki and perform her arts – even as she continues to take lessons in all her disciplines.

Do you see that Kiyono-san only has her bottom lip painted?  This is because she is the most junior of maiko.  She won’t paint her top lip until a full year has passed.  And notice how much red is in her collar.  Red symbolizes childhood.  At this early stage of her career she is supposed to look innocent, cute and childlike.  It is not until much later that sophistication starts to creep into her ensemble, make-up and hairstyle.

If you would like to see the photo-essay I made from this day, please see my blog post called “A Girl’s Best Friend“.

A photo from my post "A Girl's Best Friend" in 2013.

A photograph from my post “A Girl’s Best Friend” in 2013.

I named the drawing with Katherine Mansfield’s short story title, “Her First Ball” in mind. The drawing is on Velin BFK Rives paper.  It is the first portrait I have tried on this surface.  I feel, more and more, that Velin BFK Rives is becoming my own best friend. The more I use it, the more I like it.

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8 thoughts on “Her First Day

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      It is the sort of subject (geisha) that however much you DO know, you realise that there is so much more that you don’t know. I’m always learning new things – but then DOH! – I forget them again.

      1. Sue Donze

        Beautifully put. Life at its aesthetic, orderly best. A path walked gradiently and gracefully to full accomplishment. Much like your art, eh?

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I have had the thing happen to me with Rives that I have had with certain people in my life. That is, I have not at first recognized the virtues and possibilities. I was like that when I first met Matthew too. I resisted like mad! Perhaps the Rives will end up being as precious as some of the most precious people in my life. I feel optimistic that this is the case.


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