Portrait of Satsuki September 2015 28 x 28 cm.

“Coiffed” – a portrait of Satsuki in coloured pencils
September 2015
28 x 28 cm.

In February 2015 I was able to take some photos of Satsuki while she talked to a small collie dog in Gion.  (“Thank you, Little Dog, for being there and for causing Satsuki to stop in her tracks.”)  From my photos I sourced the composition for my drawing “Coiffed”.

Looking at the drawing, do you notice that the black semi-circular shape painted on the wooden panel echoes the shape of Satsuki’s head, hair and kanzashi?  The panel’s wood-grain lines call to mind elegant strands of hair.  Circular and semi-circular shapes repeat throughout the composition. These elements all up to tell a story of not just a ‘good hair day’ but a spectacular hair day.

One of the photographs I took during this brief interchange between Satsuki and collie dog.

One of the photographs I took during this brief interchange between Satsuki and collie dog.

“Coiffed” showcases the ‘sakkou‘ hairstyle, worn for just two weeks before an erikae (a maiko’s transition to geiko).  In my earlier drawing “Jewel” (below) you can see Satsuki’s hairstyle from behind.

"Jewel" Coloured pencils. May 2015 28 x 28 cm.

Coloured pencils. May 2015 28 x 28 cm.

The final portrait is of Satsuki as I saw her in June 2014.  The pastel colours of the 2014 portrait have been replaced in “Coiffed” by striking and sophisticated black, white and red – colours of formality and celebration.

Satsuki-san 28 x 37 cm. August 2014.

28 x 37 cm. August 2014.

Now I shall take a small break from drawing to return to Kyoto for some more photography.


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15 thoughts on “Coiffed

  1. Jeannie

    The green ornament in Satsuki’s hair in “Portrait of Satsuki” has a look of pine needles – is that what the ornament is intended to represent? I hope so. I was wondering whether pine trees are revered in Japan and have a special meaning for the Japanese.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Jeannie, I just had a quick look at Japanese symbolism on line. Seems that both cranes (there are cranes in the kanzashi) and pine needles (yes you were right about pine needles) represent longevity. Cranes mate for life so represent marital fidelity so are often motifs on wedding kimono. They are birds which live a very long time and are said to live 1000 years – which is also the supposed life of pine trees. (We know they don’t really live that long.) I read “Pine trees stay green all winter and therefore represent faithfulness. They grow to be large, ancient trees and symbolize strength, longevity and the wisdom associated with a long life.” I believe these ideas originated in ancient China and were transported across to Japan.
      Thanks for alerting me to the title under the drawing. That was supposed to be “Coiffed”- a portrait of Satsuki. I’ve fixed that now.

      1. Jeannie

        Julie, thanks for such an informative, helpful reply. On looking at the kanzashi more carefully I can now recognise the cranes; and really like their significance in Japanese culture and the idea of the cranes and pines living to 1000 years.
        I’ve recently come to appreciate the beauty of pines used in bonsai and must find out more about that art form.
        Thanks again, Julie, and have a wonderful trip.

  2. Robyn Varpins

    That hair is spectacular indeed. Such a beautiful composition and with a lot of movement. And such a beauty. Perfect balance of restrained colour and intense bursts of colour….very Japanese.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I’m so glad you say “very Japanese”, Robyn. I thought the composition had a particularly Japanese aesthetic too. I think it is the dark painted shape on the right which gives it that certain something.

  3. anna warren portfolio

    An interesting angle to see Satsuki from – although we know she is looking down at the little dog, it is a contemplative pose, almost reverential. The colours that appear in the shadows are beautiful, and my eye keeps going to the flash of colours at bottom right. A very nice balance!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      “Contemplative, almost reverential” – how lovely that the work translates this way – and yes, I see exactly what you mean. There is a quiet dignity, isn’t there, in Satsuki’s tilted head and facial expression. It is like she is part of something bigger than herself – which she is: tradition.

  4. Deana

    I love your work! To have an opportunity to find and photograph such beautiful material for CP. I would love to do this! Thank you for sharing. 😊

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I don’t know how moral I am, Deana, as I “take” photos of these women without asking them. Then I draw them. On some level I am stealing their likenesses. I tell myself I do it for art.


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