This project is a tribute to the six weeks I spent in Europe (four weeks in Spain and two in Italy) in the summer of 2016. Armed with over 2,000 photos, dozens of sketches and millions of memories, I endeavored to assemble a taste of each country through various styles of drawing in order to bring about a flavor for each country. Using a design inspiration from the great Japanese wood block artist Katsushika Hokusai, who is probably best know for his The Great Wave off Kanagawa print, my '36 Views' are a direct nod to the series Hokusai did in the early 1820’s-30’s of “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” in which he drew Mt. Fuji from a multitude of perspectives, seasons, activities, and locations. So taken was he with Mt. Fuji and so successful were his 36 prints that Hokusai added another ten making the project known as the “The Thirty-six plus Ten Views of Mt. Fuji.” Then he realized that there could be an infinite number of views of Mt. Fuji and he completed one hundred more. Hokusai eventually took on pupils with his most accomplished disciple, Utagawa Hiroshige, completing his own collection of “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” in the 1850’s. The simple compositions, delicate detailing, and basic colorings of all of these Japanese prints became inspirations for many an artist. Claud Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Vincent Van Gogh are among the famous that claim to have studied these prints; and Cindy Helms decided to as well. Ideas for compositions, level of detailing and colorings stem from the lessons learned by combing through these prints. However, that is the extent of the connection because it wouldn’t do to make Spain and Italy look like Japan; nor a Helms like a Hokusai.
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Sample: 36 Views of Spain
In Spain I was acutely aware of the smashing together of a multitude of centuries, cultures, styles, one on top of the other. Spain, over the years, has accepted everything and kept it all side by side. There is a church from the year 500 next to a fountain from 1980, next to a market place from 1500 next to a subway station entrance from 2014. It is a country trying to be modern, but stuck with an old fashioned economy. They are trying to be a solidified people but continue to fight civil unrest and decide how to handle the endless stream of refugees and immigrants. They love the modern touch, but can’t resist traditional elements. It is this swirl of energy that I wanted to capture in my own 36 Views of Spain. I also include a variety of styles because I believe Spain is a multi-genre county.
Sample: 36 Views of Italy
For Italy my impression was that the country as a whole feels very comfortable with who they are and with their vast history. They are not so worried about where they are going or what will become of them. They are ancient, traditional, classic and proudly content. They take time to appreciate the finer things — be they fancy, elegant and sophisticated like high heels, fashionable suits and leather accessories, or common place and everyday like coffee, salt and cheese. They are willing to indulge in flowers and seek to decorate even the back alleys of the poorer neighborhoods with window planter boxes. The 36 Views of Italy are more contained and consistent in style because Italy seemed to be a more contained and consistent country than Spain. Most striking to my eye was the attention paid to details from tiles, to drain pipes, to flower pots, Italians care about how their surroundings are designed.