Art on Tuesday: Water Lilies

Water lilies painted by Ohara Koson 小原 古邨 (1877-1945) ca. 1920. Ohara is known for his woodblock paintings often showing birds, fishes, trees, flowers and landscape motifs in different variations. He made several pictures of lotus and water lilies, which are very beautiful. Look at Art on Tuesday: Lotus.

Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston.


Art on Tuesday: Goldfish


These two lovely goldfish were painted by Ohara Kôson 小原 古邨 (1877-1945). They are swimming in a pond, in the back you see some lotus leaves and  three buds. A goldfish 金魚 (kingyo) is a symbol of good fortune, wealth and prosperity in China and Japan. This is a motif Koson painted several times with different backgrounds. I like the transparent water-color and the easy movements. It is not very spectacular, but  has a calming effect.

Magpie and Magnolia


Today’s post is showing a picture of Ohara Koson (小原古邨 1877ー1945). This time it is an azure-winged magpie on a magnolia tree. The blossoms are white and pink, which represents youth and innocence. The bird is a beautiful yet common bird in Japan. They are called onaga, meaning long-tail (cyanopica cyanus). Koson painted it approximately in 1931.

Art on Tuesday: Bluebird and Magnolia


Ohara Koson 小原 古邨 (1877-1945) is known for his paintings of nature, mainly birds and flowers. This is a woodblock print of a lovely bluebird sitting on a branch of a magnolia tree in full bloom. I like the way he painted both the flower and the bird. The picture has an atmosphere of spring and gives hope for a prospering future. The Japanese word for magnolia is honoki  朴の木 . It symbolizes the love of nature. It is also a medicinal plant and therefore stands for health and healing.

Art on Tuesday: Rainy Season


From the beginning of June to the middle of July it is rainy season  in Japan, it is called tsuyu 梅雨, literally meaning plum rain. Although it is not always comfortable to be outside, there are some nice paintings showing the rain from an artist’s perspective. Enjoy the rain!

From left to right:

Torii Kotondo 鳥居言人 (1900-1976): Rain, 1929.

Kawase Hasui 川瀬 巴水 (1883-1957): Rain in a Town, 1930.

Ohara Koson 小原 古邨 (1877-1945): Two Girls with Umbrella Caught in a Sudden Shower, 1930.

Art on Tuesday: Lotus

The lotus flower is not only decorative, but a very important symbol. It is to be seen in the ukiyo-e of the Japanese painter Ohara Kôson (1877-1945) very often. He is a specialist of kacho-e, Japanese pictures of flowers and animals.

Botanically speaking it is the Indian Lotus Flower (nelumbo nucifera), which is a botanical family of its own and one must not confuse it with a water-lily, which is often to be seen in garden ponds. It has it’s origin in China and is to be found in India and South East Asia, also at the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and in Mexico.

The lotus is a holy flower and a symbol for purity, perfection, divine birth and the way of the Buddha. It represents the abstract and the concrete universe, the spiritual and the physical nature as the symbol of engendering forces.

The seeds of the lotus contain perfectly formed leaves. They are small pictures of what will be an accomplished plant one day. This shows the fact that the spiritual prototypes of all things exist in the immaterial world before they are embodied on earth.

The lotus root sitting in the mud represents the material life. The rising stem stands for the astral world, and the flower, which is floating over the water opening itself towards the sky, means spiritual being.

It is growing in the mud. The blossoms are not swimming on the water compared to water-lilies, but reside over the water’s surface. The flower itself is pure, because it is capable to overcome the mud.

Many pictures and statues show Buddha sitting on a lotus flower in the so-called lotus position. If a man is capable to pursue a goal, which is higher than himself and therefore transcends the banality of every day life, then he will be capable to prosper and to show his inner beauty.

The lotus is also a symbol of love as the flowers are able to wind to each other. Red lotus stands for passion and devotion, white for purity of mind and spirit, pink for the highest divinity, blue for wisdom and sageness.