Hiroshige Woodblock Inspiration

Ando Hiroshige was a remarkable Japanese artist (1797-1858) who created beautiful woodblock prints. One of his most iconic series of prints was "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo". Here is “View from Massaki of Suijin Shrine, Uchigawa Inlet, and Sekiya”, 1857.

Hiroshige Woodblock Print View from Massaki of Suijin Shrine
Hiroshige Woodblock Print View from Massaki of Suijin Shrine

Jean has always appreciated Hiroshige’s creative use of colour and his ability to combine minimalist designs with detailed patterns.

The painting below inspired Jean to create a view framed with a spring cherry blossom. (“Cherry Blossom View” – 2021)

Cherry Blossom View Through Round Window Jean Tori 2021
Cherry Blossom View Through Round Window Jean Tori 2021

Another Hiroshige woodblock print from the "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo" collection is “Asakusa Rice Fields and Torinomachi Festival”. Another example of Hiroshige’s style of choosing an unusual vantage point while depicting every day scenes.

Hiroshige Woodblock Print Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival
Hiroshige Woodblock Print Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival

This artistic idea of having a unique viewpoint influenced Jean’s creation and illustration of the “Window Wizard” for our children’s book The Wizards and the Whale. And instead of a cat looking out onto the landscape, alongside the wizard there are sheep – a bit of tongue-in-cheek.

Window Wizard Jean Tori 2019
Window Wizard Jean Tori 2019

Hiroshige was also a master storyteller who appreciated the seasons. His woodblock print, “Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake”, portrays an everyday scene filled with extraordinary details.

Hiroshige Woodblock Print Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake

The above print was the inspiration behind Jean’s bridge in our children’s book Leo’s Birthday Adventure. Jean loved the shape and design of Hiroshige’s bridge, and it was the ideal element to connect the animals arriving on Bird Island for Leo’s birthday party.

Bridge design in Leo's Birthday Adventure by Jean Tori
Bridge design in Leo's Birthday Adventure by Jean Tori

“View of Mount Fuji from Satta Point in the Suruga Bay” is another woodblock print from Hiroshige’s "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo". These woodblock prints represented views and experiences based on Hiroshige’s travels.

Hiroshige Woodblock Print Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival
Hiroshige Woodblock Print Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival

Often when Jean sees artwork that speaks to her, she ‘archives’ the image internally and it emerges when she’s creating. The above vertical waves in movement were a source of ideas for Jean’s “Windy Wizard” painting. And what better inspiration for a journeying wizard.

Portrait Windy Wizard by Jean Tori 2020
Portrait Windy Wizard by Jean Tori 2020

For more about Jean's artwork visit www.jeantoriartwork.com

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