Decorative Japanese Wall Painting Techniques

by Kristy Ambrose
Japanese wall painting includes techniques that integrate Zen philosophy.

Japanese wall painting includes techniques that integrate Zen philosophy.

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Decorative art in Japan has been influenced by the clean lines and artistic simplicity of Zen Buddhism as well as the busy romanticism of Western masters. These traditions influence decorative Japanese wall painting, which includes the art of mimicking the look and texture of certain fabrics. Don't be intimidated by factors like price or complexity, as the materials to reproduce these designs are available in most home improvement stores and the techniques are simple and straightforward.

The Look of Silk

The look and texture of both raw and refined silk is a common design feature of decorative Japanese wall painting. It`s easy to paint sections of a wall, room divider or sliding door panels to have this refined, polished look. Simply paint a heavy layer of paint with a medium-sized brush using straight up and down strokes. Switch to a larger, dry brush and use the same up and down strokes to give the thick layer of paint some deeper lines. If you want to have a more raw look to your silk, use the bigger brush to make more, thicker lines.

Bamboo and Other Natural Elements

Bamboo is a plant that appears often in many Asian painting techniques. Bamboo, as well as many other plants and flowers, appears in decorative Japanese wall painting techniques as stencils, freehand drawings or part of a landscape scene decorating a paper room divider or sliding door. The simplicity and grace of bamboo`s form makes it a very forgiving shape to draw or trace from a stencil. If you feel more ambitious, other favorite Japanese flower patterns include cherry blossoms, orange flowers and lotuses.

Scrolls and Wall Hangings

The western practice of hanging a framed painting on a wall did not reach Japan until the late 1800s. Before this European tradition was introduced, the walls of Japanese homes were decorated with horizontal scrolls called "emakimono" and vertical scrolls called "kakemono." Emakimono are painted to be viewed from right to left and tell a story like a European tapestry. Kakemono are more like conventional paintings, consisting of a single scene or phrase and hung by a string on the wall.

Folding Screens

Called "byobu" in Japanese and imported from China in the 7th century, folding screens were historically only used in big indoor spaces like temples and castles. These large, flat spaces became a favorite venue for Japanese artists to create busy, epic scenes to decorate their walls. As the merchant class rose during the Edo period, these screens and their designs became more popular fixtures in private homes. Decorative screens are presently used in response to practical problems like the use of space and need for privacy.

About the Author

Kristy Ambrose enjoys writing about teaching, travel and pet care. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Victoria.

Photo Credits

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