Utagawa Toyohiro : Four Accomplishments, No. 2

Overview Artist Biography Planning Ahead Materials & Setup Class Discussion Project Directions Reflections Downloads & Resources Docent Forum

Overview

Here is a link to the gallery that currently holds this piece: Freer Gallery of Art

Four Accomplishments, No. 2 early 19th c., block print on silk, 25 in. x 10.25 in. Freer Gallery, Washington D.C., USA

In this lesson, students will:

  • Analyze Toyohiro’s Four Accomplishments, No. 2 and learn about Japanese art and calligraphy
  • Identify vertical and diagonal lines, foreground and background
  • Find trees, screens, calligraphy, and repeated patterns
  • Sketch trees
  • Print with corks and sponges
  • Create tree screens using color to show seasons

Lesson Teaching Notes

A document of summary pages on the lesson’s Key Concepts, Vocabulary, Discussion Questions, Artist Points, and Project Directions.

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Materials and Setup

Materials List
  • paper for sketching
  • 9×24 or 4.25×11 (half-sheet) white paper
  • 9×24 or 5×11 (half sheet) black paper (optional)
  • drawing pencil
  • palette or paper plate
  • black marker
  • cork
  • sponge piece
  • stamp pad or non-toxic paint: green, yellow, red, white, brown
  • glue

Pictures of Trees

Setup Directions
  • Cover work surface.
  • Set out sketch paper, drawing pencil, and pictures of trees in each season.
  • Have ready white paper.
  • Set out the palette with 2 tablespoons brown paint or brown stamp pad and cork.
  • Have ready damp sponge piece and red, white, green, and yellow paint or stamp pads for the other seasons. Add colors to palettes one at a time before painting each season.
  • Have ready buckets of water and towels for cleanup.
Variations
  • Take a tree walk and air draw the trunk and branches of a tree. Look at different types of trees and notice the different angles of branches and tree trunks.
  • Fold the screen into a rectangular lantern by gluing the two open ends together. Sharpen the creases to make four corners. Attach yarn at the top to hang it by.
  • To simplify project for younger students: Premix the paints. Lightly draw a simple tree and branches for students to print on.
  • To extend project for older students: Print with a variety of objects. Use sticks and twigs to print the trunks. Use small objects, such as Q-tips, fingertips, erasers, foam pieces, or stamps, to print the tree canopies.

Photos of Setup

Class Discussion

What are the Japanese women in this picture doing?
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Purpose

A Japanese woman wearing a black kimono, or dress, is learning to play a koto, a zither-like instrument. A woman wearing a red kimono is in the other room, playing a board game. The Japanese artist, Toyohiro, shows these women practicing skills that were considered important for women in Japan. They sit on tatami mats in two rooms with a shoji screen, or moveable wall, between them. A tree is painted on the screen. A real tree is outside in the garden. It must be spring.

Where did the artist use calligraphy to tell the story?
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Purpose - Calligraphy

Above the doorway is a small panel with calligraphy, or beautiful writing. The graceful Japanese calligraphy brushstrokes represent a poem that celebrates spring. More calligraphy is written directly on the floorboards in the lower right corner. This could be written either by the artist or by the painting’s owner. The red stamp is a signature. The artist painted this work to show the importance of the arts. Calligraphy is also an art in Japan.

How do colors make us notice things in the picture?
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Color - Warm/Cool/Contrast

The warm red color makes us notice the woman playing a game, and the red clothing and hair ornaments make us notice the women playing the koto. A red lobster is on the dinner tray, red is on the koto, pink blossoms are on the tree, and red calligraphy tells about the painting. The golden color of the tatami mats adds warmth to the background.

Cool white is in the women’s faces and hands, on the white table cloth, and blossoms on the flowering tree at the top of the painting. Cool green accents on the kimonos add contrast. What color is not used?

The color red contrasts with the plain colors of the tatami mats that cover the floor. White contrasts with the background. Black contrasts with the other colors.

Which women are most important?
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Design - Emphasis/Pattern

The artist emphasizes one woman the most, making her larger and placing her in the foreground. Her kimono is more detailed and more colorful than that of the others. The bright red color of the kimonos emphasizes the importance of the women wearing them. The women wearing gray and brown kimonos are the teachers; they wear simpler clothing.

All the kimonos are decorated with repeated patterns of flowers. Silk bands frame the painting with decorative patterns. A bird with circular wings is repeated on the large patterned background. Vine shapes and leaves decorate the small silk strips at the top and bottom of the painting.

How do we know that some people and objects are farther away?
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Landscape - Foreground/Middle ground/Background

The two women in the middle ground are partly overlapped and hidden by the screen. They overlap the door to the outside, and their colors are brighter than the colors of the outside landscape.

A tree in the background has less detail and color than the figures or the flowers on the screen because they appear far away.

How do lines make our eyes move around the picture?
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Line - Vertical/Diagonal

The painting itself is tall and vertical. In the center is the edge of a screen that makes a vertical line and its door frame is a vertical line. The edge of the door to the outside makes a vertical line. The figures sit vertically, and the trees and flowers grow vertically.

We see the room from a diagonal. The tatami mats make diagonal lines in opposite directions. The shoji screens move on diagonal lines. The large woman looks diagonally across at her teacher. The game table in the back room sits at a diagonal. Diagonal lines are common in Japanese art.

How does Toyohiro show that some things are closer than others?
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Space - Placement

The two women in the foreground are bigger than the other women because they appear closer to us. They have more color and detail than objects in the background.

The women playing the koto appear closer because they are larger and placed near the bottom of the picture. The women in the middle ground appear farther away because they are smaller, and placed higher in the painting. The tree in the background is placed near the top of the painting and it appears farther away.

Download Discussion Questions
Download Key Concepts

Video

Project Directions

Tree Screen Printing

Directions

Warm up and Brainstorm

  • Talk about the vertical lines of trees. Vertical lines give a sense of stillness. Have students stand stiffly with their arms against their sides to feel the stillness and rigidity of vertical lines.
  • Talk about branches. Talk about the diagonal lines of branches and how branches move. Hold arms out like branches and wave them. Feel the motion of diagonal lines. Show how a body and arms resemble a tree. Show how a hand and arm resemble a vertical tree trunk with spreading branches.
  • Talk about trees throughout the year. What do trees look like in the spring, summer, fall, and winter? What colors represent each season? Why will winter’s tree be left bare?

Project Directions

  1. Sketch a tree.
  2. Print seasonal trees on screen. Use Pictures of Trees as guide. Use the side of a cork to paint.
  3. Print vertical brown tree trunks with diagonal branches in each section. Use the cork at different angles to get different thicknesses.
  4. Print pink flowers in first section, on the first tree. Use varying shades of pink. This tree represents spring.
  5. Print green leaves on second tree to represent summer.
  6. Print red and yellow leaves in third section to represent fall. Mix red and yellow to get orange leaves.
  7. Leave fourth tree bare to represent winter.
  8. Print a calligraphy stamp.
  9. Stand paper up by folding it back and forth like a fan to display sections.
Tips
  • Use separate sponges for each color.
  • Pass out colors one at a time, taking away the each color before setting out the next one.
  • Students may stand up to do this project
Variations
  • Take a tree walk and air draw the trunk and branches of a tree. Look at different types of trees and notice the different angles of branches and tree trunks.
  • Fold the screen into a rectangular lantern by gluing the two open ends together. Sharpen the creases to make four corners. Attach yarn at the top to hang it by.
  • To simplify project for younger students: Premix the paints. Lightly draw a simple tree and branches for students to print on.
  • To extend project for older students: Print with a variety of objects. Use sticks and twigs to print the trunks. Use small objects, such as Q-tips, fingertips, erasers, foam pieces, or stamps, to print the tree canopies.

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Student Gallery

Reflections

  • Look for examples of patterns made with vertical and diagonal lines in the trees and branches.
  • Notice ways in which you created different trees using the same print method.
  • Describe how painting with a cork creates a different look than painting with a brush.
  • Show how you mixed red and yellow to create orange. Find examples of orange in other students’ artwork.
  • Tell how you used the printing process to create a seasonal screen.

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