Maneki Hello Kitty

Today I’d like to share with you a painting I made in my second Nihonga Japanese Watercolor workshop! I attended the first one as well, and both workshops involved mounting special Japanese washi paper on a wooden frame, then carefully applying gold or silver leaf on top and painting over it. In the first workshop, I used silver leaf and painted a cute Rabbit in the Moon theme. Gold leaf was however chosen for the second workshop for variety.

Hello Kitty Theme Again!

And being an avid Hello Kitty fan, I was keen to paint Hello Kitty but with a traditionally Japanese flair. A Maneki-neko Lucky Cat theme was further chosen because in addition to Hello Kitty’s I enjoy collecting these Lucky Cats too. So why not combine both? I then googled for an appropriate image and printed it.

Preparing the Painting

Placing the gold leaf and gluing it on the paper is no easy task. We use tongs for picking a sheet out of the box then carefully and slowly placing it on the mounted paper on which there is a thin layer of Nikawa, an animal protein based adhesive binder. It takes a few attempts and layers till it’s evenly covered. But this time, I got it done quickly and cleanly. Perhaps practice makes (almost) perfect or it was just my lucky day! Once I coated the surface with the Nikawa and let it dry, I traced my drawing with red carbon copy sheet.

Painting Kitty

This was the least difficult part. Making the paints involves mixing the powdered pigments with Nikawa (the animal protein binder) and blending it in a small dish with the index finger before adding a few drops of water.  The result is a rather opaque and thick texture, richly pigmented due to the pigments being based from natural minerals like shells. I started with white then worked my way through other colours like yellow, red and black. A few layers were needed to make the colours strong and even. And now look how cute she is!

I enjoyed the two workshops and would definitely like to do more paintings like this. What made it more exciting was the Hello Kitty! From time to time, I like including her in my artwork. I’ll definitely be doing more. And of course I’d like to attend more Nihonga workshops like this again!

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