Visual Adventure: A Digital Study of Hokusai’s Wave

The movement in Hokusai’s iconic painting, The Great Wave off Kanazawa, has given our eyes a workout for decades. The presence of its several prints in Western collections (the Met and British Museum included) have allowed folks on my side of the globe the pleasure of accessing its foreboding beauty. Normally I wouldn’t deign to emulate a painting which has such pull in pop culture, but the image is too irresistible (and I’m learning here, okay?).

Sourcing the image, I etched in the main elements of the great wave itself, but decided to go microcosmic with the lines and details (truly giving it ‘The Sam Treatment’). I asked myself: How do I inject this moving image with even more movement? How do I emphasize the undercurrents and underbellies of a massive wave? And: How do I make it mine while maintaining an homage to the original artist and piece (as I’ve seen many commercial artists do with Warhol, Munch, and Dali)? This here, with single-colour lines, multicoloured dots of varying sizes, and a hot-red sun, is the result.

The programs/materials I used were: the Hokusai image, Adobe Draw (2 pens), Adobe Sketch (watercolour function), Apple Pencil, and the iPad.

Below you’ll find other incarnations. It’s amazing to see how the image is transformed by shifting the watercolour palette (including one sourced right from a 1990s track suit).

Draw on, people! And thank you, Hokusai, for being part of this week’s drawing adventure.

-SM

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