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  • Writer's pictureUshrayinee

Sweep Viewers off their Feet with Your Next Water-Inspired Piece

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Water surrounds us in our everyday life. About 70 percent of Earth’s surface is made out of water and mirroring this percentage, the amount of water in the human body is around 65 percent. It’s a goal for many to drink eight glasses of water a day. With water being such an indispensable part of our lives, of course, it stands to reason that water can become a part of your art as well. In combination with the hot summer that we’re all experiencing globally along with TERAVARNA’s water art competition approaching, now’s as good a time as any to start contemplating the subject matter.

Water has long been a source of inspiration for artists. One of the most famous works of art, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, a woodblock print by Japanese artist, Hokusai, features water, specifically a wave, centrally, in a spiral of a shape. Most people have had the fortune to have seen some copy or reference to this famous Edo period print, the enormous claw-like wave cresting terrifyingly over three fishing boats that are precariously dwarfed by the size of the oncoming wall of water. In contrast, Mount Fuji is featured placidly in the background of the piece, a fluffy cumulonimbus cloud lazily rising above it.


Water art is a common theme in Japanese artwork, which makes sense as the country is an island surrounded by water; of course, it is an influential element in so much work. Hokusai’s usage of Prussian blue in his pieces, including this one, revolutionized Japanese prints. The Great Wave has inspired many notable Western artists as well, such as Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Claude Debussy.

Another great example of water-themed artwork is seen in Hamonshu: A Japanese Book of Wave and Ripple Designs (1903). Three volumes of this work come together to bring a wide array of wave and ripple designs; references to be used by craftsmen who wish to pay homage to the element of water in their wares and merchandise. These designs were copied onto sword blades and handles, lacquerware, and religious objects, amongst many other uses.


Hamonshu was produced by Japanese artist Mori Yuzan, about whom there exists not much information except that he was from Kyoto and worked in the style of Nihonga.


Water has left its mark in the natural world; look at the formation of the Grand Canyon through millennia of steady beating erosion! Water can make a mark on your artwork as well, the diverse patterns and textures created by the liquid are great places to start getting inspired. Consider reflecting on the different shapes created by water and the references in Hamonshu that Mori Yuzan provided when you complete your pieces for TERAVARNA’s next water art competition.



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