Surfing ‘The Great Wave Off Kanagawa’

For Stephs Birthday Card 2011, I decided to take one of her favourite pieces of artwork and try to give it another dimension. After some toing and froing, looking at possible pop-up options, I opted for a decoupage version of Hokusai’s Great Wave.

Stephs card

‘Under The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ or ‘The Great Wave’ was a woodblock print, created sometime around the year 1830 by the Japanese artist Hokusai for his series ’36 views of Mount Fuji’. It is his greatest work and arguably the most famous piece of Japanese Art. Using the subtle blue & earthy colour scheme in contrast with the black inked outlines Hokusai delivered a picture of conflicting calm and power. The eye is drawn from right to left, following the wave in almost the opposite direction to its movement.  The eye finally follows the natural curve of the large wave which hangs motionless in time waiting to crash. Mount Fuji which has to this point been a background item, now becomes framed threateningly under the wave. In a Father Dougal moment, the mind wonders whether this wave is so big to engulf Fuji itself. But perspective is brought back to reality with the boats fighting the tide. It is a stunning piece.

Decoupage is not my favourite paper activity. There are far too many quant chocolate box examples of this art form and I was determined that this wouldn’t be one of them. Made from only 3 copies of the print. One version in its entirety formed the back drop. The great wave (and everything below) was a fiddly job to cut out of the second print. Whilst the third print provided the middle wave and boats. I had realised I could have added a fourth level with the smaller wave at front (but this possibly would have been too much). The Japanese nameplate was cut-out from a scrap piece. Each piece was placed carefully in place by adhesive separators giving depth to every layer. When the light is right the shadows of the raised wave add more threat and drama.

I could have left it there, but I wanted to add a bit of fun (it is a birthday card after all). A non-permanent element of a Penguin surfing was decided, a small cartoon printed onto card with a simple clip attachment.  The penguin can then be attached to any part of the wave or not as required. Why a Penguin? Its Stephs favourite animal and besides this penguin has history, appearing before in a previous pop-up which I’m sure will be discussed later. But for now, SURFS UP….


2 comments on “Surfing ‘The Great Wave Off Kanagawa’

  1. ozge says:

    It is so beautiful CRAZY:)

  2. […] friend. Basically I wanted to create a heart shaped iceberg on a blue sea with the Penguin (last seen surfing the Kanagawa wave). A piece of almost turquoise card was cut creating a card 100cm square […]

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