I found my tutor quite helpful with my dissertation and at the start of our first tutorial I found myself quite unprepared , I have always struggled with essays and writing a ten thousand plus essay was quite daunting. I felt quite relieved when I handed in my introduction as a starting point, for me this was quite important as he found no issue with my chosen question of How did the impressionists adopt and respond to the artwork by Japanese printmakers? I did change this later on to ‘How did the impressionists adopt and respond to the artwork produced by Japanese Printmakers?’
We also discussed points that I made from mentioning the colour Prussian Blue, which was imported from Europe to Japan. It became very popular in the East as it was a new colour, which Hokusai and Hiroshige often used in their prints. It was difficult but I located the information that a chemist named Johann Jacob Diesbach invented it in 1704.
I found it difficult to choose specific images to compare and contrast. I thought there was a danger that I would begin to repeat myself, but I found this to be untrue because I had a lot of reference material and information to explore and use in my essay. I found useful information in books and articles held on the Cardiff Metropolitan electronic library. The physical library maintained a good collection of books on Impressionism and my sister owns a large personal library that contains a lot of books on various aspects of Eastern culture and society.
I tried to find images of Impressionist styled paintings that interested me, that had similarities to Japanese themes and motifs common to Japanese culture and society such as Degas nudes of ‘The Bath Tub’. The colours were expressed very boldly and chaotic and I found the perspective to be interesting and different due to the way the viewer felt they were imposing on a intimate moment, almost intruding.
My chapters were split into five parts, the introduction explaining the history of printmaking and impressionism then the following three chapters contained the artists biography and chosen works to compare an contrast followed by the conclusion.
I have read numerous books from Japonisme, to the Impressionists being Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh which was very helpful. I also read a book on Vincent’s letters to friends and family, which included letters about his collection of Japanese prints.
I have struggled to keep on top of my essay alongside my subject work, but the last month during and after Christmas have been particularly demanding. I read several books and started to take notes on what I wanted to mention in my dissertation before Christmas. I have always loved the impressionists and I consider myself to be in this genre as a artist. I have also always loved Japanese prints, and I was captivated when I saw a copy of Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave’ in Venice.
I have always found my practice to study perspective and history, so it was enjoyable at times investigating a valid point to back up my essay.
I think I have worked to the best of my ability in this essay. I have said I have always struggled and it has been challenging. I felt I spent more time on my first chapter than I did for my second or third chapter. I think it was that I felt there was more to investigate and challenge ideas with Monet than Van Gogh or Degas, from his garden to his obsession of water lilies.
If I could change anything it would be my time management, as I struggled to keep to a schedule from my subject work to my dissertation. Plus I had some personal issues to deal with which was difficult, though I felt it pushed me more to finish this essay. I also found it difficult to balance by leisure time, my subject work before Christmas as I mainly concentrated on handing that in leaving me time to catch up on my essay. Also I struggled to balance my work commitments as I travel home every weekend, which resulted in finishing early or swapping shifts with my colleagues on some days to work on my essay.
I also included another Japanese artist as I found Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige were not enough to discuss in this essay. Utamaro Kitagawa specifically studied and portrayed women in various ways, which linked to traditional everyday rituals of bathing, washing and brushing their hair much like in Degas works. Hokusai and Hiroshige mainly studied landscape, but it was a valid decision which was interesting to study.
Keeping track of quotes and web pages I used was difficult as I referenced many of them incorrect, so it was a little frustrating to look them up again also many websites have been deleted that I originally used the links have been broken.
I also borrowed a French book called Monet and his Critics, which was about three quarters in French I had to use internet translate as no where in the book had referenced the English translation. I spent about one hour translating many pages until I realised it was the Wrong Camille painting, which in fact resides in Cardiff Museum and she wears a green dress, my chosen piece was Madame Monet in a kimono(La Japonisme)in 1876.
I also wish I spent more time reading and taking out more books on the Eastern printmakers as I struggled to find information on Utagawa and relied mainly on the internet.
I plan to continue studying Japanese prints in the future as they are very fascinating in their style and chosen colours, I also love how they need only a little amount of detail in them, unlike in Western art, where say Degas has added a lot of unnecessary detail in the background, which does draw the viewers attention from the main subject. Overall I think my dissertation was very challenging and I feel confident that I worked to the best of my ability.