Tuesday, January 19, 2016
green, but not
The snow does not let up, and neither does my compulsion to paint green things. But as I was painting these traditional Japanese tea-picking baskets, I decided to stop short of depicting them filled with tea leaves. Call it the moment before the tea-pickers sling the baskets over their shoulders and begin work for the day. Or maybe the baskets have just been emptied. Somehow the complexity of the weave of the baskets made me reluctant to clutter the image with any further ink or color. The green is there in spirit, though. I can see it if I try. And I can smell the freshly picked tea leaves.
I chose the words Chatsumi-Uta (tea picking song) to accompany the image. It hints of yet another sensual stimulation which isn't actually depicted here. Chatsumi-uta were songs that the tea-pickers sang to bring rhythm to their monotonous task. There's a rather charming haiku by Kobayashi Issa that goes Akubi ni mo/ fushi no tsukitaru/ chatsumi kana (Even while yawning/ she keeps the tune/ tea picking). [translation by David G. Lanoue]