Japanese painting (nihonga) classes in Paris

Learn nihonga with Valérie Eguchi

With Nihonga, I suggest discovering the feel of the material, and the play of the shines and matte effects due to the brightness of the crystals in the pigments, metallic sheets and oxidations.
In Japanese painting all the materials are prepared by the artist.
Once a basic sketch is completed, individual pigments are mixed with some water and Nikawa on a small dish.
Nihonga gives us a sense of inner peace and brings us outside of our day-to-day urgencies.
We are able to do this because of the time taken to prepare for each painting. It is also a time of necessary reflection for every element entering the composition of the picture.
These initiations into Nihonga take place under the guidance of the instructor through workshops, or regular courses in Paris, and in Issy les Moulineaux (sud Paris )
The workshops take place in a quiet environment, in which each participant receives equal attention and is able to share the knowledge imparted by the instructor.

2016 Dates

Weekend 2 days:
January: 9/10

Fébruary: 6/7

March: 12/13

April: 9/10

May: 21/22

June: 21/22

With Nihonga today, artists compete using elements of craft and creativity to create new effects.
Shinji Matsumura, a japanese painter, Shu-Chen a Taïwanese painter, used those effects for some of their creations..

Discover the effects of silk cotton applied to metal leaf
We use some silk cotton which we stretch on a chassis, to create a natural cotton lace.
This lace is solidified with the kakeshi boeshi (juice of fermented khaki otherwise known as persimmon).
The lace then serves as a stencil through which we shall fix pigments, metallic powders or metallic sheets.
Models are then proposed to realize a small picture
Places are limited to 5 persons
Different effects:

Shu-Chen present this technic in a video
For more information, please contact: 0609390742



Happy New Year!


I wish you a happy sheep year!!

2015 is the Year of the Green Wooden Sheep. (Hitsujidoshi – 未年)

Here are the new dates for nihonga workshops at the gates of Paris


Janvier: 17/18/19/20

Février: 14/15

Mars: 14/15

Avril: 11/12/13/14

Mai: 16/17

juin: 6/7

Détails:  www.pigmentsetartsdumonde.com



3000 Bon T shirts and Tote Bags – samples available

Dear All

Here are some samples of the 3000 Bon T shirts and Tote Bags that the Geidai students have made.

They have yet to receive any orders (other than mine) so if you would love a T shirt or a tote bag, please contact them.

Instructions on ordering are :


and their email is: 3000bon.2013t@gmail.com





Innocent World. Tomoyuki Kambe Solo Exhibition in Singapore 神戸智行個展

“Through the observation of the small things around us. I believe that we find the form of the big world.” – Tomoyuki Kambe

星に願いを Wish Upon the Star 2010

[星に願いをWish Upon the Star, 2010]

Innocent World  is an exhibition of Japanese-style paintings by emerging artist, Tomoyuki Kambe 神戸智行. Japanese-style painting, otherwise known as Nihonga, originated in the late 19th century (Meiji period) and took inspiration from the rich heritage of traditional Japanese art. Considered a modern art movement, Nihonga evolved with the times reflecting contemporary issues and themes. While some artists may continue to depict conventional Japanese themes and motifs, most contemporary artists explore a range of subjects relevant to their context.

The single most identifiable characteristic of Nihonga is the medium. Artists who paint in the style of Nihonga use time-honoured materials and a  select combination of mineral and synthetic pigments. Much training is spent understanding how pigments work, how to grind them precisely down to the exact milimetre to achieve the right hue and how to prepare them with nikawa (animal glue) so that the pigments adhere to the paper; all these not before priming the paper in layers. Then the artists have to understand the way of the brush and how to manipulate all of these to create a final work of art. Depending on the effect they want to achieve, gold and silver foil is also used for a decorative touch.

Nihonga paintings have a distinctive appearance- they refract light due to the sized particles found in the pigments. Just like how oil paintings carry that glossy sheen, the colours in Nihonga appear to shimmer ever-so subtly by bouncing light off the surfaces of the paintings.  This delicate visual acuity has to be experienced in the flesh as photographs in catalogues can never reproduce such sensation. Another dynamic feature of Nihonga is how paintings change in appearance when seen in different light according to the times of the day.

Kambe’s solo exhibition showcases around 15 works- all of which depict nature and the beautiful forms which can be found within. In some of the paintings, there are little things waiting to be discovered if you find time to do so. And as soon as you spot a lizard or a lady-bird hiding among the leaves, you start to notice the presence of others in the works and you want to look for more. The artist engages us in this act of looking and searching and brings us back, even if for a brief moment, to an innocent world where once as children, we indulged in the very same activity of discovering life in nature.

Kambe acknowledges that everything coexists in relationships to one another, all coming together to give form and meaning in the world. While each living thing is uniquely original, it is the sum of these that make up the world. When he paints these small elements of nature, he illustrates their connections and brings to our attention the affinity of relationships in our societies.

This is Kambe’s first solo exhibition outside of Japan and also Singapore’s first exhibition of Nihonga paintings. The exhibition also includes a small display of Nihonga raw materials which are largely unavailable in Singapore. The works in the exhibition include new paintings displayed in various formats as well as a series of screens from the collection of Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine in Fukuoka.

Despite international audiences being no stranger to modern and contemporary Japanese art, Nihonga remains one of the least known artforms outside of Japan. The exhibition and education initiatives by the Japan Creative Centre present a wonderful introduction to the beautiful world of Japanese-style paintings.

Innocent World runs from July 20 – August 3o at the Japan Creative Centre.

About Tomoyuki Kambe 神戸智行

Born 1975, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Graduated from Japanese painting (Nihonga) course at Tama Art University. Exhibited in China, Korea, the United States. Collected by the Sato Museum of Art and the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture.

Tomoyuki Kambe website

[ photo permission granted by the artist]

Workshop: Nihonga with Sensei Fujishima Sumihisa in Virginia, USA. May 2-5 2013

Seminar_Layout_LR extract

Fujishima Sumihisa is a nihonga artist currently teaching at the Sakura Art School in Shinjuku, Tokyo. A graduate of Tokyo University of Fine Arts (東京芸術大学) where he holds a Master’s Degree in Japanese Painting, Fujishima has exhibited in numerous group exhibits in Japan over the past twenty years. This is the first time that he is teaching in America.

This workshop is hosted by Mark Malecki Studio of Falls Church, Virginia.

Students will learn how to paint on special paper stretched to receive the ink outlines and application of colours. Mineral pigments will be applied and a complete archival work of art will be made. Students and painters of al levels are welcome. Materials will be provided (fees to be confirmed) to those needing supplies. An interpreter will also be on hand.

For  4 days of instruction, the workshop will cost USD 249.00

Please contact Mark Malecki at (703) 820 7636 or Markrmalecki@aol.com

More info on Fujishima sensei is available through these following websites:


New Series of Posts on Studying Nihonga in Japan

We are pleased to announce a new series on Studying Nihonga in Japan from our guest contributor, Lucas Perez.

Lucas Perez is currently based in Tokyo, Japan and has been studying Nihonga for 3 years now.

Originally trained in Fashion Design at New York’s Pratt Institute of Design, he returned to his “primary love ” for painting and embarked on this re-discovery in Japan.

In this series, Lucas talks about his journey from starting at zero to finding his place and gaining familiarity with the unique materials used in Nihonga. The information provides a significant contribution to a dearth of English language resources on the topic which would be useful to all Nihonga students. I envision that it would add to a work-in-progress resource as we welcome further insights from both Japanese and non-Japanese artists.

Please watch this space for the upcoming posts on pigments, brushes, washi and supply shops.

Thank you Lucas for initiating this.

From Textile Design to Nihonga- Sunaina Bhalla

“The beginning was with Japan and Nihonga.”

Sunaina Bhalla is a contemporary artist of Indian origin who lives and works in Singapore. In this interview, I chat to her about her foray into Nihonga which lead to an impressive first solo show and then her departure away from Nihonga into her mixed-media work now.

Sunaina’s works are widely exhibited and collected, including the permanent collection of ESSL Museum in Vienna. She recently participated in the India Art Fair 2012 showing her latest series, Parallel Journeys. Her next solo show is scheduled to open in Mumbai in August 2012.

Eve Loh: You were originally trained in India in textile design. Then you moved to Japan with your husband who was posted there to work. There, you studied Nihonga for 5 years with a teacher. How did that happen?

Sunaina Bhalla: It took me awhile to find a teacher. A year, in fact. I got really lucky because Ota Sensei speaks English. It would have been impossible if not for that. Sensei was teaching a group of expatriate ladies and I studied with her over the course of 5 years. I was probably her only professional student.

EL: But you already knew the principles of design and how to draw.

SB: Well, with Nihonga, you first learn to draw with ink. For the first 10 months, it was only ink. You get only one paintbrush and you learn how to control ink using that paintbrush. It took me 10 months to figure it out despite having done art and being an artist. It looked simple but it is not. Sensei wouldn’t even let me buy paints. Then after those 10 months, she taught me pigments and gouache (commercially-prepared pigments). As I advanced and wanted particular shades and hues, Sensei would give me the Japanese name of the pigments and I would then go to the art supply store to pick them up.

EL:    Yes, it seems that having to re-learn drawing and painting is a rite of passage all students go through, despite their prior background when it comes to Nihonga.

What was it like over the 5 years working with Nihonga? How did your style come through?

Cranes at Night

Cranes at Night

SB:    It looks intimidating but when you actually start, it is a lot of fun.

I observed a lot and copied a lot from the masters. Ota Sensei even made a textbook just for her students. Those 5 years were very traditional for me. Even though I was surrounded by contemporary Japanese art, it felt as if I was in a time-warp. I didn’t paint on canvas, only washi (Japanese paper), shikishi boards (handmade paper mounted on boards) and on byo-bu (folding screens and scrolls. I used gold leaf and pigments. I didn’t experiment as much then as I do now. Japanese art for me was really about showing these delicate sensitivities instead of expressing personal emotions or messages. The materials in Nihonga are chosen especially to express these sensibilities.

EL:    And at the end of the 5 years, you were given the opportunity to exhibit your works?

SB:    Actually I started doing group shows in the 4th year together with other students from Sensei’s class. And my first solo show was in 2002.

  As part of the 50th year of Japan-India cultural relations, the Indian Ambassador invited me to be the art representative and arranged an exthibition sponsored by the Japan Foundation. I exhibited 45 works and sold more than half of them at the exhibition. It was a great experience for me. It was opened by the Japanese ambassador in a big opening party with a lot of press coverage. Following which, the curator of the India Habitat centre, Delhi, Dr Alka Pande , suggested I travel the show to gallery Art Folio in Chandigarh. So I packed up what was left and drove off to the second exhibition. When I was arrived, the press was already waiting for me while the paintings were being hung. It all happened so fast and at the end of that show, only 5 or 6 works remained.

EL:    What a great solo show you had! I think the reception you had really speaks volumes in recognition of your work as a Nihonga artist and the richness of cultural exchange. Actually I read from one of the articles on you that your work is referred to as Sumi-e (ink painting). Perhaps now is a good chance for me to ask you what you think defines Nihonga as that is often contentious.

SB:    I never said I was a Sumi-e artist as it wasn’t only ink that I painted with. I used pigments as you would with Nihonga and gold leaf. As with defining Nihonga, I can only say that to begin with, it is difficult to even define what kind of artist I am. I am an Indian painting Japanese art in Singapore. When you look at my works now, you can’t tell if it’s Indian as there is nothing very Indian about it. Unless I specifically address a theme. Otherwise, the idea of contemporary art is all mixed up.

Peony Screen

Peony Screen

EL:    Yes, it’s becoming less important now to categorise style and traditions as a lot of influences are being blurred. It appears that Nihonga was for you, a rite of passage that you went through and then came out of, completely different with the works that you currently do.

SB:    Well, the whole idea of painting for me changed when I moved to Singapore. With Nihonga, it was all about trying to keep the sensibilities mild and delicate, with a muted colour palette. I tried to continue with Japanese painting outside of Japan when I moved here. But I couldn’t keep up with it, with the climate here and the problem of mildew on my washi. And when I finished using the pigments, that was it. It was hard to keep doing purchases from Japan.

    The beginning was with Japan and Nihonga. Then I broke free when I moved here. I started experimenting and having more fun, discovering new stuff, working with stone textures and gel.

EL:    Indeed, your works are quite different now with much brighter colour palettes and strong visuals. And you seem to be making your artist voice heard more through your post-Japan works.

Fate… or Free Will

SB:    Yes, in Fate… or Free Will, my message is about urbanisation and how birds are getting extinct.  And this bird, known as a Simourgh, is actually a mythical bird that protects humans.

    In The Light, I feel that various religions are contesting to imprison that light and that the interpretation of what God is, is very limiting.

The Light

The Light

EL:    These commentaries appear well balanced with the media you now work with, more so than with Nihonga on delicate sensitivities.

SB:    With Nihonga, I was just following the footsteps of my Sensei and learning through doing so, more of the technique. When you’re someone starting out, it is good to follow for a while.

Yes, I am happy with my process now. When I’m stuck for ideas, I turn to my best critic who is my husband. I take his criticism very seriously and he can come up with some really good ideas.

EL:    Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me and sharing your experience with Nihonga .

Sunaina can be contacted through her webpage, Sunaina Bhalla.