Shouki by John Marshall, natural dyes on silk
I went about dyeing this image by first sketching the whole image on the silk with aobana (blueflower  青花). Aobana is a very useful, fugitive dye. It disappears on contact with water making it great for this kind of designing. Satisfied with the overall movement of the sketch, I added soymilk to my indigo and began to paint, much as I would if doing sumi-e (墨絵) painting. Since I sized the silk before hand with soymilk, I wasn't worried about the dye wicking along the weave. In the detail above, are you able to see what should appear to be the shadows of the folds in the cloth? And the darker lines, too? These were painted on with a fude-style brush.
Detail of Garment Patterning
Once all of my shadows and outlines are thoroughly dried and cured, a process requiring a couple of weeks, I'm ready for the challenging part. My goal is to create the impression of a luxurious kinran garment. To accomplish this I will need highly detailed, figurative patterning and the control to blend and shade colors creating a sense of luster in the folds. Stencils are perfect for just this purpose.

By blocking out most of the background–all of the non-garment portions of my banner–I am able to lay my stencil on the silk and apply the rice paste resist with precision. Over this I apply my dyes blending them as I progress. Additional shadows are layered over the new colors to echo the shadows painted along the silk folds beneath. After a proper curing period the paste is washed off exposing the patterning as you see it in the detail above right. I went through similar steps to mimic a ro (gauze/leno 絽織) weave for Shouki's head gear, above left.
Headdress Dyed to Imitate a Ro Weave (絽織)
Headdress Dyed to Imitate a Ro Weave (絽織)
The last step is the most dramatic in which layers upon layers of dyes are built up as Shouki's personality is expressed in his bulging eyes, pronounced veins, and bristled hair.
Where are the oni?

I've included two. The first is not quite aware of Shouki's presence as he peeks out from the clouds, and the other is at Shouki's feet, hiding in my signature.


Oni Disguised as Signature Stamp
Full Image of Shouki Banner
John’s Art – Pick of the Week: Shouki Banner W-431
I’m very fond of the Shouki (鍾馗様) imagery and have tried my hand a few times at capturing his expressive face. This week I would like to share with you one such piece.

This Shouki’s face is actually modeled after someone I have come to know. I was in a situation where suddenly this person loomed large and threatening. I think the oni got into me with their mischief, because as soon as I turned and noticed him glowering down at me I burst out laughing–I honestly couldn’t help it! He reminded me so much of a Shouki figure with wild crimson hair, bulging eyes, and flaring nostrils. I don’t think anyone had ever reacted to his threats that way before–a confused look came over his face and he walked away… Shouki, I guess I owe you one!
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