July 20th, 2019

Okunoin Cemetery, Koyasan, Japan

ARTIST: Doug Russell, United States
ARTIST STATEMENT: About twelve days into a recent month-long trip in Japan, I sat down to sketch two tombstones in the Okunoin Cemetery on Mount Koya. The nearly two kilometer long cemetery is home to the graves of over 200,000 Buddhist monks – and just a short distance from the Buddhist monastery I stayed at for a night. I drew this sketch in about an hour during my long and winding hike through this magical environment. I initially sketched the basic composition in graphite and then moved into the ink work, accenting the drawing with colored pencil to finish.

For me, drawing on location is a way to be a witness of a place, a fleeting moment, a specific space in time. In that moment I am fully focused and present. It is truly one of the joys of travel and of drawing. In this instance in the mossy and shady cemetery I can still remember the swarm of curiously non-aggressive gnats and mosquitoes surrounding me the entire time, the Buddhist monks passing by silently on the path below, and the birds flying through the towering thousand-year-old cedar trees.

Overall the trip to Japan was a great experience and very rewarding in terms of drawing on site. I happily completed twenty-six drawings while traveling through Nagasaki, Kurokawa Onsen, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Osaka, Koyasan, Takayama, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shibu Onsen, and Tokyo. It was a great way to recharge my creative energies – and start my summer.

MEDIA: Pen & Ink, Colored Pencil
SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Beige – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Doug Russell is a visual artist and urban sketcher who lives and works in Laramie, Wyoming. Nearly every year he travels and draws for a month. Over the past several years his trips have included Japan, Peru, Indonesia, Cambodia, Turkey, and Italy. His work has been exhibited in solo shows at the Missoula Art Museum, the Helen E. Copeland Gallery in Bozeman, MT, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His work is in several permanent collections, including The Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. His work was recently included a group drawing show at the William Havu Gallery in Denver, Colorado – and in a large solo exhibition at the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, Wyoming. He currently holds the position of Professor of Art at the University of Wyoming where he is coordinator of the drawing program.

Instagram: @dougrussellart
Website: http://russellfineart.com


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