Saiun-do Kyoto Nihonga Mineral Pigment Set
If David Bowie were a painter he would buy his paints in a 100 year old shop in the narrow streets of old Kyoto called Painted Clouds of course. Aside from its illustrious patrons, the little shop, Saiun-do in Japanese, is renowned for the quality of its paints.
The pigments here presented are mixed by hand using secret recipes from 1863 when the shop was opened by Tsukio Fujimoto, the current owners grandfather. Colours are made from the best raw natural ingredients imported from around the world ; soil and marble from China for white, Brazilian Azurite for Peacock Blue, Malachite for Green Rokusho, even from pearls and seashells for the best whites... These colours and ingredients are specific to the Japanese colour palette and form the basis of what is known as Nihonga - a term coined during the Meiji era to speak specifically of Japanese Painting in response and reaction to the thirst for Western things popular at the time. The colours obtained from the pigments once mixed with a gelatine binder (nikawa) produce very unique thick and crystalline colours now favoured by contemporary Japanese painters. The result is not dissimilar in effect to Renaissance Italian fresca painting, as though the colours have their own professional lighting technician at all times. In traditional Nihonga technique these are used in combination with black Sumi ink, which once diluted creates layers and shades of black and grey.
To transform the powdered pigments into usable paints, mix these with the nikawa liquid to your preferred consistency. Consider that preparing your paints is as much a part of the Nihonga practice and artists ritual as the painting itself.
This gelatine glue based binder can be purchased with the pigments in the dropdown menu above.
For the complete Nihonga experience, find Sumi Gansai paints here to be used in combination with the coloured pigments.
Each set contains 13 colours, packaged and labelled individually in corked glass vials, in turn wrapped and presented in a delicate Japanese washi-paper box and shop wrapping paper.
Here David Bowie at the Saiun-do shop, (second photograph by Masayoshi Sukita taken in 1980)