80 Views of Mount Baker: Homage to Hokusai
Visual Space Gallery, Vancouver
A series of paintings by artist David A. Haughton pays tribute to the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, an artistic ‘hero’ of David Haughton’s for many years. 80 Views of Mount Baker further develops Haughton’s series of 40 Views and 40+ Views with dramatic and intriguing views of the Washington State mountain and surrounding areas of the Northwest Coast. Artist statement below.
This will be the final installment in my “homage to Hokusai”. Hokusai’s best known and loved work is the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Following his inspiration, I have now made over 80 paintings of the massive mountain frequently visible from my studio balcony: Mount Baker or more appropriately Qwú’mə Kwəlshéːn or Koma Kulsan – “white sentinel”.
I discovered the Japanese artist Hokusai when I was 14 years old. On my school library shelves I came across a book on Hokusai’s block prints series “the Manga”. I was amazed at the variety of his drawings and the simple beauty of his block print landscapes.
Most importantly, Hokusai became my my artistic ‘hero’. Hokusai’s ferocious enthusiasm for art captivated my imagination. At a time when my art teachers insisted that the only “good” was “new art”, I could instead argue from Hokusai’s example: my goal would be to keep learning and striving for simplicity and excellence – but not simply the “new”. Like Hokusai, I would strive to reach a state where “every line and dot on the page is alive”.
In later career, Hokusai worked under the name “Old Man Mad About Art”. Constantly seeking to produce better work, he exclaimed on his deathbed at the age of 87, “if only Heaven will give me just another ten years … Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.”
I am a self-taught artist, like my hero Hokusai. I have been painting and exhibiting for over forty years. In the mid 1990’s I began painting on multimedia artboard@ – an archival ground built of rag fiber and acrylic resin – that retains some of the matt character of watercolor paper. I try to capture the essence of what I am seeing with a quick sketch, then I “paint the negative” – then stain the open rag fibers with a deep phthalo blue layer, followed by layers of scumble and many, many layers of glaze. Steven Pinker, in his book How the Mind Works, writes that genius is usually not the sudden “eureka!” but a persistent twigging of an idea, over and over, doggedly, until, after many years, the concept finally gels. I hope, like my hero Hokusai, I will be given those years.