|Oni-chan, 2018. Pigment on shikishi board.|
|Oni-chan, 2018. Detail.|
See, what makes Nihonga different from the painting I've done my whole life is that you mix your paints, adding nikawa, a kind of glue made from fish, to finely ground minerals, and then thin it a little with water. Unlike oil, watercolor, acrylic, or pretty much any other kind of paint, you can't mix colors to create new ones. If you want to use orange, you have to buy orange pigment. You can't blend your red and yellow. The pigments come in different grain sizes and each mineral has a different density, something I didn't figure out until my second week, when I was wondering why the color I was using didn't mix up like the ones I used the week before.
Most famous of all these shops is PIGMENT, which I read about even before I came to Japan on This is Colossal. When my shrine hunt (post for another day) took me close to Tennozu Isle I took the opportunity to finally check it out. Their selection was incredible - they had seemingly everything - but I resisted the temptation to buy ALL THE COLORS! I've decided there has to be a method to my madness, and am attempting to act accordingly. I figure if I buy the colors I'm going to use when I need them, eventually I'll end up with a wide range of colors over time without breaking my budget in any given month.