Instructor’s Notes for PowerPoint Presentation



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Instructor’s Notes for PowerPoint Presentation

I’ve prepared these notes so that you can add your own comments and questions for your own presentation. Rather than reading and clicking every slide, ask students questions to provoke discussion during the presentation. Use the notes to add information and insight to the discussion. You can read these notes during the PowerPoint presentation. When you view the slide show, right click on your mouse and then click “speaker notes.” This will allow you to keep a box open with your own notes but your students will not see the notes on the projection screen.

Slide 1:

We could easily spend an entire year studying the art of Asia and we would not completely cover the full range of art produced in the thousands of years in this huge continent. Today, I want to give you just a taste of Asian Art and we’ll take a closer look at some Japanese screen paintings. Then, you can begin to explore this art form for yourself.


As artists, we are influenced by other cultures. Asian Art heavily influenced many artists, such as Impressionist painters Cassatt and Monet. Vincent Van Gogh once said… (Click on audio file).
What do you think Van Gogh meant by this? Before we even study Asian art, how do you think painters like Van Gogh used the ideas from Asian Art in their artworks?

Slide 2:

When we’re studying Japanese Art, we need to have an understanding of how the geography may have impacted the art. Japan is a nation of islands that were able to avoid invasion and develop a homogeneous culture. The terrain of Japan tends to lends it’s to the beautiful mountainous landscapes and seascape Japanese Art is known for. The proximity of nearby countries, such as China, had an effect on Japan.

Slide 3:

How did religion affect Japanese Art?


*Religion played an important role in Japanese Art. What feeling do you think the artist wanted you to feel through this sculpture? Zen Buddhism brought a meditative style to landscape painting in Japan.
*Subject Matter- landscapes were used as setting for narratives (stories) for shrines and temples. Art, in many other cultures as well as Japan, has been used as a way to educate the people about the belief system. There was a great respect for nature in many of the Japanese landscape paintings that also reflect the belief systems in Japan. Seasonal themes, such as cherry blossoms, were very popular.

Slide 4:

Read this story or have a student read it. Ask students: what do you think the story means? One of many characteristics in the tales told by Zen masters to teach the ideals of Zen Buddhism is the use of humor and irony.



Slide 5- Religion:

Religions have always played an important role in Japanese Art. These religions spread through Asia- Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto.

Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism originated in India.

Taoism and Confucianism originated in China.



Shinto (The Way of the Gods) originated in Japan and is the belief in the spirits of nature. This religion came several centuries before Buddhism and is still practiced today.

Slide 6:

*This sculpture depicts a sitting Buddha which was the “Enlightened One.”

*As we study art history, we’ll learn that many cultures were inspired by other cultures.

*Japan was widely influenced by Chinese culture.

* Zen Buddhism, the art of meditation, was brought from South Korea, during the late Six Dynasties period of great China. Buddhism: as contact with China returned, Japanese Buddhist masters went to china to bring back Zen Buddhism.

*Buddhism was originally brought from India. Sidhartha Gautuma Shakyami founded Buddhism in India. “The Buddha” was the Enlightened One was believed to have lived from 563-483 BC. He was born a prince into a self-indulgent life. He became disgusted with wealth and went to the forest to meditate. Years later, he became a Buddha. Buddha means perfected human. All negative qualities are gone and all positive qualities are infinitely expanded. Because we are the good, the bad just clouds the good. Buddhism teaches that all people can become “enlightened” and therefore everyone is a potential Buddha.

*Painted and sculptural Buddhist images, such as this one, were often gifts to Japanese rulers.

Slide 7:

Read this story or have a student read it.



Ask students: what do you think the story means?

One of many characteristics in the tales told by Zen masters to teach the ideals of Zen Buddhism is the use of humor and irony.

Slide 8:

A Bodhisattva is someone who has stopped one step short of becoming a Buddha to help other attain enlightenment. This is the Head of Guanyin- the Bodhisattva of Mercy. Guanyin is the Chinese name for bodhisattva.

Slide 9:

Read this story or have a student read it. Ask students: what do you think the story means? One of many characteristics in the tales told by Zen masters to teach the ideals of Zen Buddhism is the use of humor and irony.



Slide 10: Composition

This screen would have been large into to separate one room into two smaller rooms. Look very closely. What details can you see? Can you see a bridge at the bottom left? What else do you notice? Look across the picture and think about the way that the space is depicted. Because it is so large, we really can’t look at details. Let’s take a closer look. (The next slide will show three details).



Slide 11:

How would you describe the space in these close up views of the screen painting we just saw? (You may have to flip back and forth between slides to be able to see how the detailed parts fit into the whole picture).

What do you notice about the perspective in the buildings? Do the receding planes of the buildings seem to be converging towards a vanishing point? Because we’ve become accustomed to the linear perspective of western culture, the landscapes of Japan seem flat. However, they are actually multiple views at the same time- as if they were going back to many different vanishing points all over the image.

If you were to place a ruler along these receding edges, you would notice that they are parallel and not converging to a point (as we would do in one point perspective paintings). This is referred to as isometric perspective rather than linear perspective (which comes from Western Art- Example would be Leonardo’s Last Supper).

Slide 12:

*Do you remember what the term “media” or “medium” means? It means the materials and techniques that artists use to create art.

*The media, often ink in Japanese art, often conveys the meaning or message of the religion. While it took many years of learning how to master the brushstrokes, ink suggests immediacy. It’s “right now.”

*Ink, which came from China, often gave landscapes a fresh and lively feel. Unlike oil paints, there’s no way to correct or repaint it. The artists must envision the entire painting when the paper is still blank. Do you see the misty background? The Japanese artists uses ink wash to achieve an atmospheric mist in the background. This creates a sense of distance and space. Every gentle fluid stroke of the brush responded to the previous brushstroke on the paper. Inky one-line tree trunks. Modeling brushstrokes to the form. The outline is in ink. The delicate brushstrokes resemble the expressiveness of the calligraphy created by Buddhist monks during this time in China and Japan.



Slide 13:

Chinese style Monochrome ink paintings were a popular style in Japanese screen paintings. What is Monochrome? Hint: this painting on the left is a monochrome. Also referred to as monochromatic. Think about the meaning of mono= one and chromatic= color. What does it mean? One color?



Click. Monochromatic is a color scheme or plan that uses tints and shades of one color. What feeling does this create? What do you think would be easy about a monochromatic painting? What would be difficult about doing a monochromatic painting?

Slide 14:

Most painting was done on the hanging scroll and the hand-scroll (usually silk or paper). Hand scrolls or emakimono were introduced in the 8th century from China. In less than a century, Japanese painters were producing the most exquisite hand scroll paintings on the continent.

What do you notice is different about the screen compared to other paintings? The long format often allowed for a long story to be told (visually). These often contained narratives about legends or religious stories.

This scroll contained illustrated legends of Zen for a religious shrine. Would you like to hear a tale from Buddha’s teaching about 4 men who learn an important lesson while practicing Zen?

Slide 15:

Read the story or have a story read it. Have you ever had a situation like this here at school? I’ve had known several students that have gotten into more trouble trying to (loudly) get the rest of the class to be quiet.

What does this story mean in your opinion? What life lesson do you think we could learn from it? Zen Buddhism emphasized meditation as part of the path towards Enlightenment.

Slide 16:

Folding screens provided the practical purpose of dividing a large room into smaller spaces. Screens were sometimes about 3 feet tall and were used to petition off a small area for one to sleep in. Other screens were much taller.

Slide 17:

Woodblock print was very popular in Asia during this time. Woodblock prints brought art to the common people and not just the rich elite. Why is this? One reason is that it was much cheaper to purchase a print that could be reproduced several times than an original painting that is ‘one of a kind.’



Describe what you see in this print. Do you see a mountain? This famous landscape print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was one of 36 views of Mount Fuji. Do you see the people and the boat?

Who do you think Hokusai (the artist) believed was in control- man or nature? Why?

Slide 18:

The Way of Tea- The tea ceremony was to be enjoyed in a small room with selected “tea” scroll paintings. Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In the fifteenth century, Japanese tea ceremony became so ritual it turned into a religion- Teaism. Teaism honors purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in the impossible thing we know as life.

Slide 19:Selected Bibliography

Slide 20:Image Credits


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