As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. -- Calvin and Hobbes

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So three Japanese Raccoon Dogs walk into a bar


One Tanuki, Two Tanuki, Three Tanuki..
Three Tanukis
8x10; acrylic on Masonite

I have painted a lot of silly things over the past four years. Really silly things.

People can ask me for something special and be confident they will get it. Occasionally, they know exactly what they want and I help them by interpreting their idea and getting on canvas. Most of the time, however, they know they want something but aren't sure exactly what that is. So, they come to me and tell me their story, and I ask lots of questions and get lots of pictures from them. Then, the creative process begins. They usually remain in the dark after that having no idea what they are getting until they open the package. That is part of the fun, the element of surprise. and it's not just for them, that is the really fun part for me!

This is one of those examples.

The client, Melissa, told me a great story about her honeymoon in Japan. While in Japan, they noticed that all the gift shops had this little figurine for sale, called a Tanuki. The Tanuki is actually thought of as a raccoon dog, even though they are their own species. Most people get a chuckle looking at the statue and noticing what disproportionately large, um, 'man parts' it has! Maybe that is what gets one asking, "What the heck is this little guy's story?"

Over the years, the Tanuki has become folklore, coming to symbolize good fortune, despite their reputation for being mischievous and shape shifting, being able to fool just about anyone for any reason, even sometimes sinister ones.

"The Tanuki has eight traits that are supposed to bring good fortune:
The eight traits are: a hat to be ready to protect against trouble or bad weather; big eyes to perceive the environment and help make good decisions; a sake bottle that represents virtue; a big tail that provides steadiness and strength until success is achieved; over-sized testicles that symbolize financial luck; a promissory note that represents trust or confidence; a big belly that symbolizes bold and calm decisiveness; and a friendly smile." -[wiki]

[Wiki...Statues of Tanuki can be found outside many Japanese temples and restaurants, especially noodle shops. These statues often wear big, straw hats and carry bottles of sake in one hand, and a promissory note or empty purse in the other hand. Tanuki statues always have large bellies. The statues also usually show humorously large testicles, typically hanging down to the floor or ground, although this feature is sometimes omitted in contemporary sculpture.
read more about Tanuki here
]

So, I can now say for the record, if anyone was ever keeping score, that I have painted testicles. Proud and loud. I asked the client if she wanted that part included in the painting...her response was, "Yes!-but I know you will do it tastefully!" I hope I did your bidding Melissa, the pleasure was certainly all mine.

This is one of my favorite commissions yet! (I always say that, so keep them coming, please!)

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