ARTIST OF THE WEEK: SATSUKI SHIBUYA

February 25, 2016

California painter Satsuki Shibuya creates beautifully subtle watercolors that are each quiet meditations on color and intuition: discover more about her work and inspiration in our interview with the artist.



Can you share more about how you approach one of your pieces? How do you start?

Before I start my day, I have a morning ritual consisting of meditation, yoga, reading, and journaling, which helps to align my body, mind, and soul. By having this time, it allows for the part of myself that’s connected to the universe to come through, instead of the need to paint something purely for materialistic purposes. After that, it is just a matter of letting go and being one with the moment.

When did you first start painting?

I first began painting about a year and a half ago. Before this, I never imagined myself ever painting nor did I have any interest in learning how to paint. I do remember take a painting class during elementary school, but concluded that it was not something enjoyed. Hence, it is even more of a mystery—albeit a wonderful one—that now I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.



You’ve mentioned in past interviews being inspired by nature: how does it play a role in your work?

Nature, in itself, is calming, soothing, raw, bliss, tranquility, and beauty. It is the embodiment of spirit and all that surrounds us. Nature inspires me because it is a part of myself that I experience while I’m living, yet expressed in a way that requires no words and no actions. It is a majestic and a gentle reminder to live as I am, appreciating who I am, and create work that fully embodies this idea.



What are some recent colors, palettes, textures, or shapes that have been interesting to you?

I seem to be attracted to muted, soft, gentle colors, especially peaches, off-whites, multi-toned grays with hints of black. Cascading mountains covered in snow with black rocks peeking through intrigue me, as do ripples created by melting ice that create muddied grays, browns, and forest greens speckled with grays.

Textured watercolor paper and how the water and paint sit, seep, and flow on such surfaces can capture my attention for hours. Organic shapes, shapes that only exist in the mind, shapes undefined by geometry. These are the things that make me a hermit in my studio and work.



Idea-wise, what concepts or thoughts have been inspiring recent work?

For an upcoming solo exhibition in Tokyo, entitled Tête-À-Tête (meaning a private conversation between two people), I am exploring ideas of intimacy between mediums. This exhibition will consist of paintings and music sharing the same space, referencing concepts of intimacy between cultures, nations, and beliefs.

Growing up Japanese-American, with parents who are from Japan, I have always been intrigued by the idea of intercultural acceptance, understanding, and communication. The exhibition inquires about such intimacies, believing we are able to go beyond societal barriers and words to find connection.

What is the difference between art and design?

Design is specific communication, whereas art is free expression.



What are some ways you find quiet amid living in a city (or simply separate your own head from the noise of work, the Internet, and daily life)?

I find where I live is an integral part in how I am able to separate myself from the business of the outside world. Being sensitive to noises, energies, and stimulants, having a home where subtle nuances of everyday moments can be heard allows for my inner life to come forth. This is something I was not able to connect to while living in the city. As a result, I believe I am able to produce work that feels natural, freeing, and expressive to my being. Although I do miss the conveniences of living in the city, I would not trade it for the gift of quiet that is present here.

Who are some of your favorite artists, photographers, or figures in history?

Akihiro Miwa (performer), Ryuichi Sakamoto (musician/composer), Rei Kawakubo (fashion designer), Takumi Saito (actor/director), Georgia O’Keeffe (artist), Shigeru Ban (architect), Ellsworth Kelly (artist), Agnes Martin (artist), Dalai Lama (religious activist), Lani Trock (photographer), Greg Lindy (type designer), Hideaki Hamada (photographer).

See more from Satsuki Shibuya on Instagram