New Experiment with Japanese Yuzen style

Finally, in July 2021, 2020 Tokyo Olympic Game is on. But long before this Olympic Game I was interested in all kinds of Japanese art and craft works. I like the washi paper, parquet work, lacquerware and kimono and so on. Among those fantastic works I love Yuzen painting style the most.

Background story

Yuzen is dyed textiles from around the Kyoto Prefecture and it is known for its vibrant colors and intricate designs showing nature, animals and mundane, everyday things. The traditional Yuzen involves multiple complicated process. Clearly, I cannot repeat all those process all by myself so I try to find a way to mimic this style with the materials that I like, or, I can put my hands on. I purchased several books talking about Yuzen design and Japanese motif.

My inspiration for this experiment comes from the cover image of the book above. The hexagon shape itself is a very unique motif and has its own meaning. It means invincible. So I was thinking that I may do some oil painting on a wood hexagon shape to mimic this Japanese feeling. I made two design by myself. One is Sakura flower and the other is Ginkgo Leaf. The idea is to only have one major element in each design. I don’t want to squeeze in too many motifs together.


This experiment started 3 months ago. I measured and ordered some customized hexagon wood shape set. Pretreated them and painted them. Well it may sounds easy now but I got stuck with the gold paint. I was searching high and low for a perfect gold paint that works with oil (I know there are a lot gold watercolor paint but I like oil paint more.) and has a gold leaf finish. After testing bunch of gold paint I find my holy grail.

Schmincke Oil Bronzes

They are expensive compare to other gold paint but it worth every penny. Besides, it is a big jar which can last forever I think. I wish I could have all 5 shade. XD


  1. Seal all wood panels.

These hexagon wood shapes set including 3 piece. One large size backboard. One large cutout frame. One smaller size panel just fit in the large cutout. I usually apply shellac at least 2 times for unfinished wood first to protect it from moisture.

2. Spray paint the back.

I spray paint light gray on the back of the large hexagon wood shape. Light gray as my favorite Raymar panel back color.

3. Make the frame board.

Once the paint is dry. I put the large hexagon cutout on top of the large hexagon backboard. They glue them together with wood glue. Put on some heavy things and left it over night. The next day I lightly sanded the frame board on the outside edges. This time I tried gold leaf. Well to be honest I’m not good at it. It was a mess and I had to do it for another layer to get even coat. I just thought a gold frame may look better than white or black. But it can be any color.

4. Make the canvas panel.

For the smaller hexagon wood panel, I sticked a piece of linen canvas on top of it with archival adhesive as I usually do. After that I started oil painting process. Sakura flower is the very first one as it is traditional Japanese motif of all time.

5. Finish oil painting

The finished painting is as picture above. I really like the gold paint. I feel like all Yuzen painting must have some gold in there.

6. Put the canvas panel inside the frame board.

Finally, I can put the smaller hexagon panel inside the large frame board once it is touch dry. Ideally I should wait until it can be varnished but I just want to see how it looks as a whole piece. These two panels are put together with wood glue. I tried to push as hard as I can but it is not 100% even due to the canvas layer on top of small hexagon shape. Still, this is generally what I had in mind 3 months ago.

7. About hanging

So the entire hexagon panel shall be hanged on the wall with something like mounting tape or double side tape. It should be parallel to the wall, as a tile. And if there are more tiles like this they shall be able to lay out together one by one, like the book cover I mentioned before.


Overall the concept works. I need to revise my SOP of course but I’m glad I complete the experiment. Actually I was planning on painting two 8″ by 10″ panels before the hexagon shape. But because of the gold paint trouble those two panels were in the recycling box. I’m working on the Ginkgo Leaf design and hopefully I can finish it before the Olympic Game ends.

Well, I still need to wait until I can put varnish on it. 😀

Hope you enjoy this experiment. ❤

Posted by

My paintings are an outlet to express the imagination I have inside my head that I can not put into words. After trying many mediums, I always find myself coming back to paint and brushes. In my current artistic practice, I use oil paint and mainly create portraits of mythical creatures and animals transfixed in the shifting colours of seascapes and landscapes. There is a natural spirit and magic to these creatures and their energy draws me in. Choosing to paint these creatures as real living wildlife rather than abstractions, I use bold and vivid colours to express the imaginary intertwined with reality, finding magic between the seams. Using a saturated colour palette, I create bold and striking imagery, contrasted between foreground and background, subject and landscape, and light and darkness. Weaving their bodies and the surface of the landscape into each other through organic forms and flowing brush strokes, I find beauty, strength and innocence in these creatures that reflect my inner world.