Seurat meets Miyazaki

To really appreciate this painting, you need to be familiar with two other works of art;

  1. “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat
  2. The novel or film “My Neighbour Totoro” by Hayao Miyazaki

You might recall that a little while ago I did a pen and wash recreation of Van Gogh’s Café Terrace At Night. After putting it on Instagram I asked my followers to suggest other paintings I could do pen and wash versions of, and Charlie of suggested the Seurat painting. I thought it was an excellent choice, especially since the original is pointillist and thus a pen and wash version would very much have its own character.

Now, at first, my plan was to hide a tiny little Totoro somewhere in the background, peeking out from behind a tree, perhaps, just to amuse myself and to reward eagle-eyed viewers. But once I started studying the Seurat painting, it was pretty clear that the two figures in the middle ground were just perfectly placed to be replaced by Totoro and Satsuki.

Clearly this was not going to work in one of my postcard sized paintings, so I grabbed a 10×8″ piece of watercolour paper I had cut for another project, and started laying the drawing in with pencil. It was during this process that I realised that the rock and (whatever that thing on the red pole is) should be replaced with the bus stop sign from the iconic scene in the film, and so I went with that.

Once I had pencilled in the rough locations of everything – and as you can see, I’ve left a number of figures out, and also most of what was in the water area – I set to inking. For the foreground figures (all the ones in shadow) I used a Pentel brush pen. For everything in the middle ground, I used Copic Multiliner pens 0.35 and 0.25. Finally for the background I used a Copic Multiliner 0.1. In making the lines finer in the distance, I wanted to emphasise the sense of distance.

Inks - 800w

I then set to painting using the same 10-colour set of M. Graham watercolour paints I’ve been raving about recently. Once again I really had very little trouble mixing all the colours I wanted – the more I use these paints, the more I admire not just the paints themselves, but how good the choices are in the set of 10.

Finally, I did go back with the Copic Multiliners in just a few places, and then it was done. In all I think I put about 5 or 6 hours into this, but it was worth it. I had so much fun designing and painting this that I can’t even describe it! Here’s the final result …


This painting is now available in my Etsy shop!

Finally – if you’ve got a suggestion for which classic painting I should convert to pen and wash next, please feel free to suggest it!


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