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Obata, Chiura (1885 - 1975), "Pyramid Lake, Nevada"

"Pyramid Lake, Nevada" by Obata, Chiura
Catalog ID A0285
Artist Chiura Obata
Title Pyramid Lake, Nevada
Medium Original Watercolor on Silk
Series Title Pyramid Lake
Edition Original
Date c.1940's
Publisher The Artist
Reference No
Size 16 x 20 "
Condition Fine, with fresh colors. Faint foxing spots.

Notes: Signed and sealed by the artist. Conservation mounted. Provenance: From a California collector and ex-student, who purchased the painting directly from the artist. The location is confirmed by a Obata family member; as sketches of the lake are in the family archives.

As noted in the book, Obata's Yosemite: 'Much of Obata's paintings have a distinctly pastoral feel. Bathed in soft light, scenes of walnut orchards in spring, or Suisun delta on a warm summer afternoon, have a profoundly calming effect on the viewer. Obata seems to have intended paintings like Pyramid Lake, Nevada to act as a soothing balm in troubled times.

The color of water he used might be called "Obata blue," so frequently does it appear in his paintings. Obata looked to the Tosa School, whose artists he considered the finest colorists of Japan, for selecting and dissolving pigments. Following formulas some of which were more than a thousand years old, Obata ground his own paints from a variety of materials, including precious and semiprecious stones, flower petals, and oyster shells. For his blues, Obata ground lapis lazuli; for greens, he ground malachite, turquoise, or peacock stone. He is reputed to have used ruby dust for special reds - at a cost of seven hundred dollars for a tiny vial.

In one respect Obata never wavered; he insisted until his death on employing the best materials Japan had to offer. His sumi was of a type made in the mountains of Japan from a secret slow-burning carbonization of pine; his brushes were constructed by hand with animal furs such as rabbit, fox, sheep, badger, and bear. Even Obata's water came from the purest sources he could find, preferably mountain lakes and streams. In the 1930's he made pilgrimages to Fern Spring in Yosemite Valley to collect its crystalline water, which he used to mix with his sumi.'

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