I had never heard of Kokeshi before i received an Etsy conversation from designcandy's Christina Conway who offered to trade me some blank kokeshi forms for one of my small original paintings. In addition to the trade, she invited me into a Kokeshi show she is curating that will be at the Japanese American National Museum in LA. July 11 - September 2009. SO before i start working on my piece for that show i am making some fun ones for practice, figuring out what paint i want to use, and how much i want to extend past the original form of head and body. V gave me a drill with a little tiny bit to make holes for my Kokeshi bugs' antennae.
Kokeshi are traditional dolls from northern Japan. The classic style is a simple form of body and head with no arms or legs; a simple face and patterned or floral body decoration. I like that the head moves on a dowel, giving the dolls some degree of attitude.
i tried a little squirrel design, knowing it would please my summitteer friends moi, shamu and boxer but i think it really needs ears for it to work. they are painted on the sides but the look seems more like a squirrel coming out of a tight sock or something. and though i painted the tail on the back, i have not resolved if i want to try and shade for dimension or keep it kind of flat and "designey". The forms for the kokeshi show are taller and skinnier than these -i actually find these shorter one's proportions more pleasing.
Clearly i am drawing from my designs that i use on my christmas ornaments, as this "love bug" looks just like them. All my kokeshi bugs have nice wings on the back. you can see more details on them at my Etsy shop.
Here is the first trio of kokeshi. I think the kabuki/geisha one on the left is best.