Thanks to the long weekend, I had plenty of time to read and paint Korean folk art, Minhwa.
First, I skimmed through five books that Teacher Betsy and I borrowed in university libraries. Before starting this Minhwa Project, I was slightly concerned about writing blogs every week because I first thought there are not many resources about Korean folk painting in English. Even while searching for books with Teacher Betsy, I was not sure whether they would be related to my project. So, I ended up borrowing five books. But guess what? Although two books focused on Korean ink painting, three other books dealt with Korean folk painting. I was very excited as I did not expect to find three relevant and useful books. Before the books came, I hoped even a single book would be helpful. In the picture below of five books, I have intentionally placed two books upward to show you that they are Korean ink painting books while three books with the cover facing you are the ones that are related to my project.
This weekend, I read the tiniest book in the picture named “Handbook of Korean Art” that was from Drexel University Library. It introduces sixteen different genres of Folk Paintings. Interestingly, it does not include Hojakdo that I researched and posted in the Week 2 blog, but it includes Morando.
I knew the book would explain Morando since it is the most popular and widely drawn Korean folk painting. Morando is the painting of peonies. As you can see below paintings of Morando that I randomly took a picture from the book, the peony blossom is charming and splendid. So during the 17th century, it was regarded as a symbol of wealth and longevity.
Another interesting fact about Morando is its relationship with numbers. Morando symbolizes the number zero. Zero is regarded as similar to infinity as zero makes every number “even” especially when it comes at the end. Therefore, zero is regarded as auspicious when it is related to longevity and money. That is why it symbolizes long life and wealth. Meanwhile, it is highly recommended not to draw butterflies in Morando. The butterfly symbolizes number 80 so putting butterflies in Morando limits the wealth and longevity to 80 years. You want to live more than 80 years with wealth right? But you can sometimes see some Morando with butterflies. I guess those artists try to add beauty but they might not know the interesting story and facts behind Morando.
Painters can be creative in expressing peony flowers. Peony flowers can be variously colored: red, white, rose pink, cinnabar red, blue, purple, or yellow. The direction of peony flowers can differ as well. They can face forward, upward, downward or even twisted sideways because of the wind. Also, there can be grass or rocks painted underneath peony flowers.
I am painting Morando as well for my arts independent project. I drew oddly-shaped rocks underneath peony flowers. To add uniqueness, I will paint the moss, covering the rock. I drew the vase where five peony flowers are placed. I decorated it with the letter ‘W’ to symbolize Westtown. The vase color will be blue as the Westtown emblem is covered with color blue. The painting below is just the outline of my Morando.
My peony flowers are as big as a vase. According to the book, common people who drew Morando during the 17th Century intentionally used extreme simplicity and exaggeration for Morando. Such techniques are to captivate the eyes and minds of viewers, bringing them into new dimensions of artistic beauty.
Thanks for reading my blog and see you next week.
Citation: Yoon, Yeol-su, et al. Handbook of Korean Art. Yekyong Publishing, 2002.