Old Man Mad with Painting

April 27, 2010 at 3:37 AM | Posted in Art, Personal Development | 2 Comments
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Great Wave off Kanagawa


As I’ve continued to study and learn about the “growth mindset” from Carol Dweck and her book Mindset, Hokusai, the great Japanese artist has often come to mind.   

Hokusai lived to a great old age and his last name for himself was Gakyō Rōjin: “old man mad with painting.” At age 73 he thought that he was finally learning how to paint. He began at age six. At 89, the year of his death, he prayed that he could paint to 100 so his work might take on a transcendence that he felt he had not yet achieved.   

If he had only painted Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji his fame would have been secure but then came the “One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji” and so much more.   

Red Fuji, Southern wind, Clear Morning


 For Hokusai there was no end to the gains his art could make, no end to the greater life his brush strokes could take on. Even in death  he rises before us, like Mount Fuji, timeless.


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  1. The Great Wave Off Kanagawa – It’s one of my favorites. A glass replica adorns my living room window sill. One wonders if the men in the boats lived to tell of the great wave.

    • The painting sure puts man in our place against nature. I have a book of his work at him and he is truly great.

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