“You can?t say everything in words. But in a painting you can create on every inch of the surface,” says Baltimore, Maryland, artist Mikiko Shikano. “You can express what you were thinking and feeling about a subject.” As a Japanese artist, Shikano?s subjects are often symbols of her culture. For instance, she often paints origami as in One Hundred Million Wishes.
“Almost everyone in Japan knows how to fold a crane,” says Shikano. “When people are ill or want to make a big wish, we make a thousand of them and hang them all together. I cannot make that many cranes, so I paint them. I love the shape; the positive and negative space is so beautiful.” In addition to painting the traditional paper art, Shikano also incorporates Japanese and Chinese characters into her pieces to create a visual and verbal message.
For her simple and striking compositions, Shikano often turns to Ivorine. The imitation ivory painting surface allows her to keep her backgrounds stark even when painting with oils. “I really love to paint on Ivorine. It?s like a thin plastic, but it?s all prepared for watercolor and oil. Normally in an oil painting I cover the entire surface, but with Ivorine I can let the white show through,” she says.
For One Hundred Million Wishes, Shikano started by blocking in the shapes. “I know what the origami looks like because I make it myself. I fold it, so I don?t have to do much of a study,” she says. Starting with a smooth surface, whether it?s Ivorine or sanded canvas, Shikano applies smooth layers of paint, letting them dry in between to retain an even look.
A graduate of the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, Maryland, Shikano is trained in all subjects and a variety of media, but whatever she chooses to paint, her pieces are typically intimate in their subject matter and their size. An avid miniature painter, Shikano likes the smaller paintings because viewers have to get close to them to see what?s happening, creating a more intimate experience.
“People say they like my paintings because something touched them, but mainly I paint for myself,” says Shikano. “I just feel right when I paint and I can express my thoughts as well as my cultural background.”
To see more of Shikano?s work, check out her Web site at www. mikikoshikano.com.