A nine-tailed fox spirit, a detail copied from Hokusai’s Great Picture Book of Everything and painted in colour (within my limitations)*. These Kitsune or fox spirits feature in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean mythology under different names. The more tails they have, the wiser and more powerful they get. They are able to turn themselves into foxy young human ladies in order to devour unsuspecting young men, but they may also be beneficent and bring good fortune.

In Hokusai’s original, this one is being conjured up by Fumei Chōja, aka the virtuous Indian King Sutasoma.

*In fact it appears that when they get nine tails they turn white: but I’m not repainting!


I’ve used the last of my nice pine blocks to do an approximate copy of a picture from Pompeii, showing the Lares, one kind of household gods the Romans had (they seem to have had slightly different ideas of exactly what the lares were at different periods – whether or not they were ancestors, for example. They are the the chaps to right and left – the one in the middle is the genius of the household (coughs modestly). Don’t ask me about the snake – no idea.

Wind the Frog!

So having finished my ‘tiles’ I was left with a few spare pine blocks. The only thing to do, obviously, was to paint more pictures on them.

Here then, is the frog that now graces our downstairs loo. It’s a copy of one by Matsumoto Hoji, in the British Museum, only my version is greener and a bit cruder. Hoji was around in the nineteenth century, but I can’t find much information about him – this seems to be his big hit (as well it might be).

The poem underneath is this…

What a wonderful bird the frog are!
When he stand, he sit almost,
When he leap, he fly almost.
Ain’t got no nose, hardly,
Ain’t got no tail hardly, either.
When he sit, he sit upon what he ain’t got, almost.

Now when I first read that, years ago, I’m sure it was attributed to some author, but googling it now I find it’s down to Anon. Also, my version isn’t quite right, or at any rate, not the earliest. But it’s the version I like, so I’m sticking with it. Anon never sues.

On the Tiles

Not really DelftWith the fresh energy I seem to be getting  (Thanks, Vedolizumab!) I finished my little project of portraits of my family on ‘Delft tiles’. Not really tiles at all, of course. These are 15cm blocks of pine on which I have painted a square of gesso and then had at it with the blue acrylics. No-one would suppose that these are actual tiles in wooden frames, but they sort of harmonise with the real ones in the kitchen.

They are actually a bit inconsistent in terms of time. The one of Elizabeth (bottom left) is based on a photograph from a few years ago. whereas my one is me after shaving off the Corona ‘stache at the beginning of September.