The Painted Kobayashi Issa – A New Book by Mark W. McGinnis


gnarled oakArtist’s Statement

The 100 paintings in this book are based on haiku poems by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), who is considered to be one of the four greatest masters of the Japanese haiku tradition. Issa’s short poems explore nearly all aspects of human experience with delightful brevity. In my selection of poems for this project I favored those that had qualities I knew I would enjoy translating to visual form. The poems were translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue of Xavier University of Louisiana and were used with his permission.

The works are painted with acrylic (mostly Golden Fluid Acrylics) on paper (300 lb. Fabriano Artistico soft press). The originals are 8” X 8”.

A number of the haikus I chose might be viewed as being melancholy — dealing with topics such as death and loss. What appeals to me in these poems is the clear sense of acceptance and non-resistance. These are qualities that I find (as I grow older) to be of importance for living a life of contentment. The paintings were a joy for me to create. My hope is that they will also be a joy for you.

Mark W. McGinnis

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The Painted Cloud Messenger — A New Book by Mark W. McGinnis



This book of 90 paintings is based on  a poem titled Meghaduta (Cloud Messenger) by India’s greatest Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa (c. 400-500 AD). His surviving work includes plays, epic poems and lyric poems. Cloud Messenger is among the latter — a remarkable love poem. It is a story of a Yaksha (a semi-god) who has been banished for a year to a remote mountain for neglecting his duty to his master, Kubera, the god of wealth. After eight months of separation from his beloved young wife he sees a cloud touching the mountaintop and the poem is a long monologue by the Yaksha to the cloud. He asks the cloud to carry his message of love to his wife. He then goes on to describe the journey the cloud will have to his wife’s distant dwelling and outlines the details of their meeting. It is a vibrantly visual poem filled with sensuous detail.


While I find the love poem wonderful in its fantasy, sincerity and tasteful eroticism, what drew me to the poem so strongly was its sumptuous description of the natural world. Its vivid narrative of the land, sky, trees, plants, flowers, animals and birds created paintings in my mind on my first reading. After studying many translations of the poem I rewrote it to put it in a more accessible voice for the contemporary reader, taking some liberties for artistic expression and story clarity.


The original paintings are 8 ½” X 8 ½”, acrylic on paper. The style of paintings are a fusion of my study of Kangra paintings of the 18th and 19th century India and my own stylistic development of the past 35 years.


It is my hope that Cloud Messenger will bring the viewer appreciation for this ancient classic and increased interest in the literature and culture of India.


Mark W. McGinnis



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