Kimono History and Meaning
• The kimono is a Japanese traditional garment
worn by women, men and children
• Traditionally a Chinese fashion, adopted by the
Japanese during the 5th century
• Over time the shape and style of the kimono
• It’s become a fashion used primarily by women
for formal events
• The word "kimono", which literally means a
"thing to wear" (ki "wear" and mono "thing”)
• Motifs in traditional Japanese kimono are used
mostly to denote the season
• Patterns were so specific that women would
wear different motifs once a month, not just
from season to season. To wear a pattern too
early or too late was a huge faux pas
• The size of the patterns and the colors used
denoted age (big bright patterns for young
women, very somber colors for old women).
Fabrics denoted rank
Pattern / Motif
• Visual Rhythm: Rhythm you receive
through your eyes rather than through your
ears. It is created by repeating positive
shapes separated by negative spaces.
• Pattern: The principle of art that is
concerned with decorative surface design.
It is usually a 2D visual repetition.
• Motif: The unit that is repeated to create
visual rhythm in a pattern.
Types of Pattern
• Random: A motif repeated in no apparent
order with no regular spaces in between.
• Regular: Regular rhythms and patterns have
identical beats or motifs and equal amounts
of space between them.
• Alternating: Can be created in several ways.
One way is to introduce a second beat or
motif. Another is to make a change in
placement or content of the motif.
• Progressive: In a progressive rhythm there is
a change in the beat each time it is repeated.
• During what season were you born?
– Use your birth season as the inspiration for your
• Develop a 12 x 12” motif
– The motif must be made of positive and
negative shapes. You will carve the motif out of
a block of wood. Shape-based designs work the
best in this process. It will be best to limit
yourself to black and white shapes (white areas
will be carved away, black areas will remain
• Choose one type of pattern (random,
regular, alternating, or progressive)
• Begin doodling in your sketchbook
– Don’t commit to any idea too quickly
– Make small (thumbnail) sketches
– Don’t immediately commit to a 12x12” design,
instead create sketches that are 4x4”
• You will turn in 4 prints
– 1 print will be a “proof”, which is your design
printed with black ink on white paper
– 1 print will be a color print where you apply
multiple colors to the woodblock
– 1 print will be a layered monotype print where
you will print your block on top of a monotype
– 1 print will be a collaborative layered print where
you will print your design with other student’s