Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) Truly Lived By the Principle “Live and Learn Until Old Age”
In 1834, when Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) was 75 years old, he wrote the following in the postscript of “One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji”:
From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things, and from around fifty, I started publishing drawings. But nothing I drew before the age of 70 was worthwhile. At 73, I began to understand the structure of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am 80, so that by 90 I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At 100, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at 130, each dot and each stroke I draw will be alive. I invite those who will live as long as I to see if I am keeping my word.
This is simply amazing, as if life had just begun at the age of 75. He was indeed very productive and diligent in his paintings.
14 years later, when he was 89 years old, he wrote in the preface of “Picture Book of Coloured Models”:
After I reach the age of 90, I will change my painting style, and after 100, I will only wish to reform this way, hoping to live long enough to witness this change.
Similar in sentiment to the previous one. He really hoped to achieve this kind of “growth” and self-witness through longevity.
Unfortunately, he died the following year, in 1849. On his deathbed, he said,
If heaven could give me just another ten years, or even another five, I could become a real painter.
It is admirable for a person to see his own artistic path. He has rehearsed countless times in his mind how he will finally arrive.