Page:Woman in Art.djvu/202

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Half-unconsciously she took a bit of color from her box and laying it upon the plate pressed this upon the paper, and, astonished, looked a second time! "Trotty" had come to life! Delighted with the effect, she threw off a number of impressions, varying the colors at each surprising result.

Thus Helen Hyde, returning to the home she started from, entered upon a new and significant phase of her art. She studied faithfully the Asiatics as seen in America, but longed to see them at home. Then the opportunity came, came for a whole year in Japan! One year had been the plan. But again Destiny stepped in. She worked unfalteringly, fascinated with the land, the people, and her work, and year followed year; Helen Hyde was making a name for herself with her new art.

It has been said that her eye was intoxicated with the manifold beauties about her, and she determined to study these not only as found in nature but their expression in art by the great masters as well. "With this object in view, she asked Kano Tomanobu, the last of the great Kano school of painters, to become her teacher. He consented to do so, and for two years she devoted herself to the task of acquiring the Japanese method of wielding the brush. This, as is well known, is quite different from our own, and presents difficulties to foreigners. She worked hard, sitting, as is the fashion in Japan, on the dainty white mats of the floor, and earned well-merited praise from her gentle old teacher. Her reward came when, at the expiration of two years, Tomanobu asked her to paint a kakemono for the annual spring exposition. She did so, calling her picture 'A Monarch of Japan.' It showed a charming Japanese mother proudly holding up a chubby baby to the admiring gaze of a second young Japanese woman. A tiny branch—a mere suggestion—of wistaria, cuts the edge of the picture in true Japanese fashion. Despite the Japanese accessories of dress, etc., the sentiment of the whole is distinctly Western, not Oriental. It is interesting to know that the picture was awarded a first prize on the strength of excellent handling of a particularly difficult brush—for it is by the merits or demerits of skillful brushwork that Japanese pictures are chiefly valued."[1]

"The great popularity enjoyed by this first public venture encouraged Miss Hyde to follow the custom of some of the Japanese artists of last century and produce her composition in the form of a color-print. It was thus that she entered a field of art which has since made her famous."

A clipping the artist sent the writer in a letter about that time was also encouraging, and hints of her enthusiasm in her work: "From time to time

  1. International Studio.