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Japan Book Club: The Old Man Mad About Drawing – Part 4

October 17, 2011

This week we want you to finish The Old Man MAbout Drawing by Francois Place.  The end of the book is filled with messages and advice that Hokusai gives to Tojiro.  Tojiro answers the man by telling him that he will learn, but I want you to tell me what is the lesson that can be learned from Hokusai?  What did you take away from the story?  What piece of Hokusai’s wisdom lives on? Every student in our Japan group is required to participate.  You must comment on this post with your thoughts, then come back and comment on what other people have said – you are required to make an effort to keep the conversation going by replying to at least 2 other students (more than just “I agree” or “you are right.” Give them reasons why you agree/disagree or what they said that was meaningful – make this a discussion).  Next, we’ll be reading Bushido: The Soul of Japan a story about the samurai by Inazo Nitobe – you can look for a copy if you want, but I will be sending everyone a free ebook copy of Bushido this coming weekend.    We’ll start that book next week.  

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73 Comments leave one →
  1. Sydney Bebar permalink
    October 20, 2011 5:36 pm

    A lesson learned could be that with time comes wisdom. Meaning the older you get, the more experience you gain, and the more knowledge you earn. What I took from The Old Man Mad About Drawing is that to really find what you have a passion for, you must be willing to wait and be open to anything. That is how you will find what you really love. I think the main part of Hokusai’s wisdom that will live on is that drawing is not just art, it is a way to express yourself other than words. With writing and talking, you can get out the main idea, but a picture will help explain your experience even better.

    • Persephone Allee permalink
      October 23, 2011 1:50 pm

      This is a great conclusion and I completely agree. Throughout the entire story you can infer that with age comes wisdom but on the final page, it becomes obvious. He tells his life story, from when he was the age of 6 to now. He explains his growing passion and his growing talent. Great job finding this. It was, I think, a major lesson to be learned from the story.

    • Blair Tuider permalink
      October 23, 2011 5:22 pm

      I agree that drawing is another way to express yourself in ways that arnt words

      • Alyssa Gue permalink
        October 24, 2011 5:19 pm

        I agree Blair, drawing is another way to express yourself other than words, as is music, dance, and other types of art.

      • Kevin Wilson permalink
        November 13, 2011 1:24 pm

        i agree with Blair too drawing is another way to express you self with out word and i think it could be easyer then talking to some one to explain something. the reason i think this is becaue that sometimes you can get a picture that means even more or means something more then you could explain in words.

    • Elise Vice permalink
      October 23, 2011 7:28 pm

      I agree that in order to find what you have a passion for, you have to wait. Though, the time you’re waiting is longer for some people than others. I also like what you said about how a picture can get the idea out better, art is it’s own language that few people can understand, and few people can understand it.

      • Kevin Wilson permalink
        November 13, 2011 1:38 pm

        I agree with Elise that you have to wait to know what you want to do. also i do agree that a picture can get an idea out better then just saying something also a picture can be more meaningful.

  2. Mark Burjek permalink
    October 20, 2011 10:59 pm

    Sometimes, old people can be boring. We all know that. But, most old people are smart. In this story, Hokusai is a very wise and intelligent man. He’s not the Ken Jennings of Japan smart, but he’s smart in a way that is useful. A lot of this rubbed off on Tojiro, who probably went very far in life after the book. This man did what he loved, and was good at it. He knew about it, which very much helped. He also knew about life. What to do, what not to do, how to live it. I think a little bit of this came into all of us at the conclusion of this book. What I really took away from the story, though, is that you have to have passion. Passion for what you love, passion for what you do, and passion for what you are planning on doing. If you could do this, I assure that you will be just like Hokusai. Not a 100 year old Asian dude, but an amazing person at mind and heart.

    • Persephone Allee permalink
      October 23, 2011 2:07 pm

      Passion, I agree, is important. Hokusai had a passion for drawing that not only made him a great artist, but a devoted person. I’m not sure if passion will make someone amazing at mind and heart, though. I mean, you could have a passion for murdering people. I know that’s a weird example, but it sort of proves my point. I wouldn’t say that it is caring and kind. There’s more to someone then just passion.

    • DREW BURJEK permalink
      October 23, 2011 5:23 pm

      Passion for what you love, passion for what you do, and passion for what you are planning on doing is very helpful if you want to make a living like Hokusai. If you don’t love what you do, then what is the point of doing it all the time? And if you don’t love it, I doubt what you do will be as good as if you liked to do it. Also, if you don’t have passion for what you are planning on, then you will get nowhere.

    • Austin Stein permalink
      October 23, 2011 7:06 pm

      Agreed. Passion is the key to doing anything right in this world, and that is the truth. A man sitting in a cubic all day praying for the clock to go faster isn’t going to go far with that job, but someone like Hokusai actually enjoyed what he did and made the absolute best out of it. He made a living, became very well-known, and was even able to show it to Tojiro, in which sparked his goal to become just like him as a great artist.

  3. Zach Ciko permalink
    October 23, 2011 1:35 pm

    As shown in the book old people are very wise, but that doesn’t mean they are super smart it just means they are experinced. They recieve this experince by simply growing older and doing new things meaning the older you are and the more things you have done makes you wiser. And every piece of wisdom that Hokusai shares with Tojiro lives on with him and who ever Tojiro shares it with. Also his wisdom is also expresed through his drawings. As Hokusia’s drawings are analyzed and inspire others by thier details and patterns inspire other artist. Once this happens they try and repeat the style and inspire other artist that see their work making a chain reaction of paintings based of Hokusai’s wisdom of art.

    • October 23, 2011 4:41 pm

      I must say that the elderly are very wise not only because of all the things that they’ve done, but also all of the mistakes that they made. The reason they know so many life lessons is because of the mistakes that they made when we were little, we make when we are little. They were not perfect, so they can relate to us. Hokusai most likely made the mistakes that his little sparrow made when he was a child,so he could relate to his sparrow..

      • Bobby cortesi permalink
        October 23, 2011 6:33 pm

        Conrad- i agree that the elderly are very wise and learn from there mistakes but there mistakes are also something they’ve done.

    • Blair Tuider permalink
      October 23, 2011 5:24 pm

      I agree elders can see many things in life and know alot but are not always the smartest.

  4. Persephone Allee permalink
    October 23, 2011 3:28 pm

    Lessons are plentiful in this book. One of the more minor, but still important, lessons was that you have to work for what you want. Becoming an artist and making a living off of it takes work. I know this only because my grandma has made a reputation out of this for many years. Hokusai must have had a hard time spreading his reputation, especially since they didn’t have the same technology as they have today. His talent was jaw-dropping and simply amazing. He proves that with a little extra work, you can do anything. I know it is a little corny but it’s the truth.

    • October 23, 2011 4:31 pm

      This is very true. What you want isn’t always placed on a silver platter before you. You actually have to aspire to reach the goal of your desire. Hokusai shows this talent throughout the story, but one of the more visible places is where he paints the massive portrait of Daruma. His reputation in Nagoya was built on this painting that he worked so hard on.

    • Sydney Bebar permalink
      October 23, 2011 5:16 pm

      I completely agree! The story shows that everything comes with a price. And the price of art is hard work. Also, I agree that this saying may be overused and everyone looks over it, but it is a wise saying because if you think you can go into the world and just have fun, you are in for a quick awakening.

    • Ben Trouvais permalink
      October 23, 2011 9:54 pm

      I agree, people won’t always give you the things that you want. You have to work for them. That is really how you make a name for yourself. Now, people do one or two things and before you know it, they’re on ads and on the front page of the newspaper.

  5. October 23, 2011 4:24 pm

    I believe that one thing that we can gain from this book is that experience takes time. Now, you don’t have to be old to be experienced, just like you don’t have to be old to football. Now, the people in the pros did not just become star quarterbacks over night though. They probably played peewee football, football in high school, and football in college. All of this football playing required patience to move up another level. They got experienced the more that they played. We can relate this to the book by the fact that the old man took so long to learn how to draw. When he was six he was just learning how to draw all sorts of things. He says that nothing before his seventieth year was worth any note. That just proves that experience in anything requires patience and time.

    • Sydney Bebar permalink
      October 23, 2011 5:20 pm

      That is so true! No it doesn’t take a lifetime to be experienced, but it doesn’t take overnight either! The football connection was head on, it really expressed how you become experienced. Also, it is true that you may think you are good at something but you can only become better with time!

    • DREW BURJEK permalink
      October 23, 2011 5:33 pm

      Your right, Conrad. Experience is what you need in life and experience takes time to achieve. If you don’t have experience in what you do or what you are planning on doing, then no doubt you will not be good at it. And if you think you will just learn how to play football overnight, then you wont succeed at it. You need to have had experience in your life time to really be good enough to make it in with the pros.

    • Austin Stein permalink
      October 23, 2011 6:50 pm

      Conrad, I have to agree. Everything does take it’s time for perfection, and maybe not even that! But, the perfection doesn’t always forever. With Hokusai, he did take his time going down the Artist’s Road, but as he walked he learned. Once he had walked the path to it’s end, he was the aged man we knew through-out the book, but he was fully experianced, knew what he was doing, and so made him incrediable.

    • Mark Burjek permalink
      October 23, 2011 7:04 pm

      Patience is a big part of life, and without it, no one would succeed. Same goes for Hokusai, as he would never had become the artist he was without patience and perseverance.

  6. DREW BURJEK permalink
    October 23, 2011 5:17 pm

    There are many lessons to be learned by reading this book. One lesson is if you are patient and work hard, you can accomplish many different things. Hokusai had a passion for painting, and it is very hard to make a living in painting. I am positive that the first picture he drew was simply horrible, like every other normal human being. But, as he got older and practice his artistic skill in drawing, coloring, and painting he slowly enhanced his ability to make art. Now, as the old man he is, his skill is amazing. And without modern technology, the only way he could sell his paintings were by telling people, or possible putting up fliers, he couldn’t take a picture and post it on facebook for everybody to see it and know about it like nowadays. This proves that this job doesn’t just require practice, but it also requires alot of patience.

    • Bobby cortesi permalink
      October 23, 2011 6:36 pm

      Drew- definitely! one of the lessons the book gave me was that you have to be patient and work hard to get through life no matter what you accomplish, i agree.

    • Lyssette Bedolla permalink
      October 23, 2011 6:43 pm

      I agree having patience was a good lesson to take from this book because nowadays almost everything requires patience. Like the time everyone had to wait to see if they got into minooka t.a.p. it was hard and you had to be patient the whole time.

    • Elise Vice permalink
      October 23, 2011 7:32 pm

      I agree with what you said about being patient and working hard. You can’t just expect things to come to you, without you working towards it, and some people do, yet they never experience what they want.

    • Ben Trouvais permalink
      October 23, 2011 9:57 pm

      I agree with what you said about patience. Then, art was harder to sell and spread around. Who knows how much money you will get out of that. Today, all you have to do is talk to one man, and whatever you did will be in every corner of the country.

  7. Blair Tuider permalink
    October 23, 2011 5:20 pm

    The lesson I learned was when you get older the wiser you get. You see many things as you grow older, thus becoming more wise. What I took from the old man mad about drawing is that you can how what you love threw many forms of art.The lesson that can be learned from this book is that you can express yourself in many ways.

    • Lyssette Bedolla permalink
      October 23, 2011 6:38 pm

      I agree once you have more life experience you begin to see life in a different way. Its kind of like when your young and you think its so cool to tease others and then once your bigger you see its just a waste and there is really no value to it so it makes you wiser.

    • Mark Burjek permalink
      October 23, 2011 7:00 pm

      You’re right, when you get older you see many more things, which causes you too become wiser. And there are millions of ways to express yourself, you just have to find the one you enjoy the most.

  8. Bobby cortesi permalink
    October 23, 2011 6:31 pm

    Like most book this book gives a message or theme at the end like advice. To me the lesson was with time you will learn a lot as you get older and that you become more wise as you get older and more experienced in the world unlike a child or infant. Many older people don’t tend to remember many school smarts like the nature or science but they are experienced in life or events that occurred to them. I think that Hokusai’s image, art, and style lives on with japan and whoever reads his books or sees his illustrations. His image lives on through his art and his art lives through his books and history. His styles are remembered throughout history and his life stories.

    • Jacob Kosinski permalink
      November 13, 2011 1:53 pm

      Another leason I learned from this book is that you never stop learning. From the day you are born, until you die, you are always becoming wiser and learning new things.

  9. Austin Stein permalink
    October 23, 2011 7:00 pm

    The lesson I gathered from the book is that time brings the best. Hokusai shows this by only mastering japanese art after a good half-century. He experianced, and experianced, and experianced until he became the best at what he did. This chain is continued to Tojiro as he is determined to recieve the best after his hard work and his experiance at being the artist inside him.

  10. Lyssette Bedolla permalink
    October 23, 2011 7:14 pm

    In the book “The Old Man Mad About Drawing” I found several lessons that can be learned from the old man mad himself. However out of all the lessons that can be learned from Hokusai one really popped out at me and that was have pride in your work and take responsibility for it. In the book if ever defied that he couldn’t or wasn’t good enough, Hokusai would show those nonbeliever a thing or two of what he can really do with a brush and some ink. What I really liked is he stood by what he did and wasn’t afraid to take chances, so I really took that lesson away from the book and I’m learning to use it in real life. The lesson can be used by others, so his wisdom lives on and people continue to use his other lessons as well not just this one.

    • Jessica Sherwin permalink
      October 23, 2011 8:14 pm

      I never gave a big thought about pride for work he, or anyone for that matter, has made. You’re right about how Hokusai would show a thing or two to a nonbeliever, and I think that way of showing what you believe in should be.

    • Hannah Schram permalink
      November 1, 2011 4:33 pm

      You’re right about how Hokusai stood up for his work and took chances. This didnt really pop out to me after reading this book at first, but now that I think of it, everybody should have pride in the work they do. If you want to be an author, painter, director, or whatever it is you want to be, then you shouldnt be ashamed of your work. You should keep moving on and keep your patience just like Hokusai did.

  11. Elise Vice permalink
    October 23, 2011 7:20 pm

    The lesson that I learned was that, as many people have already mentioned, with age comes wisdom. As you grow older, you experience more things, make more mistakes, and learn from it all. They’ve gained more knowledge than younger people. From reading this book, I learned that no matter what, if you have enough passion for doing what you love, you can do it. Whether it’s painting, accounting, or teaching; if you set your heart to it, you can do it.

    • October 25, 2011 8:21 pm

      i like how you mentioned that you can only really gain experience if you set your mind to it, if you dont want to do something, then there’s no way you’ll take anything with you for your future

  12. nate zurawski permalink
    October 23, 2011 7:22 pm

    From this book I learned that you need passion and practice to succeed at something, if you are willing to put in the time and effort into whatever it is your doing, it could be learning an instrument, playing a sport, or even in this group, you have to have a passion for what your doing and you especially have to practice.

    • Jessica Sherwin permalink
      October 23, 2011 8:18 pm

      I agree, when you want to fufill something, you need passion to succeed that goal. You’ll also need practice of course, but passion will help you want to stick to that goal and not astray to far from the right path to succeed something.

  13. Jessica Sherwin permalink
    October 23, 2011 8:09 pm

    The lesson that can be learned from Hokusai is that you can always learn something new, even when you’re a wise old man like Hokusai. Even he who has lived his life drawing can still learn something new, for example, when Hokusai reached eighty-six he made “more and more progress”. What I took from the story is overtime your wisdom and passion grows, though time can be differ depending on the person. What lives on from Hokusai is the powerful inner message that you get when you see his drawings. It may have a main story to it, but it also may have a story to each stroke, similar to what he said in the story.

  14. Ben Trouvais permalink
    October 23, 2011 9:51 pm

    The lesson to be learned from Hokusai is that you need to be comitted to doing something in order to succed in it. Unless you focus down on something and do it the right way, you will have disappointing results. As Hokusai grew older, he became more wise in his drawings. That’s where you can say with age comes wisdom. As long as you care about something and want to do it, you will be able to accomplish it well. The part of him that lives on is the concept of keep trying. You can never please everyone all the time. As long as it pleases you, that’s all that really matters.

    • Tyler Pearson permalink
      November 8, 2011 6:57 pm

      I really agree, he had become more wiser and better at art as he grew.

  15. Alyssa Gue permalink
    October 24, 2011 6:45 pm

    A lesson learned from Hokusai is that you are constantly learning. No one, no matter how old, knows everything. You learn and grow from your experiences and your mistakes. When you share your experiences ith others, it allows them to learn from your mistakes and doings. No one should ever be content with what they already know, we should want to be learning something more about what we have known, or sometihng completely knew to us.

    • October 25, 2011 8:19 pm

      i agree with how you focus on age not being a deterrent in our learning capabilities, and how we should always strive for more knowledge.

  16. Jacob Kosinski permalink
    October 25, 2011 8:03 pm

    The lesson that i took away from this book is that we are best at doing the things we love to do and have passion for. Hokusai had a passion for drawing, and drew all the time. He was amazing. If Hokusai didn’t like to draw but he did it anyway, he probably would of not as been as good at it. If Tojiro devolops a passion for drawing, he will probably be very good at it too. This goes for anything; Soccer, sports, an instruement, painting, etc. If you have a passion for something, you can pretty much do anything.

  17. October 25, 2011 8:18 pm

    After reading this book, i really liked how much i took from it. even though i have never even met Hokusai, he taught me how to be proud of what i do, have determination, and to have patience. These things really connected with me because i too want to always get better at what i do, and learn more no matter how old and wrikley i get. I am also hoping to pursue a career in graphic design with a double major in engineering, so i can somewhat connect to the artistic theme of the book. I believe though that even people that aren’t involved in an area of the arts, Hokusai teaches about how important determination and patience is with everything you do, and i hope that these two skills a stuck with anyone that reads this book.

    • Hannah Schram permalink
      November 1, 2011 4:27 pm

      I agree, Jackie. Hokusai loved to draw and so he started off small but then progressed better as time went by. Although it took a lot a patience, he still managed to succeed in his drawings which anybody can do if they work hard at it.

    • cj moody permalink
      November 1, 2011 9:01 pm

      i like how you described how he taught you and how it mad you feel. i definitely agree with you.

  18. October 28, 2011 12:18 pm

    After reading this book, I think I can gain all this new information that I have learned. I really loved learning about the Japanese traditions and rituals. I really loved learning about how to do woodblock carving and how it’s realy cool to make a copy of a painting in this design or process. It teaches us the different ways of how Hokusai saw life. It’s just the way he sees it that maks it more enjoyable. I agree with you Jackie that there are many things we can learn from this story. I also agree with Sydney. I think you can really learn how to find what you love. It could be maybe you love to draw, or love to write (like me), or maybe you just love to be and idiot and mess around with other people. It’s just you need to find what you love and stick with it.

    • Tyler Webber permalink
      November 29, 2011 6:11 pm

      I can see that you loved the book, what was your favorite part?

  19. Hannah Schram permalink
    November 1, 2011 4:21 pm

    After reading this book, I’ve learned many messages and lessons from Hokusai. One of the things that I learned was that as you get older and as time goes by, you get more wise and gain more experience in life. Like Hokusai in this book, he has a strong passion for drawing but he is so itelligent with it because he started out small and just kept progressing. Although Hokusai may be excellent in how he draws, he still doesn’t know everything there is to know. We all make mistakes through our lifes which builds us to learn from them and gain more experience. Therefore, we can achieve anything that we want to do but it requires a little bit of time and a whole lot of patience.

    • cj moody permalink
      November 1, 2011 8:58 pm

      you are so right, as you get older you get more experienced and get better at what youre doing.

    • Yazmine Thomas permalink
      November 6, 2011 8:59 am

      Thats like somthing my dad would say i wanted before to before to quite ice skating beacuse i wasnt as good as the other kids in my class but he didnt let me quite i kept pratcing and i passed all the kids in my class all because of ,just like you said we can achieve anything that we want to do but it requires a little bit of time and a whole lot of patience i agree 100%

    • Tyler Pearson permalink
      November 8, 2011 6:55 pm

      I agree as well, because it seems that age and wiseness are intertwined.

    • Kamil Czaplinski permalink
      February 27, 2012 12:05 am

      That’s right. He is good, but only kept getting better. Through the years, you gain more experience on how to hold the brush, different styles and everything. Eventually you can make your own style of art and get it out there.

  20. cj moody permalink
    November 1, 2011 8:57 pm

    after reading this book ive learned a few messages like one that still everyone follows is that you need to practice and youll get better.. you cant just run out on a football field and start trying to run through people. it takes practice. hokusai has a big thing for drawing.. he needed ALOT of practice to get good. it take lots of practice and patience.

    • Yazmine Thomas permalink
      November 6, 2011 8:54 am

      Yes your right your not going to be able to just be great at what you never practice you have to pratice and patience and you will see improvements in your own work

    • Kamil Czaplinski permalink
      February 26, 2012 11:58 pm

      It defiantly does take a lot of time to do/ get good in anything in life. Nothing comes right away. As everybody says “Practice makes perfect”, which is very true. Like you said it takes time before you can get good at plowing through people in football.

  21. Yazmine Thomas permalink
    November 6, 2011 8:51 am

    I have to say the lesson learned from this book is the older you get the wiser you grow. So when your parents tell not to do certain things listen ! Also i learned that with pratice and patience you will get better at what you do. I have to say, i have always been the type if im not good after a couple weeks i give up, but reading this book showed me just keep trying .So the next thing i try if not good at right away im to keep trying ill get better.

    • Jacob Kosinski permalink
      November 13, 2011 1:48 pm

      I find it a little ironic that you say to listen to your parents when they tell you not to do something, but a big part of how you grow wiser in life is learning from your mistakes. If you never make mistakes in life, you will never learn anything from it.

  22. Tyler Pearson permalink
    November 8, 2011 6:54 pm

    I did learn a lesson by reading this book like everybody else. I think that the older you get, the wiser you become. It seems that wiseness increase as age increases, because that you have more experiences with life, the wiser and smarter you become, and that probably explains why my mom ends up being right whenever whe argue.

    • Tyler Webber permalink
      November 29, 2011 6:11 pm

      I agree that the older you get the more wise you get, what else do you think makes you more wise?

  23. Meghan Moreno permalink
    November 11, 2011 1:36 pm

    A lesson that could be learned from Hokusai is to try your hardest at what you want to do. You just have to have detirmination and never give up. With patience and time you can succed your goal. If you gail, you just grow and learn from your mistakes. No one knows what the future might hold and no one knows everything. The older you get, the more mistakes you make, then the wiser and smarter you become. What we can take from Hokusai is that if you want to accomplish something, never give up.

    • December 29, 2011 5:52 pm

      Your last sentence reminded me of this quote:
      “Always believe in yourself. Do this and no matter where you are, you will have nothing to fear.”
      -Baron from The Cat Returns

    • Zach Ciko permalink
      January 3, 2012 6:39 pm

      I completly agree that you must try your hardest at what you do; otherwise you will fail.

  24. Kevin Wilson permalink
    November 13, 2011 1:49 pm

    A lesson that i learned is something alot of people have already said in some of the other responses it is that with age comes wisdom. i think that when your older and you become more wise it is because you have been through more and made mistakes that you have learned from. also because when you make mistakes you learn not to do the same thing again and you can worn others not to do the same thing that you did. so with age comes more mistakes and more wisdom comes from that.

  25. Tyler Webber permalink
    November 29, 2011 6:10 pm

    This book taught the lesson of wisdom. As you get older the more wise you will get. After making one mistake you will learn not to make it again. Also you should try your hardest to do something that you want to do. Never give up and you will sucseed.

    • December 29, 2011 5:54 pm

      There may be times when the road gets tough. But if you keep going head strong, you’ll surely make it threw.

  26. December 29, 2011 4:59 pm

    we are ambitious in our younger stages of life, but as we get older we become wiser and more knowledgable.
    We all make mistakes and we will learn from them. Never give up, even if your dreams seem far away.

  27. Kamil Czaplinski permalink
    February 26, 2012 11:54 pm

    Many lessons can be taken out of reading “The Old Man Mad About Drawing”. Some more minor than the others, but in my opinion there was one big picture being put together through the whole book. This is to believe in something you want to do. To keep heading toward your goal, but be patient. You can’t get everything right away. That is just impossible. You have to work hard towards what you want and/or what you love. Patience is a virtue.

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