To Akie Nakata stones are not simply materials or canvases on which to paint pictures. When she looks at all those numerous stones on a river bank her eye will be caught by that one stone that looks like an animal. And when she finds that stone she feels the stone has also found her. Akie believes that stones have their own intentions. She also believes her encounter with a stone is a cue from the stone itself giving her an OK to go ahead and paint what she sees on it. Hence, the stones on which she decides to paint are not arbitrary but significant opposites with whom she has established a connection and who inspire her to work with them. In all those encounters and in her art Akie shows her respect for those opposites by never processing a stone, never cutting off and edge to alter the shape.
“Stones may fall outside our usual definition of living organisms, but when I think of the long time it takes for a stone to change from a huge boulder in the mountains to the size and shape it has, as it rests in my palm, I feel the history of the earth that the stone has silently witnessed over the millennia, and I feel the story inside it. I feel the breath of a life inside each stone, so sometimes I paint while I talk to the stone as I hold it in my hand,” Akie explains.
In order to bring out and resurface the living being in the stone she proceeds very carefully and considering every step. For example, she will consider whether she is positioning the backbone in the right place. She takes the time to sense if it feels right or if she is forcing something that disagrees with the natural shape of the stone. She treads cautiously taking her paintbrush to the stone only when she truly feels it is the right brushstroke. Her painting is a dialogue with the stone and it is the stone who determines what she paints on it.
The art Akie creates is a life newly born in her hands out of her dialogue with the stone. What she paints is the life, the living spirit of the being in the stone. She leaves the eyes for the very end. Her work is complete only when she can see the eyes are alive and looking back straight at her. Completing a piece has nothing to do with the amount of detail drawn but rather whether she can feel the life in the stone.
“The stones and I are parts of the same earth. My stone art is collaborative work between two pieces of one sphere and I hope that each of my works passes into the hands of someone who values being a companion in the stone’s journey as much as I enjoy painting the life in the stone. We all stand on the same Earth and we come from the same Earth.” Akie shares.
This journey started while taking a walk on a river bank and encountering a stone that by its looks was a rabbit and nothing else. Akie liked collecting stones (natural rocks, not jewels or gemstones) as well as drawing animals since childhood and felt in that moment and through that stone in her palm those interests converged. Due to the value she places on leaving the original shape of the stone untouched there is no grinding or applying smoothing agents. Akie mainly uses acrylic paint adjusting the viscosity of the paint for each stone. Her drawing skills are self-taught. Since 2011 Akie began working as a stone artist and still each stone she picks up and works with is unique.