Friday, October 28, 2022

Haiku Canvas - by Claudia Neubacher

Hi, servus and thanks so much for stopping by today! 

I am back again after a long break and a summer that has been dominated by Covid-19 (with me having come down with it at the start of July and then struggling with Long Covid for the following two-and-a-half months). So instead of spending a lot of time kayaking, gardening, hiking or swimming, I was forced to go at a very slow pace - something that isn't always easy for me and often makes me restless, nervous or slightly depressed. I had to focus on my mental health and find things I could do that felt relaxing and rewarding at the same time. As this state of being forced to hold still (almost) always gives me panic attacks and shaky hands, crafting, painting or drawing wasn't much of an option - but it brought back my love for writing poetry! 

Especially Haiku turned out to be a new (old) love of mine - this Japanese type of poetry combines a lot of things I like: observing nature, looking closely, practising self-awareness, meditation and writing - in this case I'd like to describe the latter as "using words to "paint" impressions". 

My English isn't good enough to write poetry in, so I do that in my native language (German) of course. But at times I also try to improve my English and challenge myself - so I've also experimented with Haiku in English (not that I think I've been very successful at that...but it was fun and another good thing to pass my time with). 

When I picked the stencils for the project for this column article (which was originally the one scheduled for early summer) I had a little canvas with a landscape collage in mind - inspired by the surroundings of my new home next to the lake and the Austrian Alps. Of course back then my idea was to do it in Spring colours or quite colourful at least. But when I finally came to work on it, it had already become early fall and my mood had changed too at that time. I now kind of "think Haiku" everyday - it has become a habit almost. And one of my tries at English Haiku led to this one:

the year's final gold
on mountain tops and fields
crows' cries from roof tops

It is what I see and hear when I take the walk by the small village church down to the "Reintaler Moss". Especially when the sun kind of kisses the tops of the mountains across the lake, just before it sets, there's a very special light mood and it beautifully contrasts the fields that have already started to turn their browns into dark greys and muddy black. 

After I had written this Haiku, I decided to also try to capture that impression in my collage piece and do a "Haiku Canvas".  

Of course I needed to look for totally different paper substrates than I had originally had in mind for my Spring or Summer theme - now I needed some more brown-ish, grey-ish ones that would make the "final gold" pop instead of stealing from it. 

I am a paper hoarder. You know me. I even keep paper scraps that I use to clean my brayers on by rolling off any excess paint. The picture above shows some of these alongside some old book pages, tissue papers, left overs of wrapping papers and collage paper scraps from other projects.  

I picked a canvas that matched the sizes of the chosen stencils and the composition I had in mind, so I could build my little village scenery accordingly. 

To do so I simply layered the stencils directly on the canvas by putting the images in their future places - or at least close to these. 

I knew I wanted to layer several differently sized hills with various fields at the bottom - so there I just made sure the heights of the stencil designs still fit below the village's image. To "build" my village I just used one half of the beautiful design of Rakefet Hadar's "Inner Dream Houses: Eye" stencil

I simply fell in love with the wonky roof tops and the houses looking like sun beams pointing towards the sky. 

I started with applying black acrylic paint through the stencils onto a mix of papers. The black and yellow scrap from cleaning the brayer was the perfect substrate for my huge background mountain, sun-kissed on its top:

And Jeanne Oliver's "Abstract Marks" stencil is the perfect mountain, isn't it?

Also perfect to build my sun, some foreground hills and the sunflower and wheat fields on the soft hills were these stencils:

Roxanne Evans Stout


Cynthia Silveri

and her

as well as her

Writing Haiku means you leave as much as possible open for the reader to conclude or experience, but still pick a precise moment of an observation in nature and try to pin that gracefully, but still in a subtle style. The syllables in written Haiku should follow the scheme of 5-7-5 in three lines, but nowadays do not have to be followed absolutely precisely. But you should try to stick as close to that as possible to obtain the special Haiku melody. 

Of course there are no syllables to count when it comes to a "Haiku painting" or collage, but I still made it my goal to use only a small number of different styles of shapes and colours and leave enough open space (=uncovered areas and negative space) so the main idea of the subject would strike immediately and without any additional adornment - just as a Haiku should do. 

I only used black acrylic paint and beige (DecoArt's beige Chalky Gesso) to prepare all the collage pieces, varying the substrates I applied them onto. The village was done on some white thick wrapping paper, so the white from the houses would strike and contrast the grey and beige tones. 

Especially the beige on the brown Kraft tissue looked amazing! 

Stencilled goodness - a cause for joy already: 

Ready to do some not too precise cutting-out! And then on to a first lay-out!

Parts of hills I cut off from one side were used on the other side of the design - here to be seen with the grey hill to the right. Nothing was wasted! ;)

The roughly cut out collage pieces got glued to the canvas using DecoArt Satin Decou-Page and a very soft wide flat brush (to not tear the tissue papers). The Sharpies worked really smoothly on top of that. The background was quickly done using black, beige and mixes of the two...

I later went in with white and yellow Sharpie pens and a black permanent marker to add some colour and detail here and there. Also some of the houses were painted beige to fuse the village visually with the rest of the design. 


The finished piece has already found its place on our wall next to the fireplace and I really love it there. 

The canvas is quite small. As is a Haiku - but both - if you succeed - are full of wonder. 

Having said this: don't stop looking for little wonders - life is full of it!
Stay safe!



  1. I love your process! I did Haiki years ago and it has prompted me to return to its simplicity. Mixing it with mixed media is a fabulous idea - thank you for sharing!!

  2. Thank you very much for the kind words! x

  3. Beautiful Claudia!


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