Noriko Akamatsu is the Artist of the Month for the North Augusta Artists Guild. She was born in Yokohama, Japan and she lived there and in Tokyo until she was 10 years old. Her father was appointed the associate director of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in 1948 by the National Institutes of Health so she moved to Hiroshima for his work. There she finished high school and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and language at Hiroshima-Jogakuin College, a women’s college run by Methodist missionaries. She married Yasuyuki Akamatsu in 1960. He worked as a pathologist at the Cancer Research Institute of Osaka University. They lived in Osaka for eight years and their two daughters were born there. In 1968, her husband was invited to work as a researcher at the Medical College of Georgia, so they moved to Augusta. Their son was born here. In 1978, her husband died from cancer. She had three young children to support, so she got a degree in medical technology from MCG. She worked as a research assistant in the School of Dentistry for 19 years and retired in 2006.
Akamatsu was interested in art from a very young age. As a child, she liked to draw with crayons, pastels, water colors and charcoal. She also learned such crafts as embroidery, knitting and sewing. When she was in elementary school in Tokyo, she was fortunate to have celebrated artist Kiyoshi Saito as a teacher in her weekly art classes. Students would go outside and draw the landscape during the morning and Saito would critique the art during their communal lunch hour in the auditorium. During one of these sessions, he praised the work of Akamatsu. She still remembers how motivated and encouraged she was by his positive comments, especially since he was such a famous artist. She took art courses as electives in high school and continued to paint landscapes.
Raising her family and pursuing her career meant she had to set art aside for a number of years. She took up painting again after she retired. She resumed her study of watercolor painting and took classes with a number of well-known local artists. She remembers that Jim Gensheer taught her the value of retaining the white of the paper. One teacher valued tight detail while another encouraged very loose and expressive paint handling. She experimented until she found her own style. She has also pursued the discipline of ikebana, the meditative art of Japanese flower arranging. Many years ago, when she could not find the proper container for her arrangements, she took a ceramics course at Augusta College to learn how to make the containers for herself. She enjoys gardening and, until recently, did line dancing to stay active.
Akamatsu starts each painting with a light sketch of the main shapes of the composition. She never does a detailed drawing, preferring to draw in details with the watercolor and brush. She often works from her photographs and her preferred subjects are landscapes, seascapes, flowers and birds. Her subject is the beauty of the natural world. Her style is representational and her use of color shows great sensitivity. One of her favorite aspects of painting is the total absorption painting requires as her full attention is focused on the subject. She loves this peaceful feeling and likes being able to forget the nuisances of life while she is focused on her painting. Her goal is to always express joy in her paintings. She wants the viewer to experience a sense of peace from her art. She often paints personalized birthday and Christmas cards for family and friends. She shows great generosity of spirit in the care and thought she invests in each card. She wants her art to bring more peacefulness and joy into the world.
Akamatsu’s favorite artist is Claude Monet. She has wonderful memories of being able to visit Monet’s gardens at Giverny during a trip to France. She loves art in all forms and was thrilled to visit the Louvre. Her love of art led her to take docent training at the Morris Museum of Art. The training course lasted from August until the following March. She completed the required course of study and she leads tours there. She continues to read and take courses on the meaning and value of art to modern society and she is a member of an art book club associated with the Morris Museum. She has enjoyed getting to meet many other people who are interested in art. She enjoys trying to capture the environmental changes to the landscape by the seasons. She is especially interested in the changes of color from the autumn through the spring season. How the landscape expresses the passage of time fascinates her. She feels that art can be influential on peoples’ emotions and lives. She feels that art should promote peace and harmony. She does not like art that is grotesque or depressing. Art has been important in her life because it allows her to express her inner feelings of serenity and joy. Her love of art is a great comfort to her and has brought great enrichment to her life.