Cold as the Winter Wind, Sharp as a Fox (Yuki-Onna)

Cold as the Winter Wind, Sharp as a Fox (Yuki-Onna) cut paper art by Patrick Gannon

size: 8 1/2 x 14 3/4 inchesmedium: cut paper on wood private collection

Look, if you dare, into the mesmerizing, frosty gaze of Yuki-Onna, the winter woman, the temptress of the snows. Feel the chill creep up your shivering spine. You hands shake from the frozen air and the arctic fear. Will you go to her when she beckons you out into those cold, cold wastes? Will you welcome her icy breath? Will you surrender your dimming warmth as she encompasses you in her pale arms, comfortless wintery lullabies gliding you off to frost-tinged sleep?

Lafcadio Hearn introduced me to Yuki-Onna in his fantastically spooky collection of ghost-stories and yokai-tales, Kwaidan. That frosty mix of mercilessness, loneliness, regret, and love stayed with me, defining Yuki-Onna. Like most folk tales, there are numerous versions of Japan's Snow-Woman; icy temptress, lost soul, killer, lover, ghost, goddess.

Cut-paper is, by definition, a hard-edged medium. For reason's I will probably never understand, I always find myself trying to push this very dry, very sharp technique to be wet, oily, and, in the case of Yuki-Onna, soft and translucent. Always a fun challenge. The pale skin tone, with the wood grain visible underneath, was achieved with at least four layers of two different kinds of washi paper.

Detail views follow:

Cold as the Winter Wind, Sharp as a Fox (Yuki-Onna) cut paper art by Patrick Gannon
Cold as the Winter Wind, Sharp as a Fox (Yuki-Onna) cut paper art by Patrick Gannon
Cold as the Winter Wind, Sharp as a Fox (Yuki-Onna) cut paper art by Patrick Gannon