Words  Catherine Whitting

 Scarlet Onsen – The design journey and process 


Scarlet Onsen was inspired by my recent family holiday to Hakuba,Japan where I was captivated by scarlet faced snow monkeys playing in thermal hot springs and had the opportunity to study the art of Nihonga  ( traditional Japanese painting) with artist and teacher, Maria Tanikawa. She shared her knowledge on how to use washi paper as a canvas, how to outline drawings with sumi ink, how to mix natural pigments made from minerals, clay and oyster shells in a delightful one-on-one two hour class in the centre of Tokyo city with an Airbnb experience. She was a wonderful art teacher and inspired me to work with pigment and paper in new methods. Here is a link to her class should you want to try it online during Covid19! 


Inspired and back in the Sydney studio, Kate and I were curating a collection of hand-glazed pottery for a client with a contemporary interior design materials scheme in deep ocean teals, fiery scarlet reds and cobalt blues and the complete fusion of art and design began and Scarlet Onsen started to take form and shape 




Art Process

Here are the pigments that we used in the workshop

Scarlet Onsen – was an oxymoron of colour and texture. I experimented with mixed media combining designer’s gouache and watercolour. Layer upon layer, of memorabilia from the depths of my handbag, receipts from our favourite Gyoza, Matcha tea cakes, a new haircut in a cutting edge Kyoto salon, that fabulous new fuchsia and black top and ski lift tickets, Japanese newsprint, Shinkansen rail tickets and watercolour merged together like fabric warps and wefts with thick applications of designers gouache to create a rich fabric of texture and cracked colour. Scarlet Onsen captures the memories of these recent travels to the bright white powder-topped snowfields and thermal spring waters of Japan




Danks Street Waterloo homewares sourcing for our client in firey reds, deep ocean blues and forest teals inspired my art palette.. 


Kate St James and I curated a collection of pottery for our client and it inspired the colour palette for my artwork. 

Here is the original A3 unframed artwork; a torn, repaired, reassembled and woven assemblage of text, newsprint, paper, water colour, gouache, ink and pigment that captures the Spanish pottery colour palette of our client’s project and memories of my trip to Japan. My art making process is about capturing memories in abstraction, taking meaning from the everyday and translating that into a fabric of imbedded memory

Scarlet onsen was then exhibited at The Shop Gallery Glebe, The Glass Gallery Glebe and Gang Gallery Lithgow and became a series of 30 Limited Edition Prints available from The Curious Art Bar, Saatchi Art and Artlovers online art galleries as Limited Edition Giclee fine art prints, on 300 gsm museum quality, Hahnemuhle 'German Etching' acid free fine art paper and archival inks, hand signed and numbered by the artist in pencil, accompanied by a signed certificate of authenticity. Your order is custom printed for you on purchase Unframed fine art prints are sent from the SJW studio within 7 business days, packaged in acid free paper and reinforced postal tubing. Framed fine art prints are sent direct from the framers within 14 business days in a custom fine art travel box For full details of St James Whitting and the artistic collaboration of Kate St James and Catherine Whitting please refer to our E-Art Catalogue in the footer of any page

Collaboration with Resene Paints

Scarlet Onsen then became one of 27 artworks from our collaborative collection of works to feature in our signature range of paints coloured by Resene. The Elementals Collection fan decks are also hand painted in actual paint to get pure colour accuracy.


Our collection of artworks was then handpicked by the Resene Team and translated into a bold and vibrant collection of colours that are curated with art so that people can easily be brave with colour in their home and embrace change with confidence. All Resene paints are Environmental Choice approved to ensure our homes are colourful and healthy to live in! Be brave and breathe deeply. Here is the full colour collection  https://stjameswhitting.com/sjw-colour-palette/


St James Whitting

The Elementals Collection by St James Whitting is a stunning range of designs by Sydney interior designers, Kate St James and Catherine Whitting. Inspired by nature and the designers’ travels around Australia and the globe, the four designs showcase glorious colours in plush New Zealand wool with lustrous bamboo accents, hand-tufted by skilled artisans. The collection was designed to reflect the designers’ environment and the places they have visited on their travels. The duo was inspired by the elements of nature and the way in which they enhance one’s life daily. Each piece can be custom coloured and sized to individual requirements. The Elementals collection is suitable for a wide range of projects, from residential to large scale commercial fit outs. The stunning colours and timeless designs ensure these high-quality rugs will shine in a great number of design situations and are guaranteed to perform in high traffic areas.

Please click on the Rugs below to view in detail. For all enquiries regarding pricing and availability please contact us.



KATE ST JAMES and IAN CLELAND at our exhibition at The Shop Gallery Glebe

Kate and Catherine’s exhibition at The Shop Gallery Glebe was a delightful event that showcased the extensive collection of their individual and collaborative art in both original and limited edition prints,. I am delighted to represent this dynamic duo on The Curious Art Bar 

Barbara Hamilton

Curator, The Curious Art Bar


SCARLET ONSEN https://www.designerrugs.com.au/rug-collections/handtufted/st-james-whitting/scarlet-onsen/

The next journey of this winter watercolour was to travel into the design studio of Designer Rugs where Kate and I worked with the team of in house designers to translate Scarlet Onsen the water colour into a bold warm, textured rug made from 100% wool with Bamboo Highlights. Kate and I worked through hundreds of rug tufts to curate together the perfect palette for our rug design that shimmered like snow and glowed like fire under foot .


SCARLET ONSEN the original and limited edition print 1/30 went travelling and gallery hopping with the St James Whitting art exhibitions and workshops at The Shop Gallery Glebe , Glass Gallery Glebe, Creative 8 Studios St Leonards and Gang Gang Gallery Lithgow 


Scarlet Onsen Merino

DESIGNED BY: St James Whitting   |   Sydney, Australia

As perfect as it is practical, this 100% Merino wool scarf is custom made with original art and finished with a delicate eyelash fringe.



Kate and I adore translating art onto all things design and launched our Activate Art to Wear range at Azures Den Wellness and Lifestyle store in Cabarita and our online store! Particularly fun in covid to wear gym wear outdoors! Takes you from boot camp to dinner with the change of a top!


Our most recent translation of Scarlet Onsen has been in the winter warm merino wool wrap that has crystal clear clarity on the Japanese font and text and transforms any outfit into a celebration of art and colour, leather handbags, scarves and apparel. Cushions to match your artwork are made only to order with a social enterprise company VIDA, who contacted us to joint their signature artists in creating art to wear –  ( VIDA is also my grandma’s name whose portrait I painted for my year 12 HSC major artwork)… for the luv of art we just keep having fun!


It’s the journey of our design process and the relationships we make along the way and the opportunities not the destination that motivates Kate and I to keep on making art, independently, collaboratively and then designing with it together in our online remote design studio. 


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