«From around the age of six I have been mad about sketching the forms of life.
By the time I was fifty, I had published a lot of drawings,
but until the age of seventy, nothing that I drew was worthy of attention.
At the age of seventy-three, I began to grasp the real structures of birds, animals, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow.
If I go on trying, at eighty I hope to have apprehended them still better,
and at ninety I shall have penetrated to their true nature,
so that at one hundred years I will have achieved a truly marvelous understanding of them,
and at one hundred and more, I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive.
May Heaven, that grants long life, give the chance to prove the truth of my words.»
– Hokusai, autobiographical postscript to One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, written in 1835, at age 75. Constantly seeking to produce better work, he apparently exclaimed on his deathbed: “If only Heaven will give me just another ten years… just another five more years, then I could become a real painter”. Hokusai died on May 10, 1849.