Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts

After viewing the "Pixel- Artists Who Use the Computer" exhibits and demonstrations at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, I felt compelled to draw a face using my Wacom and computer. This takes lots of practice! The new Wacom monitor I saw demonstrated there really caught my eye. The Wacom is built right into the monitor and you draw directly on the monitor screen. How cool is that? At $2500, I think I need to wait for several generations of product development before this monitor sits on my desk.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Drawing Practice

I want to improve my drawing skills and came up with this idea during one of my sleepless jet lag nights. I took a magazine photo (bottom center) and used different media to draw the image. The upper left is a pencil drawing, the upper right is the image with gesso and colored pencils, bottom left is arcylics looking at shadows and the bottom right is pen & ink with watercolor in Modigliani-style. Let's hope that you'll see progress as I continue to practice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Japanese Treasures

It's great to be home again and I have so many special memories of people and places from Japan. In Kyoto, I painted this little dorei doll, a clay bell that looks like a geisha. In other regions of Japan, dorei dolls are painted to represent the zodiac animals or Daruma- an Indian monk known for his religious devotion. He sat in meditation so long he lost the use of his legs.

After painting the dorei doll, I searched for Saiun-do, a little shop in the Gion or geisha section of Kyoto that sells supplies for Japanese painting. The top photo shows Anekoji preparing the wonderful materials I purchased and am eager to use. The watercolor gansai paints are made from plant pigments developed over a hundred years ago by the original shop owner. The soft colors go with suiboku-ga, or the Japanese ink paintings.

Of course, one needs the brushes, brush holders, sumi ink sticks, a suzuri ink grinding stone, water holder to rinse brushes, and a tiny vessel to add water for ink preparation. The single handle with five brushes bound together is called a renpitsu- unique to Japan. It's used for large sweeps of color where a gradation of shades is desired with one stroke. Anekoji demonstrated how to use the brushes and the different ink colors. I wanted to take her demo book home with all of it's soft colors, brush strokes and muted tones. I felt very honored when she had me sign her guest book along with other painters from all over the world.

Now it's back to unpacking, getting prints made of the photos I took and finishing my Japan journal.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tokyo Sights

Last Sunday, we went to Yoyogi Park to see the Harajuku girls and rock bands. The next day I passed through Shibuya Station and captured a photo of Tokyo's "Time Square". The highlight of the week had to be Tsukiji Fish Market. We got up at 4am to be there at 5 to see the market open up and the tuna auction. The world's largest fish market- 400 species of seafood weighing over 2500 tons from all over the world arrive every day. It trades 10 times the volume and five times the value of New York's New Fulton Fish Market. Women control the money in tiny little booths scattered throughout the market. Business is based on a handshake, very low tech with workers respected for their skills and knowledge. The surprising thing is that it doesn't smell fishy. They use seawater to clean everything and make ice to chill the fish. Jean spoke to an operator of one of the fish moving vehicles and he invited us to ride with him to a sushi place- a highly unauthorized and hair raising view of the market which not many get to experience. The sushi meal tasted great- fresh right out of the market.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Mt Fujisan, Koyasan & Takayama Mountain Trip

Japan is a country of mountains and volcanic hills. Memmorial Day the clouds cleared at Mt Fuji's timberline or Fifth Station- a treat this time of year when it's a 50-50 chance of seeing the mountain. The otherside remained in clouds all day.
Mt Koya is south of Osaka. It took four trains, two subways, a cable car and a bus to get to Koyasan from Tokyo. This sacred mountain is home to Shingon Buddhism. I stayed in a temple, attended early morning services and a fire offering. The vegetarian meals provided at the temple looked beautiful and tasted good. The coiling dragon garden is the largest rock garden in Japan. Over 200,000 memorials line the path to Okunoin Temple through a cedar forest to the resting place of Kobodaishi, the founder of this esoteric faith similar to Tibetan Buddhism.
The next train trip took me to Takayama on the other side of the Japan Alps from Nagano where the winter Olympics were held. The train followed the Hida River canyon to Takayama. The city is often called "little Kyoto" with its preserved neighborhoods of old style wooden houses. You can always tell who is visiting a home, temple, museum or inn by the shoes at the door. At the folk art history museum I met a group of junior high school students who wanted to speak English with me. I taught them how to say "see you later alligator". In the afternoon, I visited the Hida Village with homes from the 1600's to see how folks lived then.
My last week is in Tokyo visiting the fish market, another temple, garden and museum along with some last minute shopping. It's hard to believe that four weeks flew by so fast.