Sunday, November 22, 2009

First ever Sweet Potato Harvest (Fall 2009)

It's dusk and I just quickly dug up the first sweet potatoes from our first-ever sweet potato harvest. We planted 2 kinds of sweet potatoes in May 2009, and we are now a bit late getting them up as it is the end of November already. There has been lots and lots of rain this year so there are a few rot spots here and there. Overall these are perfectly edible and look quite nice for a first try. Should I make tempura or pie first? Or maybe the Japanese traditional "Daigaku Imo" would be a good use of these?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Beautiful People

I saw an amazing video today about the beautiful Omo people of Ethiopia, who use their own bodies as canvas, looking lovely in almost nothing except for the creative body paint, flowers and leaves they choose to decorate themselves with.
After seeing the video, I immediately googled the photographer, Hans Sylvester, but didn't find much on him except that he is an accomplished nature photographer. So then I went over to Amazon and found "Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa."
I ordered "Natural Fashion" and can't wait to delve into it when it gets here! There was also a 2-book set by the same photographer: Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley. Nice but a little pricey at $78.00.
Also found a book by photographer Carol Beckwith called African Ceremonies, and I am sooooo coveting the 2-book hardcover edition!
The only reason I didn't order African Ceremonies is because Amazon for some reason refuses to ship this overseas. I have tried buying a used copy of the set from the various people listed on Amazon, and though there are several used sets of this book listed for about $40, none are able to ship overseas. I did find one seller selling this for $105 that would ship overseas, but when you compare $40 to $105 (not including shipping to Japan) the splurge becomes less enticing. Maybe I should have it sent to my mother's place in the USA and have her forward it to me?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Technically it's a sketchbook....

...but it is starting to look more and more like an art journal. Well, I actually don't know, so tell me- what is the DIFFERENCE?

One would think a sketchbook would be full of "sketches" and an art journal would be full of "art." One sounds more humble than the other, and one sounds somewhat pretentious. How do you know the difference? Oh, and by the way, I have never kept a "journal" of any kind in my entire life. I guess I never really felt there was anything about my life worth writing about. So when I think of an art journal, I think of there basically just being some art in it, with the journaling part being entirely optional.

When I look back at the sketches, or "art" I have made, I remember the ideas, feelings, and events that were going on and which inspired me to make the art in the first place. Is that not basically the same as what a journal does, i.e. remind you of the moment? I think rather than "Art Journal, " I might prefer the term "Visual Journal." It seems less highbrow and more true to the way I use it- as a visual way to remember important moments or feelings that have passed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Self-Portrait Wednesday

It was a beautiful day for a walk in the rice fields with the dog. Couldn't ask for more perfect weather- sunny but not hot (the only kind of weather I really like). Many of the neighbors were out harvesting their rice, so the air was filled with the scent of freshly cut rice and the buzzing of tiny Japan-sized combines and trucks hauling the rice to and fro. Both the dog and I were very happy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Silver Week

We are in the midst of "Silver Week" holidays. Silver Week is not really a week, but 3 days in a row of holidays strategically created by the Japanese government to give all us hard workers a nice break before the very busy Fall and Winter seasons hit us. The 3 days come right after the weekend, giving us a 5-day holiday this month. One other such string of holidays exists which straddles the end of April and the first week of May, and it's called "Golden Week."

I have been enjoying the extra time off by spending extra QT with the dog and kitties:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Charles David Wilson

I had to fly back to the USA in mid-August at the last minute to attend my father's funeral. He passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. The coroner listed the cause of death as "natural causes" but we think it was possibly a stroke, a seizure, or a heart attack. I just wanted to honor my father here by uploading a photo I took of him the last time I saw him alive this March 2009.

Charles David Wilson
November 28, 1952 - August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Interview with William Morris, Glass Artist

"You'll never be sure. You don't wanna be sure. It's not a matter of being sure, it's matter of having enough faith and love for what you're doing."

Interview at Road Trip Nation:

William Morris Website:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Scanner Art Challenge

Been playing around with my scanner after my "mentor" Gary Reef posted his video and challenge this month. This is my first scanner artwork, though I have done plenty of copy-machine artwork in my college days. A copy machine is really just a scanner that's sitting atop a stack of paper trays! Lol! Click on this posts's title to see Gary's video instructions on making scanner art.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Art Journal

I started a new art journal in a proper sketchbook with nice thick paper. To break it in, I felt it was only proper to create a first page which said something about me, the author. I decided on some sort of of self-portrait but I didn't want it to be complicated. Inspired by my interest in palm reading, I created a zentangle work using repeated tracings of my hand to create overlapping spaces. I shift the angle of my hand and traced it probably nearly 20 times (which may have been a bit too much) to get lots of small spaces in which to doodle. I decided to leave the center hand empty so you could still make it out amid all the chaos.

This was fun and easy to do. It came out darker than I wanted with all the black sharpie doodling, so I plan on doing this again. If anyone else wants to give this a try, I would love to see your work! Post a link in the comments section!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marine Biology

These are scans from my sketchbook on the theme of "Marine Biology." I was supposed to make some ATCs (artist's trading cards) as part of  a group project going on at Artfest on this theme, but work and other things got in the way, so I ended up not participating. I procrastinated like crazy because I was worried that just submitting a card with a simple drawing on it wouldn't be "artsy" enough (I was going to color it, though). Most of the ATCs I have seen online contain all kinds of collage and other ephemera (read: 3D stuff glued onto the surface), and I am just not into collage or ephemera, unfortunately. So anyhoo here are the drawings:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Morning Sketchbook

I woke up before 6am unable to go back to sleep, partially from jet lag and mostly because of a disturbing reoccurring dream that I am being chased by aliens and shot at with laser guns. Over the past few months I have had dreams of escaping from someplace that had been holding me (and others) prisoner, as well as dreams of the world (or me and my friends) being shot at and chased by aliens as we run for our lives. So, to record this wacky dream, I got out my notebook and Japanese brush pens and forced myself to draw it out. None of these images look like the ones I actually saw in the dream because the dream was too dark and fuzzy, so these images are only symbolic of what happened and how I felt.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Artfest 2009: DAY 3

These are before and after pics of work I did in Tiphoni's "Abstract Theory" class. I really enjoyed the class. Tiphoni is laid back and a good teacher. We hardly had to bring any materials for this class, and since we were only "experimenting" there was no project to complete and it ended up being a completely NO-PRESSURE class. Plus, scribbling in ink with a dropper just felt so darn goooooood!

One of the "tools" I used for this drawing was a bunch of brown enoki mushrooms that the teacher brought in from an Asian food store. She also had a piece of lotus root (renkon), which my neighbor used, and a bamboo caligraphy pen, which I used to make the black lines around the egdes of this drawing. I love that there were Japanese things to draw with!

Artfest 2009: DAY 1

These are pages of a "transparent book" made in a class with Sass Colby, a well-known book artist. We had to make a book with pages which are transparent, using vellum, tracing paper, plastic, cloth, etc. for the pages. The transfer marker pen ran out before I could get to use it so I had to trace all my images onto the paper by hand using the window as a light source. I could have gotten a lot more done if I'd had that darn transfer pen!

Artfest 2009: DAY 2


Here are the two paintings I made in Misty Mawn's class called, "A White Out." Neither painting is done, but I wanted to show what I was able to complete during the 6-hour class (actually about 4 hours if you subtract all the demo time from the instructor). The centers of the flowers in the bottom photo are glass beads attached with white acrylic paint.

Here are photos of the instructor showing us how to make a gallon jar of Gel Medium disappear in about 5 minutes! No, seriously, she is showing her techniques for layering paper onto canvas, then ripping it to create texture for the background. She uses a a LOT of gel medium for this. Rumor has it she owns stock in Golden.

Artfest 2009

I just came back from Artfest 2009, and it was amazing! This was my first time at Artfest, which has been going for nine or ten years now. Artfest is 3 days of project-based workshops with teachers who are well-known for their techniques and/or styles, and often having been featured in one or more arts and crafts publications (such as Somerset Studio). The organizers are Tracey and Teesha Moore ( They hold Artfest every year at Fort Worden State Park in Point Townsend, Washington (2 hours north of Seattle). They have other wrokshops, too, so check out their website and try it for yourself.

For me, Artfest is the kickoff to my first "comeback" year as an artist after having had a 15-year art hiatus!