Monday, June 29, 2015

Diva's Challenge #224

This week's challenge is an interesting one. We were to use the pattern Tipple to fill a space. Tipple is a great filler because it's circles in different sizes. Circle is such a great shape, so simple yet it signifies so much in different cultures. I did a bit of research about circles and what they symbolize in the Japanese culture.

In Zen Buddhism, 円相 (ensō), a hand lettered brush stroke forming a circle that represents "a moment when the mind is free to let the body create." (wiki) Some artists leave the circle incomplete while others close it. 

I wanted to fill the ensō with tipple.

I chose not to close the circle because I don't think my mind is quite free yet to let the creation happen. Once I finished this, I felt the urge to do it's complement which is to fill the negative space with tipple.

And just for fun, I did one with just ink and my bamboo brush.

I think I'm going to buy a frame with three slots so I can display these together. I have seen ensō in various Japanese graphic art but never quite knew its meaning. Here's another interesting blog post about ensō here  You never know when a learning opportunity comes. This was fun!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

So Many Quotes!

As you know, quotes are an important part of my artwork. Words inspire my art, the quote above by Emerson was shown to me by friend Lili who posted that she could see me use it for my art. Indeed, I saw an image flash when I saw the quote. I knew I wanted to do flowers. I was thinking a field of flowers, all the same color except for one. But once I got started, I decided to go for fewer flowers. My first attempt looked like this.

Something wasn't right about this piece. I wasn't going for realistic. And then it hit me. What I wanted to represent was a rainbow flower in the middle of pink and blue flowers in support of all gender fluid youth and adults who struggle to fit in a world made for a binary system, like Chance from Mia Kerick's Love Spell.  I have been doing promotional artwork for Mia so it made sense.

In my daily journal that I have been keeping since last September, I usually include a quote...some are illustrated, some aren't. The ones that are illustrated aren't carefully thought out, often drawn carelessly. But sometimes, they turn out better than I had hoped. I didn't want to lose those images so I decided that I would redo them in my art journal. Here are ones I've done so far.

One of the things I wanted to improve was my hand lettering. My natural handwriting isn't bad when I'm deliberate. But what I wanted to do is to incorporate different styles, use different tools and techniques. I've been practicing brush lettering using my markers.

Lately, my daily quotes have been more artistic. 

What helps me to create my daily quote art is that I have a daily prompt for drawing. For example, today's prompt was comfort. What do I find comfort in? That's easy, it's my coffee every morning. It was then a matter of finding a quote and then putting together my art.  One day the prompt was for me to draw eyes. I actually had an image in mind so I had one of my daughters pose for me to use as a reference.

This one took awhile for me draw because I'm not very good at shading fabric folds.

Now it was a matter of finding a quote. I ended up using a poem by Christopher Pointdexter.

I'm not sure if we'll have a daily drawing prompt for July. I hope so. It's almost the end of the month. I may have enough art pieces to do another video.. Stay tuned! Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Diva's Challenge #223

This week's Diva's challenge is to use the pattern Umble. When I saw the instructions for drawing this pattern, I immediately loved how the instructional squares looked next to each other. I wanted to play with the spaces in between the pattern squares. This reminds me of intricate Japanese knots. Off to see other umbles!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Journey

Over the weekend, I went on a journey. I didn't leave the house but the journey took me back in time, helped me remember my past, and helped me learn something new along the way.

It started in my daily journal on Friday. I was to sketch a memory. So I sketched a  woman in a traditional Okinawan kimono and hat.

I've always loved the hat (hanagasa). It resembles a large red flower like the hibiscus which you find everywhere in Okinawa. The white waves in the blue background represent the ocean. Growing up, we had a small hanagasa that I used to play with. I asked my mother what happened to it and she said it was destroyed during the move from Okinawa to the States. 

Once I did that simple drawing, I wanted to draw the deigo flower (tiger's claw), which is the official Okinawan flower. My mother was a seamstress and a crafter (not a surprise where I get my love of creating) and she once made a deigo flower out of felt and colored tape.

Thinking about the deigo flower made me think of a song. I only remembered the first half of the first line. But I clearly remembered the melody. And thank you, Google, for helping locate the song on YouTube, which I will share. The puzzling thing was that this song was written in the 1990's, decades after I left Okinawa. How was it possible that I knew this song? Talking to my mother was not much help. She didn't remember sharing this song with me. She owns many DVD's that she made or her friends have made of Japanese TV programming and it's possible that I saw one of them that had this song. The other possibility was that this song was written using one of Okinawan traditional songs. So once again, I turned to Google. This time, Google didn't help me come up with an answer but it led me to another song, a traditional Okinawan song that I'm sure I learned as a child. By Friday night, I had listened to several versions of the song about the deigo flower and read about it's origin and it's interpretation. 

This song is called Shima Uta, which means Island Song. It was written by Kazufumi Miyazawa, the lead singer of the band The Boom. The members of The Boom are all mainland Jaoanese but Mr Miyazawa was so struck by the island and its music and also by the stories of war survivors that he wrote Shima Uta. It is a beautiful song that combines the unique Okinawan sound and the modern rock sound. You can listen to The Boom version here   The version I chose to share with you is one done by a JPop star, Gackt, who was born in Okinawa. And this version is sang in Okinawan, rather than the original Japanese sang by the Boom. There is an Okinawan version by the Boom but Mr Miyazawa's Okinawan sounded Japanese to me. The other reason why I chose Gackt's version is that it features another Okinawan favorite in the beginning and the older gentleman playing the sanshin (the three string instrument) and his Okinawan intonation was familiar to me. And the way the women sing at the beginning is how the traditional Okinawan songs are sung. And if you aren't a fantastic singer and you sing in that way, it can be quite overwhelming (sorry mom). 

Here is the translation of the song.

The Deigo flowers bloom, calling the wind, the storm is here 

The Deigos bloom profusely, calling the wind, the storm is here 
Over and over the sadness crosses the island like the waves 
In the forests of sugarcane we meet 
Under the sugarcane we say goodbye for a long time 

Oh island song, ride the wind with the birds and cross the sea 
Oh island song, ride the wind, taking my tears with you 

The Deigo flowers scatter, just swaying with the rippling waves 
A meager happiness is an ephemeral flower on the waves 
In the forests of sugarcane you sang, my friend 
Under the sugarcane we part for eternity 

Oh island song, ride the wind with the birds and cross the sea 
Oh island song, ride the wind, taking my love with you 

Oh ocean, oh cosmos, oh God, oh life, give me the evening calm for eternity 

Oh island song, ride the wind with the birds and cross the sea 
Oh island song, ride the wind, taking my tears with you 
Oh island song, ride the wind with the birds and cross the sea 
Oh island song, ride the wind, taking my love with you 

Every time I hear this song, I'm flooded with images of Okinawa...the beautiful beaches, the luscious landscapes, the military bases, foods, the people. And the way that the women singers' hands move is how mine move when I'm dancing.

It's a beautiful song. But for me, it takes on a special meaning when I think about the war survivors like my mother and her family. I spoke about it here  It was heartbreaking to read about the Battle of Okinawa in which nearly 150,000 civilians died, mainly by suicide. The war always has casualty on both sides. But in this case, I don't know who did more harm to the Okinawans, the U.S. Troops or the Japanese, who considered Okinawa dispensable. 

After the war, many survivors left the island, looking for work. And for the thousands of diaspora Okinawans, the next song makes you miss the island, the warm climate, and even warmer people. The song is called Tinsagu Nu Hana and it's about the lessons you learn from your parents. But for me, it also means learning from the history of your people. This time I used a version sung by the Boom and an Okinawan singer. I like it that it combines the traditional with the new. Here is the English translation.

Just as my fingernails are stained with the pigment from balsam flowers,
my heart is painted with the teachings of my parents.
Although the stars in the sky are countable,
the teachings of my parents are not.
Just as ships that run in the night are guided to safety by the North star,
I am guided by my parents who gave birth to me and watch over me.

There's no point in possessing magnificent jewelry if you don't maintain it;
people who maintain their bodies will live life wonderfully.
The desires of the person who lives sincerely will always run true
and as a result she will prosper.
You can do anything if you try,
but you can't if you don't.

I spent Saturday and Sunday looking through some of my photos from Okinawa and I kept going back to the videos. I'm glad I went on this journey and I'm determined to learn more about my home. Here are some photos.

My second cousin and me (in kimono)

This is the only photo I have of my biological father.

I wondered if you noticed that I was carrying a purse in many of these pictures. How cute!

Ok, so back to my art. The deigo flower was done in colored pencils. The background was done with Inktense blocks. I wrote the first line of the song, Shima Uta in Japanese (it's embarrassingly awful but I haven't really written Japanese in decades). The stamp you see at the bottom left is a stamp made in Japan (my husband had that made for me when he traveled to Japan for work). I hope you are still with me. The journey was bittersweet. I hope I didn't bore you too much with the details about the songs. I wanted to preserve my thoughts for my children. They probably won't read this now but maybe someday they will understand their heritage a little better.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Me, A Perfectionist?

My friend, Suzala and I have been discussing different types of art journals and art journalists. Some carefully plan each piece of ephemera and colors that will be used on a page, while others let the page emerge as they experiment with colors and textures. Most of the time, I'm definitely a planner, though I aspire to be the more spontaneous artist because I feel like that's what true artists do. I'm going to be discussing this more at a later time, 

 I think I mentioned before that my art journal pieces are usually driven by words, often a quote, and sometimes a poem. I then think of ways to visually represent the words. But for this piece (and the one I'm currently working), I started with inspiration pieces, both found on Pinterest. You can find it here and here. How interesting to draw a face on a map! We have a few AAA maps we used to use that we no longer use (thanks to GPS). So I chose a map of California to use. I chose a section of the map I wanted to use for the face and glued the map onto my journal.

And then I got stuck. I didn't want to exactly mimic my inspiration page and because I didn't have a quote or a poem that helped me visualize the final product, I just couldn't think of what do do next. I haven't finished this yet, but working on it. And now I had extra map scraps so I decided to used them for my second inspiration piece, the one in which scraps of paper were used to create hair for a figure of a woman.

I began by tearing and gluing scraps of pages from an old book and from my scrapbook stash. I used matte medium to adhere the scraps. I also randomly 'painted' the medium all over the page to add a bit of texture to the page.

I then used my inktense blocks to add color, leaving portion of it white where the face would be. 

I wanted to add more texture to the page so I used a stencil and my homemade ink spray to add a pattern.

I tore pieces of the map to create the hair but before adhering the pieces, I colored the pieces lightly with the spray. 

I drew the face in with Prismacolor pencils. I didn't want to use traditional facial colors so I kept the face mainly white.

Once I glued the hair, I had to find a quote.

The quote got me to thinking, on this journey, do I just follow the road, randomly turning, not knowing where I am or do I use a map to orient myself? I'm definitely a map user. On trips, even though we use our GPS, I still like to review the routes so that I can get the big picture in my mind. My husband, on the other hand, just follows the GPS.

Even with my art, I usually know the general direction I'm headed even though I may not know the outcome. I really would like to be more organic when I'm creating art, but I wonder if I would ever feel comfortable just letting go. Well, what does this have to do with being a perfectionist?  None of my pieces are perfect, but most are carefully planned out. I have done a few pieces in which I let things flow. But most of those pieces are unfinished, never shown, they are not fit for public consumption. But perhaps those pieces show my stream of consciousness. I think in order for me to grow as an artist, I need to let go, stop using the pencil and use a pen. How about you? Are you a planner or a spontaneous spirit?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Diva's Challenge #222

This week's Diva's Challenge involved using rainbow as your inspiration. And using the Diva's tile as my inspiration, I decided to use a black tile and my Gelly Roll pens. I have three sets of Sakura gel pens and none has a yellow that I like!

I've discussed previously that using a black tile intimidates me because you can't really pencil a design first. The control freak in me gets nervous when I have to 'go with the flow'. But every time I finish one, I'm reminded how freeing this process is. 

To all the Diva's Challenge participants, thank you for the lovely comments. I will try to visit everyone's page (I love how we interpret each challenge). Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Beads of Courage

The piece you see above is my submission to this week's Diva's Challenge #221. The Diva herself had organized a fun run to raise money and awareness for a program called Beads of Courage. In this program, kids who suffer from chronic illness receive a bead every time he/she completes a treatment or for testing. Please check out the main website here. There are so many ways for people to get involved. There are fundraisers, you can donate beads, you can participate in the "Carry A Bead" program. 

When I saw the challenge, I knew I wanted to create a necklace and I went through my list of patterns and chose Blooming Butter (the center piece), Jujubeedze (the first set of beads), Cruffles, and Jetties. I decided to keep the beads black/white with purple shadows. 

I'm really thankful to the Diva for letting us know about this great program! Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fauxbonichi Update For May

It's been a month since my last fauxbonichi update. As a quick overview, fauxbonichi (fauxbo) is my planner/journal that I use to:
1.  Keep me organized - important dates, daily to-do's
2.  Focus on my goals for the year.
3.  Help me capture my day.
4.  Another opportunity to draw.

The image you see above is my May 31 pages.

For the month of May, I went from a composition book, using one page per day to using the MiquelRuis gridded journal with two pages per day. I created my month view pages:

I even used my label maker for days of the week and the actual days. As you can see, I did a good job of keeping track of my goals (the colored squares), but lost steam drawing a highlight of each day. But I do love having the month view pages to get an overview for the month.

I also created a page for weekly menu and a page for weekly goals.

I know why I created the weekly menu page. I wanted to be able to make a grocery list based on what I planned. It sounded good, but I just couldn't (wouldn't) get it done. And don't even ask me what I was thinking for the weekly goals. Perhaps it was for weight loss and excercise. I just don't remember. So for the month of June, these pages did not make a return appearance. 

What I did use everyday were these pages:

In the Facebook Group, Fauxbonichi Journalers, we have daily prompts either to draw, journal, or techniques to try. These are great fun to do, especially for those days when you have very little inspiration. It was nice to have the prompts handy.

My daily pages had the same basic format from the previous month; the header for the date, goals, and weather and footer for appointments and to-do's. Here are a few sample pages.

I enjoyed the prompts. They gave me a starting point for color choice or choosing a daily quote or choosing a color scheme. I tried incorporating washi tape (the decorative tape), but for the most part, I don't really know how to use them. I'm not sure how much washi tape will be used in June.

Towards the end of the month, I scrapped the header/footer system.

I think the freestyle method of documenting my day is really my style. I enjoy it, I like the unpredictably of not knowing how my pages will look. I think this is going to be my June style.

The month of May had wonderful birthday, my nephew's graduation, end of year celebrations for my kids. It also had at least two days that all I did in my journal was to write my frustrations and negative thoughts. And that's what fauxbo is for, documenting my days, help me process my thoughts and feelings. That's why it's so valuable for me. Unfortunately, some of my pages are starting to come loose from the glued binding. I think that because I glue two pages together and because I use a wet medium, the pages come loose. I certainly could tape the existing pages but now will have to consider whether I will be using another journal. 

Here's my June month view.

I added a cover page along with a page for the daily prompt for June.

 I think my June pages are more creative than my May pages. Hopefully, I can add more meaningful journaling too!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Meet Chance César

I have been working with a LGBT Young Adult author, Mia Kerick, to create promotional graphics for her new YA release, Love Spell. The graphics I've created are part original art and part digital manipulation of stock photos purchased. This is something new for me, creating art around a character. I was at first nervous about creating them, not knowing exactly what to expect. But as I begin to create them, the more ideas I had for more graphics.

The main character, Chance, is a gender fluid teen which means he doesn't strongly identify himself in either binary gender system. And as the top graphic shows, sometimes he feels like a boy, sometimes as a girl. In this story, Chance, with the help of his best friend, Emily, tries to get the attention of his love interest, Jazz. On the surface, Love Spell is a romantic comedy full of teenage lingo and made up words. But when you dig deeper, you see a story of a teen struggling with identity, family issues, friendships, the future. 

The art and graphics I created are based on quotes from the book.

These are my original art work.

These are graphics I created from purchased photos and digitally manipulated.

This was a totally fun and creative experience for me. And I learned so much from this book. 

If you are interested in reading this book, here's the Amazon link: