Spring Sumi-e Sketches

Practicing Confidence: My Summer Trip to Japan

Greetings everyone and sorry for the mostly quiet summer on this blog!  Obviously, I was out and about.  I hope you were, too!  One big summer stop for me was in Japan.  What can I say?  It was hot!  Think Florida times 10.  But I had a lot of fun sightseeing and visiting my in-laws.  I also had many opportunities to practice my word for the year: confidence.  Let me give you a list:

1.  I took my first solo flight, about 12 hours, to Japan.  I was quite nervous, as I’m prone to getting motion sickness.  But I’m happy to report that all went quite well.  I watched a lot of movies and even had a chance to lie down.  My advice to anyone who suffers from anxiety or motion sickness on airplanes, bring a calming tea and play soothing songs on your ipod or smart phone.

2.  I took many hot spring baths while I was there.  Surprisingly, they cool you off in the summer the same way they warm you in the winter.  This was not my first time to take the hot spring bath, but it was my first time to take a public bath!  At one of the hotels we stayed in, that was the only option for taking a bath or shower.  As you know, this is not a common practice in the U.S.  Swimming pools and hot tubs are about as far as we go here.  I’m not going to lie, it was a little awkward!  Me trying to cover myself with a small towel and avert my eyes wherever possible.  But I did it!  And luckily the Japanese are known for their modesty and politeness.  Would I do it again?  I honestly don’t know…

3.  I’m getting more and more adventurous with the food there.  It was like one taste of sushi and off I went!  I think I’m at the point where I can eat anything from the sea.  I’ve also tried raw egg over a cooked dish.  My newest test was eating really fresh squid that was dead but still moving and changing color!  We were told to chew it very carefully because it might stick to our mouths 😉  But I can tell you this:  It tasted wonderful and I loved it.  Word to the wise:  don’t think about it, just try it.  Then decide.  So it turns out I’ll try anything… that is until my mother-in-law suggested raw horse meat…

4.  Two words:  Japanese baseball.  It looks like baseball.  But it sure doesn’t sound like it.  Ironically, Americans like their baseball quiet and the Japanese like their baseball rowdy!  We were given plastic sticks to hit together and long balloons to blow up, wave, and set free.  Talk about culture shock!  But by the end, I started to get the phrases and motions down.  And to tell you the truth, it was quite fun!  Definitely more action packed from where we were sitting 😉  And the best part?  The Fukuoka Hawks hit a home run AND won the game.  It turns out baseball is baseball when it comes to winning.

Practicing confidence isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it if it means you get to try new things and have new experiences.  It helps when you have supportive friends and family cheering you on.  In my case, there also happened to be a couple bright spots waiting at the end of the journey.  My sweet husband was nice enough to give me his business class seat on the way home.  I also got to make an official artist seal (stamp) for my sumi-e paintings.  See the photo below.  It reads from right to left using old Japanese/Chinese characters.  It means “Quiet Storm.”

How will you practice confidence in your daily life?  Will you be quiet like American baseball?  Instead, try making a little noise!

 

Scottie Dog Sketch

Scottie Dog

brush pens

Frolicking Frogs Sketch

brush pens

brush pens

Telling a Story with Pictures

Japanese sumi-e ink and collage on rice paper

Japanese sumi-e ink and collage on rice paper

Happy Friday!  Welcome to my current style.  I’m also practicing the idea of carrying a character from illustration to illustration.  What do you think will happen next???

Tour of My Mindwork Art Exhibition

Greetings 🙂  Can you believe it’s the end of October already?  I hope many of you had a chance to see my recent art exhibit at the Troy Public Library.  But if you didn’t, don’t fret!  You can still take the virtual tour now.  Enjoy!  (Don’t forget to let your mind wander…)

Mindwork honors the mind as both creator and creation.

That’s all for now…  Until next time!

Mindwork: My Art Exhibition at Troy Library

Greetings 🙂  I’m excited to report that my artwork will be showing at the Troy Public Library for the month of October.  It was a lot of work putting together, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  It’s a combination of work, some adult and some children’s illustration.  If you’re in the area, you should come check it out!

I’ve been talking a lot about bucket lists lately.  Speaking of which, I can cross one item off my list.  In a recent post, I offered a tour of Denise Fleming’s Story Park, which features her work at the Toledo Library.  I mentioned that it’s a dream of mine to have my work displayed in a library.  I guess some dreams do come true…especially when you make them happen!  What dream will you make happen?

Bamboo with Red Bird

sumi and watercolor

All Its Birds

brush and ink

“the universe takes care of all its birds.”
Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I recently read Wonder by R. J. Palacio, and I highly recommend it to everyone.  It’s the story of fifth grader Auggie, a boy who was born with a facial deformity, and how he faces the challenges of transitioning from home school to mainstream school.  As I said in my Goodreads review, I think reading this book will help humans learn how to be a little more humane.

When I attended the SCBWI summer conference in L.A. last summer, Gary Schmidt gave the last keynote speech.  He offered the writers in the room some serious advice, which has stuck with me to this day.  And yes, I’m going to quote him once again.  😉  He said, “Write stories to give kids more to be a human being with.”  I think Palacio has done that.  We can, too.

Getting back to the book, my favorite chapter is only one page and is titled, “The Universe.”  The narrator of this section is really questioning how the universe could allow kids like Auggie to exist in the world.  Why do some people get all the luck and others none at all?  I guess it depends on how you look at it and what you define as lucky.  Auggie is lucky enough to have a loving family and support network to protect him and serve as his nest.  He’s also learned to be very strong and brave in his own way.

Here is my favorite quote from the last lines of the chapter:  “maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end.  the universe takes care of all its birds.”

This can be a hard concept to accept sometimes.  But I think the more that we believe this and strive to embody this in our world, the more we can make it a reality.  It is our choice.  We all have a responsibility to take care of each other.

“The Terrified Eye”

brush and ink

I’ve been curious about “the terrified eye” (which I kept calling “the terrible eye” and “the terrific eye” by mistake– Don’t you just love “eggcorns” ?) ever since I read Gary Schmidt’s book Okay for Now.  How can you not be concerned with the outcome of this eye?  Which in this case belongs to 8th grade narrator Doug Swieteck, who’s having trouble at home with an abusive father.  He finds solace in art, particularly in viewing Audubon’s illustrations for The Birds of America.  “The terrified eye” both represents the main character’s own situation and that of one of the pictured birds: The Arctic Tern ( Plate CCL).

What is even more interesting is that Schmidt seems to have been fixated on this eye for quite a while now.  It shows up in several of his other books!  In the aforementioned book’s predecessor, The Wednesday Wars, 7th grader Holling Hoodhood is constantly getting the evil eye from his teacher.  She has the habit of rolling her eyes at him, which is not a very teacherly thing to do.  😉  Our other narrator, good old Doug Swieteck, shows up in this book with a BLACK EYE.  And then there are the rats, which just happen to be named after two characters from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.  I love this line: “I looked back, and there were the demon rats, racing with their scabby paws toward me, their eyes filled with the big M–Murder!–and their pointy heads bobbing up and down with each leap.”  How’s that for imagery?

But we’re not done yet.  The eye shows up in an even earlier work, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy In this book, 13-year-old Turner Buckminster, a minister’s son mind you, starts out in a new town by getting into a fight.  An elderly neighbor, Mrs. Hurd, gives him some advice on how to handle someone bigger.  “You were supposed to hit that boy in the eye.”  Later on, Turner comes face to face with a whale while out in a boat.  Schmidt not only describes the whale, but also highlights the main character’s deep connection to it.  “Its great fins slapping the water.  and its eye…its eye.”

I decided to study my own “terrified eye” for this sumi-e painting.  I’m drawn to this eye.  Aren’t you?

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