Mural

Finally!

Alright to recap, this mural was donated to the Kindergarten in Sayulita, Nayarit. I updated a few work in progress images and details here:

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Unfortunately this is on a pretty busy street, so getting a full image of the finished wall won’t happen for a while. I took a bunch of smaller photos, close up photos to make up for it. There was actually a weird kind of awkward photo shoot going on while I took these photos… Some girl in a dress too short to be called a dress getting a little too friendly with the palm tree next to my wall and about 20 people standing around watching.

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And there it is! I can’t tell you how many mistakes I made while I did this, and just going back yesterday to take these photos it was a little painful not being able to go back into it and fix things…. But the everyone at the Kindergarten (especially the kids!) are really happy with it so I need to just be happy with it too. Next time I do a wall like this there will be some pretty major changes in my process though.

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Bokeh

You know that expression”you learn something new everyday”? Well today I’ve learned about 20! The most interesting has got to be this technique to create a really nice bokeh effect. Bokeh is the term for those bubbles of color that appear in photos when the background is super out of focus and their surprisingly easy to duplicate. Here’s the background I’ve been working on, and it only took me about 10 minutes (most of that was just creating the new brush tool)

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I’m considering whipping up a quick “how to” for this. It’s so cool, and way easier than it looks!

Japan Trip Day 9

The next day, our last day in Japan, went a whole lot better. We woke up absolutely determined to finish everything that we had missed our first time in Tokyo because of flight delays. Our first stop was Yokohama, an area not far outside of Tokyo. There we went up the Landmark Tower to the 69th floor, which only took about 15 seconds on the direct elevator, and the view was incredible.

When you go down the Tower you get dropped in the middle of an enormous mall that’s a little maze-like, but while we wandered around trying to find the exit we couldn’t help walking into the Pokemon store that was so loud and full of people you had to yell just to be heard, and the Ghibli store that had just about every Ghibli-themed nicknack you can imagine. We were going to stop by the Ferris Wheel that’s next to the tower as well, but we decided we didn’t really have the time and the Osaka one was much more impressive anyway. We did browse through a little flea market that was set up nearby though. It was mostly young women cleaning out the old cloths/bags/accessories from their closets, and a few people with antiques.

When we made it back to Tokyo, our first stop was Meiji Shrine since we’d missed that on our first day. The shrine is amazing, huge, beautiful and crowded! It’s located in the middle of some of the busiest areas of Tokyo and it’s a major site so there are always people there, but that makes it a great place for people watching. I WISH I’d had more time there. I could have sat and drawn all of the different types of people in that crowd for hours. But we did take lots of photos.

I was taking a photo of the shrine entrance, but when I looked closer I saw that I had caught these two in the side frame and it was so much better then the picture I was trying to take. It’s a little boy and his mom dressed up in traditional dress for a special occasion.

We were also so amazingly lucky; there were two weddings going on at the shrine while we were there. This first photo is of the later wedding, since they were still preparing and taking photos.

Ant then this photo is of the first wedding to take place, as the bride and groom had their wedding photos taken just before the ceremony began. (Is it just me, or is the groom making a really funny face? lol)

While we waited for the wedding procession to begin, we walked into the inner grounds and photographed some of the people walking around. There were kids everywhere, dressed up in their finest.

Then, just as we were about to leave, the wedding processional began. Everyone in the square made a path for them to walk through to the main building.

And the wedding party bringing up the rear (one of the girls got a little distracted by something interesting on the ground…)

And then they were gone! The crowd went right back to being crowded and we headed to the exit to snap one last photo of the all the people in the shrine.

Just a few minute’s walk out to get out of the forests surrounding Meiji Shrine (and a short pit-stop for beef bowls and ice cream), and we popped out into Harajuku. You know that awful Gwen Stephanie song, Harajuku Girls? Yep, that’s the place. Right next to Meiji Shrine, there’s one of the craziest shopping districts you’ll ever see.

We walked around there for a little bit before heading off again, this time for Ikebukuro (another crazy entertainment/shopping district) to try just ONE last time to see the movie we had tried and failed to see three times now. We got to Ikebukuro with no problems, since it’s just a few stops away from Harajuku, but once there we realized just how difficult it was going to be to find the cinema with the incredibly vague directions google had given us. It was like walking into a mini Shibuya… but somehow, I’m still shocked, we actually managed to find our way to the right cinema (there were several). It was tucked away down one of the streets and on the 6th floor of an arcade. Our fourth try finally worked out and we walked into the movie as the previews began, and I have to say, it was SO worth it!! We saw Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心) and I’ve never been a big fan of Japanese cinema before, but this movie completely changed my mind. I would have watched it twice if I could. The funny thing is, everyone was almost completely silent during the whole film, and even stayed (still completely silent!) until after the credits and the light came on. I normally do that because I like to wait for the crowd to move out, and so many movies have extra clips at the end nowadays… but I’ve never been in a theatre where every single person stays. 0_0

By the time we got out of the movie it was getting a little late, so we used the rest of our time to do a little last minute shopping/browsing around Ikebukuro. When the stores closed around 9 we swung by Hamamatsuchou to see Tokyo Tower. We didn’t have time to go up it, but the light show going on around it was worth the trip. I wish I had a photo but my camera just couldn’t handle the night shot. Maybe if I’d had a tripod, but it just turned out an orangey-yellow blob. I did at least manage to get one last photo of the shrine next to the tower. The Shrine is called Zojoji and features rows of small statues called Jizoubosatsu (地蔵菩薩  – じぞうぼさつ). They represent the souls of unborn/still born children and those wishing to pay their respects dress the statues in warm knits and bibs, and place windmills, candy and small toys around the bases.

Japan Trip Day 8

Day 8 was mostly a travel day for us, since we were heading back to Tokyo from Osaka, but we got up early in the morning and headed out to fit just a couple more things in. Our first stop was Osaka Castle. It’s a beautiful structure that pops up over the trees that surround it. I can’t imagine what it must have looked like when it was still in use; it must have been incredible!

The interior has been turned into a museum and each level is different. There are letters written by Hideyoshi Toyotomi himself, clothing worn by the people who lived in the castle, there are even little models mixed tiny live action reenactments (they’re adorable and Lan and I were hooked for a good 30 min even though we were in a hurry). When you get to the top you can walk out onto the balcony, and the view is beautiful.

The castle was great, but the best part was when I was suddenly mobbed by a group of school kids on a field trip. A girl was saying something to me (VERY LOUD) and I couldn’t quit understand at first. It sounded as if she was asking me where the bath was (“ofuro”)… then another girl whispered something to her and she said, “Where are you from?” (again VERY LOUD). I told them I was american in english and then japanese and got a chorus of “Woooooooow!!” and clapping. They practiced their english with me a little more, telling me things they liked and disliked. One girl said, “I am Japan.” then asked to shake hands. It was so cute! I wish I could have talked to them longer but we all had to move on so I shook a couple more hands and waved bye. Lan snapped a photo of the kids while they were asking me questions.

This was the first time any kids had actually stopped to talk to me, but throughout the whole trip we’ve passed by groups of school kids on their way somewhere to a chorus of “Hello! Hello! Hello!”. Almost always little boys, and almost always sounding more like “Herro!”

So we decided we had time for just one more stop after Osaka Castle before we headed out, and it would be the Osaka Ferris Wheel. It was a quick stop; a short train ride and we ran right over and hopped in line. There was almost no one there so we got right on. The view from the top was really pretty and we got to see the whole harbor .

That done, we hopped back on the train (after grabbing some takoyaki real quick) back to our hotel to grab our bags and make our way to the Shinkansen for one last trip back north to Tokyo.Here are some more train drawings and doodles.

The train ride wasn’t that bad and we were still hopeful that we’d make it to that movie we’d now tried twice to get to… but then there was the trek to our hotel… We got in at Tokyo Station, which is a beautiful station but nowhere near where our directions told us we needed to get onto the subway. Of course, we didn’t know that, we just followed the signs… for about 5 city blocks, with all of our luggage. Up stairs, down stairs, outside then back in. Finally we made it to the subway station we were looking for and had to walk another 2 city blocks just to get out of the station and to the hotel in Nihombashi! By the time we got there it was so late and we were so gross and tired we decided to just call it a night. Oh, and here’s the lovely view from our hotel window.

Yah, that’s an office. I could have reached across and stolen some of their pencils if I’d wanted to…

Japan Trip Day 2

Today was a long day! I woke up with the sun and headed out a little bit after… but didn’t get very far. I explored a little bit around the hotel, but had to head back in and wait on Skype for my friend. Her flight finally got in, but she had no idea how to navigate to the hotel from Narita by the train system. It can be WAY more confusing than you’d think it would be, especially since we were both so unprepared when we landed. About three hours later she got in, safe and sound and after a quick shower we headed out to Shibuya.

Just outside the station in the opposite direction of the intersection, there’s a very cool swervy little one way road.

Then… there’s THIS.

Shibyu Crossing… it’s pretty nuts. Lan and I wandered around this area for a good hour or two and crossed several times and it’s a lot like a really intense game of human Frogger. You better be ready to hop.

Do you remember that very sad movie about the Japanese dog named Hachiko? Well he was a real dog, and he really did wait for his owner all that time, and this is his statue outside of the Shibuya station… being ridden by a very drunk man.

For those of you who don’t know the story; an Akida named Hachiko would follow his owner to the train station every morning on the man’s way to work and then wait until the man returned that evening, and follow him back to their home. In 1925 the man left for work, but never came back. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. The dog continued to wait for the man at the train station until his death in 1935.

So after Shibuya we hopped back on the train and headed up to Shinjuku to wander around a bit more.

Mmmmmmm plastic food looks so delicious…

We wandered around for a few more hours, walking up and down the streets packed full of people. A few of them had on some really amazing Halloween costumes! When we realized it was getting a little late we started to try to find a train station… and got completely lost. We found a small local station, but couldn’t find where it connected to the Line that heads towards Shibuya and back towards our hotel. We ended up buying a ticket that was eaten by the machine and running back and forth through an underground mall which had signs leading us in opposite directions! When we finally made it onto the train, it was with a little sweat on our brows. We somehow managed to catch the very last train of the night!

So, lesson learned: Keep a better eye on the time… and try asking for directions first.

Tomorrow we leave for Izu and Arai Ryokan!

Japan Trip Day 1 Part 2

It’s already 8 in the morning! So instead of a long explanation of how I got here yesterday, I’ll be brief:

-The flight was 12 hours and not bad at all.

-The train trip from Narita to the hotel was…. LONG, but I was lucky enough to run into two very nice and very funny people heading in the same direction.

-The hotel room is teeny tiny, but comfy.

-My poor friend won’t be here until this afternoon since she missed her connection yesterday…

– I’m still not sure what to do while I wait fer her to get here! But like I said, it’s already 8am, time to head out.

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Here’s how I kept myself busy on the flight. My sister is dressing up as a woman transforming into an Alebrije for Halloween (BEST costume idea ever!) and I was super inspired. When I get back I plan on making this into a painting.

My itty bitty hotel room (it’s a lot nicer during the day when you can see the nice view out the window!)

And my breakfast! =)

Inspiration: Aboriginal Australian Art

When I was little my family and I were lucky enough to live in Australia for a few years. Of course, like most kids, I didn’t really appreciate just how amazing it was to have been there. I didn’t realize until much later just how much of an impact that experience had on me and my influences, specifically Aboriginal art that is so hauntingly beautiful and expressive.

(I couldn’t find any credits or details about this one, only that it is painted on stone)

(again, couldn’t find any credits for this one, but it looks almost exactly like a small piece that I have hanging up)

I love pointillism, and styles that leave out important lines rather than rendering every detail. They let the audience actually participate in the art by allowing their minds to fill in the blanks and create the rest of the image. I think that’s why I love sketches so much since they’re so often just the idea of the image without being fully rendered.

The subject matter of Aboriginal art is also beautiful, often very abstract representations of mythology and the natural landscape of Australia.

(Ngapa Jukurrpa – Water Dreaming by Felicity Nampijinpa Robertson from www.aboriginalartonline.com)

(Yanjirlpirri Jukurrpa – Star Dreaming by Alma Nungarrayi Granites from www.aboriginalartonline.com)

(Artist Charlene Carrington from aboriginal-art-australia.com)