Monday, May 25, 2009

Leap for Leisure

"Leap for Leisure"

"Cool as a Cucumber in the Snow with Sunglasses and a Creamcicle"

Studio tip:  Using documentation of your work (or other random photos) play with Photoshop or print them and use paint, glue, your hands, etc. to alter the images.  See if the mood of the image changes, or the subject.  Try using a fragment and just playing with it.  Play is key.  It's especially refreshing for me when I use images from documentation because playing directly contradicts the strict rules and focus it takes to document something correctly.  My least favorite chore is documenting my work so after the stress of it I need play to chill out like a cucumber.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Travel Time

I watched a Taiko (Japanese drum) performance last week at school.  
Here I'm acting like a silly fool in front of the largest drum.  This last week has been a nice bunch of "lasts" before I leave:  The last time to see a Taiko performance in Japan, at least for a while.  The last time I eat pounds of shellfish I watch die on the grill for dinner (hopefully...), The last time I eat AMAZING legitimately artistic sushi in Japan.  The last time I make pie with Logan and Meredith in Japan.  The first and possible last time I prepare baby bamboo from scratch... I'm sure I'm forgetting some lasts.  I never mind "lasts" very much because it leaves space in my life for "firsts" and things I miss from before.  This is a time to be fully alive, appreciate every moment and let them go.

I'm not usually into cute animal pics, but my student sent this picture of her cat to me from her cell phone and I think it's a really pretty picture.

The one week count-down has officially started.  VT here I come!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Studio Tip-a-roo

Some quirky strange-ness from ETSY: 
1.PinkMercury96 2.Morowood 3.MycyclesArt 4.MarianneMcCann

Happy Friday! 

It's my last Friday working in Japan (I still have a Monday-Thursday next week, though.)  I have been following a blog called "Oh, What a World, What a world..." and recently due to her busy life she decided to take a break from giving studio tips for a while.  I totally think studio tips is a stellar idea so here's one from me for today!

Studio tip-a-roo:
When I was in high school I read the book called The Artist's Way.  It is a book about fostering your own creative process whether you consider yourself an artist or not.  I didn't do all of the exercises in it, but one I did do religiously for about half a year, which I would recommend to any artist (and really any person!) to try, is called "Morning Pages.":

*Choose a nice notebook specifically for this activity.  
*Set it by your bed with a good writing tool.  
*Wake up earlier than usual each morning (I think I woke up about 30 minutes earlier even when I was exhausted.  I would sometimes write with one eye closed.  haha.  Seriously!). *Before you do anything else (even sit up, speak or use the bathroom!) start writing.  Don't think about it.  It usually doesn't make sense and my own mind is so busy and stuck of things that I usually repeat things like "this sucks, why do I have to go to school/work.  High school sucks.  I'm so depressed..." or "I had the weirdest dream..." Whatever angsty, weird, annoying, grating, manic, happy, reactionary, etc. noise that's going on in your head.  The point is that you are awake before your inner critic can block you up.  You are able to listen to all of you mental noise and therefore let it go.  When you don't listen, your brain keeps being noisy.  It wants to be listened to.  It won't stop until you do.
*Keep writing non-stop for three pages at least (if you aren't empty yet you can keep going until you are, but three pages is a good number).  Then close it, get up and go along with your day.
Try to do this every day for a month and see how much more clear your mind is.  Also you may realize that there are important things you needed to deal with that you weren't able to because of your mental noise.  Watch how your studio time changes!
Happy making!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Freedom Flying

(sculpture detail: "Landscape of Enough")  

As soon as I get the OK that my documentation is fine, I will pack this baby up and ship it out of here!  It's my last frontier in Japan.  Woohoo!  Happy Wednesday.  Time to eat lunch with the 9th graders, take the early bus and get to some packing.  

Despite all the amazing things that seem to happen in my life I can't keep from dreaming of more.  It's not that I feel like I don't have enough, it's like the good things now fuel my dreams and make me feel like they can totally come true.  For example, I have been daydreaming of making tons of small paintings on paper while on our cross country bike trip and seeing how the changing landscape is translated in my daily paintings.  What a life it could be (will be)!  I feel like I'm flying off a cliff (flying, NOT jumping).  Freedom!

Speaking of freedom, Mikel and I have been listening to Studio 360 podcasts.  It's an NPR show all about the arts and creativity.  In February Kurt Anderson came to Japan and did a Studio 360 in Japan.  Check it out!  It's especially interesting for us to hear because most of the exotic things about Japan are totally within our experience now.  It also confirms my initial intuition that Japan has a really spooky side underneath the beauty, the cute and the technologically advanced.  The reason I started this paragraph with "speaking of freedom" there is an interview in the Japan podcast with a woman who owns her own business in Tokyo.  She talks about how women and people in general in Japan don't have much freedom.  Not only is Japan small and community based (therefore hard to re-locate and make a new life for yourself) the culture has not had a women's movement and therefore women and men have very strictly prescribed roles and expectations in society.  Listen to the podcast if you want to learn more!  (or have coffee with me in Vermont in a few weeks and I'll explain ;-)

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blowing out Candles

I took this yesterday while we were driving around with friends in our town. 
 Mikel got out of the car to move a huge tree out of the road.  
I'm sure there were quite a few elderly folks who appreciated the tree moved.
What a beautiful town!  I'll miss the landscape.

It's my Birthday today!!  yay!  I'm 26 now and I made some big wishes before I blew out the candles on the vegan dark chocolate orange cake Mikel made for me (yea, he's pretty much the best husband ever-- he also made vegan quiche, crepes and smoothies.  magic!)  I can't tell you what my wishes were (that would jinx them!) but I will say that they have to do with the big new adventure we are about to embark on starting in June.  More specifically, about our move to Vermont and the possibilities that may grow from that.  We have a new idea that we want to bike across the USA and in the process, stopping to volunteer at organic farms so we can learn skills we want to be able to build our house using alternative energy, and grow our own food and take care of some animals).  The organization we will do this through is WWOOF. Check it out! We hope to learn a ton, meet up with a ton of old friends and meet many new friends. Maybe some peeps will want to join us for part of the adventure!

I've said goodbye to one of the schools I teach at and only have a few days left at the other before I leave on June 1st.  Yay!  Time to tie up a few loose ends and enjoy my last two weeks in Japan-Land!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seeking a Human Experience

This is a shot from the train we took to Matsumoto.  I haven't done any photoshoppery yet so perhaps the colors aren't as rockin' as they could be  (our computer's still sick) but I think it is an interesting photo despite that.  Now that I have only a couple weeks to be here in Japan, I am trying to be as visually aware of my surroundings as I can be.  I remember when I first moved here I thought it was so beautiful it made me want to cry.  I think I have internalized a lot of the surroundings making them more familiar and therefore (unfortunately) easier to not notice.  The good thing about this is that I won't lose this landscape when I leave; I will have it inside me, at least some of it, and many photos and paintings to remind me.  

This is me walking down a slippery path into an ice cave near Mt. Fuji.  It was amazing to climb from the light into the dark and from the hot into the cold.  I must admit I wasn't such a genius when I decided to wear white pants on a week-long adventure that included slimy caves, dirty city curbs, and sweaty hikes... it was so worth it, though.  Bright white is so overrated and wearing one pair of white pants everyday for such an adventure is so underrated.  

This is a quote I've been thinking a lot about this week.  It goes basically like this:

"We're not humans here to seek a spiritual experience, 
we are spirits here to seek a human experience."

Let the packing commence and the human experience continue!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Found Sculpture

I "found" this when I walked past a convenience store in the Ueno subway station in Tokyo.  
It was such an awesome color and delicate, energetic form that I ran back to take a photo.

I have been thinking more lately about ephemeral and impermanence in my work.  I like the preciousness of things that might fall apart unless we handle it with care.  I also like that something can be beautiful because it won't last forever (or in spite of the fact that it won't last forever, depending on your perspective.)  The virescent chartreuse  sculpture in the shot above might even be in the garbage by now.  Had it been made of something that could last 100 years, it wouldn't have looked the same because it couldn't have been made of the same materials and exist in the same context.  It just is the way it is. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

White Death and Plastic Trees

Many people complain about power lines in Japan because they are everywhere.  
I think they make beautiful lines.

The cool building in the background had sort of mint-colored windows that just didn't come out in this photo.   I wanted to at least tell you about them so you can use your imagination if you want to see them.  
How often do we get to see mint-colored windows?

These trees were so beautiful they almost looked plastic.

Yes, that is a cat riding on his shoulders... wearing a shirt.  It quickly made enemies with a bling-covered, shirt and shorts clad poodle a few minutes after this photo was taken.  I'm not joking.

White is the color of death in Japan.  Apparently death is also cute.

Lovely plates among shelves of ceramics in a shop we found while walking though Ueno area.

I took this because of the bright pink Anpanman face in the center of all the lollipops.

Amazing vertical landscape found between buildings.

Who would want to fight such a cute potato man?

This photo was not taken by me nor was it taken in Tokyo.  We are totally inspired!  We just watched a movie called "Garbage Warrior" about a man named Michael Reynolds who started Earthship.  He invented a building method that uses garbage and natural materials in the area to create 100% self sustaining buildings.  The buildings even grow their own food, collect their own rainwater, make their own power-- anything people need to live a free, lovely life.  Above is a picture of one of the buildings.  Below is a picture of a wall made with bottles.  Beautiful!  

We are already geared up in our minds for our own sort of magical home we want to build in VT.  This movie made us all that much more excited and ready to get our hands dirty and make a masterpiece of a home.  It also showed us that we can make a 100% sustainable home.  When we start to plan and build we will start a new blog all about our progress.  This blog may start to divide off into different more focused tangents.  Fun fun!

Off to the studio. 

Time To Enjoy The Day

"Young Grass Smoker"

Whew!  Another Tokyo extravaganza.  This one was most welcome of all due to studio/life slumps.  I made a promise to myself to do a good job of taking interesting photos for my blog and for my own inspiration so I have a lot to post this week.   It was also our last Tokyo trip before we leave for Vermont in less than a month.  

"Super Fly"

We were out for adventure, diversity, good food, and art (found and made).  
(The billboard above was on top of a building and therefore HUGE.  The sky was perfect.)

"Party Animals"

It's Golden Week in Japan.  Everyone is out on the town for all of the various holidays strategically scheduled on the same week so that Japanese people have "a reason to take a break" (as our friend, Kyoko, explained to us).  It was an amazing explosion of colorful fabric signs advertising for things like grilled octopus snacks and cartoon-like candies.

"Indian Thoughts"

This is my Mikey in our favorite Indian restaurant in Tokyo (It has the best chai I've ever had, Bollywood flick always playing, and the friendliest servers.  I have never been called "mam" so much in my life.) It was here, however that we decided that Japan is finished with us and we are allowed to leave now.  This was due to several hints, such as the cat urine smell at our favorite table, the mysterious disappearance of some money, aggressively friendly shop owners, and the still almost-allusive gallery art.  I say "almost" because we did find some:
(at Nanzuka Underground)

I know I mention the difficulty of finding good art in Tokyo every time I write about Tokyo, and I know there is good art and perhaps NYC spoiled me, but maybe it's meant to be because there is so much stuff to be found outside of the galleries.

"Nice Colors"

Mikey spent a lot of time using our new video camera for his various projects.  Also, due to an interpretive dance number we did in front of Mt. Fuji, a collaborative video project was born along with an unbearable urge in me to jump in front of the video camera and dance.  We even met up with our buddy Kyoko and put her through three hours of movie-making.  She was such a trooper and  great actor. Afterward we had a fun time eating Italian food and speaking Japan-glish with lots of gestures.  
"Blue Bowl;  'found' art in Tokyo."

"Milk Land"
(a restaurant called "Moo Cafe" that serves the best soft serve ice cream I've ever had and more dairy than one human should be allowed to eat in one coffee break, let alone a day)

More tomorrow.  Time to enjoy the day!