Friday, August 6, 2010

illustration friday (caged)


Since ancient times, it has been the custom in Japan to seek respite from the heat of late summer and early fall by listening to the tinkling song of Suzumushi (Homoeogryllus japonicus), or Bell Crickets. I don't know how many people in the 21st century still enjoy this practice, but I fairly soaked myself in the silvery sounds one summer when my son and I raised bell crickets from eggs as a science experiment. Traditionally these creatures are kept in bamboo cages, though nowadays plastic cases are more common. It's like having a music box in your house that can't be turned off.

The accompanying words are a Japanese saying that translates roughly to: "the suzumushi is kept in a cage because of its song." The idea it conveys is this: One's own talents are sometimes the cause of one's misery. Kind of sad, isn't it.

As I was in an experimental mood, I drew this etegami with a Pelikan-brand fountain pen filled with blue-black ink. I waited for the ink to dry completely before adding the gansai paint, but (as I feared it would) the fountain pen ink smeared as soon as it got wet. That's okay, though. Like I'm always saying, the best etegami is that which you don't have complete control over.

9 comments:

  1. I LOVE your artwork!! I am a huge fan of Japanese art- and your work really captures the feel. Very wonderful!

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  2. The Japanese people do seem to be able to encapsulate these aphorisms in beautiful imagery. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't be too bad to be locked in a room, fed and allowed to do what you do best unhindered!. when I was raising my kids that would have been heaven.

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  3. You live in Japan? Wow. I used to watch a lot of Japanese drama and films and the sound of cicada/ crickets is almost essential to days of summers (only summers?) as depicted in those films/TV serials. Hopefully I could go there and hear that particular sound myself someday.

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  4. ARGH!!! I'm losing comments again. Thanks to those whose comments were safely posted, and I ask forgiveness from those whose comments disappear even after I approve them. I don't understand why this happens.

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  5. Hi! Wow, I love your work. And now I know about etegami (my daughter wishes for the tool set in your sidebar). What a thoughtful piece... "the suzumushi is kept in a cage because of its song." Very nice.

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  6. Wow, you know a lot about Japanese Art and their custom. The artwork look very beautiful and simple but yet it has a really nice story behind it. Your use of limited colors and media matches the theme very well.

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  7. Thanks for the encouraging comments!! I'm really sorry if some of them disappeared in the process of moderation. I've been having some trouble with Blogger.

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