Monday, June 28, 2010

illustration friday (satellite)

Many, many years ago in a place far away, my daughter (10 yrs old at the time) wrote a poem that was published in the magazine Highlights for Children.

Sea Creatures, Space Creatures
The squid is a rocket.
And a rocket goes into space.

So that means there must be stars.

Yes, there are stars. The starfish, of course!

And the sun is a sunfish!

And the moon is a moonfish.

The asteroids are rockfish.

Maybe it caught the editor's eye only because it was submitted from Japan. I don't suppose kids from Iowa or Wyoming spend much time thinking about the shape of squid. In any case, I thought my daughter was a genius. I'd never even heard of a moonfish before seeing this poem, but a surreptitious peek in the encyclopedia assured me she hadn't made the creature up.

When I saw the topic for this week's Illustration Friday, I thought of this poem and how the sea and its creatures were a metaphor for outer space. So I drew a moonfish. The accompanying words are from a golden oldie written by Bart Howard (sung by Frank Sinatra) that has been stuck in my head ever since we rented a DVD of the movie Space Cowboys last week.

[oops, there seems to be more than one version of the lyrics to this song running loose on the internet, and I probably got the wrong one. Oh, well...]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

illustration friday (paisley)

Random references on Twitter to something called Illustration Friday led me to an interesting site for people who like to draw. The top page explains the site's purpose:

Illustration Friday is a weekly creative outlet/participatory art exhibit for illustrators and artists of all skill levels. It was designed to challenge participants creatively... No one judging the outcome of the work. It's a chance to experiment and explore and play with visual art. So welcome, novices and pros alike.

It appears that a new topic is suggested each week. Participating artists create visual art that incorporates the topic and post it on their own blogs, which are then linked to the Illustration Friday site so others can find it.

It sounded fun to me, so I signed up. Then I noticed this week's topic: PAISLEY. Paisley? What do I know of paisley? Isn't that some kind of corny pattern you used to see in old-fashioned clothes? It is soooo not my style. Oh well, let's google it anyway, and see what I learn. What I learned was interesting enough that images started forming in my head. The droplet shape brought leaves and petals to mind, so I developed that image and chose an appropriate quote from a favorite poet. If not for Illustration Friday, I would never have thought of using paisley as a theme in etegami. It was fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

more ripples

This is the second series of etegami I drew for the Ripple project. The cards in the first series are already on their way to the generous people who "bought" them with a $10 donation to one of two non-profit organizations working to rescue the wildlife endangered by the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Further details and links can be found in my previous post: Making Ripples.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

making ripples

Making and sending etegami for the sheer pleasure of it is a fantastic thing. But there are ways that even these little pieces of art can make a concrete, measurable difference in an ailing world. Kelly Light, an illustrator friend from the #kidlitart chat on Twitter was deeply distressed by seeing how the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico was devastating the wildlife of that area, and she decided that she just had to do something to help. She did this by doing what comes naturally to her-- that is, by drawing. Kelly started the Ripple blog and called on other artists to get involved, and we did. We donate our drawings to the Ripple project, and these can be purchased in exchange for a $10 donation to the buyer's choice of two non-profits, The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and The International Bird Rescue Research Center.

The etegami I posted above are my contributions to this project. If the Ripple project is something you feel you can support, either by purchasing some of the artwork displayed on Kelly's blog, or by donating artwork of your own, then by all means do so. Let's not underestimate the effect of a ripple.

Translation for my Japanese colleagues:
メキシコ湾原油流出事故のことはニュースで聞いて知っていると思いますが、その規模はいまだに把握されていません。流出を止める手段もまだ見つかっていません。海と海岸で暮らす生き物たちが数多く被害にあっています。その生き物を救おうと努力しているNPOを応援するために友人のイラストレーターKelly Light が立ち上げた企画 Ripple (波紋) に、私も絵手紙を通して参加しています。寄付された絵の写真はRippleブログに掲載されます。指定された二つのNPOのどれかに10ドルを寄付する人は寄付金と引き換えに絵を一枚「買う」ことができます。作品が「売却」されると、ブログから作家にメールで知らせが送られます。買い手に作品を郵送するのは作家の責任です。

絵手紙などのアートで企画を応援したい人は、(1) 海や海岸地帯の生き物をテーマにして絵を描く。(2) 作品をスキャナーでJPGファイルに変える。(3) JPGファイルをRippleブログに送る。その時、絵の寸法(ハガキの場合は10 cm x 15 cmまたは、4" x 6"と書いてください)と、自分の事を一言添える。自分でRippleブログと交信する自信の無い方は私に送ってくださっても構いません。私が代わりにRippleへ送ってあげます。ただし、(4)「売却」(SOLD) された場合は、自分で責任もって作品の原物を買い手に送る。郵送料は作家の負担になります。

指定されているNPOへのリンクはRippleブログの右上に掲載されています。Rippleブログのメールアドレスもそこにあるので、自分で作品のJPGファイルを送る場合はそこへ送ってください。もちろん、寄付した絵が売れ残ることもあります。それでも参加することに十分に意義があります。作品のJPGファイルと自己紹介文を私に送る場合は>>> dosankodebbie あっとmacどっとcom (あっとは@、どっとは . )

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the charms of past-prime

My etegami colleagues and I purposely seek out oddly shaped vegetables and fruits for our once-monthly "Group of Four" workshops. If they are over-ripe, scarred, or bug-eaten, all the better. These make great subjects for etegami. We do that with fall leaves too, picking out the slightly torn or bug-eaten ones over the "perfect" specimens. I began to notice, however, that we don't do that with flowers. What is it about bug-eaten, torn, or past-prime flowers that we've decided doesn't suit etegami? Maybe it's because I'm "past-prime" myself that I've begun to wonder about these things.

The other day I went into my front yard to pick some flowering weeds for the morning's etegami session. I especially adore dandelions. But that particular day, none were at their peak. So I grabbed a handful of scraggly-looking ones and drew them anyway. I must have drawn dozens before I finally began to feel I was starting to capture their charm-- the particular charm of "not-prime" as the world would judge them. It's a subject I think I will pursue a bit more. In the meantime, I've attached two pieces for you to ponder. The words accompanying the yellow one are the standard ones used when a shop is "Closed for Business Today."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

etegami crosses borders (israel)

Recently I've become fascinated by how etegami artists outside of Japan use the traditional etegami method and style to depict non-Japanese motifs. I think you'll understand better what I mean by this when I tell you about Keiko Porat who draws etegami while living in a kibbutz in Israel.

Keiko drew the attached etegami for her nephew in Japan, in celebration of his graduation from middle school. It shows a branch of olive leaves, and is accompanied by the words, "Boys, Be Ambitious," a quote from the famous farewell speech made by William S. Clark (1826-1886), former president of what is now Hokkaido University.

While the Clark quote is well-known throughout Japan, olive leaves are not a familiar motif in Japanese etegami. When I asked Keiko why she chose this subject for her nephew, she replied that souvenirs marketed for tourists in Jerusalem are often decorated with the image of a dove flying with an olive branch in its beak, and that in addition to being a widely recognized symbol of peace and hope, she saw it as representative of Israel itself. (Note: This image originates in the Hebrew scriptures, where a dove brings an olive branch to Noah after the great flood, as a sign that the waters are receding and life is returning to the surface of the earth.)

Olive trees are very hardy trees that resist drought, disease and fire. They grow slowly and can live for hundreds of years. In drawing an olive branch and combining it with the famous Clark quote, Keiko had composed a message of encouragement to her nephew-- an expression of her hope that, as he leaves childhood behind, he would press boldly forward, on his chosen path, into manhood.

Visit Keiko's blog at HANA ichirin to see more of her etegami, as well as her sumi-e paintings.