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...]


  1. Debbie!
    A friend pointed me to this website in California.
    Is this in fact a US source for washi paper?

    If so, will you make some suggestions for what I should order?

  2. Cole, the site looks like a a great resource for washi. But I can't tell from the images whether they carry the kind of washi that is best suited to etegami.

    I suggest contacting the owner and asking specifically about "washi cardstock for etegami." I choose cards that are marked as having the highest level of "nijimi" (which indicates how well the ink spreads across the paper).

    Other artists use the washi with less nijimi that is easier to control, so that's okay too. But you don't want a card where the ink just sinks to the bottom and seeps through to the back side of the card. Some of the washi cards that have great texture and are pretty to look at just don't have the right weave/layering to spread the ink sideways rather than straight down.

    Some of the roll paper looked promising. I know many etegami artists who paint on roll paper rather than cards. But I wouldn't be able to choose such paper without taking it in hand and experimenting. Hopefully the site owner will know best.

  3. Got it! The lead you provided on the nijimi is really useful---is that like sizing?
    I am going to order some odds and ends from the website soon and I'll be sure to let you know which items are the most promising, and I'd like to send you a sample too! I know a lot of your readers are looking for sources here in the US.
    Many thanks!

  4. That would be great, Cole. Yes, we are always looking for US-based sources of washi postcards for etegami. Sorry I don't have the English vocabulary to explain nijimi or other aspects of washi. I really should learn it so that I can better respond to reader inquiries.

  5. Just an update:
    Here is what Yona (shop owner) suggested to me:

    Hello, we would suggest using the Shojo-shi (postcard size is #17)
    This paper shouldn't bleed through, but you can add water to make the inks
    bleed a little.

    Another watercolor paper that we have in different sizes isn't Washi but may
    work for you as well:

    We'd love to hear how they turn out!

    Debbie-- I am sorry for filling up your comments on this post with this--feel free to delete or redirect me elsewhere!


  6. Cole, thanks for checking this out. When I get more info, I hope to put together a post about washi sources outside of Japan. I guess "bleed" is the English word for nijimi. Hmmm...

    Meanwhile, I encourage all my readers to experiment with paper and see what works for them. Also please let me know any other sources for etegami-suitable washi that you find.

  7. Another source!
    (I have no idea what the differences are here- can you advise?)

    And another!

    And, another etegami website:

    The two sources and website are via a friend of mine named Maki here in Cincinnati! Maki's friend's Mother runs the sowakobo website.

    Have to give credit!

  8. Thanks Cole (and Maki)! The first site doesn't give me enough info to judge, but you could write the owner for advice about etegami card stock.

    The second site is very informative. The images of the cards are just what I am familiar with. If the name of the card includes the word GASENSHI, it is intended for etegami use. If it says HONGASENSHI, it is usually has high nijimi quality. In fact, the card packets pictured each have a scale of nijimi printed on them. Click to enlarge and you can see it better. In this case, the further left the circle is on the nijimi scale, the more nijimi it has. I love high nijimi, but it can be tricky for a novice.

    Thanks also for the link to the etegami website. There are actually many, many etegami websites that you can explore, although most are in Japanese. Each artist has his/her own touch, and many use unusual (non-traditional) materials. Just google etegami and enjoy!

  9. Very nicely put Debbie. You are so creative. I love your work. I've showed everyone my new etegami drawing. They love it!

  10. Thank you, Ivy, for the compliment and for dropping by. :D

  11. I love the fish! I received your etegami postcard yesterday. Thank you very much!

  12. Goomie, I'm glad it reached you safely!