Monday, December 26, 2011

illustration friday (messenger)

My favorite wind instrument is the Japanese shakuhachi, but the instrument that holds the most youthful memories for me is the harmonica. The harmonica, along with the castanet, used to be a part of every Japanese schoolchild's tool kit-- and I assume it still is. But mostly, the harmonica takes me back to my high school years, when I was one of a group of TCK* teenagers who would volunteer to work for a part of each summer at a handful of dairy farms struggling to make ends meet in impoverished western Hokkaido.

After a day of backbreaking labor, we would sometimes unwind in the evening by forming an impromptu jug band, making vaguely musical noises out of anything that was close at hand. Someone would always bring out a harmonica and manage to pull all those noises together into something to jiggle and clap and hum along with. To this day, it is one of my fondest memories.

*TCK= third culture kid (kids who grow up outside of their parents' home culture, often in countries of which they are not citizens)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

illustration friday (sink)

Some recent summer-themed etegami from Carole Marshall "down-under" in Australia, inspired me to turn one of my earlier cicada etegami into a collage for this week's Illustration Friday post. The accompanying words are my translation of a haiku by Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694).

Monday, December 12, 2011

illustration friday (separated)

butterbur shoots

We call these Fukinoto, and they are one of the first things to poke through the snow in the early spring. They are delicious when fried in airy tempura batter, or chopped fine and blended with miso paste. Like many edible wild plants, fukinoto have a slight bitterness that I enjoy. It's hard to associate the fukinoto with the tall-stemmed, huge-leafed butterbur leaves that replace the small flowery shoots later in the season.

From Wikipedia: The plants commonly referred to as Butterbur are found in the daisy family Asteraceae in the genus Petasites. They are mostly quite robust plants with thick, creeping underground rhizomes and large Rhubarb-like leaves during the growing season. Another common name for many species of this genus is Sweet Coltsfoot.

I painted this as an illustration for a story written by a friend, which explains why I didn't accompany the image with words as is usual for etegami. I hope to tell you more about this project later. : )

tomo anthology to assist teens

TOMO, an anthology of short stories with particular relevance to teens, will be released this coming March from Stone Bridge Press. Its aim is to bring Japanese stories to readers worldwide, and in doing so, to help support young people affected or displaced by the March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. Proceeds from the sales of this book will go directly toward long-term relief efforts for teens in northeast Japan, the area most affected by the disasters.

My translation of the Ainu folktale, "Where the Silver Droplets Fall," accompanied by two simple etegami-style drawings, is included in this book. As one of the contributors to the anthology, I was interviewed on the TOMO blog. In the interview, I share a bit of my personal background and what led to my becoming a translator of Ainu folklore. But more importantly, it gives a glimpse into the life of Chiri Yukie, one Ainu teenager who struggled to value herself and her cultural heritage, at a time when both were despised by mainstream society
. By the time she died of heart failure at the tender age of nineteen, she had become a forerunner of a movement to save her people's oral tradition from oblivion. Click here to read the interview.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

more peachy links

I want to thank fellow sketch-booker @J Walters for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award and the Liebster Award. The double award quite takes my breath away. Please visit her stimulating blog Sketches & Jottings!

My heartfelt appreciation also goes to fellow mail artist @Mary Jo Cartledgehayes (aka Boo Cartledge) for honoring me with the One Lovely Blog Award. Take a look at Mary's fun blog It's Only a Book. You'll also find many samples of her work displayed on my mailart gallery blog.

Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to this booklet of sumi-e style paintings that artist @Lisa Erickson created to raise funds for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief. Click the link to see illustration details and specifics of how the funds will be used for needy children. I have a copy, and I never tire of looking at it and being reminded of reasons why Japan (with a little help from you) will recover from the devastating disasters.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

museum exhibits my earthquake etegami

The "Humanizing the Quake" series, which I painted to work out my anguish after the disasters that assailed Japan on March 11.... (gosh, I still can't type those words without bursting into tears...), is currently on display at the Bolduc House Museum in Ste.Genevieve, Missouri (USA). The exhibit will continue till early February. It's part of an extensive, historical, earthquake-related exhibit. (click image to enlarge) Printed postcards of my etegami are for sale at the Museum Shop. Proceeds from the sale of these postcards will be used to help Japanese families who were forced to relocate as a result of the tsunami.

One of the images in this series was used for the "We're All Connected" T-shirt, the proceeds of which will also be going to support families affected by the 3.11 disasters. The t-shirt comes in many choices of size, style, and color. It's a beautiful, high-quality t-shirt and would make a lovely Christmas gift. : )

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

winners of the christmas giveaway

My heartfelt appreciation goes to those who asked to be considered for the Christmas Giveaway. I was so very pleased by the response I got, it kills me that I have only two sets of etegami postcards to give away. Nevertheless, I wrote down each name on a strip of washi card stock, put them all in my favorite blue denim cap, and randomly drew out two names.

The winners are:
Crafty Green Poet and Uniflame. Congratulations! I've asked for and received their addresses, so the postcard sets will soon be on their way. I hope to do another giveaway next spring, around Easter-time, and I hope you will all try again. Your enthusiasm for etegami means a great deal to me, and I thank you so much for it. oxox

Monday, December 5, 2011

illustration friday (brigade)

"The Honey Brigade."

The accompanying quote is the first line of Against Idleness and Mischief, a poem by Isaac Watts
(1674 – 1748), the English theologian and hymnwriter. The poem was famously parodied by Lewis Carroll in his book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in the poem How Doth the Little Crocodile, which is now better known than the original.

The washi I used for this piece is less soft and less absorbent than the cards I usually use, so I had some trouble getting the effect I wanted. But not being able to control the outcome is an important part of Etegami, so I shouldn't, and I won't, grumble about it. ; )

If you haven't done so already, check out my Christmas Giveaway. Deadline to enter is December 8, 2011.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

christmas giveaway

Dearest friends and followers: I will be giving away two sets of printed etegami postcards. Each set consists of three etegami images from my winter holiday collection: Poinsettia, Daruma Santa Elves, and Hibernating Ladybugs. The images are printed on stiff cards with a glossy finish, and can be stamped and sent through the post, or displayed artfully in frames. If you'd like to take advantage of the giveaway, indicate this clearly in a comment below. I will randomly pick two names on December 8 (Japan time), and airmail the postcard sets to the lucky winners on December 9, in time to reach you by Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

etegami t-shirt for earthquake relief

Some of you know that I have been accepting requests for custom-designed etegami t-shirts, but I want to make a special appeal for this particular tee. The image on the tee shows carp windsocks (koinobori) fluttering in the wind. You may remember it from my Earthquake series of Etegami. The Japanese writing can be translated "We're in this Together" or "We're all Connected."

Koinobori are associated with the Children's Day holiday in May. Net profit from sales of this t-shirt will go to support the relocation of families who suffered in the 3.11 disaster, particularly families with small children. The tee comes in many sizes, styles, and price-ranges. It can be customized and purchased from this site and will ship directly to you. Consider buying one for yourself or a loved one for Christmas.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

more illustrated recipes

This is one of three illustrated recipes I've submitted to the "Eat Pretty for the Holidays" contest. Salmon (especially salmon sashimi) is my favorite fish, tied for first place in my heart with Pacific Saury. You may have noticed that those fish often feature in my etegami. The deadline for submissions to the aforementioned contest is December 4, if you care to give it a try.

I'm also thrilled that my illustrated recipe for Umeboshi Cheesecake was featured in the December issue of an American cooking magazine called "Where Women Cook." The recipe spreads over two pages and includes an interview of me. (happy dance)

Click here to see my Illustrated Recipe Calendar for 2012.

"breakfast" etegami gallery

by Samantha (Australia). Awesome perspective! Someday I'll have to try vegemite, though I hear it's an acquired taste. I love the woody texture of the floor. Check out Samantha's website: A Drawing a Day

2 pieces by Mireille Ono (Japan, by way of France). One shows a western-style breakfast, the other Japanese-style. The words on the second etegami say "Builds the heart. Builds the body. Good medicine."

by Carole Marshall (Australia). My breakfast comes with a lot of pills too, Carole. What a clever idea to include them in your breakfast etegami! Check out Carole's website: Origa-me Origa-me.

by Corrine Girard (France). This is exactly what I imagine a French breakfast to look like! See Corrine's cute Rabbit Breakfast on my Mailart Gallery blog.

2 pieces by Fumiko Koga (Japan). The first has a doodle of Fumiko's beloved pet dog in the bottom right corner, sniffing enviously, and it says "It's only hot miso soup, rice, seaweed, and tofu. But it's delicious because Mother made it." The second says "I woke up too late to make breakfast. I'm sorry." Search for more of Fumiko's work on my MailArt Gallery blog!

Two pieces by Katerina Nikoltsou (Greece). She paints on soft woven paper (almost like cloth) that comes as close to washi as she has been able to find in Greece. Katerina has sent me lots of great mailart over the years. Search for more of her work on my Mailart Gallery blog!

by Lisa Erickson (USA). What a charming mug! Lisa also sent me an iced tea etegami which you can see here. Check out her website: A Paper Snowflake

by Lisa Nylander (Japan). The writing is a bit faded, but it says "Today I'm a bread person. Tomorrow who knows?" Lisa, I've never had bananas on French bread. It really looks good. I'm going to have to try it!

by Mayumi Miyagawa (Japan). "One each day is the basis of good health." See lots more of Mayumi's etegami on my Mailart Gallery.

by Moses (Singapore). I love the wordplay on this one! Check out his website: Pause-ability

You can review my own previously-posted breakfast etegami by clicking here and here.

If you submitted to this challenge and don't see your work posted above, it may be because it didn't fit the size or content guidelines posted here. In that case, your work has been posted in the mailart gallery along with other fabulous mailart.

If you still can't find your work, don't hesitate to contact me and we'll try to figure out what happened to it. If you want me to change or add (name, website, etc) to the information posted beneath your work, be sure to let me know!

Thank you all for submitting your delightful work. I've sent etegami replies to those who sent me their work by traditional post, for whom I have addresses. If you sent me your work by email, and would like an etegami from me, please message me with your postal address. oxox

Sunday, November 27, 2011

illustration friday (round #2)

In eastern Hokkaido there is a lake called Lake Akan, where the marimo grow. A marimo is a rare growth form of the filamentous green algae (Chlorophyta), where the algae grow into large green balls with a velvety appearance.

The Ainu, northern Japan's indigenous people, called them lake goblins or lake rollers. It turns out that the only other regions where colonies of marimo are known to form are Iceland, Scotland, and Estonia, but the ones in Lake Akan are known to grow particularly large-- up to 30 cm across.

When I was young, we used to think of marimo as a sort of pet, and kept them in jars filled with water. I was a lazy guardian, and my marimo invariably died, but, if memory serves, one of my sisters kept one alive for a long time, growing it to an impressive size. Nowadays they are a protected species, and the little ones you find in souvenir shops are hand rolled from free-floating filaments.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

more colorful produce

Hokkaido has entered the dormant season where the once-colorful leaves have crumbled to brown dust and snow will soon cover all traces of ground vegetation and even the mis-matched colors of our house roofs and automobiles.

This is when I really start appreciating the colors of our fruits and vegetables. Sure, we have beautiful produce during our brief summers, but I guess I don't appreciate their colors as much as they deserve, because, outside, the leaves on the trees are all shades of green, flowers bloom like pieces of the rainbow, and butterflies flit like floating flower petals.

In the setting of a monochromatic winter, purple-skinned sweet potatoes and persimmons the color of the sun really brighten my world. I picked out a couple samples from my illustrated recipes as evidence.

Friday, November 25, 2011

illustration friday (round)

There are two gift-giving seasons in Japan. One is in the summer and one is in the winter. Winter gifts often involve agricultural produce for which the sender's home prefecture is known. Each winter I receive a case of potatoes from an old friend in south-western Hokkaido, a case of tangerines from an even older friend in Nagoya, and a case of persimmons from the oldest friend of all in Shikoku. I reciprocate by sending each of them a case of lily roots, a rather high-class vegetable that is often used in New Year dishes. 90% of the domestic product is produced in my home prefecture of Hokkaido. I also try to send each of these friends an Etegami thank-you card with a painted image of the gift I received from them.

I never tire of the gifts, even though my friends have been sending me the same thing every year for over twenty years. I base my winter shopping and meal plans on the assumption that I will have lots of potatoes, tangerines and persimmons. And I suspect my friends make similar plans each year around the lily roots that I send them.

The problem is, I run out of new ways to depict this produce in my Etegami thank-you cards. I've painted whole persimmons, halved persimmons, persimmon wedges, persimmon pie, persimmons in the box, persimmons on the branch, persimmons in salads... One year when I was at loss for a new way to paint persimmons, I decided to slice them cross-wise, which is never done, because it makes them harder to eat or use in cooking. It did provide a new and interesting visual perspective though. So I accompanied the image with the words: "A Change in Perspective."

For those of you who have never seen a lily root, here is a smaller image from one of my illustrated recipes. Lily root is a lot of fun to cook with. You can see that it's (sort of) round too. : )

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

media goes wild over cookbook

It seems so long ago (at the same time it seems like just yesterday) that I first began to submit illustrated recipes to the They Draw and Cook website. It was a fun and quirky challenge, and an enormous thrill to see my etegami posted alongside some of the most delightful artwork I've ever seen. I never dreamed that one of my works would make it into TDAC's first published collection of illustrated recipes.

It seems the artists who submitted to the cookbook aren't the only ones thrilled by its quality. The media have been raving about it left and right. And for good reason. Because of its great low introductory price, I had expected an economical paperback with grainy pages. My jaw dropped when I first held it in my hands.

It's a beautifully bound hardback with a spine that allows each recipe (they spread across two adjoining pages) to lie flat without your having to use a brick to hold the pages down like you have to with lots of other cookbooks. High quality paper is used for pages. The color printing is awesome. It is thick and heavy, and exudes presence. A coffee table book rather than something to flip through while you're mixing ingredients on a messy kitchen counter. A source of unending culinary inspiration and a delight to the senses. A window into the cuisine of exotic cultures and regions, as well as dishes that are comfortably familiar. Get yourself a copy. Give someone a copy for Christmas. You won't regret it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

etegami calendar 2012

My very first attempt at putting together an etegami calendar is this Illustrated Recipes Calendar. (For Sale Here) I really wanted to make one based on my Earthquake series, but you know how important the explanatory text is for each one of those, and I haven't yet found a feasible way to combine both image and lengthy text in a calendar. If you have experience with this sort of thing, I'd appreciate advice. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

illustration friday (silent #2)

Here are two more from the Holiday Daruma Series, which I introduced in the Halloween post. In addition to the two etegami posted here, yesterday I finally finished the Christmas etegami I plan to send out this winter to my closest friends and family. It also features a daruma doll. I don't want to spoil the surprise for them, so that one remains secret for now. : )

Saturday, November 12, 2011

last reminder- breakfast etegami call

I'm getting some delightful submissions to the Breakfast-themed Etegami Call, and they will all be posted here on December 1. If you'd been meaning to send me something, and had forgotten, there are two more weeks before the deadline. Click here for submission guidelines. If you don't understand something, don't hesitate to ask.

I've posted an old etegami depicting my favorite Japanese-style breakfast. A bowl of hot rice topped with a very fresh raw egg. I drizzle a bit of soy sauce over the top and mix it all together. Served with a side of Japanese-style vegetable pickles. Yum yum.

Friday, November 11, 2011

illustration friday (silent)

I'm working on a new etegami for this week's IF prompt, but meanwhile, remember this etegami that I made for 2011 The Year of the Rabbit? Did 2011 pass as quickly for you as it did for me? Was it as tumultuous for those of you outside Japan as it was those of us in Japan? Whew! What a year.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

illustration friday (stripes)

One of the many things I love about Autumn is the shapes of the clouds in the sky. The other day I looked up at a sky that was striped from edge to edge.

This is a collage made from three different kinds of washi paper. The accompanying haiku by the itinerant poet Matsuo Basho, reminds me that being able to see the moon (or whatever you've set your gaze upon) --clearly and all the time-- isn’t necessarily the only way to enjoy it— or life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

toasting with apples

Although my siblings and I were all born and raised in Japan, the vast ocean that now separates us is not easily or frequently crossed. The older I get, the dearer they are to me, and I am eternally grateful for the internet, which makes sharing my life with them so much easier than it was for my parents who were similarly separated from their loved ones when they made the choice to leave their home country in their early 20s.

Recently, one of my sisters bought her first house in the apple-y state of Washington (USA), within view of Mt.Adams. In the email that announced this huge decision, she wrote:
My real estate agent who led me through the whole process brought two freshly picked apples to "toast" the closing. I was so charmed by the image these words evoked, that I decided to illustrate it as an etegami and send it to her for a housewarming gift. It is my way of sharing this happy/scary step in her life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

illustration friday (scary)

Scary (and likewise: spooky, horror, creepy, occult, etc) is a theme that I generally avoid in art, books, music, and movies. I do have a seed of an idea that I think might be fun to express as an etegami. However, it will take me a bit longer to finish it. In the meantime, here's an etegami collage I made last year to make your neck hairs stand on end.

Japan has many spooky stories of people (usually young women) who commit suicide by throwing themselves into wells. Their restless, unhappy spirits often return as ghosts to terrorize the living. I've seen many old wells like this one-- moss growing in the cracks between the stones, and the openings covered with half-rotted wood planks or bamboo poles tied together with decaying ropes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

illustration friday (fuel)

As soon as I heard what this week's IF topic was, I knew what I wanted to draw. But it took me forever to think of words to accompany the image. I originally planned to write "cow chips, a sustainable fuel," but it sounded soberly PC when I really meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I finally gave up trying to be clever, and prosaically labeled it "cow chips." Booooooring.

miniature art

Until I met Vika, I had never considered that buttons could be works of art. Vika is an artist/craftsperson who makes buttons, pendants, and brooches from clays and metals. My ignorance probably has a lot to do with the fact that I never learned to sew or appreciate the tools and materials associated with clothes-making or fashion.

I was absolutely dumbfounded when Vika sent me some buttons she said had been inspired by my etegami (not pictured). Recently, she startled me even further with her earnest questions about the aesthetics and processes of Etegami. Her questions --and my answers-- resulted in an intriguing post on Beads of Clay, a blog for ceramic bead artists. It opened my eyes to the connections that she sees between Etegami and other Art in miniature. What do you think about the issues Vika raises?