Wednesday, February 23, 2011

illustration friday (layer)

March 3 is Hinamatsuri (Doll's Day Festival) in Japan. Like Setsubun (Bean Scattering Festival), the day marks a junction in the cycle of seasons. On a superficial level it celebrates "girlhood," the way Kodomo-no-hi (Children's Day Festival), on May 5, celebrates "boyhood," but it's actually more complicated than that. There are subtle regional and generational differences in how it is perceived and celebrated. You can read about it on Wikipedia if you like.

I was going to do an etegami for Doll's Day anyway, but when I saw that the IF topic for this week was "layer," I decided to post early. This is because the first image that had popped into my mind was juuni-hitoe, the elegant, many-layered robes that only court ladies wore in Japan in ancient times. And the elegant life of ancient court nobility is what Hinamatsuri is all about.

The etegami shows an image of clam shells dressed up in bits of fabric and paint to represent the emperor and empress dolls that are displayed during the festival in every home that has daughters. Clam shells are "a symbol of a united and peaceful couple, because a pair of clam shells fits perfectly, and no pair but the original pair can do so." (Wiki)

The dots on the forehead are not eyes: they were once a cosmetic indicator of noble rank. The eyes are the slits beneath the dots. The accompanying words are a quote from the popular children's song about the Doll's Day Festival, and translate to: "They sit next to each other with prim looks on their faces."

Monday, February 21, 2011

friend or foe?

Last Saturday, for the first time since November, I met with my three etegami colleagues, who, along with me, form "The Group of Four," which I have mentioned many times on this blog. The only item our hostess had prepared for us to draw was a potted cactus plant. It did not inspire me. I stared out the window at the heavily falling snow for a while, and daydreamed.

Then, horror of horrors, our hostess brought out a dish of tiny wrapped chocolates to go with the coffee she had just served the others. She KNOWS that I have an irresistable weakness for chocolate, and furthermore, she KNOWS that I have caffeine incompatibility, which is why I can't drink coffee along with the others. So I steeled my heart and persuaded myself to think of the chocolates as a subject to draw, not to eat.

I drew the chocolate. Then I ate it. At least I think I did. It was there one minute, and then it was gone. In fact, by the end of the drawing session, I had three empty wrappers in front of me. Just as I had feared, due to my uber-sensitivity to caffeine, I was in a state of nervous anxiety for the next 48 hours and unable to sleep. The effect has finally faded and I am now in my default state of calm & care-free. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that I surrender to my love of chocolate. I just wish it loved me back.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

illustration friday (sweater)

Title: Bug in the Sweater Drawer. The Japanese words quote from Luke 12:33, "a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

illustration friday (reverse)

I chose the following poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) to illustrate for this week's IF topic. It turned out to be a lot more frustrating than I had expected. Maybe I didn't really understand the poem at first. All those hyphens kind of confused me. But after a dozen disappointing efforts, I finally felt like I was getting somewhere. Do either of these versions work for you?

Reverse cannot befall
That fine Prosperity
Whose Sources are interior—
As soon—Adversity

A Diamond—overtake
In far—Bolivian Ground—
Misfortune hath no implement
Could mar it—if it found—