Sunday, July 28, 2013

bugs, homework, and the beauty of clumsiness

Summer vacation has finally started for Japanese schoolchildren, and BUGS IN THE WILD HAD BETTER WATCH OUT. Bug-collecting is a popular choice for fulfilling  the "independent study" part of a heavy load of summer vacation homework. Kids armed with bug cages and bug nets will soon be invading the woods and meadows.

I've lost count of how often I've posted about the famous etegami motto, which boils down to "Clumsy is beautiful." It is such a hugely important component of Etegami, and one of the things that makes it accessible to everyone-- absolutely everyone. Some day I'll post pics of the early etegami of Koike Kunio (the founder of Japan's popular etegami movement), and you'll probably say "You're kidding, right?" 

Anyway, compare the bug etegami above to the photo of the actual bug that was my model. See? Etegami is not for showing off how well you can draw. I mean, if you come from a Fine Arts background, or have a natural gift for drawing, you don't have to pretend that you don't. But if you do not have that kind of background, and you actually never drew anything other than stick figures in your whole life until now, you can still do etegami. And it'll be fun.


  1. I am thrilled I found you Debbie and this Etegami club...was by accident (not having any clue as to anything about etegami ) but guess I was supposed to find it ")

  2. Great way to get this point across Debbie!

  3. I love your reflections. The idea that bugs should be on the look out during this season is delightful.

    "Clumsy is beautiful" is such a wonderful thought. So affirming. Thanks for that positivity.

  4. I for one am very happy that etegami is supposed to look clumsy! There is a beauty in that, and a beauty in giving everyone the confidence to try, knowing that is it okay if their art is not "perfect."

  5. I did my very first etegami last week, and it was so comforting not to have to worry about making mistakes! AND I had a great time and mailed all 5... I admit I took pix of them before I mailed them! :)
    I even mailed one that I had really smudged.
    I taught a bunch of teens about etegami last week at the library, used Debbie's prints (I had purchased) as examples, and they GOT it... they were not too nervous, we used fresh fruit and veggies as models, and they did REALLY well..they each mailed one (I supplied stamps and all supplies). I told them they are actually supposed to mail them all, but that I'd look the other way if they only mailed one.. :) They really picked up the main ideas very fast. They loved it.. many many thanks, Debbie! A few want to keep doing them! And I will, too, I hope every Monday (my off day).
    Very grateful. I haven't painted or drawn since age 14, I guess I didn't realize how much I missed it! Mary Keesling

  6. This takes me back to days when my kids were little & one of them was always obsessed with finding amazing bugs in the garden. Actually he's all grown up now but just recently pointed out a huge & elaborate leaf-footed bug! Some things are eternal I guess. :-)

    I love the organic nature of etegami. Just as some people see bugs as nothing but a problem, others don't appreciate the happy accidents of paint. I'm glad you are a champion of organic life & art!!

  7. what an impressive bug and i love your drawing of it.

    I hope all those bugs that are collected are returned to the wild,