Tuesday, June 16, 2015
His birthday is coming up, so I asked him if he had any special requests, or did he want to take a gamble and let me surprise him. He sent me more flower photos and then added that he wouldn't mind taking a gamble.
I did make an attempt at the straight-forward approach-- using his photos as a model for painting wildflowers in their natural setting. But mischief, that constant companion of my heart, raised its tousled head, and the next thing I knew, I was painting flowers as food. As in food for the stomach, not food for the soul.
The words in the etegami shown above say o-hanami yori hanami (preferring flower-tasting to flower-viewing), a play on the same-sounding words hanami (flower-viewing) and hanami (flower-tasting). Actually, I made up the second expression by forcing together the word for flower and the word for flavor. I just can't resist wordplay, and Japanese is the perfect language for it.
The words on the etegami shown below quote a poem by haiku master Matsuo Basho. He was reflecting on fate and the fragility of life. Only, it wasn't a horse that ate the flowers. It was yours truly. I wonder if my father-in-law will think that his gamble paid off.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
While Hokkaido looks forward eagerly to a typically mild, sunny, fragrant, bright green, sweet-breezy June, the rest of Japan has entered-- or is about to enter-- the pre-summer rainy season called tsuyu, often translated literally as "plum rains."
The mugginess of tsuyu can be quite miserable-- one of those times of the year when I wonder out loud how anyone would choose to live anywhere other than tsuyu-less Hokkaido. (In just a few months, the Hokkaido winter will arrive with a powerful reply to that question.)
Well, anyway, I've been working on tsuyu-related etegami to encourage my friends who have to endure the rainy season. I started with a couple of etegami collages that recombine parts of previous etegami that may seem familiar to you.
Both the Japanese version and the English version quote a gently humorous haiku by Matsuo Basho: The crane's legs/have gotten shorter/in the spring rain (translated by Robert Hass). It's easy to imagine the cranes standing in the water, their long, skinny legs appearing shorter and shorter, as the level of the river, stream or lake rises higher and higher. The folded paper cranes, being legless, are kind of perfect for this haiku, don't you think?
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Look what arrived in the mail today! It's a work of textile art (matted but not yet framed) by Polish textile artist Bozena Wojtaszek. I've had my eye on it for a very, very long time. I first saw it on her blog The Textile Cuisine, where she showed it to her readers as a work-in-progress. Then, a week or so ago, I saw it listed on her Etsy shop and I knew that I had to have it.
Her name for it is Old Wall, but I privately call it The Gap in the Wall, because for me it illustrates the Bible passage Ezekiel 22:30: I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
And. Guess.What. Bozena enclosed a bonus in the package with the Wall. A precious flowery fiber art card for framing or sending in the mail as a postcard! I am a very happy girl.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Last month I received a small box of leaf-shaped cakes from Yun, my etegami friend in France. The cakes themselves didn't last long enough to appear in the photo I posted on my received mailart blog, but if you click the link, you can see the empty box and Yun's corrugated cardboard etegami that shows what the cakes looked like.
Even empty, the little box charmed and intrigued me. I had opened it in such a way as to leave the cellophane wrapping mostly undisturbed. So not only did the box look unopened, the diamond-shaped hole appeared to have window glass in it.
I cut out a flat "tray" from corrugated cardboard that slid smoothly in and out of the box, and glued flowery chiyogami (washi craft paper) and my favorite etegami bee images onto the tray. The bees were glued to bits of thick corrugated cardboard to give them a pop-out look. Finally I added words appropriate to the scene, and tucked the finished tray into the box. The part of the tray that you can see through the "window" has enough depth to make it seem like you're peeking into another world. I was planning to send the finished box to Yun, but I'm enjoying it so much that I think I'll keep it for a while. :)
Friday, May 8, 2015
Furthermore, I certainly don't want my own kids (both of whom I kept close to my side while they were growing up) to express any appreciation they might have for me just because it's "Mother's Day." Although.... if that's the only day I can get any appreciation (assuming I deserve any), I will take it gratefully.
So, back to my own mother. One of the few-but-sweet memories I have of very early childhood is of my mother singing to us kids after she had tucked us in bed. I would sing those same songs softly to myself in later childhood, and even as late as early adulthood, during lonely or desperate nights when I lived far from home among strangers in a land that was strange to me.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
A momentous event happened in mid-19th century Japan. The Tokugawa (Edo) government, which had controlled Japan with an iron hand for 250 years, crashed and gave way to a new government brought about by the Meiji Restoration. The accompanying changes, including a new openness to western culture, must have seemed drastic and strange to the ordinary person at the time. Suddenly, choosing footwear was more complicated than it had ever been before....
I painted this as my submission to an Italy-based mail art call on the theme "Life in the 19th Century," and YOU are invited to participate too. I copied and pasted the following details from the event's Facebook page:
Artists from all over the world are invited to participate in this International Mail Art Project organised by the Faenza’s Watercolourists Association. Everyone is welcome to participate, all ages and skill levels. An exhibition of the received works will have place in Faenza, Italy, during the first days of November 2015 for the yearly St. Rocco fair of the city . All the works will be exhibited online in a special album posted in the event too and later there will be also pictures taken at the exhibition.
Theme: “Life in the XIX century” (years 1800/1899)
Size: Postcard (10 x 15 cm)
Technique: Free (watercolour, painting, drawing, collage and so on)
Rules: No jury, no fees, no return of the works, only original works, no copies. It is up to the artist to send in envelope or not, only 1 piece for each artist.
Deadline: Works must arrive by the 1st of October 2015.
Please clearly indicate name, address and email address on the back of the card.
Send your card to:
Associazione Acquerellisti Faentini
c/o Silvano Drei
Via Portisano 46
48018 Faenza (RA)