Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gifts from the Ito Family

During my recent trip to Japan, I stayed with a host family in Hiroshima.  They were the Ito's---Yoshikazu and Fumie.  Their daughter Megumi was visiting.  She recently retired from a ballet company that was touring Europe, and is now married and expecting to start a family.  Mr. and Mrs. Ito don't really speak English, though Mr. Ito can read and write it.   Megumi was our translator.  

It was a real treat to stay in their very comfortable home in the Saeki-ku section of Hiroshima.  I had been told that Japanese homes are small, but theirs was very spacious and comfortable.  Mr. Ito's mother also lives with them, but she has Alzheimer's and so I didn't have much interaction with her.  They served me a very nice meal, with special dishes. It was a huge meal, more than could be eaten at one sitting.  They also gave me breakfast the two days that I was there, but the breakfast was pretty conventional for me---cereal and yogurt.  They also had very good coffee.  It was somewhat of a surprise to me how good the coffee is in Japan--a little serendipity.  I found you could order it either hot or cold.

As is customary in Japan, we exchanged gifts.  They gave me a sweet hand-made doll dressed in a traditional kimono.  As I understand it, it was a gift from the group that was hosting us, Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center, as well as from the Itos.  So, as Mrs. Ito explained, she also wanted to give me a special gift.  It was a beautiful leather purse from Inden-ya.  I did a little internet research and learned that it the flowers are lacquer on deerskin and the process of making the leather dates back to 1582.  It is also a beautifully-crafted purse and I find pleasure in just holding it.

The Itos were wonderful hosts, as were all of the people I met in Hiroshima.  Really, they took hospitality to a whole new level.  It was a real treasure to get to know them.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Draw and Discover" at Luce Foundation Center

One of the biggest treats about being in Washington DC is the first-class art, and first-class art experiences.  This post is about the latter, as I am not necessarily enthralled with this painting....though, by the end of this post, you will see I have a greater appreciation of it than I did before.  It is called "Pioneers of the West" and it is by Helen Lunderberg.  She painted it in 1934...I think it definitely shows that era.  She was a WPA artist and later moved to abstractions and hard edges.  This particular painting is about 40" x 50" and shown in the Luce Center in one of their many glass display cases.  It is interesting....it is not really in the galleries, and is part of the permanent collection that they have elected to keep on display in a special case.  I should make another post about that space because it is amazing.

So...back to me.  I went to the Luce Center at 2:30 today to join the sketching group.  It happens every Tuesday afternoon.  If you are in DC and are an artist, I HIGHLY recommend it.  Today's assignment (about 20 artists participating) was to find a painting and then demonstrate how it meets a one-point perspective of drawing.  I thought this was easy, but there are actually many perspectives in the painting I chose.  It turns out most of us had that same problem.

However I gave it a good shot, and this is my result.

I know, it is not very impressive.  I kind of forced the perspective...more than the artist who made the painting.  I learned something important, though, about thinking about where you are encouraging the viewer to look.  Nearly everyone today had a problem with this particular exercise.

I am not impressed with my sketch, though the class consensus was that I got it "right" in terms of perspective.  I think this is a good thing to think about, especially in landscapes.  BTW, I go kudos from the museum staff on the gestures of the figures.  I was the only student who "took on" this painting.

I would do this again!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Channeling Roy Lichtenstein

Last night in drawing class my assignment was to do a self portrait in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.  It was so much fun!   This is about 15" x 15" in size.  I am thinking about adding some color, but thought I'd post this first.   Last drawing class for awhile.  It has been fun.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Nieghborhood sketch ready to show

My neighborhood drawing framed and "ready to show" at Shaw.  It seems to have a sepia tone in the front left plantings and I am not sure why, or why that area shows as so dark.  Bad photograph.  It is a decent drawing.  I had to deal with the smudges and so I just smudged everything and went back and erased the whites.   Then I had to do some touch-ups.  

I may never do this type of thing again, but it was kind of fun and it does show typical buildings in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I actually did this a couple of weeks ago, but have had a lot of trouble getting a good picture.   It's still not great, but I am going with it.  So, this was an hour's work of sketching a few buildings near the art workshop (Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, or CHAW), where I am taking my drawing class. This scene is actually only a half block from my home.   I am so close to CHAW and love that.  Our assignment was to draw some buildings from the grounds of CHAW.  I kind of like what I did, but really want to do more with this drawng. My mission was to tell about the arched doorway and I think at this point it is about the garlands on the buiding that is nearer.  I will work more on this one because I am generally happy with the progress and also because I need to do what I set out to do and focus on that lovely arch.  Architectural drawing is a challenge, but I have already have someone in my house who recognizes the specific buildings I was drawing, and that is a big reward.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


This drawing is from last week.  I couldn't post it then because I was a little disappointed and left it behind.  When I saw it again a week later, I kind of liked it, and so did my teacher Carolina.  Now it is on the bulletin board where we post work...work we like.  It is very "wonky" because it is a charcoal contour drawing.   For those who don't know, contour drawing is supposed to be more looking at the subject than looking at the object (or person...or whatever) being drawn.  That means that sometimes the lines don't actually match what is being drawn.  If you haven't tried it, I think you should.   To me, this drawing captures the "spirit" of the blender, and the push buttons are hilarious, and make me want to push them.  It was preliminary to an exercise that I feel I failed.

We were supposed to do a drawing that would be surreal, and would include a blender and some portions of the drawing studio interior.  I attempted to show two blenders dancing on pillows.  That would, of course, have created havoc when they were "turned on."  I failed so completely that I do not want to show my attempt and I will not try to complete it.  However, I am happy with this blender, though I would make some adjustments if I wanted to turn it into a painting.  /actually, I am happy to just let it be.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Carolina's Boots

Last week we worked on drawing the teacher's boots.  It seems like a simple subject, but it was very challenging!  I feel like I want to complete it, but don't know if I will.  I would have to work from a photograph, and I have come to hate doing that.  My teacher, by the way, is Carolina Mayorga.  She pushes us to be accurate in the drawings.  The darks are from graphite, which I dampened.

It took me almost a week to post this because I have had company, which has been lots of fun.  If I do any more work on this, I will post it.