Shrine of the Paper Gods

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This latest one is a painting of the shrine to the paper gods in Imadate, next to Takefu. As an artist, I find it just so damn cool that there is a shrine to the paper gods here. During Golden Week in May, I visited the shrine with Hitomi during a festival, and we got to see the townspeople fight over the mikoshi containing the gods, and carry them from shrine to shrine throughout Imadate on a cold, rainy, rainy day. At night, we returned to the shrine to witness the end of the festival. At a shrine at the foot of a tall mountain, lit by torches and lanterns, a bunch of priests played traditional “music” (a.k.a. noise) that gave the area this otherworldy feel, and they enshrined the gods once more, and took them up to the top of the mountain to their summer home. Really, really awesome.

I’ll be updating this painting just a bit more in the future, as I did with the Mikuni shrine and as I am currently doing with my Nagoya-jou painting. One of the things I like most about the ukiyo-e prints hanging from my walls (the complete series of 53 Stations of the Tokaido and a few other random prints) is the “little people doing things” — a term I learned at Ringling from Mr. Perez, the computer illustration teacher. Apparantly, “little people doing things” is the secret to success in art, and as evidenced by the popularity of my Cherry Blossoms on the Schuylkill River over my other prints, I believe that to be true now. So sometime soon you’ll see some “little people doing things” added to a few more of my Japanese prints.

Golden Week

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Well, despite being sick for 6 out of my 10 days vacation, I had a pretty good Golden Week. I was able to fix my Tablet PC finally and get some painting done. So as you saw, I finished my Tojimbo painting. I also went back and retouched a couple other paintings, making a couple fairly significant changes. I updated the Nagoya castle painting, as it had some problems that had been driving me crazy ever since I saw it printed out, and I also made a few big changes to the Mikuni Ryokan painting, which also had been bothering me every time I looked at it. Here’s the updated Mikuni painting:

Ryokan at Mikuni (version 2)

You can see the updated Nagoya castle in the earlier post — I just overwrote the file, as that was more of a correction than a change.

Hitomi and I continued our paintings by the river — only that turned out to be a bit of a mistake. Last time we painted those paintings, it was a very spring-like day. This week, it was very summer-like. So as we continued working on the same paintings, we essentially repainted them on top of the old paintings. It would have been smarter to start a new one… oh well. So we did start a new one eventually, but they’re not finished yet — it was a rainy day picture so we have to wait for another rainy day to continue.

We went to 2 festivals as well. One was on Saturday, at a tiny little park which was absolutely gorgeous. The other one was in the evening and night on a really rainy day, in the tiny town on Imadate nearby. The rain made it really cool, I thought, as everyone participating was a lot more hardcore — carrying an enormous many-hundred-pound carriage on their backs from shrine to shrine, drinking beer and shouting, playing taiko drums, and having a good time. At the shrine we went to, they played tug of war with the mikoshi, slipping in the mud, half of them trying to take it home, half of them trying to keep the mikoshi at their shrine… which on a sunny day would have been dangerous, but on a slippery rainy day could have been downright deadly. Eventually the wild tug of war moved to the slippery, steep stone steps of the shrine, and I was sure someone would slip and we’d hear that 20 people were crushed under a giant gold mikoshi on the evening news… but nobody was hurt, and it made it down the stairs safely. At night we went to a different shrine and watched as they removed the gods from their home in the shrine, placed them into the mikoshi, and then headed up into the mountains with red lanterns guiding the way. It was a scene right out of a Miyazaki movie or something… wild buzzing folk music, cool costumes, pouring rain, giant braziers full of burning logs, and paper lanterns everywhere… sorry Kyoto, but urban Japan has nothing on the countryside. This place is magical.

I have tons of photos, but it’s too late to post any now, and I have to go back to work in the morning. I still have a tiny cough. I really hope I don’t get any sicker again.

Tojimbo

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I went to Tojimbo back in December with Hitomi, before we were dating. It was an awesome day — there was a storm out at sea, and the waves were really dramatic. You may remember the post with some photos from back then. I started this painting back in December during my winter break, but then in January when my schedule started to get really hectic, I put it aside… until the end of April. So I’ve been working on it on and off this past month, and now it’s close enough to finished that I can post. I might change or tweak it later (I’ve been doing that occasionally with my other paintings I’ve posted), but this is it for now. I hope you enjoy it!

Tojimbo

Japanese Wedding

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As you know, last month I went to Tokyo to my friend’s wedding ceremony. After that I wanted to surprise her with a wedding painting… but it took me too long to finish, so now it’s turned into a Christmas present. But anyway, now that it’s done, I can post it here too, I guess.

I think I’m getting the hang of painting in this style a lot more now… as well as getting a lot more used to digital painting. The previous 2 pieces I did — the Mikuni Ryokan and Nagoya Castle — looked okay, but while I was studying for and painting this one I noticed a lot of ways I can improve. So that’s good! Hopefully it will show in future images…

Ryokan at Mikuni

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This painting has been a little while in the making, due to business at work, and indecision about what to do with the water… I’m still not sure that I’m happy with it. It was originally a lot more painterly than typical ukiyoe, which usually has much smoother and simpler gradients… I played around with both extremes, and I couldn’t really decide one one… the painterly water looked nice, I thought, but didn’t fit the style of the rest of the picture. I eventually settled on somewhere in between the two, and here is the result:

Ryokan at Mikuni

This place is in a town called Mikuni here in Fukui, at a beach called Mikuni Sunset Beach. It’s a very famous and very pretty beach with many ryokans (Japanese traditional inns) along the waterfront. It’s just south of the Tojimbo cliffs, a very popular suicide destination in Japan. Mikuni is where I saw the big fireworks festival over Obon week.

Fall Has Finally Come!

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It looks like the cool weather is here to stay! It’s so fantastic. This week is actually surprisingly chilly — today is rainy and my toes are a bit cold. But I’m relishing the feeling. The smell is great, and the mountain outside my window is covered in mist, so it looks very pretty (and very fantasy-like).

I was planning on going to the Katsuyama dinosaur museum today, but since it’s rainy I wasn’t in the mood to figure out how to commute across the prefecture on my own. I guess I’ll have to put it off for another week. Le sigh.

Back in June I started working on the next 100 Famous of Views of Philadelphia painting, and never ended up finishing it due to business getting ready for Japan… So I tucked it away for a rainy day. And, well, today is a rainy day. So I finished it up and made it into a nice little fall scene:
Night View of City HallWork this week was good, despite the intense pain early in the week. The highlights of the week were finding a funny typo in a book (I’ll post it later on), and making a student laugh until tears. She takes a private lesson to improve her English for work, and after our practice dialogs I hang up the “bonus dialogs” for extra practice. She somehow misheard me and when I turned around she looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Donuts dialog??” I think I really got her hopes up right there. When she realized what I said she completely lost it, which is awesome because she’s usually so quiet and serious during class.Now I guess I should go grocery shopping. I need to get out of the house for a bit. Plus I want something sweet. (Dang this rain! I’ve really wanted to go to Mr. Donut ever since that class!)

Nagoya Castle

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It’s been a fairly slow undertaking, but it’s as good as done for now… I want to add some humans and some more atmospheric background — mountains and such — in the future, but for now…