Art Walk 1: Turning Up with the J-pop

Back in November, in the midst of sorting oodles of doodles, I suggested an artistic walk down memory lane. 4 months & 4 million sketches later (exaggeration), it’s here. Welcome to the Art Walk. Expect to see elementary school art, punny stuff, and J-pop art(ists).

Notes: Long post ahead. Some images still mysteriously stretch. Clicking opens them at their proper dimensions.

Long-time readers & friends might have expected me to say Japanese comics or video games, not Japanese music (though I have much of those, too). Selections from the J-pop collection, circa my last 2 years of high school, are included because

  1. During this time, I started regularly using real people & photos as models.
  2. I significantly improved at drawing realistically. One doesn’t go from this (top image) to that (bottom) overnight.

3. Of all the revisited drawings, they excited me the most. After multiple curatorial culls, there were still too many to share in one post, & half were of Arashi. (Lol.) Solution? Two posts, starting with an Arashi exclusive/homage. Oh Yeah!

Pronunciation note: please say “AH-rah-shi,” not “ah-RAH-shi.” Perfect. (Now, America, let’s work on karaoke.)

Some fun facts:

  • “Arashi” (嵐) means “storm.” Members: Aiba Masaki, Matsumoto Jun, Ninomiya Kazunari, Ohno Satoshi, & Sakurai Sho. (Family names are first.)
  • They sang at the enthronement celebration of Japan’s new emperor in 2019. (Ray of water, 3rd movement, by acclaimed composer Kanno Yoko. In the linked video, she is conducting.)
  • Per the IFPI, their 20th anniversary compilation was 2019’s top-selling album globally, outselling Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, & 방탄소년단 / BTS, the current princes of K-pop (Korean pop).
  • Their songs have been used to promote the Olympics (on Japanese TV), including Kaze no Mukou e (“Beyond the wind”) for 2008, Power of the Paradise for 2016, and Kaito (“Kite,” composed by Yonezu Kenshi, another popular musician) for 2020. If the Olympics proceed this summer, I hope it is somehow included. The world should hear it; it’s beautiful.
  • Did any of you see Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, the companion film to Flags of Our Fathers? Nino played Saigo.
  • Do any of you like Bruno Mars? He wrote Arashi’s first all-English release, Whenever You Call (2020).

Let’s begin. めましょう! Hajimemashou!

For more alliteration, add “from an adolescent artist’s archives.”

The episode title comes from the chorus of Arashi’s 2019 single, Turning Up. I’m elated they finally made a music video that includes a weather forecast.

Sometimes I used music videos for references. Here’s an example, the “Ni no umbrella.” (MV: Kotoba Yori Taisetsu na Mono, “Something more important than words”).

For Christmas & birthdays, I often gave my friends drawings of their favorite singers & characters. Here’s a birthday card, straight out of the Happiness music video. Happiness was released during my senior year of high school (and skyrocketed onto the favorite song list). It’s been regular in concert repertoire ever since.

Back: Sho (L), Aiba, Jun. Front: Ohno, Nino.
Pronunciation tips: “Ai” in “Aiba” is like “I”/”aye.” “Jun” is similar to “June.” The “Oh” in “Ohno” is a long “o” sound.

Even though I messed up when I inked (Jun’s hand & Sho’s face), this is one of my favorite things I’ve drawn for someone. Having fun drawing it, my friend’s delighted response, & wordplay made a good mix.

Back of card. Wish is another Arashi song.

We had fun making J-pop puns. To name a few,

  • Ohno / Oh, no. (Obvious, overused, yet never old.)
  • It’s Sho / show time!
  • SubArashi~! Subarashii (“soo-bah-rah-shee”) means “wonderful.” SubArashi can describe an awesome song or performance or, facetiously, Arashi on a sandwich or in a yellow submarine.
  • Sholo: A Sho solo. Or this.
Hitomi no Naka no Galaxy is a somber song from their first 5 years.

Good times fo’ Sho! (For sure.) Like when my friends & I went to my little brother’s middle school play & and all giggled when he came onstage with Matsumoto Jun hair.

Here’s another birthday drawing. I think the pencil draft looks more accurate than the final, but for similar reasons to the Happiness card, it’s another favorite thing I’ve drawn for someone else.

This stylized Ohno accompanied another gift.

One more. This draft is from an independent oil painting class my senior year. I used an image of Nino, Aiba, & Jun for the poses & tried to change their faces so they wouldn’t look like them (though “not Aiba” particularly still resembles Aiba).

I liked the drawing, but I was not satisfied with the painting. Consequently, I was shocked to learn the school administrators had chosen it for an award! There were 2 senior art awards: one merit award & one legacy award that meant the school bought 1 graduating student’s artwork. (I won both.) Bench Buddies / “not Arashi” / whatever I titled it was the legacy selection. At the awards assembly, the head of school announced that it was selected because it expressed camaraderie and simple joy. At least the reason was decent.

Thus a little bit of J-pop is preserved at Principia.

That’s the end. Thanks for coming this far. I hope you had some fun; I did. I will try to make the next Art Walk episode shorter. じゃあまたね. Jaa, mata ne. (See you later.)

Art Zoo

Once Handmade Hopewell (HH) finished, I could spend more time working on art again instead of working on presenting art. Here are recent animal paintings.

This sea turtle was “finished” a few weeks ago, after HH. To give a sense of scale, it is leaning against a door.

At the start, there were some energetic, sketchy elements I quite liked, eg., around the flippers, but most of those areas ended up getting more refined or painted over. Looking at it now, I wish I had preserved more of them. Even so, the painting satisfied my need to do something artistic besides re-painting tulips and working on my video for HH, and I am generally content with it.

The Wednesday after HH, I got a call from neighbors who asked whether I were willing & able to come up with something artistic & humorous that night to mail Thursday morning to a couple getting married that Friday or Saturday. Although these wedding pandas are not punny of themselves, my neighbors were encouraged to send the happy couple a note congratulating them on going forward with their wedding during the panda-demic.

There are also some bird paintings, but I will save them for another time.

I hope you enjoyed today’s trip to the zoo.

First Painting of 2020

Happy New Year! I hope you are off to an inspired start to 2020. I’ve been playing around with watercolors recently. It has been a while since I painted with them regularly, so I’m brushing up (pun intended).

I began this piece to experiment with techniques and water/pigment ratios in preparation for some upcoming projects, not to create a new, finished painting, but in the end it appeared to have enough going for it to stand alone. It is called Cosmic Brush.

Here’s to another year (and decade) of art adventures.

Pet Portrait Trio

Happy New Year! I’m going to hark back to Christmas for this post.

Three years ago, I gave my mom a drawing of our dog for Christmas and put it in a frame that had not one, but three photo slots, with the promise that I would give her a drawing of him each year until the frame was filled. Each drawing depicts him at a different age (youngest on the left, oldest on the right). This past Christmas marks the third and final doggy drawing of the set! (Click to enlarge.)

Convention Reflections: Nov. 2017

Here’s a detailed update of the 3-day anime convention (Derpycon) I attended a week and a half ago. As said last time, business-wise, the convention went astoundingly well, better than I had imagined. Even though there were slow times, I sold enough on the first night to pay off the table! This was the first time I “made table” on the first day. Pleasantly surprised & very grateful. Also, the convention staff I interacted with was very helpful; they interacted with the artists more than the other 2 cons I’ve done.

At some anime conventions, the artist alley (for independent artists & crafters) and the vendor/dealers room (for licensed merchandise, eg. official Pikachu stuffed animals, anime soundtracks) are located in the same room; at other conventions, the artists & dealers are separate. Dealers & artists were separate at Derpycon, and artists were further separated into room space & hall space. The waitlisted space I filled was a hall space–the last table at the far end. Three tables between the rest of the artist mall and my table were empty (no-shows), so that evening, members of the con staff invited me to move closer to everyone else Saturday. Several people (con staff, other artists, & con-goers alike) came over and commented about my solitude, whether it would affect sales, etc. I don’t think it made a difference since, as said, I made table first night; as for all the people who came over to ask “Is it lonely over here?” — no, it wasn’t since they came over! It was also a good opportunity to make Hobbit references (mainly the Lonely Mountain).

Here is the Lonely Mountain, a.k.a. my booth.

Saturday morning, just as I was beginning to set up, the head of artist alley asked whether I would like to move into the artist alley proper (from the mall to the room). Free upgrade! There were some no-shows in the room, so 2 other booths and I moved in. From the ends of the earth to prime real estate–not bad! The main benefit is that the room, unlike the hall, is locked at night, so people can leave their booths set up overnight; they don’t have to take down & set up every day.

I adjusted commission prices (for drawings done for people at the convention) for Derpycon to see whether lower prices would increase the number of commissions requested, and wow! They did, by a lot, but I think the prices were too low. Next time I’ll try a happy medium.

Here are some character drawings I did during the event.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of hosting a booth at anime conventions (along with seeing the creative cosplay/costumes) is interacting with the people who connect with the art I have to share. In particular, there was a dad with three girls (and a son who wasn’t able to attend, but they purchased art for him); the dad didn’t know much about anime, but he was very supportive of the girls’ interests. He even dressed up! He works in a hotel kitchen, so he wore his cook clothes and said he was from Food Wars!, a fairly recent, popular show about (you guessed it) cooking. The family came by several times and were good patrons. There was another father with his daughter and her friend; the girls each commissioned a drawing and were incredibly excited to receive them! The dad then took a photo of me and the girls holding their drawings. There was also a young guy (probably in high school or college) who had come to buy something special to hang in his room, probably a big poster. Out of curiosity, he perused some of my art, turned to the last painting, and then he was totally engrossed! For several minutes, he just looked and kept looking at the painting. And that was it! Sold! He told me he wasn’t really into “art” art (which I take to mean anything resembling traditional art), but this was the first time he had ever looked at a painting for four minutes straight. (It was a painting I had painted for an English project in high school & hadn’t previously brought to any conventions–only decided to bring it Thursday night before the con.) He really loved it. It was very special to see someone connect so strongly and quickly with art.

Needless to say, it was a good experience. I’m glad I had the opportunity. Since my posts aren’t usually this long, I’ll also say “thank you” for reading!