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.)

Put on Your Sunday Clothes

Happy Sunday. After working months on the last painting I shared (À la côte sud d’ Île Sainte-Marguerite) & another one I haven’t posted yet, I desired to paint something quicker and less detailed. Sometimes doing a “quickie” after or during a longer painting gives new life or energy to the creative process. Granted, it took some hours, but it was done, to my satisfaction, over 2-3 evenings. I primarily painted with a palette knife. 

With a dress like that, if you don’t think of Hello, Dolly!, you must not have seen this musical. Note the added business card in her left hand.

In other news, I recently added some new little paintings to the Nature & Animal Art galleries; see whether you can spot them.