Around the World in 80 Days: Day 24, Art Update

Just so you know… in addition to participating with the community, eating, sleeping, pooping regularly, riding a bike as my means of transportation (including riding 2 miles every other day to get groceries or supplies… no it’s not far, but it takes a big chunk of time out of my day), and writing about all of it daily, I’m making art each day as well.  I don’t have anything too exciting to show for it yet but I figured I’d fill you guys in.

I’ve basically been a fan factory, though by Japanese craftsman standards I’m operating more like a kindergartner coming off of a sugar high.  Within the last two weeks I’ve made 20 fan bases, each of them taking me roughly 3 hours a piece.  Two extra fans were destroyed in the learning process.  I have one complete fan which you saw in my last post.  That was ultimately 4 hours of work and there is no painting on the paper.

Here’s what my progress looks like:

My super messy bench.

Some unstrung fans.

This is most of my fans stacked together.  There’s about 15 of them here.

Here’s one more tall fan and four more sticks waiting to be tall fans.  When I’m done with all of these fans there’s a stack of bamboo in the corner waiting to be even more fans.  I’ll heat treat these with a can of fire and then steel wool them all to get the charred surface off and polish them a bit.  Then I chop them up and soak them in a bucket of water and begin all over again.

When I’m getting cross-eyed from carving tiny slivers of bamboo or stringing them with tiny pieces of thread I take a little break and embellish antique Japanese hair ornaments with my retro-reflective tape.  Here’s how that’s going.

One side, without and with flash.

Other side, with and without flash.

Different hair comb.


And my super favorite.

I should say here that it’s absolutely freaking amazing to be making stuff with my hands again.  I forgot how wonderful and alive it makes me feel.  I’ve not had a studio for a long time and I’ve never had a studio other than a room in my own house (not counting school, bleah).  I feel like a real artist.

I FINALLY got my first sumi-e class in.  Again, I mean… I’ve been making art for years and I teach drawing… for the love of a goat… but you put a new material and process in my hands and it looks like a 3 year old did it.  These practice pieces are after about 50 sheets of throwaway drawings.  Also, these are not finished drawings, they are still practice.  Do not get excited over these.  I forbid it.  These are the pieces I’m not extremely embarrassed to show you.

My sumi-e sensei (that means teacher) Aiba-chan, pointed out that the ink brush I got is a quality brand.  Score!  Buttttttttt….. my particular brush sucks.  Shtankles.  She said if I was going to keep doing this I should get a good brush.  I opened my wallet and pulled out 2000 yen ($20) and she asked if I had a minute to look at brushes online.  Sure I do!  I soon saw what I’d be spending on a quality brush and I choked.  I saw similar sized brushes to mine (the size she recommends) for 8000 yen.  For.  One.  Damn.  Brush.  I “settled” for a 5600 yen brush.  I’m looking forward to using it.  I expect it to do the painting for me while I kick back and eat sweets.

I’m painting snakes and planning to make their heads into security cameras.  This kinda sucks for the snakes… because they have a bad rep and I actually like snakes.  Let’s call them sneaky, hidden, and predatory.  Those things are true but there is also the good side to snakes: They’re cool.  I’ve had a vision of a snake with a security camera as its head for awhile now so I’m going with it, grad school style defense/rhetoric/explanation be damned.

That’s all for now.  I don’t want to say too much more about what I’m going to do.  I’d rather show you in the next update.




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