Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waiting for New Year

Christmas is gone and now it is the time to prepare for new year!

I took off Christmas wreath from my entrance door and hung Simekazari instead, which is to ward off evil spirits and to indicate secred area where gods descend.

 In center, it is written "Hatsu-haru" meaning "early spring"; According to Chinese calendar, New Year Day is somewhere between Feburuary 1-15th, which is supposed to be the beginning of spring. So I think old Japanese who used those calendar wrote "Hatsu-haru" wishing spring is coming.  Crane is a lucky symbol for long life as much as turtle; There is old saying, "Cranes live 1,000 years and turtles live 10,000 years." No wonder Japanese live long?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lunch of the Day

This is not a food blog. But I write about food a lot; I am FOODIE.
I think most artists love to cook and eat as much as to paint.
Our fascination is always diredted to anything beautiful, whether it is eatable or not. However, my lunch is pretty much plain and frugal in preparetion for dinner.

lunch of the day

Today's lunch is one sweet potato, one mandarin orange, and milk tea.
You may say that I should take some protein. Yes, maybe.
But until 70 years ago, Japanese took proper nutrition mostly from rice only and they live long (longest in fact) ! So I do not worry too much.

During this busy season, I enjoy watching populare Japanese cooking TV show "Kewpie's Three Minutes Cooking".

This program has been broadcasted every day since 1963 and made the Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest running TV cooking program.
I usually work at my studio in the morning and stop working just before the program and watch while preparing lunch.
Isn't it a happy routine?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Uncompromisable Battle on Sukiyaki

There is a big discussion on Sukiyaki between west and east in Japan.
Easterners such as Tokyo people use a kind of soy sauce based broth called "warishita" and COOK beef and vegetables in that broth.
On the other hand, westerners, represented by people in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, say that Sukiyaki historically means "grill on plow", so strongly believe that beef strips which is main ingredient of Sukiyaki dish should be "grilled" with soy sauce and sugar on iron pan.
Me? As one originated from Osaka, I will say it loud;
"you should grill beef! Period!".
It is peaceful battle anyway.

This is traditional (I think) recipe of Sukiyaki.
First, you should grill (or stir) beef on the iron pan with soy sauce(2 table spoon) and sugar(one table spoon). No water added.

Raw egg is an option. You can dip the beef into it to make the dish milder taste.

After you ate beef, THEN you can add vegetables to the pan where now all the beef juice seasoned by soy sauce and sugar are left. Vegetables contain enough water, so you do not have to add any water unless the pan gets burned.
Ingredient can be spinach, green onion, leek, tohu, sitake mashroom, etc. and my recommendation is konjac noodle. You can finalize Sukiyaki with Udon. Try it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Studio Cleaning

my studio storage space
My year end cleaning project is in the final stage. I had a little break for Christmas, so I have to catch up my project schedule. I have my studio at home where filled with all kinds of art supplies and junks and need to be organized for my new canvases. Yes, I ordered with an art supplier for a stack of canvases and am expecting their coming in the  beginning of next year. So I got another space at home for storage.
second storage
I moved some of giant canvases to my studio storage and am going to add another shelf in this room so that I can keep a lots of small canvases here. This room is very well ventilated and suitable for wet canvases. Artist needs a lot of space and this always create headache, since I and my husband move home once in every several years. However it is always nice feeling to wait new canvases coming. It is like you are waiting for babies yet to be born.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Best wishes for happy holidays and new year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Do Japanese celebrate Christmas?

Christmas trees on my dinner table
Yes, we do! Most of Japanese celebrate Christmas, whether one like it or not. Most Japanese parents are supposed to buy a Christmas gift to their kids who already know that Santa Clause is their dad in fact. It is very good opportunity for single men and women to participate in Christmas party to meet their future spouse at the most romantic time of the year. I went to supermarket this morning and there were a lot of senior citizens who are also coming there to buy Christmas gift and food (mostly grilled chickens or sushi) for themselves. It seems to me that Japanese may feel that they are out of fashion if one does not celebrate Christmas. Even my mother, who would turn 80 years old this year if alive, used to prepare Christmas food for us; It was such a wonderful memory for me.   I think it was very fun event also for young mothers at Japan's high economic growth in 1960's and 1970's as nuclear family's party (which concept was newly imported Japan at that time), different from New Year's Days where one is obligated to do all the  troublesome, rigid (but traditional) practices for all the families and relatives. Christmas party is much more casual and even giving us the scent of Western countries. So IMO, this event is still widely celebrated in Japan. But now for me, it is too busy to do so! I should complete my paintings in process for group shows of next year, must prepare for New Year holidays, have not finished year end cleaning, need to take part in rice-cake making festival in my neighbor, write blog, write cards, do year-end book closing, oh I have to buy a toy for my niece for New Year's gift.... Anyway, Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Secret Ingredient 2

It is always a major topic of debate between oil painters that what the best recipe of the medium.
My recipe is here;
Stand oil - 2parts
Linseed oil -2parts
Poppy oil -5parts
Dammar vanish -1part
This is stock medium and you need to add 1 to 3 parts of turpentine to the stock when you paint.
My work has sometimes very light/pale colors, so I am very careful about yellowing and aging and therefore using larger amount of poppy oil.
I am interested in your recipe and how do you ended up with the ingredient.
Do you want to tell me that?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


These are the works I painted several years ago.

Top: "Then I get lost #1", 36"x28 1/2"(91cmx 73cm), oil on canvas
Middle: "Then I get lost #2", 36"x28 1/2"(91cmx 73cm), oil on canvas
Bottom: "Garden of Spirits",46"x36"(117cmx 91cm), oil on canvas

I painted them inspired by the image of branching trees. They were standing on the side of the road I pass by when my grocery shopping routine. They are not special trees and I do not know even their names. But when I drive through the road once or twice a week, they showed me every moment of transition of weather or season.  I like to observe their changing of colors. Leaves are not just green, they can be yellowish or greyish green, or dark blue, or even can be white reflecting sunlight. Those change of colors are very, very subtle and catching and reproducing them are not easy job, but I can never get tired of watching at them. I continue to paint the image of trees as long as they give me unlimited inspirations.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Representative Work

Gymnasium #1, 21"x21"(53cm x 53cm)
Most of my paintings are abstract. So this work may seem very unusual in my work. But for me as of that artist, all of my works are created to be inspired by nature scenes, whether it ended up with as representational or abstract.
I painted this gymnasium where I practice playing badminton once a week. The gymnasium, called Sayaga-tani Gym, is a tiny place with just a three badminton court. I heard that it is built several decades ago by a major corporation  (it is still one of the biggest corporation in Japan) around here, but left to ruin and rust after the bubble years, then the city bought the gym and restored. 
It is still very small gym keeping its original size, and in summer it is hot like a hell, and cold like a fridge cause it does not have an air conditioner. I think the city did not have money to put one in. However, people in this community love this gym and I like it, too. I sometimes go to a much bigger gym, but I like it here.
I can see and feel the transition of seasons. I can look at the green bushes and feel the air from the opened door (as opened always, cause no air conditioner ) whereas I can enjoy the pastel-like colors of the hills behind the bushes, of which colors are somewhat softened through the old smoky windows. All of those are inspirations of this work and those thoughts are coming by while I am practicing and that is because why my badminton prowess improves so slowly...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Am I successful?

I started to use a new application called Networkedblogs.
This is my second try to send my blog post to my fanpage of facebook and hope it worked.

Busy Busy Busy

new year cards scattered on tatatmi mat

It is time to write new year & season's greeting card.
I am not a big writer, but I write those cards every year. I think that Japanese society will never accept blanket e-mailing cards from their heart. It might be the same for people other than Japanese. How remarkable the development of internet technologies are, they can never supersede the handwritten personal messages, whether it is bad or good. So I believe that this is the best way of keeping your friends still today.  So why blogging? This is for my unknown friends on the other side of the globe. Hope to hear from you! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Secret Ingredient

Right bottle is fish powder and the left one is Yuzu Kosho. I use them routinely for my cooking. Fish powder is mainly for making broth or soup stock such as miso-soup, but you can use it for anything as you use permesan cheese.  Just sprinkle on food when you want some sort of flavor.It is simply small fishes reduced into powder, so is very healthy way to take necessary calcium. ( not so fishy taste, I think.)
Yuzu, as some of you may know, is a type of Japanese citron and Yuzu Kosho literally means Yuzu & black pepper. However, it actually does not contain black pepper. It is made of red pepper and Japanese citron and matured together a while. Like Wasabi, it goes great with beef, pork and chicken. When I do not have enough time to cook, I just saute beef steak (or boil paper-thin sliced pork) with solt & pepper on a pan and serve with Yuzu Kosho. Great dinner for busy person!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Origin of "Pleiades Studio"

I have a online shop at Etsy. It is named because I am Taurean and the Pleiades star cluster is the symbol star of Taurus. I do not believe astrology very much, but I sometimes feel that something beyond human power exists when I touch vast nature like starry sky, mountains, forest, or even a breath of air, all of which consist my art concept, "garden of spirits."


Friday, December 17, 2010

My Favorite Japanese Sweets

I love any kind of sweets.
This is Japanese sweet rice ball, Ohagi. Ohagi is steamed sticky rice filled with sweet bean paste and covered with soybean flour. This is generally for spring equinox, but is sold anytime of the year in most of Japanese supermarket. 
How does it taste? Imagine that, in a mashed potato, you fill with very sweet chunky peanut butter, and finish with a light dusting of cocoa powder. 
Sounds yummy? I usually buy ones, but in case you want to cook it by yourself; 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do you like working on PC?

To be honest, I am no good at personal computers. I always have problem in understanding all of techie stuff and my computer always have problem in understanding that I am an artist, not a system engineer.
My poor baby... He is overwhelmed because I am too demanding without knowing his capability.
For a few days, I am trying hard to sent this blog post to my fan page automatically, but it does not work. Very frustrating.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recent Work

Nothing gives me better feeling than the sense of ease and freedom I feel when finished a painting.

Title : Pinwheel (kazaguruma)

This is one of my recent work. I have showcased it in a juried show of a gallery inTokyo, won the second prize with it. Yeah! Moreover, the gallery owner awarded me a one person show in next year. I must confess that I am slow painter, but I have to produce a body of work for the show. What a happy pressure for me!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Year End Cleaning

This is the time to start BIG CLEANING!
In Japan, people have a tradition of doing a big house cleaning at the end of each year. This tradition originates from a religious custom in which people cleaned their home altar and rooms to welcome the god of the New Year. Nowadays, whether you are religious person or not, we are supposed to clean up everywhere in/around/near your house, form a ventilation fan in the kitchen and the backside of computer machine to side ditches in the garden. So December issue of many housekeeping magazines features all new techniques about housecleaning. Cleaning with baking soda got hot in recent years. I remember that, when I was a child, my mother/grandmother yelled at me if I don't help them to clean up our house. After we cleaned up the whole house, we are ready to welcome a new year in peace.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Painting Space

This is my studio.
It is very small but relaxing little nest for me. But it sometimes turns out to be the last place I want to step in like a hell or confession room when my painting does not go well - I struggle very (very ) hard with a painting for several weeks or months, but my painting does not end up with satisfaction.  Or I feel very happy with the work and ask to my husband how he likes it, but he says "..well,... I think it's OK..."
To be an artist is very hard profession in terms of patience and courage. We artist sometimes must spend considerable time for nothing but with hope, and IMO, also must be brave enough to evolve and change what we are currently doing.
Anyway, in most case I am happy in my studio, working on my painting, listening radio, and picking up a piece of chocolate.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Love to Ramen

I and my husband enjoy food. During the weekdays, I cook and he dishes. On the weekend, he cooks and dishes. ( Is that fair??) My husband loves ramen and it is one of his most favorite food he cooks.

For those who are crazy about ramen like him, IMO, ramen is not just a food. It is a "do", a way of life, like some Japanese martial art such as Judo or Kendo; something worth to pursue in your whole life! It is so funny that we even have ramen critics here in Japan.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recognitin of Space

The older I get, the more I am attracted by Japanese art. I ,or most of Japanese who was born after WWII have been exposed by Western Art all through the school days. No doubt it leads me to work on oil painting and etching. Modern Japanese arts are, I would say, fruits of our effort in researches and understandings of Western Art. I feel, however, something that I have been looking for is certainly there: That may be the sence of "ma". "Ma" is the sensibility of space between the objects, between the times, or between the words.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Recent Works

This is one of my recent oil paintings.
Title: Light of Joy
Size: 41cm x 41cm (16" x 16")
I painted this inspired by beautiful reflection of the light on trees.
Most of motifs in my paintings are derived from nature image where I feel some connection with human.
Any comments are welcomed.

Crazy December

Ok, for any sake, I managed to start my blog.
It is a kind of crazy to begin a new thing in this time of the year
- I am very busy, and everybody too: It is December! I am afraid that anybody in the world in such time will read such a blog written in poor English. ( I am not native English speaker, so please allow me sometime to get used to it!)
Also, it is so much work to deal with all these tech stuff for people who comes from the last century.
But anyway, I made it.
I started this blog mainly to share my art and want to jot down whatever trifling thoughts passing through my life.
I hope that you will enjoy it.