All I wanted to do was to create a pair of red wellington boots.. So I did. Then I made a person wearing them and holding an umbrella. Okay, I needed rains to falling down on the umbrella. Perhaps a few puddles on the ground too… And finally this character decided to walk a duck-like animal on the leash for fun. One day, my landlady where I used to lived came over to the house and saw this picture on the wall. She grew quite fond of it which made me very flattered.
However, when I asked her 7 year-old daughter’s opinion, it was a totally different story. I was boasting inside of me thinking ‘this type of art should be sought after by children’. Nah!! Not at all. Her face frowned as she was shaking her head to the right and to the left and on and on. Then she whispered into her mother’s ears, I barely could hear. ‘We walk a dog, not a duck!!’, she was protesting. Ah, okay. Got it. Of course. Not a funny matter to her.
In fact, I felt as if I was scolded by her my attitude toward life in general. We must listen to them and respect their visions and insights as they are our teachers. They are much much wiser and we owe them a better world than ones we are living in now. By the way, before I came to the UK for the first time, one of my many send off gifts was a book called ‘Rules, Britannia’ written by Toni Summers Hargis (Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York).
It’s been a long time since I read it so can’t remember if the word ‘wellies’ was in the book or not. Basically, the author is explaining how the Queen’s English differs from the American’s. And thanks to the book, I could have a smooth transition (well, sort of). It is definitely a myth, England = rainy everyday. Overcast, more than anything, but actual precipitation is less than in Japan I read somewhere. Again, my title is not an Italian, but it’s ok. This art piece pays respect for my beloved wellies and England.
From yesterday, we are in the 3rd Nationwide lockdown. Compare to where I was mentally during the 1st lockdown, I feel much stronger and freer now. Having said that though, I suddenly remembered this abstract piece I have created when I was feeling so ‘stuck’ and no way out. As I explained before, the Italian titles definitely capture my emotion of each creativity well. But I just could not find any other language other than to say ‘stuck’ in English to fit to my psyche perfectly.
My youngest son also reminded me that origami paper are physically stuck to the frame – ‘a good point’. It was interesting to note my middle son’s first impression. He said it is a positive picture with 3 happy people. We all observe art piece from the angle based on our own experiences and perspectives. So in a way I was glad to know he is a very optimistic individual! Or, whatever I create, I can’t help but to implicitly convey inherent joy of life?
I came across with a beautiful writing by my mentor Sensei Ikeda. He says:
“Life is painful. It has thorns, like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself” (website: https://www.daisakuikeda.org)
At last! 2020 is behind us and we finally welcomed 2021 with open arms. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be more creative and not to belittle myself. My mentor in life, Sensei Daisaku Ikeda (a president of the lay Buddhist organisation called SGI – website: https://www.daisakuikeda.org) turned 93 years old. Sensei always inspires me to live my daily life with innermost freedom through manifesting ‘courage, wisdom and compassion’. It’s okay I am different. There is no need for me to compare to others.
When I created this picture, I just wanted it to be extremely bright and cheerful. And I never intended the background to look like Sakura (cherry blossom) by the water, but since it did, the title was inevitably named ‘LA PRIMAVERA’. I don’t usually use shades of pink much. Here’s an episode. When I was in elementary school (grade 5 or 6) one day we were doing water colour painting in the art class. I don’t remember exactly what the theme was for our task, most likely it was a ‘still life’ style art.
After school that day, my mother quite unexpectedly got a phone call from my art teacher concerning about me, if I had some type of domestic issues at home. What triggered the teacher’s worrisome was that I painted the whole picture in colours nothing but grey, black, white and brown. And my theme was bottles of bourbon whiskies and a glass on a table! It was all imaginary of course, but I don’t blame the poor teacher thinking something was seriously wrong with me!! Well, I was fine. I was a bit different.
And my mother felt so proud (bless her) and kept it along with my school transcripts into my adulthood. I am now curious how she convinced my teacher I was a normal girl. Back to my bright and cheerful picture. It was an image of a tall high school boy with very long legs standing next to a car (the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet) I wanted to create and everything else appeared spontaneously. We must live with hope, no matter how harsh the winter we experience, spring will never fail to arrive (Nichiren).
For my middle son’s birthday gift this year, I asked him for a theme to ignite my inspiration. ‘Mononoke’!, he said. Amongst Miyazaki’s heart-warming films, his favourite has always been ‘the Princess Mononoke’ without a doubt. So I thought it’s fair but what do I do? Then I decided to solely rely on the image in my head what I remember from the story. As a result, my human character appears to be a mixture of San and Ashitaka. I am definitely confused Shishigami with Yakul (Ashitaka’s red elk)!
Anyway, the most important thing was I have succeeded to transmit the image from my head onto a picture frame by cutting and collating origami pieces. When my son finally saw the work over the Skype, he looked very puzzled. ‘Oh no! He doesn’t like it at all!’ – a sharp fear of rejection pierced through me at the moment just by surmising his befuddled reaction. After 5 seconds as if it felt like an eternity, he uttered words. Basically his image of ‘Mononoke’ was nothing but green forests. He was simply taken aback to see more colours and details rather than all greenery in the picture but he really likes it how it turned out (according to him).
Well, I must confess now. Actually I tried to create more forests throughout adding different shades of greens which can be seen at the top left corner of the picture. But I got bored and moved on creating other figures in the picture and never went back to add more greens. A sabotage. Compromised. That is why I felt like my son’s perplexed look judged me as a failure even though we have never discussed how the picture should be turned out. So we should never fool ourselves. In the creative world, we must go fino in fondo.
It’s the time of the year again. Every year I was looking forward to the 1st December to decorate my tree with the Kaethe Wohlfahrt ornaments I collect. I sometime came across with one of their stores during my city (summer) break trip to the places like Berlin and Bruges and had to (yes always a must!) buy one or two ornaments. Sadly not this year. I even forgot to search any new editions online. I guess no Santa for me either. Just like my picture, he is stuck saying ‘QUASI LA’ but not quite here for me!!
Speaking of a gift, my memory of my late father being a Santa during my childhood is a strange one. I don’t think my family seriously celebrated the Christmas but I have a vivid image of one Christmas morning. I woke up and spotted a huge, plastic steam engine toy kids can ride on. What on earth Santa got me a boy’s toy? There is no boy in the family. I was so confused but definitely remember my father’s proud shinny face. He wanted a son, my mother used to tell me. No wonder I grew up learning to play baseball, to fish, to bowl, to play chess, to build models, and to play guitar. No wonder I could never fit in the ‘girlie girlie’ talks in schools. It’s all good though. Thanks dad, I miss you…
Is today the shortest day of the year called the winter solstice or winter equinox? Google dictionary’s definition of the winter solstice says the sun reaches its minimum declination in the Northern hemisphere. Where I live in the UK, sunset was before 4pm today. With new virus strain and more restrictions imposed everywhere, we have too many reasons to get bogged down easily. However on a positive note, we are one step closer to Spring from tomorrow…
A couple of nights ago, I saw a beautiful skinny crescent moon peeking in and out of the clouds in the dark grey sky. And it reminded me of my picture above that I created in 2019 when things were still so called ‘normal’ then. I wanted to create a comical random piece like a scene from some kind of a folklore tale. But it turned out to be a heart broken mouse and his bride-to-be goes crazy over a big chunk of cheese and a flying saucer floating above them. Ha ha.
No doubt she was shouting with an excitement, ‘CHE FORMAGGIO!!’ (what a cheese!). This one seems to be my eldest son’s favourite and once we can all travel freely again, I will fly and hand carry it to him as he is the proud owner, my very first client! He had an onslaught of hardships one after another this year. I hope he will never ever stop pursuing his goals because he truly deserves to be happy whatever he decides to do in life.
I have a rectangle shape hot pot mat in my kitchen that I bought when I lived in Azores, Portugal. The middle part is made of ceramic, surrounded by cork. Everyday I use it to place pots and pans off the cooker or a cuppa when it’s still boiling hot. One day, the usual sight of the design suddenly caught my attention. I wanted to create something similar. A challenge accepted! And after a couple of days, my art piece no.32 LA SERENITA was born.
My creativity is normally very random but this time was different. Maybe I was, for a moment, reminiscing a life on the Island of Terceira (one of the seven Azores islands) in the Atlantic Ocean. It was filled with traditional festivals, hand made white ceramics with painted design in blue, wicker baskets, Alcatra cooked in a clay dish and anorexic looking cows that were allowed to walk on the motorway. Oh I should not forget my favourite ‘Galao’ (café latte, sort of)…well, back to my picture. I am quite happy how it turned out in the end. If it conjures up a feeling of serenity by looking at the picture, my title does the justice.
I decided that I would start writing my blog on my birthday 10 days ago and here I am. Above is my art project no.13 and its title ‘IL MAESTRO’. To capture the feeling of the piece I make, Italian language does it for me. As always I have no particular reasons or motives to create the picture. The whole image was dwelling in my head for some time and I had to dig it out to make it tangible. I don’t paint nor draw. No talent for that. I don’t design ahead either. Just start cutting origami into pieces and collate them together and get excited about how true and precise my end product could arrive where the original image was.
9 out of 10 I succeed. Not bad, huh. Well no one can judge it but me, oh well. Having said all that, I still hope this picture can make someone smile by glancing at it. I think deep down I intend IL MAESTRO to be more like a magician who can make miracle happen yet never ever claim a credit for it. Transcended from worldly affairs. Serene, angelic. When I made this picture there was no pandemic around us. But now we are facing anxiety and fear of unknown future every day and many sleepless nights. So let’s remember to breathe. We don’t always have solutions outside us. Perhaps this is the time we can explore a bit more about our own selves we think we already know.
There it was – Klimt’s world famous masterpiece, ‘The Kiss’ at the Upper Belvedere stood magnificently in front of my eyes. I went to Vienna with my Friend, Atsuko back in 2010. She used to work for a tourist agency and she is an avid traveller/a connoisseur of fine arts and cuisines. And thanks to her, the trip enabled me to encounter Klimt’s art works at the Leopold Museum, Secession, Albertina, Belvedere Palace and more! Klimt is definitely one of my favourite artists by far. So how could I refrain myself being extremely ecstatic?
Nevertheless I am secretly hoping one day, ‘The Stoclet Frieze’, the Klimt’s beautiful mosaics on the dinning wall of Josef Hoffmann’s house will be allowed for a public viewing. Oh, one episode I must add to this blog. On the last day in Vienna, we were having a coffee at the Café Aida. Whilst my friend was gone to the restroom, a very elegant, elderly lady sat at the table next to mine, turned to me and smiled. ‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch’? She asked. So I shook my head and said ‘I speak English’. Then she leaned over to me closer and told me the most incredible story I ever heard.
She said she was a holocaust survivor who had spent time in Auschwitz when she was 11 years old. Then she moved to the States and built her family there… Because I was overcome with such a dismay, my brain went totally hazy and lost its capacity to take information in easily. It could have been no more than 5 minutes when she was talking and next thing I remembered, she was not facing towards me as my friend returned.
Was I having delirium momentarily? Was something in my coffee I drank? No, it was real. She somehow chose me to reveal her story. To this date, I painfully regret not having asked, at a bare minimum, her name. I wanted to give her a huge hug and tell her how much she means to the world and the entire humanity. And promise her that we will never repeat the foolishness.
So here I have created my Big Bad Wolf smartly dressed with a necktie, buried amongst random creatures. As I explained in my ‘About Me’ section of this website, the image was lingering in my head for some time. And my creative journey started with this wolf. In fact, I initially made the wolf chasing the red riding hood with a bouquet of flowers but I made his head so big that it couldn’t fit within the picture frame (abovementioned)! I had to separate the two… Still the vivid colours of the wolf’s head was shouting loudly at me despite the fierce look. It was telling me to do something about it.
Meantime, my old self was serenading the elegy of pessimism – ‘no just leave it, you can’t create anything artistic that is worthwhile anyway’. Hmm. In the end I made up my mind. ‘Alright Mr. Big Bad Wolf, thanks to you that I will create something randomly chaotic and visually so cheerful’ – my version of an origami-collage art. By the way, unlike water colour/oil paintings, origami colours are fixed and rigid. There is no way to modify each defined colours. Roses are red, violets are blue. But that is why it’s interesting to work with origami colours. Within the means, actually I had to ‘throw off my mental chains’ (thank you, Howard!!) and to bend my conventional perspectives. In my world it became okay for roses to be gold and violets light green. This is a creative world so liberating and so unique.