24 March 2011

for writing home ♡

Tried my hand at making fill-in-the-blank note cards today. I was a bit rushed on this project, but they were well received and seem like they'll be useful, so I'm pretty pleased. ^_^

My colleague's 19 year-old daughter is leaving home tomorrow to begin her independent life in a new city where she'll study music, dance and theater. Her mother was proud but a little distraught that her "baby" was leaving the nest. She held an impromptu going-away party this evening, so I quickly made this card set for a gift.

Naturally they'll call, email, text and communicate with all the modern methods we have today. But the note cards will be a personal item in her own handwriting that I hope will bring happiness to her family's mailbox. (I deliberately neglected to put any space for writing bad news or disappointment on the card. They're *just* for sending good news and cheer!)

The daughter is a very cheerful, bubbly and outgoing girl, so I wrote the prompts on the cards to reflect that. I was also thinking about what her mom might want to know: who her friends are, how she's spending her time, how things are going ... even what she's eating! I added some music and art prompts on the card too, since these subjects are such a big part of her personality.

I gave them to her with a tiny bouquet of colorful paper flowers. Each card fits perfectly in a pretty little envelope upon which I placed a Forever stamp (since I hear rates are rising in April).

My idea is that it will be easy to jot a few updating tidbits on a card, seal it up and send to whomever she wishes. Although they started out as postcards, I'm glad I decided to give them envelopes ~ if she gets inspired to write more, it will be easy to mail everything together.

I wish her good luck in her new adventure!

20 March 2011

inspiration ~ {jerrod maruyama}

In my opinion, this is one of the cutest and most inspiring "Help Japan" posters around. Jerrod Maruyama is the artist and he has generously made this image available for download on his Flickr page so that we can all spread the word. I think the juxtaposition of the sad sun and the happy red cross, both とっても かわいい (very cute!) communicate perfectly the important change that a donation can make. Everyone's help, no matter how small, can make a difference!

Jerrod does all kinds of kawaii art, but one of my favorites is this one of Astro Boy. I think he should submit it to Illustration Rally for the Ganbare Nippon project. It's so uplifting!

Take a browse through Jerrod's work and decide for yourself what characters you like best. He has everyone from Dwight (of The Office) to Toy Story, from Speed Racer to Ernie & Bert, plus a lot of super-kawaii inventions of jellyfish, nighttime magic (one of my favorites), hot dogs and more.

If you ever need to smile, just look at his art for a little bit ~ that's a link to his portfolio. ^_^ He also has his work for sale on T-shirts, cards and such at his shop, aptly called Casa Kawaii.

17 March 2011


I attended the vigil for Japan in San Jose's Japantown, where the Japanese Community Congress raised $30,000 for the Japanese Red Cross Society during the short event! San Jose Taiko played a quiet and peaceful drum-and-flute song to open the ceremony. The leaders of numerous churches spoke to express their support and fund raising efforts amongst their own congregations. Next week there will be a funeral service for all who lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami.

15 March 2011

his silent action

This story touched my heart, too. Thank you @s_hayatsuki for sharing it and thank you Aya Watanabe  @vida_es_bella for the translation.

a little boy was standing in line

I'm really touched by the generosity and altruism characteristic of so many of the stories I read coming from Japanese twitter posts. In the face of horrendous crisis, individuals (even children) are not just thinking of their own well-being. I keep reading story after story of strangers helping each other and people staying calm even when stretched to the limit.

This tweet (above) from @makiwi was the first one that I decided to illustrate. There are so many beautiful sentiments being expressed on twitter alone that I will have a lot of drawings to do if I want to acknowledge each one that moves me. But I will do my best.

Thank you, Japan, for showing us how to be civil and noble under pressure.

12 March 2011

thinking of japan

An acrylic color palette experiment. I was thinking of the Miyajima torii and the Shinto ideas of respect for each other, all life, our ancestors, and natural forces.

On Thursday night, I intended to do some painting after getting home from judo practice. I needed to work out some ideas for a large painting that a friend requested, and I wanted to start making smaller paintings with different ideas to see what she liked most. But my plans were interrupted by news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Once I heard the news, I did not feel like painting anymore. I sat glued to the television and twitter to learn what areas were affected and to check on friends. I suppose I am lucky that everyone I know is safe. Some have been inconvenienced, but they are alive and well. Many live far enough south as to not be physically affected.

I grew up in California, so I am used to earthquakes. The biggest ones I have been in were strong enough to collapse buildings, overpasses and pieces of bridge. The shaking was severe in each one but I was never personally in any real danger. Some lives were lost, but the most I lost was electricity. In the Bay Area, I helped answer emergency phones at a radio station and prayed for people trapped in a collapsed freeway structure. In L.A., I helped return books to library shelves that all fell to the floor. There, I was shocked to drive by a three-story building that lost one wall. We could look straight in to all the homes as though it were a dollhouse.

I saw a video someone took from inside the Sendai airport, looking out of huge windows to the parking lot outside. People are gathered at three different story levels, watching the waves come rolling in. The waters pick up cars and shove them all along, floating past the windows. If I had been watching without sound, I might have remained more composed, but I heard the people shouting a familiar expression, "A-ra-ra-ra-ra!" ~ the same exclamation I heard as a kid for much lesser dangers, such as a flower pot getting knocked over or a nezumi hanabi (whirling sparkler) getting lit and chasing our feet. Hearing the expression again, for such a terrible calamity, nearly broke my heart.

The Japan earthquake is on a whole different level than anything I've experienced. The tsunami floods washing everything away make a double disaster. I am also truly hoping that the Fukushima power plants do not leak or cause further harm to a population already reeling from quake, flood and fires.

Both my home and workplace are pretty much right on top of several fault lines and there's a nuclear lab over the hill in Livermore. Perhaps it's because I know that this could just as easily have occurred here that I feel so gripped by this event. We try to be prepared, but Mother Nature is very powerful. In such a case, I hope we would have the resilience and strength the Japanese people have already shown.

I feel powerless to help in any substantial way from across the ocean. About all I can do is donate to the Red Cross and offer my encouragement to the survivors and deepest sympathy to those who were lost in this natural disaster. がんばって ください。


Update: Providing some links for donations to Japan relief...

Red Cross
Salvation Army
Give2Asia ~ Artists Help Japan
Doctors Without Borders

09 March 2011

say it like this

We've all been so very busy at the school where I work, so I took a moment to write my colleague a fancy note instead of the usual scrawl on a post-it or a bland e-mail.

When I found a similar response in my basket, it was such a day-brightener! Really, this made me inordinately happy:

I think we've got a new, preferred way of intra-office communication now. :)

06 March 2011


Lately I've been wishing for a place in the house that I can retreat to. Somewhere to work, create, paint, daydream, or whatever...

My easel is in one room, my supplies in another, and when I want to do some art I often end up at the kitchen table. It's fine but it would be nice to have a space just for me. We don't have an extra room in the house, so I'm thinking of carving out my mini-studio in this little corner of the bedroom for now.

The potential corner awaits transformation.

Some of my art supplies are already in those large boxes on the shelves, my art books are there, and the printer is hooked up and ready. I'd put some stuff on the walls and get a cute rug, but what I really need is a desk, so I've been looking around... 

I don't think it's easy to work on these, but I love them so much! Impractical, perhaps, but one of my favorites ~ chul an kwak's tables that look as though they might run away.

At the other end of the spectrum, this desk is Utterly Utilitarian but useful on wheels ~ from CB2. I wouldn't mind easily rolling to face the window, the shelves, or go out in the open to work from any side.

There is an unused wooden table that we have tucked away right now, but I think it's a little large for the space. This is just a tiny corner and I don't want to overwhelm the bedroom with my art space. I also have a long, narrow table top that just needs legs. Maybe I can find some for it?

The search is on... and one of these days I'll have my own place for art. If anyone has some links to pics of their studio or an inspiring workplace, please let me know here or via twitter. I'd love to gather ideas about creative spaces to work in.

Thanks! xo