06 December 2012

guess who?

I designed two posters recently. Each one represents a different artist/designer. I think they're pretty obvious, but would you like to guess who?

Here's the first one:

Not too hard, hm? Several giveaways in that image.

Here's the second one:

OK, so he's actually an architect but they're designers too...

These were made using Illustrator and took about an hour each. I do like to play with vector art every once in a while -- they were a nice break from the very organic and texture-ridden acrylic canvases I'm working on (that I shall share soon!).

Well, I'm sure that everyone could figure out who these posters represent, but I'll give the answers anyway. The first one is Frida Kahlo and the second is Frank Lloyd Wright. The Wounded Deer is one of my favorite paintings of Ms. Kahlo's and Fallingwater is probably my favorite building of Mr. Wright's. I'd like to go there one day. The closest I've been is to watch the beautifully detailed animation by Eterea Studio.

What other artists would be fun to interpret in poster form?

05 November 2012

book sculptures

I've always loved books, but now I'm falling in love with altering books, folding books, transforming books... All I've done so far is fold them into new shapes and photograph them ~ I haven't even added any color to them yet or experimented with scissors, embellishments or inks ~ but I'm in love with the process and the resulting shapes, texture, and transformation into a new geometry.

It was a little hard to transform my first book, as I've always respected books and tried to keep them from not getting bent and torn. So far, I'm only using old, rescued books that were destined for the rubbish bin. They're actually good books (I'm reading them before I fold them) which somehow makes me more appreciative of their new shapes. 

I'd been admiring Bronia Sawyer's book sculptures for the past couple years and was delighted when she wrote to me about my painted autumn leaves. She's always impressing me with the beautiful and imaginative things she does with books. Some of my favorite works of hers were recently featured on Discover Paper with an insightful interview. As we were talking together, the idea emerged to combine the two ~ books and leaves ~ and share our creations with each other. We wanted to put something together fairly quickly, so the time limit pushed me to get started right away.

With my first attempt, I've come up with a book sculpture still life. I liked the idea that the books are natural objects found in a surreal landscape. I would like to keep pursuing this combination of topics since this is just my first try and I've only barely scratched the surface of the leaf/book connection. Trees/words, leaves/books, paper/bark, poetry/flowers, seeds/ideas... it's quite intriguing!

The folded books have an organic, moody sort of feeling, as though they are cousins to the natural world (and I suppose they are, having their origins in wood, ink and ideas). Perhaps because of the stories they contain, they seem to have a rich inner life and a personal history.

After I folded my first book, I felt such an affinity for it. I carried it back and forth to work with me each day so I could have it near me and think it over. Then I folded another, trying something slightly different, and then another that failed (the book was too old and the pages too brittle). Finally, I folded one more in a taller shape and photographed them all together.

Bountiful Harvest

This book landscape reminds me of a harvest, which I didn't plan in advance but which hit me after I put the books and leaves in front of the big sky. (The background is a photo from our road trip last year, passing through Nevada on our way to Park City, Utah).

I love how dramatic these book shapes are, all on their own. It's fun to give them new settings and meaning. I'm looking forward to seeing Bronia's books-and-leaves combo and will share my next steps into the book sculpture world as I make further explorations!

12 October 2012

autumn leaves by children

After painting upon my collection of autumn leaves, I shared the idea with my colleague and she had her students gather their own leaves for fall decorations in the classroom. She kept it a little bit easier by giving them Sharpies and even crayon to design their own autumn leaf art.

They hung them with fishing wire, dangling down next to the window. It brings a little bit of the outside in, touched with the children's feelings of fall.

17 September 2012

painting autumn

New autumn decoration on my burlap bulletin board.

At summer's beginning I moved to a new office and became enamored with the magnolia trees that grow outside my window ~ especially the dark, glossy leaves and the unique stamen inside the huge white blossoms that I couldn't help gathering and drawing. Now the leaves are dropping on the paths and they are so beautiful! I picked some up and gave them a little extra color.

I don't know how long they'll last, but autumn is about changes and transitions, so it seems right that the autumn leaf banner I hung may not last too long.

If you'd like a painted magnolia leaf, send me your address at kimikobashi{at}ymail{dot}com and I will make one for you. Hopefully they don't dry too much on the way and arrive crunchy. I'll try to find the freshest dry leaves that I can. :)

Happy Autumn!

10 September 2012

heading somewhere

This weekend I began work on something that has been floating around the peripheries of my imagination for a few weeks. Without being entirely sure what my idea actually is, I gathered supplies and started to put together the skeleton of my creation. As you can see, materialized so far are a set of cotton-candy-colored hills or bosoms, clustered in perhaps a cellular sort of way... and I've only a vague idea where we're headed next.

Some of the inspiration for this project came from a visit to the Triton Museum in Santa Clara a short time ago. A gallery of recycled-art sculptures such as this intriguing portrait ~

got me excited about three-dimensional, textured work. My friend Nita, whose background is in architecture, kept exclaiming as we looked at each piece, wondering how the artist arrived at each of the minute choices it took to create the overall piece.

She got me thinking about how I make artistic choices, and that peaceful, creative zone where one just seems to "know" what to do. Faced with the everyday world of chores and grocery shopping and driving to and fro, finding that mental art space doesn't always come easily, but when achieved it's a real joy. Some of my artworks are for a specific purpose or communication and require some planning and forethought. But other times, as in the project I just began, the piece is more about the process and following the vaguest idea that cannot be seen clearly until suddenly, after hours or days of creation, it suddenly manifests itself in the completed artwork.

While I was at the museum, I admired these pointy pencil slippers by Renee Billingslea. I wonder what the artist's initial starting point was when creating these. Was it a prepared statement? Or did she just have a bunch of pencils lying around and thought of something to do with them?

It's true I had a lot of washi paper. It happened to be in these colors, so that explains the palette, though I painted over the green paper as I didn't care for its shade. I added gold, bronze, blue and yellow. Paper circles from an earlier painting prompted the round shapes to be cut out, but I wanted to sculpt, so they turned into cones. I knew I didn't want to paint on a rectangular canvas, so the idea here is that I'm attempting to create a lumpy, more organically shaped canvas to work on.

I had to sew the paper to keep the cone shapes. I had buttons and beads, some of which ended up on the seams. The buttons worried me a little. I thought they might suggest clothing and suddenly the hills looked like a whole lot of brassieres. But I left them, since the paper beginning is only the start. I think more will happen to these hills and in the transformation the buttons may not be too noticeable.

This other room of sculptures and paintings done by another local artist, Harry Powers, got me thinking that a great way to have art is to make it, and not worry about what it's going to end up being.

It's a bit meditative, sewing painted papers and heading who-knows-where. I'll keep you posted on the passage and we'll see where we finally arrive.

21 August 2012


This has been one of my busiest summers at work and I really haven't gotten to travel or rest at all, so I was very glad when my husband suggested a trip down the coast for the weekend. We stayed in a little town near San Luis Obispo, not far from Pismo State Beach. The distant horizon, the soft, warm sand, the ocean breeze and sound of the waves were perfect for clearing one's mind and simply being without any rush.

The colors of the sand and sky were so beautiful, and the weather was just right. We saw pelicans and gulls. And we found a number of sea shells.

Our house has a wild hillside stretching farther down than one can see. Long-limbed, gnarled oaks grow back there, sheltering the house and dropping a carpet of leaves. I ventured out there shortly after sunrise and felt like I was in a storybook. I asked a passing deer how old the trees were, but he just looked at me curiously and did not reply. He was surely too young to know.

We packed in as much vacation as we could into one weekend. I played and sang the three songs I now know on the ukulele, we attended a go-kart race in Santa Maria, we walked around the old town area of Arroyo Grande and crossed its swinging footbridge. We tasted wine in Paso Robles, ate fresh bread at the bakery, wandered around San Luis Obispo and deliberately drove around on back roads that we hadn't been on before.

Now I'm back to work, rushing to complete projects and either forgetting to eat lunch or hastily gulping a sandwich at my desk, but I'll keep this weekend with me and take the soft palette of the beach or the vivid strokes of the oak branches and let them come out in my painting one day soon.

Hope you're enjoying these summer days before they're gone!

28 July 2012

sending mail

Extremely patient mail-art friends finally got something in their mailboxes last week! When I visited the Arthouse Sketchbook Project Tour in Oakland, I picked up a few things to share with some of the artists whose books I checked out. One was Jessica Gowling ~ also my first mail-art correspondent and a prolific, savvy, friendly and nature-inspired artist. I cut out a few things that reminded me of her to send along with the Arthouse goodies.

I also sent her a note inside some geometric paper that I made in a design class last year and a little print of my latest painting. She recently moved to a new town and I hoped my mail in her new mailbox would help welcome her there.

Jeannine Saylor is also a patient mail-art friend who has sent me many lovely things in the mail. I also checked out her book in Oakland so I sent her a few Arthouse pieces as well as some San Francisco magazine cutouts of photos that I liked and another of a girl from a catalog wearing a dress that always reminded me of her (saylor/sailor theme!).

I have two more mail-art envelopes in the works for other friends. Hope to finish them soon and share them with you here once they're received across the sea.

18 July 2012

observing the magnolia

Large magnolia trees grow outside my new office. I see their dark leaves and large white blossoms from my window, and walk under them on my way in and out each day. When we first moved in, the flowers were bright and fresh, but lately they've begun to wilt and then drop their stamens to the ground.

You can see the little anther head peeking up from the center of the flower.

When they fall, I like to pick them up. The seeds are fuzzy and so closely packed. It feels like a little paw.

 I kept one that I picked up on my desk at work. It had the anther and pistil of the stamen and was absolutely fascinating. At home last night, I was thinking about these curious plants and decided to try to draw the stamen from memory. This is how I drew it:

magnolia seed from memory

And this is how it actually looked when I checked today:

magnolia seed
All dressed up with fishnet stockings! Elegant!

Not quite right, is it? The real one has so many more details that I neglected in my sketch. The anther looks really fuzzy and the seed bits look like claws, whereas I drew more of an asparagus head with strawberry seeds. I forgot the ridge around the middle and quickied the net "stockings" even though they're one of my favorite parts.

It was fun to check my powers of observation and memory, however. A good drawing game I'd like to try again!

magnolia stamen

17 July 2012

a few nice things

The orchid that I placed in the window near my desk is blooming. I am fascinated by the interior pattern and layers of soft, translucent petals. Sometimes I find the center exquisite and other times it looks like some kind of futuristic symbol. Am also wondering how all that flower fits inside that tiny pod?

At the beach there was a giant driftwood log on the sand. It looked as though it had been there a long time. It looks like part of a large redwood, so as a living tree it could have lived nearby. I love the rough texture and wish I could mimic it in clay but I probably lack the skill and patience.

And at home, these two young doves sat on my fence for hours and let us approach them very closely. We were surprised they did not fly away. Sometimes they cocked their heads at us, and other times they rounded their feathers and sat, puffed up, as if they had no necks at all. Even though they have plain coloring, I really like their neutral tones and sweet shape.

Speaking of sweet, my bunny is weathering the hot summer days by spreading out flat in the cool dirt. She's also become a bit naughty and refuses to go in her cage at night, but we love her anyway.

Hope you are also enjoying your summer days (and nights)! I'll soon share some sketches and crafts that I've been working on lately.

xo kimi

07 July 2012

sketchbook report, part 2 ~ {2012}

Continuing the story of my visit to the Oakland tour of the Sketchbook Project, let's start with a gorgeous book by Satomi Sugimoto. This book was beautiful, with very fluid works of unknown yet seemingly natural (and therefore potentially familiar) objects. Were they living things? Scientific stills of one liquid dissolving into another? Enlarged images of seeds? It was hard to tell, but each page had a new form and a singular beauty.

I had come across Satomi's sketchbook on the Art House site and really enjoyed it online. Of course it was even better in person, and these pictures don't really do it justice, as I seemed to be sitting in a darker area of the library when I took them. Along with Satomi's book, we received Michael Ciccotello's book. He has a really great free-flowing style and often fills the entire page with connected images. He drew everything during his train commute which was kind of neat to consider while turning the pages.

If you'd like to see his whole book, he put it online here and you can flip the pages with your arrow keys.

I met a fellow Sketchbook Project artist in Oakland during my visit, Eliza Wee. She was sitting at the same table as me, and we got to chatting a little and sharing some books we'd each checked out. I showed her my book and hoped to see hers but she'd already turned it in. Since it was getting late the tour was not allowing any new books to be checked out, so I looked her up online later, and found her artwork with a most engaging title, Topography of the Spork as a Young Artist. There are spoons and forks, and yes, sporks, plus dogs and some realistic pages and some very cute cartoons too. You should definitely check her out! She's ewee on the Art House site and also has a great set of Sketchbook Project photos and notes here on flickr. I was really happy to make her acquaintance. I really like her style.

Nice to meet up with my own book again at the tour.

One of the things I love about the Sketchbook Project is the new friendships I've made. Two more artists I've met in 2012:

Lelainia Lloyd ~ she was the first person to check out my book on the 2012 tour which made me really happy, not just because my book finally got seen on the tour, but mainly because she is such a kind person with a very generous and caring spirit as well as being a talented artist. She wrote a great post about visiting the tour in Vancouver on her blog and you might also enjoy posts about her participation in Challenging the Myths: Disability and Art museum show. I like her blog as there are lots of photos of Vancouver and community activities she's involved in like the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay. She also has an Etsy shop with vintage postcards and such.

Alison Lew ~ a Bay Area artist! She travels all around as a flight attendant and snaps photos of all kinds of cool art and yummy food she finds along the way on her tumblr. She returned several times to the Oakland Sketchbook Project tour and posted a lot of great pics of her visits, including the Closing Night Party. Totally made me wish I were there! Her sketchbook this year, Travels and Eats, is full of artful, delicious food drawings (largely sweets) laid over maps of the places where she ate them. I really, really, wished I had more time so I could have checked out her book!

I took photos of a couple more of the sketchbooks I got to see during the Oakland tour, but I'm a little disappointed with myself as it turns out I didn't keep perfect track of whose art I was reading. Above you can see some of the books we had checked out. I remember enjoying both of the books you see on the left but I'm not sure who the artists are. The third one over that's kind of hidden might be Michael Ciccotello's, then there's mine and then a corner of Jessica Gowling's that is being read.

For those first two, Uncharted Waters and One Day at a Time, I found two names in my hasty notes that might go with them: Carla Usery and Jasibe Cure-Twede. I couldn't find any corresponding art in the Art House list of artists to verify, so... hopefully I'm giving proper credit. The books were very interesting. Here are a few photos of the pages inside.

I went to the tour armed with a giant list of artists I wanted to check out, either because I loved their work last year or because I'd discovered them newly this year. I'll just mention them here before I go... Rossana Bossu', Justus Cekauskas, William Yu, Heather Reinhardt, Junko Miyakoshi, Chantal Vincent... and many more...

Sketchbook Project 2013 is open for sign-ups, now, with lots of new and fun themes to inspire. Are you signing up? Go ahead and try it!