September 29, 2011

SAW Class III - Artful Seeing

This was a photography class. Shari Altman is a self-taught photographer, takes poetic and introvert nature photos. She lead our ways into really "seeing" the world around us.

The day was also the most beautiful day in early autumn, and was perfect for walking around the woods for mushroom hunting. We had never seen so many different kinds of colorful mushrooms.

Shari, the teacher, and my classmates!

One more class, but I am done for tonight. More, soon.

SAW Class II - Joy of Intention

Joy of Intention was a new class taught by Alena Hennessy.  She paints with lots of nature-inspired motifs, tranquil and feminine.  She is such a sweetheart and totally cute.
We started out by relaxing outdoors with some exercise and sketches, focusing on intentions and what brings us joy and so on. Then we moved back to the studio.

When I started working on my piece, I had completely forgotten about the "intentions" I sketched.  I am not sure how my piece ended up being a ship sailing out.  Perhaps it was a subliminal thing.
The thing is, I am not very good at creating something out of elaborate "intentions".  I just draw something that comes to my mind.
All in all, I am pretty satisfied with how it ended up.  The whole surface is covered by various patterns in gold, if you look closer (I know, you can't, but if you do).
Here are the pieces of my classmates - each so unique and beautiful!
At the end of the class, everyone presented her work.  It was amazing how each piece was personal and meaningful.

Alena's work.  So pretty!  Wish I could make something like these.

SAW Class I - Play & Process by Susy Pilgrim Waters

Today, at last, I am still awake after 9PM.  I can post some photos from my classes at Squam Lake Workshops at last.
My absolute favorite is Susy's class (but all of the classes are my many great teachers this year).  She gave each of us an old cigar box and we decorated them free-style.

I was eager to learn her style, so I decided not to cover my box too much, following her example.  I also tried to experiment with different types of papers and ink she provided. SO. MUCH. FUN.
I did bring the paper with "TOKYO" logo on it.  That purple guided my color scheme for this project.

The box is actually not done yet, and I intend to draw something over.  The class took place on the coldest morning you can imagine, and my fingers were frozen.
So I gave up on continuing to work, and started to play with my sketchbook instead.

Oh, about Susy.  She is a British illustrator / artist living in Boston.  Her work is widely published and publicly displayed all over the world.  It's hard not to like her - her sense of humor and creative energy is infectious.  And, I love her work!
You can also peek into her beautiful home here.

She brought lots of her favorite paints and inks, as well as different types of beautiful paper.  We were enormously fortunate.  You can play with your favorite artist's art supplies and tools!

So, in the end, each of us came home with a hand-made treasure box.  How fun is that?

September 26, 2011

Story Tellers

What I love the most about growing old and being more matured is hearing all those amazing stories from people. I increasingly meet more interesting people as years pass by, and I am now old enough to appreciate and resonate with those stories. And that's why I love traveling so much, too.
(My nailist in Chicago was originally from Jamaica 30 years ago, loves the town, nature, and has 3 dogs, can't stand the humidity of her hometown anymore. You know, I love to hear these tidbits of people.)

We all have great stories or two, either the ones of own or the ones that someone has told you. We are all great story tellers. I wish someday I can write a book or something on those amazing stories.

At Squam, you meet so many wonderful souls, wonderful storytellers. Every evening, we sat around the fireplace (and it was so chilly that we needed the fire, too) and talked endlessly until we grew too tired to talk. This year I was lucky to have 7 cabin mates, all of them so so gorgeous. Many of them have their own business, have many kids or finished raising them, have tough issues or two but are optimistic and strong. They gather at Squam to meet the equally creative souls, so that they can go back to their lives with energy to fight those battles. Creative, in this case, does not only mean artistic, but also mean being resourceful and imaginative in many aspect of our lives.

One of them used to be a newspaper photographer and drove around LA in the middle of the night, the other a winery owner which she has built from scratch, an artist and single mom who creates artwork that makes everyone happy, an opera singer with such a gentle heart, a mom with small children who is just discovering her artistic talent, an ER pediatrician .... The list go on forever, because I met 160 people at the workshop this year. I wish I could have talked each one of them and listen to their stories.

Patricia, I hope you wouldn't mind me writing about your rollerblade story.

The florist she used to work for was owned by two gay men, happily being together for 30(?) years. They have met in Chicago, when the pope was in town. One of them was preparing for the visit and decorating a place with flowers. The other guy literally bumped into him rollerblading. They fell in love, right there. Like a fairytale! Can that kind of story be real?

Listening to the story, a few of us determined to get pairs of rollerblades for ourselves and go out to parks. We just have to be very careful who we bump into, you know.

I don't know, I feel that my family has always been full of stories. I grew up in that kind of environment. My mom always tells us stories of her childhood and many even older ones. My dad has bucketful of adventures himself. My family turned me into a sucker for great life stories.

Compared to that, I feel that guys I work with are rather on the boring side. They read business books, economic papers, spend most of their lives in the small offices, all they talk about are either work or kids (and not their wives, which is even more boring). Is that because 95% of them are guys? That makes me think, I really should be careful not to loose my energy, spending so much time with those people. You see, I need to get back to Squam every year to keep my sanity intact and to maintain my energy.

Tell me your stories. You've got to have many great ones yourselves!

September 25, 2011

Lost and Found

Things that I lost during the 2 week long vacation:
- a contact lens case
- my favorite thermo bottle
- not-so-favorite umbrella
- good skin

Things I found:
- Great friends, many many
- Art and inspiration
- A hope that modern architecture can create beautiful cities
- A new dream for myself
- A fact that your might be closer to your dreams than you had thought
- Mentors, more than one!
- A bit of boldness in me
- A breathtaking sunrise

You cannot understand the world by dissecting it

Back from Squam Art Workshop and then Chicago.  Last night.

My mind is still swirling and incoherent.  I borrowed bunch of books from the library, took lots of photos, baked, browsing through recorded TV programs, cleaning up, cutting papers, since this morning. I am all over the place.
I need more time to organize my newly acquired memories into order.

Upon returning to work from tomorrow, I have a feeling that this phrase is going to be my mantra for the next few months: "You cannot understand the world by dissecting it."
It's a title of the above book, written by a Japanese molecular biologist.  The title caught my eye because, ironically, I am working on a series of customer segmentation projects for over an year now.  Maybe I am growing tired of it by now.

Other books are bunch of regional planning / urban design books.  I haven't read any of those in 10 years, but visiting Chicago got me really into this.  One of them is by my old professor.  More, soon.

Jiffy, My Love

If you ever travel from the States to Japan, wondering "Oh, what should I get for Meri?", please just drop by your nearest supermarket and get me a couple of Jiffy boxes.  It only costs you $2 or so.

While I was living in the States, I used to get Jiffy every week and made myself muffins.  What is good about Jiffy is that it only costs 59 cents (which now equals about 45 yen!) and will get you 6 muffins, in less than 20 minutes.  You don't even have to whip your egg, just mix an egg and milk.  You can never ever go wrong with Jiffy.  It is just simply impossible.  Of course, you can forget to put an egg, then it will give you inedible chunks of something. But, otherwise.

I tried so hard to find it in Japan - at imported food stores, online, etc, with no success to date.  Oh Jiffy, how I love you.

The cupcake paper, which I found at TJ Max, is my absolute favorite now.  The company has the same name as mine!

September 14, 2011

Good Morning

Hello friends!
As I've foretold, I'm in New Hampshire now, staying with my sweet friend Caryn.
This morning, I finally feel adjusted to this time zone, well fed, well rested.
We are so ready to go up to the Squam Lake - just haven't packed yet :)
More, soon!

September 07, 2011

Headstart to Autumn

 The pair of mittens are done.  Probably my first "completed" mitten project.  The beauty of SHELTER yarn kept me pretty motivated (although it took me 0.7 year).
 It's hard to see, but I ended up using both round and star shaped spangles.

Polished and Glued

Tonight is a beautiful night.  This kind of night in early September in Tokyo is almost too good to be true.  I really wanted to go out for a stroll, but I am really too tired this week that I decided to stay in.

Last weekend, I clean up all my accessories and organized them in a living room drawer.  Some parts had fallen off, so I glued them back.  Some parts had been missing, so I ordered some beads, stones and wires. 

I finally put a pearl back on my ring (the new one is fake, but it's better than lacking), and made a pair of earrings with fallen-off parts.  Glued some shining stones back on a bracelet.  It's good to have a pair of dexterous hands and long nails.  Now my hands are covered with fast-drying glues, but well, I am happy.