Monday, August 29, 2016

Playing Outside

I just got back from Toronto, where I grew up.  I always come back feeling emotionally drained.

I didn't make any art when I was home, but I did look at a lot of art.  My art.  From when I was 4 or 5 years old.  My mother kept a box of my drawings from kindergarten, and boy was I a prolific artist back then!  Out of respect for my mother's careful archiving I took a photo of each one, kept a few favourites, and then recycled the rest.  We're in the process of cleaning up the house.

I love love this one.

Throwing things away is one of my favourite things to do.  It can be very liberating.  But it is also very emotional at times.  Not throwing things away is also one of my creative parameters, to reuse, to give new life to items full of memories and meaning.

I didn't draw anything when I was home.  But I looked at a lot of art.  My parents' house is full or art.  Art by so many people - my mother, father, grandfathers, auntie, friends, and myself.

It's funny to be able to look at your own works and marvel at it.  And wonder, who was that person, that little girl?  How did she get to be me?

She just loved to play outside.

Monday, July 4, 2016

TaikoCat has 9 Lives

A couple of months ago, I was driving down Taylor Street and saw TaikoCat (that I painted in 2012) on a truck.  It turns out that a car was t-boned and it came up onto the curb, knocking the box over!  Luckily the people were ok, but the box didn't make it.  

At first I felt really sad, but I said good-bye and went on my way.  People suggested that I go down to the city offices and demand to get TaikoCat so I could keep her.  I didn't do this.  I knew that the artwork on these boxes were impermanent - they were subject to the elements, taggers and I guess cars.  

I was grateful that she stayed up on that corner for 4 years, welcoming people to Japantown.  And that people all over have asked for TaikoCat t-shirts, spreading her happiness.  It's been an amazing few years.

The Japantown Business Association and Artbox Project SJ moved quickly, however, and asked me to bring TaikoCat back!  TaikoCat has 9 lives!

TaikoCat has some new friends now.  TaikoBunny and TaikoPuppy.  (Or TaikoDog? The name hasn't stuck yet.)  And her surroundings have changed quite a bit from when she was standing outside an open lot.

All day long when my assistant Syl and I were painting, people would stop and say "Thank you for beautifying our neighborhood!"  Or, "So cute!"  I am so happy that it makes people smile.

This one makes me giggle: TaikoBunny wearing a TaikoCat t-shirt.  She's a baby so not quite big enough to hold bachi.

If you want to keep reading, here's a little bit more.  TaikoCat was inspired by "maneki neko" which means "beckoning cat."  It has an upright paw which looks like it's waving, but in Japanese culture this is the gesture used to say "come here" (they don't use the index finger like we do here).  So maneki neko brings good luck to its owner.  TaikoCat belongs to the community, so hopefully she brings good luck to everyone.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Effort and Effortlessness

Again!  The months are getting away from me.  This post was due back in January when I finished working on a commission for Yuki Sushi restaurant.  

The owner and I had met a few times over the course of a year and half to discuss our ideas and concepts for this mural.  The story was about her mother coming from Yokohama to California.  After mulling it over for several weeks, I got the idea of fish traveling across the ocean hauling items with them from Japan.  

First step was to figure out my style and the fish characters.  

I like fish with big googly eyes.  

I devoted my taiko break to working on it, learning as I went.  I have used acrylic paints before but I would not consider myself a painter.  There is so much to know.  But I learn best by doing, and immersing myself in the experience.  Painting by yourself for multiple days is such a different experience to working in a taiko group!  

I'm happiest using my hands though - this is similar.  And getting to know the materials and how they feel and respond.  And observing how I respond to the colours and shapes that emerge.  Sometimes with glee, sometimes frustration...  I spent many days working on it.  

I admire artists' work that seem effortless.  I'm not there yet, but hopefully with time.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Late Bloomers

I went to go and see the artichokes on 7th Street today.  If you don't know, I'm kind of obsessed with them.  (Previous blogposts here.)

I was surprised to find some blooms amongst dried up flowers on one of the plants, because I think they normally bloom in the summer.  Hello late bloomers!

I very much relate to late bloomers.

Wikipedia says, late bloomer is a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.

And may I add, not just to others, but to the self?

I remember learning in my art class that the painter Henri Rousseau was a late bloomer - he didn't start painting until he was in his 40s.  Interesting that I held onto that tidbit of info...  Looking him up now, I found this painting of a bunny!  Rousseau claimed he had "no teacher other than nature."

Here is the classic, "The Dream."  I wonder if he liked artichokes...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why I Make Cards

Almost 8 years ago, I wrote a post on "Why I Make Art."  I've been promising myself I'd write a follow-up with more about how I got this obsession of making cards.  Well here we are.

When I was young, our family did not have a lot of money.  That meant that we did not have a lot of toys.  In fact, most things were shared between my sister and myself.  We had a few of our own things like dolls or stuffed animals but we also had things we shared with my brother.  Sometimes we would play a game we made up called "Time's Up" where we would crouch over a catalogue and someone would say, "One, two, three, time's up!" and we would point to the thing on the page we liked best.  We would start at the beginning of the catalogue and go through all the sections including housewares, clothing, jewelry, etc.

Anyway, having things was something I learned to not expect.

One of my prized possessions was a stationery set that I inherited from someplace - I think the daughter of my mother's friend.  In a folded plastic case, she had been collecting different kinds of Japanese notepaper and envelopes, bearing images like Hello Kitty and other cute Japanese cartoon characters.  I don't remember writing many notes but I do remember looking in my folder a lot, just admiring the paper and the envelopes especially.

Sometimes, my mom would have to kick us out of the living room onto the porch or upstairs because she taught piano lessons.  I remember her giving us some paper and a small bowl of rice and saying, "Make something."  The rice was sticky, it was good as glue.  So my sister and I would make envelopes to add to the collection.  Envelopes of different sizes, made from different types of paper.  Today, I can still make envelopes very quickly but I don't use rice anymore.

Envelopes recently whipped up for giving gifts in.

I think the card-making came after the envelope-making because I needed something to do with the envelopes that I was making.

Card and envelope made around 2001.

I never bought materials for making cards.  They were always made from things I found around the house.  This is how my mother did things.  This is how I still mostly do things...

Cards made for SJT event for my song "Wabisabi Wagamama."
Making things has always been a compulsion.  Collecting papers also.  Looking at my fine and interesting papers makes me feel rich in possessions.  Even the tiniest of pieces.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

TaikoCat and Friends at Luna Park Chalk Festival

Has it been a year already?

So much has happened in the last year.  Instagram and other social media.  I can't keep up.  Do people still read blogs?

I wanted to feature the koi for my chalk work this year at the Luna Park Chalk Art Festival.  It's related to another potential art project, but will have to talk about that one later.

TaikoCat, ChappaBunny and giant koi.

My assistant Syl is in charge of the water.

Finished 8x8 feet chalk art.  Lucky to be under a tree this year.

When energy comes around again, I want to post more about some artistic journeying.  But that will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


Remember this?

I had no idea that it would cause such a commotion.  People like cats!  People like taiko!  And apparently people love cats playing taiko!  I never intended this to happen, but I've opened an online t-shirt store selling TaikoCat t-shirts.  TaikoCat has her own identity now.

I love how excited people get when they wear their t-shirts.  TaikoCat bringing happiness across the land!  I'm very pleased.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Home sick today.  I think my body is trying to tell me something.  I don't know how to turn "off" when I need to, so my body is saying "STOP!"  Even though I had written myself this note...

It was based on an article I just read which said, 

No amount of multivitamins, yoga, meditation, sweaty exercise, superfoods or extreme time management, as brilliant as all these things can be, is going to save us from the effects of too much work. 

So here I am at home, trying to rest and recover.  And playing with ink.  Does doodling count as resting?

"these are my insides are they healthy? but my body sometimes lets me down even though i try to love and take care of it"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spring Cleaning

This past weekend I spent time clearing things out.

Considering the last post and my lack of energy, I knew something had to change.

This is what came out of me today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Have I written about energy already?

It's something I think about a lot with taiko, how energy flows from person to person in a performance, how it moves through your body from your center to fingertips.  How to move that energy.  

But it seems so finite lately - I only have so much energy to give and after that there is no more.  I'm disappointed to see that my last blog post was in November.  Pushing out creative energy has been difficult as of late.  Its interesting because I work in the arts, yet the way your creative energy moves in such a dynamic organization is not always up to you.  Sometimes it pools over here or there and waits, sometimes it gets pushed out when not ready.  That is not anyone's fault, it just is.

Drawings from the last few months are about energy.  Looking at it sitting there, or draining away.