What's On My Desk

Recently, having realized that I haven’t updated my blog in a long time, I was struck with the desire to bring it back to life. So, here’s a short post about what’s currently on my desk.

 
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The rice fields have already turned yellow and the harvest is well underway. As the weather has gotten cooler, I’ve found increasingly more pleasure in staying at home under a blanket while reading, journaling, and writing letters with a nice cup of tea. Here are some of the beautiful items I’ve been using:

  • Traveler’s Notebook ~ I’ve been using it for my morning pages, and, occasionally, evening pages as well.

  • Hobonichi Techo Cousin ~ I picked up the July-December Avec at Loft when I was in Fukuoka this summer. The bigger size has been working splendidly for me, and I’ve been enjoying writing in it almost every day. For 2018-2019 I ended up going with the Petit Fleur cover, and although I’m not particularly fond of polyester covers, I’m pretty happy with it! I’m currently doing my Inktober project in my hobonichi.

  • The Superior Labor Pen Wrap ~ I got it as a birthday present to myself. It holds my fountain pens, all of which I’ve been using on a regular basis.

  • J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre Ink ~ I found it a beautiful ink with which to welcome Autumn. I filled my Kaweco Brass Sport with it and have been using it to write down quotes that resonate with me on my hobonichi techo.

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Currently listening to: To Paint Is to Love Again written and read by Henry Miller

Currently drinking: Nettle leaf tea by Traditional Medicinals

Currently eating: Chocolat noir au thé Earl Grey by Chocolat Café~Tasse

Peg and Awl Sendak Artist Roll

I recently bought a Sendak Artist Roll from Peg and Awl. I had wanted an artist roll for years now, but hadn't yet found one that truly called to me. When I first saw the Sendak online, however, I knew that it belonged in my life. Now that I've gotten it and had it for a few days, I can confirm that it is just as wonderful as I thought it would be. I chose my Sendak in the Spice waxed canvas with the brown leather strap, and I find it to be a very aesthetically pleasing combination. 

Not only is it beautiful, but it is also sturdy! The waxed canvas feels very durable, like it will age well. I also enjoy the fact that the Sendak has a big carrying capacity compared to most rolls I've seen around. It keeps my favorite art supplies organized, which is a big relief for a messy person like me. That means that it also makes the art making process easier. Now, when I draw or paint I always know where everything is! It's a wonderful feeling!

I should mention that with all the supplies that I put inside it, it has become a little heavy and bulky. In my case, the weight and bulk have not deterred me from taking it with me every time I leave the house, a testament to how much I love my Sendak. I'm happy to support Peg and Awl, a family-run business committed to upcycling vintage and found materials. I really like their thoughtful designs as well as the care they put into their craft. Overall, I would say that the Sendak Artist Roll is a special treasure that I will cherish for years to come. I can see it sparking joy for a long time and going on countless adventures with me. I couldn't be happier with it!

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Watercolor butterflies

This past weekend, I went out, surrounded myself with nature, and sat down to paint.  I didn't really know what I was going to paint, so it was fun to end up with these simple watercolor butterflies.  I started with Daniel Smith Indigo, then let my intuition guide me in picking additional colors to mix in the wet washes.  The last step involved dropping little bits of Tibet and Moon gold for that special magic.  I was delighted to find that the outcome was as pleasing as the process!

 
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Little Brass Box Travel Palette

 Little Brass Box Travel Palette

The Little Brass Box Company is a one-man artisanal workshop producing some of the finest solid brass paintboxes in the world. John Hurtley, the man behind the Little Brass Box Company, makes all of his brass paintboxes by hand in his U.K. home studio. After placing an order last spring, and waiting several months on a waitlist while saving money for it, I now count myself as the lucky owner of one of these little brass boxes. You can imagine my excitement when it came in the mail yesterday!

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April Sketches

I'm excited to show some of the watercolor sketches that I made this month. For some reason, I've been feeling particularly tired. I'm happy that I managed to keep up my art practice! 

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Next week is "Golden Week" here in Japan and I took a couple of days off of work so that I could not only celebrate my fourth wedding anniversary in some special way, but also enjoy a nine day staycation. I'm looking forward to taking time for spring cleaning, some much needed rest, and of course, watercolor painting! 

A Couple of Value Studies

Here are a couple of value studies that I did recently. Earlier this year, I started studying Charles Reid's painting method as demonstrated in his book "Portrait Painting in Watercolor". The book has you start with simple monochrome sketches. These represent my early tries at complete portraits on my own, using references pictures from Sktchy. I still need a lot of practice, especially in making my darks darker, but I have to say that I'm really excited about how these turned out. Although I love playing with lots of different colors, I discovered that I rather enjoy making these monochrome paintings. I'm sure that I'll be doing many more!

 
 Color used: Winsor and Newton Payne's Gray

Color used: Winsor and Newton Payne's Gray

 Color used: Daniel Smith Perylene Green

Color used: Daniel Smith Perylene Green

 

Latest Sketchbook Painting

I spent my whole night working on this painting in my sketchbook. The inspiration came from a picture on Sktchy and although I had made the drawing a while back, I decided to finally paint it. I got to use a couple of my new Daniel Smith watercolors, Indigo (PB60, Pbk6) and Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) together with some old favorites (DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna, DS Lapis Lazuli, and Schmincke Cobalt Blue Light). I finished it off with Finetec/Coliro gold details. 

 
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Oregon Coast Getaway

My husband and I wanted to do something special on my last weekend before flying to Japan, so we decided to go on a short day and a half trip to the Oregon Coast. It was a sweet little getaway! We had the chance to visit some of our favorite spots in Lincoln City, and we also got to enjoy brief stops in Neskowin, Depoe Bay, and Pacific City. Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip!

Two Motivational Talks

Today I just wanted to leave you with two great talks given by a couple of folks who have helped me pare down my possessions and move towards a more minimalistic lifestyle. Not only are they entertaining and motivational, but they also make for great Japanese listening practice! Check them out:

Did you watch them? What did you think?

Two Weeks Until Departure

That's right — the final countdown is on! I wanted to take the time to share what I've been up to since my last post.

The first exciting piece of news is that I've gotten in touch with my predecessor as well as the person whose apartment I will be taking over. They're both lovely and have been incredibly helpful in answering my questions. I’ll be living in a modest-sized apartment just a little ways away from the city center. I’ll have a supermarket nearby, and I’ll probably be walking or riding my bicycle most of the time. I was happy to find out that my rent will only be ¥35,000, which is roughly $310. I also found out that I’ll mostly be teaching at local Junior High Schools, though I'll also get to visit a couple of Elementary Schools once in a while. I’m looking forward to finding out more about my new city in person!

Recently, most of my time has been spent selling my possessions in order to have enough funds to start a new life in Japan. Before leaving my job at Kenton Animal Hospital, where I worked for the past few months, I had hoped that upon leaving I would have plenty of time to study Japanese. Although I've found some time for studying, I've ended up focusing more on some bigger picture stuff. For example, I've taken the time to meditate more, to reexamine my goals in life, eat healthier, spend time with my husband, skype with my family, and pare down my possessions. I was definitely in need of regrooving, so that's what I've taken the time to do. I hope that by doing so I can be the best teacher, cultural ambassador, co-worker, and friend that I can possibly be.

Moving to Japan

It is with great delight that I announce that I’m moving to Japan at the end of next month. I recently found out that I have been chosen to work as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) through the JET Program and will be moving to a small city called Minamata in Kumamoto Prefecture. For better reference, Minamata is located in the Southern island of Kyushu, but I will write more on my specific placement later.

It has been a dream of mine to participate in the JET Program ever since I found out about it almost thirteen years ago. This is why, even though the application process requires patience, perseverance, and emotional endurance, I had no choice but to give it a try. I should also point out that since I first felt the desire to participate in the JET Program I have changed and grown quite a bit. Both my personal and professional goals have morphed, but when I searched inside myself, I realized that the desire was still very much there, which helped me take the plunge. Thankfully, the stars aligned to make this little dream come true.

Now that it’s really happening, it feels somewhat surreal. As we get closer to the departure date, I have to admit that my emotional life has gained some complexity, especially since I will be separated from my husband for at least four months. Yet, all things considered, I’m genuinely excited to help teach English and to promote intercultural understanding in Japan. I’m about to start my preparations, which will include fundraising, selling many of my possessions, and figuring out what to pack. I’ve decided to use this blog to document this new chapter of my life’s journey, so stay tuned for further updates.

 
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The Perfect Sketchbook 2017

In case you haven't heard, The Perfect Sketchbook B5 has just been relaunched as a limited edition. If you're not familiar with it, it's a high-quality watercolor sketchbook made with Fabriano Artistico, one of my favorite 100% cotton watercolor papers. Originally the product of an Indiegogo campaign in 2015, it was designed by Erwin Lian and produced by Bynd Artisan in Singapore. I just completed my first one and I have to say that it was a very pleasant sketchbook to use!

There are still some available, so if you're interested in watercolors I would definitely recommend buying one before they run out!