On Being

In January, after hearing of Mary Oliver’s passing, I started listening to On Being. I started, of course, with Krista Tippett’s conversation with Mary Oliver. I immediately fell in love with the show.

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Since then, I’ve listened to two other beautiful episodes that deeply moved me:

John O'Donohue — The Inner Landscape of Beauty

David Whyte — The Conversational Nature of Reality

Each in their own way, articulates things I’ve been experiencing and exploring through my daily meditation as well as my time alone in nature. I’ve been writing my own reflections in my journals, but it’s especially touching to hear them in the words of poets David Whyte and the late John O’Donohue. Much love and gratitude goes to Krista Tippett as well, who always does a brilliant job as an interviewer.

Wintersweet

I spent some time at the local bamboo park today. It's my new secret place, hidden in plain sight. Since going last week, I've been enamored with this most delightful bush, which I learned today is called wintersweet. I'm so happy that I was able to get a picture of its pretty yellow flowers!

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Happy New Year!

The start of a new year! I’ve been spending a significant amount of time journaling in my Hobonichi Techo and working out my priorities for 2019. I recently also found out about YearCompass, a lovely little booklet product of an initiative to help people sort out the previous year and plan the year ahead. I printed it last Monday —thanks for the help Libby!— and am working through it in a few sittings. It has allowed for some reflection on the past year and helped me to celebrate victories that I might otherwise have not given much thought. So if you feel that you could use such a tool, by all means go check out the website.

And now, for the big life update!

I have been blessed to spend the last year and five months living in Japan while on the JET Program. It has been a life-changing experience that has opened my heart and mind in a myriad of ways. Besides all the special connections that I’ve made and all the beauty that I have witnessed, my stay in Japan has given me time, to reflect and contemplate on life. At this point, I feel that the time has come to move on, so I have decided to leave in August, at the end of my contract. It’s scary to say goodbye to my life here as well as everything that comes with it. However, I have faith that it is the right choice and I am ready to let the Universe step in and guide me to the next chapter. I’ll be spending the next seven months making the most of my remaining time here.

I want to leave you with some words by Neil Gaiman that came into my life, like so many things these days, at just the right time. I’m certain that someone else will enjoy them as well.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.
— Neil Gaiman

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!