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 minimalist 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!

The Finished Painting: Second Sight

I wanted to take a moment to show the painting that I made for the art show mentioned in the last post. It's called Second Sight, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

 
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I have to say that I'm really glad that I attended Ash's book release party. I had the opportunity to hear Ash's powerful reading of her poetry, look at beautiful artwork, and meet other interesting Portland folks. I also felt deeply touched by the kind feedback I received on my painting while at the show. My painting will be up along with other lovely pieces until April 30th, so if you happen to be in the area, definitely stop by!

UPDATE: As it turns out, my painting sold! I'm not sure who bought it, but I was filled with joy!

Book Release Party & Art Show

I wanted to share the good news that I've been invited by local poet Ash Good to have a piece of artwork at the release party for her new book "These Things Will Never Happen Quite Like That Again." It will take place on Friday, April 14 over at Mink Boutique on Hawthorne. Ash will read from her book, and all the artwork will be up for sale with part of the proceeds going to help women in Oregon. If you're in the Portland area, it promises to be a fun evening!

New Daniel Smith Colors

Last Sunday, I was fortunate to have my husband take me on a little day trip to Seattle. I had a wonderful time walking around Capitol Hill, delighting in the architecture of some of the homes near Volunteer Park, and also simply taking in the beauty of the newly arrived spring.

 Since we were headed there, I decided that I wanted to stop by the Daniel Smith store. After all, I love Daniel Smith watercolors and I had wanted to visit their store for a couple of years. The staff members were all extremely kind. I decided to get a couple of 5ml watercolors, Raw Umber and Undersea Green, since they were a good deal. At checkout I asked if they had a dot sampler of the new colors that recently came out, and while they didn’t have one handy, they immediately offered to make one on the spot for me, which I really appreciated.

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A very nice makeshift dot sampler, as you can see. Thank you, Daniel Smith! I especially like the Wisteria and the Payne's Blue-Gray. What do you think about these new colors?

March Life Drawing

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Last night, I went to a life drawing session for the first time in two years. It's something that I've been meaning to do for quite a while. Although websites like Croquis Cafe are helpful for figure practice, the experience of drawing from life definitely has something special about it. It's easy to make excuses to avoid going to life drawing sessions, so I'm proud of myself for finally just doing it. I was a little rusty, but I found that all the gestural practice for the "one week 100 people" challenge really helped me with the 1-minute poses. It also felt nice to be surrounded with other artists for a change, as most of the time I work on my paintings while home alone. I'm sharing my favorite from last night: a sketch done during a 30-minute pose on Arches hot press paper. I'm hoping to make it a habit to go once a month, so stay tuned for my next report!

"One Week 100 People" Challenge

This past week, March 6-10, I participated in the "One Week 100 People" Challenge. Created by renowned urban sketchers Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes, the challenge involves drawing 100 people in five days. I decided to participate at the last minute, as I figured that it would be good practice for me.

My tally came to 46/100 people. Even though I didn't make the final goal, I was quite happy that I gave it a try. I knew from the beginning that I would have to make faster paintings than usual. This forced me to try new approaches that I wouldn't ordinarily have tried, thus pushing me out of my comfort zone. Let me share some of my favorites with you:

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First Entry

Hello and welcome! I'll be using this blog to write about art supplies and to document my journey as an artist. It wasn't too long ago that I fell in love with watercolors and decided to start working in this medium, so feel free to follow along for the ride. Feedback and comments are not only welcomed, but also appreciated. I'm looking forward to sharing more with you!