Take Me Home, Country Roads. Gunma Edition.

I’ve been pretty busy for the last two weeks, trying to adjust to my new teaching schedule! This is a long weekend with Respect for the Aged day on Monday!

Running in the 90s

Three days ago, I got a car from the mythical figure ebachan. I specifically asked for a turbo charged kei car, so I could go explore the mountains of Gunma.

He gave me a list of warnings, since many ALTs tend to wreck his cars in various and interesting ways, most having to do with the fact that Japan drives on the opposite side of the road compared to certain other English speaking countries like America. I assured him that I’d been driving since I was 15. In the 15 years that I’ve been driving, I have only been in a handful of accidents. I had also just recently been living in North Hollywood, with some of the most aggressive drivers I have ever experienced. LA traffic is no joke. (Actual footage of rush hour in LA.)

I took my car out the first night to get a feel for the controls. My JTE (Japanese Teacher of English) assured me that Japanese people rarely honk. I tried to go down a narrow road in my neighborhood, but another car was on the other side, so I backed up, and as I was doing so, she honked at me. I was immediately furious. I was later introduced to the idea that there is such a foreign concept as a thank you honk. In fact, many Japanese drivers will hit their hazards for a second to say thank you as well. 

Take Me Home, Country Roads

I’ve also had a fascination with Shimonita, since it is at the other end of the private train which I used to take to go to my school. It is also deep inakaI’ve been planning on visiting my friends from Shimonita ever since I met them at the Tomioka dinner last month. I told some of my JTEs that I was going to Shimonita for the long weekend and they said, “Why?”

With my new turbo kei-car, I decided to head out early in the morning, excited to drive those country roads. I discovered quickly that my radio’s volume button was broken, so I ended up singing acapella Country Roads until I remembered I have a phone that can also play music. I finally arrived to Shimonita and was amazed at the beauty of the town.

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Vibrations Table Finally Music Festival

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From the website:

It is event running plan by volunteer led by the cause of concept, “oscillation (vibration) will do peaceful music by outdoor festival of no charge for admission to be able to enjoy from hill (table) where green of Shimonita is rich” in, local volunteers both children and adults.

The Vibrations Table Finally music festival was totally free! Apparently, I hit the 10th anniversary show. Of course, I had to buy a shirt.

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They had some awesome bands. My Shimonita friends were working different booths. Other ALTs also made an appearance.

I spent a good chunk of the day just chilling in the shade, drawing random people and musicians. I wish I had done more sketches! I miss life drawing, so this was a fun way to shake off the rust after so long!

Here are some:

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“Self-Portrait of the Artist” Phase 1: Dinosaur Kid

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As promised for #inktober2018, I am doing my artist autobiography in the form of comics. (I suppose these are more of a glimpse into my artistic life rather than a true and accurate retelling.) In any case, one of my earliest memories of drawing is tracing a toy dinosaur after watching Jurassic Park for the millionth time. I loved dinosaurs then and to be honest, I still love them.

My Favorite Artists Through History – Yayoi Kusama

I remember walking into a hallways with her giant paintings and immediately feeling overwhelmed with emotion.

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Who is she?

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. (Via Wikipedia)

Why I love her:

I had never even heard of Kusama until I was visiting the Pompidou in Paris where they were exhibiting a retrospective of her artwork. I remember walking into a hallways with her giant paintings and immediately feeling overwhelmed with emotion. It’s hard to say what sort of emotion: somewhere between feeling small and lost in a colorful polka dot void. Rarely do I have such a visceral reaction to paintings, but that emotion has stuck with me for a long time. Her installations are equally powerful. She transforms spaces into a weird mind-bending alternate dimensions that displace the viewer (in a good way).

I really hope that someday I will be able to see her Infinity Mirror Room collection at the Broad in Los Angeles. When I went soon after the Broad’s opening, the wait time to go into the room was over 5 hours. Not going to lie, it made me very sad, but at the same time, I’m really glad that so many people will be introduced to this amazing artist. The Infinity Mirror Room is also a great place for people to take art selfies, which adds another layer and complexity to the public’s art appreciation. This is particularly interesting to me as Kusama’s work is about self-obliteration and very much anti-ego. This interplay of social media best virtual self and artwork with the opposite in mind is very intriguing to me.

More Artwork:

Watercolor Speed Painting Video

I’ve always wanted to do a speed painting of my artwork. I’ve finally acquired everything to do so. I got a camera to stream my artwork, but for right now it seems more feasible to just record it, speed it up and throw it up on my youtube channel.

I really like the way this piece turned out. If you are interested in buying this piece, please go to:

Art Materials:

Prismacolor Col-Erase Pencils

Marine Blue

Strathmore 300 Series Student Watercolor Paper

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Paint Set of 6 tubes

Video creation materials:

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, Widescreen Video Calling and Recording, 1080p Camera, Desktop or Laptop Webcam

Adjustable Microphone / Mic Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand, ELINP Compact Mic Stand Made of Durable Steel for Radio Broadcasting Studio, Sound Studio, Stages, and TV Stations