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.

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

Favorite Artists Through History- Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

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Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists not only for her amazing use of color in her paintings, but also for her life story and determination.

Born to a German father and a mestiza mother, Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at her family home in CoyoacánLa Casa Azul, now known and publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum. She was disabled by polio as a child. Until a traffic accident at age eighteen caused lifelong pain and medical problems, she had been a promising student headed for medical school. During her recovery, she returned to her childhood hobby of art with the idea of becoming an artist. (From Wikipedia)

Kahlo is known for her self-portraits (much like Rembrandt). However, unlike other artists, she expresses her inner turmoil through more poetic painting through iconography rather than dramatic lighting.

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The Two Fridas (1939)

My Favorite Paintings:

My Favorite Artists Through History – Rembrandt

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I love that Rembrandt was unafraid to use heavy shadow in his paintings. The darkness is used strategically to bring the viewer’s eye to the focus. This is the chiaroscuro effect that I am a huge fan of.

His self-portraits are absolutely stunning and it’s really cool to see his evolution through his self-portraits. I am always inspired to start painting self-portraits again whenever I look at this Dutch master.

He wasn’t just a painter. He was also a printmaker! They had a collection of his etchings in Boston a few years back which I was very happy to see! I love his swagger in this one:

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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2014)

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of Rembrandt work in person in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum. I also made sure to go to his house which is maintained as a museum.

My Favorite Pieces: The Night Watch, etchings