Basically I am swimming in a translucent sculpture of ever-shifting Perfection.
I realized I am painting waves!!*
…and guess what? Shells are, too!!!
Present is the present with no strings attached.
Ocean humbles me but humility sets me free.**
All images were photographed in August 2023.
*The artwork in progress (photo 4, 5, 7 from top) is an abstract interpretation of a flower petal. How so in one post from 2019.11.27: Process is the Destination!!
**Please allow me to specify what I mean by “humility” here.
I am not coming from stereo-typical Japanese “politely lowering oneself is a virtue” presentation (as in, nationalism-based virtue signaling, say). This is an art website and I work within myself to write as a creative.
Ocean is bigger than me. My silly pride as a skilled, long time swimmer had gotten shattered numerous times against the sheer force of the Ocean. Surprisingly though, such surrendering to Majestic did not defeat me but has been having the opposite effect on me: it permits me to release the dynamic/energetic/unapologetic side of me. As if the Ocean itself tempts me to become more. “Be more. You won’t scare me away.”
I wrote about one of the times when I got my ass handed: 2020.12.30 – New Moon in Virgo (An inflatable buoy tied to my waist since.)
12Sep23 – added the “**” paragraph about humility.
14Sep23 – minor corrections.
27Sep23 – minor addition.
Several hours before the moon to turn dark, I brought myself to my favorite sand dune, suited up in my swim gear, like I had been all summer. Mid day in the midst of September, temperature noticeably lower but water was still warm and inviting.
I kept myself pretty much out of the sea since Fukushima incident nine years ago and spent every summer in torment, pining for my ocean fix like I would for a long lost love but this year, after hearing some millionaire technocrat talk about nano technology embeds planned for regular humans like myself I made a decision that an extra plutonium particle or two in my snout wouldn’t be a big deal.
Usually this particular beach has chaotic white forms right at the shore giving me a clue about my whereabouts – as once in water, perspective changes and you become a minute miniature existence floating in the merciless energy soup. But this day it was a little different.
The shore break was nearly non existent. Smaller day I thought, and did not assess the current nor my physical prowess of the day.
Over confidence boosted by over eagerness can cause an issue or two. Without realizing I swam out further than usual and not too long after I started to struggle. Exhaustion grew rapidly like never before and with each wave I had to duck my strength drained in heaps.
Then a thought hit me: this is how people drown. I recalled a news story about a recent mysterious drowning of an actress I had not known existed and my thinking, how could you drown in a ripple-less lake? Fear inflated instantly while my arms turned weighty rubber and I knew I was in trouble.
Then came another thought, this time with quiet, solid confidence I never knew I had:
I am not drowning here.
The next moment I felt the Guidance kicking in, and I turned on my back and floated to rest. But waves kept coming and I had to duck and duck and duck. There was only one other person on the stretch of the beach, and he, a surfer, was just getting in as I arrived, and was way over there to notice me.
Or so I thought. Few moments later I saw him walking across the shore closest to where I was as I called out “Help!!”, to which he responded swiftly.
Guidance strongly at work by then, and just as strong was the surfer who happened to be on the beach that day. As if automated I floated on my back again so as to receive help with least harm to this young man. He positioned himself between me and the horizon and gave several powerful pushes at my soles, like he would to a surfboard. Neither party said nothing, but the communication was in Perfect Flow.
What happened this day have been on my mind since. Thought about it many times where it went ‘wrong’ and what I can do in my future swim. I was fortunate, no doubt. Typing this I still feel my heart quicken.
Each time I go over though, this one point when I said “I am not drowning here” stands out as the pivotal one.
In my struggle I declared, intended from the very core of my existence. Calmly, firmly.
And with bottomless Mercy, Life responded accordingly.
Special shout out to Guidance, Mercy and the surfer I do not know the name of.
Photos, from Top:
01: The beach.
02. Year of Rat rubber stamp, not quite there but I meant well.
03. At work, May.
09. Best picnic of the year – with my muse, red spider lilies, October.
10. The work, as of December 28. (Getting there.)
11. The best find of 2020.
Pictures (counted from top):
The Beauties of the world – Spider Lily Petals, my muse (1,5,7), and a Spiral Shell (3).
Artwork named “Spider Lily Red – Flare 2”, part, process, acid dye on silk (2,4,6). (Flare 1 is done.)
Background / layered chicken scratches are a journal entry glued on a cardboard, done about 20yrs ago during my lengthy, and severe I might add, creative block. Thought “Garbage!!” but I kept it for there may be a practical use for the cardboard, not the things on it.
My long-time favorite swimming pool photographed using iPhone 3GS in August 24, 2012 at 9:34am, posted on VSCO on August 9, 2020.
This is an outdoor 50m pool I’ve swam in for a very long time, up until 2019.
Strange, that summer I had a feeling, things will be very different the next year on.
Up until that year I pretty-much kept to myself but in 2019, I shared the excitement of mid summer outdoor laps with a small group of enthusiasts. The last day there were 3 of us quietly doing laps until the closing time, but I feel, the sentiment of the summer swim days coming to an end was mutually shared, and I think I experienced the substantial side of humanity I’d call “emotional depth” that made the summer all the more memorable.
This also is the pool I photographed using throw-away waterproof cameras, that turned into a Lo-Fi abstract “Pool Series (1999-2004)”, and did, so far the only show – a group photography show exhibiting the series, in Los Angeles, CA., which was a great experience and received generous, encouraging feedbacks especially from other photographers at the show.
The why’s regarding it being the only show I have quite well-thought-out reasons for that, but I had to do it once so I know it’s not fear dictating my such unconventional “career move”.
I’d like to take time and appreciate Mr.S, now retired, who took care of the place during the time period, for making a gracious exception to the “no camera” rule – allowed only while I’m alone. He kept the water notably clear – said he learnt from zero on his own to keep it so. Pristine water no doubt was the big part of inspiration.
Moments lived once, from top. year/month/day/time:
– The first sunrise of the decade.
– That summer I swam a lot in the sea, daily at sundown.
Until I became transparent and merged with the changing colors of the ocean lit by the setting sun.
Like one of them sea creatures in the deep, see-through with neon dots.
– Ocean Cafe, a practice I started in late 2000’s.
Did my “don’t laugh I’m trying to surf” thing around this time as well, the last time before Fukushima blew up.
It was on a moon-lit night, just after it was full. The practice – Night Surf – I started also in late 00’s, fascination and desire to rely solely on my intuition outweighed my fear. I thought it’d make me a better artist.
Not sure if it worked but I haven’t forgotten how I felt: very, very alive.
– “Wing Dress – Velocity” in near completion.
– Light Calligraphy, another naturally emerged “practice” in late 2000’s.
I literally close my eyes and move my camera like a calligraphy brush to “draw” with the light source.
By relying solely on my intuition I thought it’d make me a ….
– Tottori Sand Dune. I got there before sunrise, carrying a sewing body while still dark.
The mini dune sounded intensely quiet, like it does in a desert, especially in those hours.
– Classic Japanese nondescript flip-flops.
A pair carried me to the sea everyday, so worn, I remember even today feeling the bumpy, warm asphalt beneath my soles.
– From the last outdoor swim of the year. I swam so much throughout the summer, sharing the rectangles in the sun with a small group of enthusiasts.
– “Spider Lily Red – Flare 1”, in process.
2017/12/30 time unknown
– “Spider Lily Red – Flare 1”, in association with the ocean.
– On the last day of August I barefooted into the sea, ankle deep in the part of Pacific I’ve known for so long.
The first time since August 2012, a year after the thing blew up.
I was alive again in no time though, like as if I never left.
Like dried wakame reviving itself in water.
– The Last Sunset.
The spectacle at the beach was a gift from The Artist who knows, obviously, how to end the decade with a bang.
Additional Note on “Night Surf” (2020/03/09) :
Possibly redundant but I think worth mentioning is that, accessing the intuition seems easier if I collected enough data, such as, in this case, my strength against the power of the water, the rocks, the depth, the hazards such as sharks. Before hurling myself into the pitch-black water I consulted a fisherman and a surfer knowledgeable about the particular beach, and there on my own made enough mistakes under the sun. The angle of the moon was worth paying attention to as well.
Like a navigation map the human in me wanted to know where I am at, in order to best utilize fear as a fuel so that I could, to my utmost, surrender to the Intuitive.
Panic grows instantly when in the sea. Especially since I was neither skilled nor enlightened, I made sure I was ‘trusting’ enough before each try. Nervous, not frightened, anxious, but excited, eager, than reckless – it is in this longing / resisting I find the spark that enlivens the Creative.
I am a lap swimmer, have been since early 1980’s. Been back and forth in aqua blue rectangles worldwide, total sum of distance I covered would, at this point, get me from Central Pacific JPN to the island of Guam I bet.
At one point in my 20’s I realized one thing: when I focus on getting “there” sooner, I’d have a terrible time, increasingly frustrated because, in rectangles “there” does not exist. If I focus on each stroke however, by the time I hit a kilometer I’d be high as a kite. I don’t cliche you on my website; this just simply my experience. Fitness a fringe benefit, hooked on this euphoria ever since.
Spider Lily Red (2012 – )
Photos, from top (date photographed):
Petal (September 22, 2013)
A casual, care-free snapshot of spider lily petals, from one of the early macro sessions that introduced me to their delicate / dynamic world.
The one in the middle became THE petal.
Study (November 11, 2013)
Pencil on paper. Started off equally care-free, quickly discovered the shape to be overwhelmingly complex.
Nearly tossed the whole thing in a bin, a trash bin that is.
Why / how I didn’t remains a mystery.
Develop (June 01, 2015)
Pencil on another paper, after few more drawing experiments and several dye tests. Incrementally molding it into my style of line drawing, initially inspired by engravings from 18th Century.
Expand (January 10, 2016)
Still pencil on paper. My interpretations of red spider lilies are translated into each flowing lines.
At least that’s what I think I’m doing, oki?
The kind of endeavor tends to take plenty o time.
Augment (December 01, 2016)
Acid dye on silk. Took about nine full months to paint the pencil drawing (the one below) – of the curly half of the petal I’d call it, on fabric.
Blow up copy on the wall is a drawing of the wavy half of the petal, by the way is painted on the project’s second piece at the time of this writing, in late November 2019.
Refine (October 04, 2016)
Pencil on paper, the first of the two part drawings, congrats to me, completed.
Photographed outside hence leaves casting shadows visible on white space.
Form (May 24, 2017)
Acid dye on silk, photographed while still in painting process but by then I was starting to see the light, the tunnel exit light.
Pinned together to match the lines at seams.
There is a bird of prey named “Kite”, they glide up high in circles, scanning the ground for a strolling moron with a fish sandwich (true story). In speed of light the hungry moron would lose her sandwich, snatching so slick it’d leave her with heightened sense of awe memorable for decades to come.
Why steal when all you do is glide in circles?
Their whistles gentle like a songbird, its resonance the awe heightened up high, falling mist on the moron in euphoric micro particles.
Painting footage were recorded on October 18 mostly and on 20th.
Black and white, sea-less, soundless version was upped to IG on June 28, 2019.
The one you see here is the revised, relatively fancier version, edited on 29Mar22 ~ 03Apr22.
I use iMovie, always have. I am aware of fancier editing tools but I haven’t gotten around to study them. Reasons? One-woman show with time limitations and priorities.
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