Tag Archives: thoughts on creativity

#CaliforniaStrong

A  Californian beach.

Thinking of you, California.

Beach with a large rock and a tourist.

Morro Bay, 1995, further north of where the soon-to-be-fully-contained fire is at the moment. Bottom photo was taken by a friend of mine who also did the driving throughout our care-free road trip along the coast line. As you can see, she caught me in the perfect Kodak moment tilting the famous Morro rock.

Images were photographed with a single-use, most probably water resistant camera I used a lot in those days, and casually handed over for processing at local Target. Back then I didn’t think much of my creative inclinations, in fact I thought of them as the source of all my troubles and in most part I treated them accordingly.

Many years later in 2012, I decided to pamper my creativity with a high-end film scanner (rented), and discovered the negatives in progressed decay. Lines, scratches and uneven colors, they hinted at everything that happens only once.
Now, in December 2017, as California finds itself in flames again, I dug up the photos and gave them the suitable “vintage postcard” edit, then messed them up a bit, to near the creative disaster. Why, it’s a play, to be slightly off balance so your foot no choice lands forward. Well I was thinking of California I know, the foreign land always felt like a well worn pair, appreciating every minute I spent, submerged in the air of adventurousness and experimentation the land so eagerly, and effortlessly permits.

Sea Sip Solo.

Evidently, I do this a lot. The “operation guerrilla cafe” (OGC hereafter).
That is, to bring my beverage to the location of the day, of my choice. Strictly solo.

Why, join me, come along for a virtual tour of Cafe Solitude.

(Beneath each photo is the time photographed / social post details.)

Picnic scene at sunset shore.
2019.07.31 at 18:55 / VSCO on 2020.04.19. The color of sunset was actually that pink.

A folding stool on concrete under blue sky.
2017.10.03 at 15:27 / VSCO on 2017.10.03.

A coffee cup placed at water front.
2017.11.11 at 12:16 / VSCO on 2017.11.11.

A coffee cup on a marine bollard at a port.
2017.11.05 at 15:06 / VSCO on 2022.12.06.

Harbor view with a folding stool under bright orange sunset.
2018.07.13 at 19:14 / IG story fall 2022.

Many had asked, “why so solo, lonely lady?” 
Well, let me tell you you inquisitive lot. These are one of the most un-lonely times I’ve ever spent in my life.
 Ever felt “lonely in a crowd”? On the wrong planet?? Imagine the absolute opposite.

(In facto, the question always made me a little sad; if being alone with yourself means “lonely”…)

During OGC what’s being set aside is “society”. Sitting by the Water, I am in direct contact with the Big Container. Look.

Illustration of a woman perched at the edge of water.
Conception sometime in Oct.-Nov.2022, drawn/photographed on 2022.12.27 / first time posting.

By mid 1990’s, I was at it for several years, digging up piles of debris that were burying alive the creativity I may or may not possess. Operating on blind faith, what guided me was the utter sense of suffocation.
Around that time someone suggested me a work book for (blocked) creatives called “The Artist’s Way”. Although I didn’t quite click with the writing style nor its cult-like status in the city of industry I resided in at that time, with the core concepts I did, so gave a diligent try through early 2000’s.

One of the exercises in the book is called “artist’s date”, as in, you take yourself out on a date, solo. No one gets to come along.
The practice was a familiar one. Since I was a young child I wandered the streets of suburban Tokyo, to be alone with wonder-full and awe-some, and I found them in little patches of untended lands between buildings. But too many others around me framed my such inclination as anti-collective hence negative. I was somehow, instinctively doing the right thing, to cultivate my creativity, to water the seed that was trying to sprout. The suggestion in the book was a validation arrived a little later, that told me I was not the only one. Not “anti-social” but “pro-creativity”- what I always knew in my heart, but doubt snuck in and stole my clarity.

By around 2006, the suffocation subsided. As of late 2022, I no longer care to know how I am doing as a “creative”. One thing I can say for certain: I did all this simply because I could not not to.

The book has a ton of very helpful quotes, and out of the ton the following stuck with me through my trying times, trying – to reclaim my creative freedom.

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

– Andre Gide (The Artist’s Way, p.199 Week12. Recovering A Sense Of Faith)

…And please allow me to add:

You are the captain who knows the way.

– me, 2022.

A silhouette of a person having a tea on the beach at sundown.
2009.03.10. / on my website around the same time.

Published on December 29, 2022 at 17:39

Abstraction in Nature, a Tribute.

September 1996, Los Angeles, north east San Fernando Valley, mildly Mexican* neighborhood. The flat expanse with wide, uncrowded streets evenly lit by dry desert sun.

The place I rented, a garage of a little house, a loft-like mini shelter for me and my canine friend Sophia, stood next to a rectangle swimming pool the landlady tirelessly cleaned. Separated by sort-of lawn was a main house, with two rooms for rent, both occupied.
The other end of mi mini casa was a neighbor’s yard, where serious mariachi parties took place thankfully not too often, complete with a set of super woofer speakers you’d find in night clubs. How I knew? I snuck a peek tiptoed over a sloppy stack of cinder blocks stood between me and the fiesta.

A wood carving and natural objects.

So, the place I rented. In one of the rooms in the main house, the one adjacent to the Mariachi’s, lived a petite lady, a tipsy intellectual. Told me she was a wine taster trained in France, in the kitchen we shared, in a stained XL tee, a stemmed glass in her hand, held as if she was standing under a chandelier.
Then suddenly one day she had a boyfriend. I recognized him from the 711 corner across the street, hanging with alert eyes, in business transactions, the back alley type of deal. From there things progressed rapidly and it was not long before I found him in our kitchen, a new resident in the honeymoon phase. Soon after I took refuge in a living room at my friend’s nearby.

A wood carving and natural objects.

My friend, he lived on the Avenue Quiet only a few blocks from the Villa Mariachi, with his ailing wife and a lady who was there to help her out. Their generosity to welcome me in along with a rather large, wise but energetic dog into a full house is worth a mention, but it didn’t end there. He, a sculptor in hiatus, offered me the full use of his studio.
“You are an artist”, I wasn’t that convinced but he proclaimed anyways. “Artist makes art.”
That was the only string attached to the offer.

All his sculptures were made from wood, abstract with true substance. Used to exhibit, said he, did well for a long time. Something held me back from asking what changed all that.
The studio was originally, again, a garage. No light entered from the California sun but I could feel the heat. Tables, tools, wood scraps. Works half done, paused. All sat still gathering dust.

I was not certain of my ability to carve or to sustain my interest. Where is my fiesta? Besides, it was sunny outside. As I began to gather dust myself, a book, its title, caught my eye.
“Abstraction in Nature”
The three words made all the sense in the world. I knew exactly what they meant but had no idea until then it was something to write a book about. It was enough to get me started though.
Carve, sand, buffer. Shapes began to appear. As if there were ideas floating about waiting to be caught by the next available human.

A wood carving and natural objects.

I spent about a month and a half at the Sculptor’s, before moving over the hill to Hollywood, the place I so missed all the while I lived in the Valley. The milder sun and some fiestas, but most notably, walks on Sunset with ever proud Sophia strutting past girls in 7 inch heels working the Boulevard. Strangely though, now in 2017, I get just as excited google-earthing the Valley, if not more.

The things I absorbed in the Sculptor’s studio seemed to have gone dormant for a long while after that but looking back, I think, maybe that wasn’t so. You see, those things never really quit on you.
In fact, I have reasons to believe they had gone ahead and nurtured themselves while waiting, years of waiting, of dropping hints, nudging with intrigues, for this human and her next available moment.

A wood carving and natural objects.

I finished total of 8 pieces during my stay at the Sculptor’s, and got 3 more on pause. For this post I photographed four of them arranged with masterpieces made by someone else.

Lastly, I wrote this as a tribute, to my sculptor friend who’s passing I learned only several days ago, and to ‘Abstraction in Nature’ who definitely never quits, crystallizes into elements large and minuscule everything there is to life: the feast, the knife, and the whole enchilada.

Wood carvings and natural objects.

*In considering the current – as of March 2017 – trend of Mex bashing in U.S., I’d like to add:
“Colors” of the characters are intentionally unmentioned (hint: there are 4 in the post). I went to Angeles with no prior knowledge of Mexican culture, or how Chicanos (or Japanese for that matter) are positioned in the society. Mariachi blast landed on a blank canvas. Growing up in Japan I did not face discrimination based on color, nor do I have a strong inclination toward seeking my identity through the culture I was raised in, and that is where I am coming from, just an observer of the – our – human condition.

Dried persimmons from Sado Island made me think of.

Sea gulls over water surface.

Here’s a joke. Don’t feel offended.
A Turk
goes to see a doctor.
He tells him:
“When I touch my body with my finger, it hurts.
When I touch my head, it hurts,
my legs, it hurts,
my belly, my hand, it hurts.”
The doctor examines him then tells him:
“Your body’s fine
but your finger’s broken!”

    – Abbas Kiarostami, Taste of Cherry (1997)

Sea gulls over dark water surface.

I decided December will be a movie month. I’m gonna watch as many Kiarostami films. Maybe not all though, save some for later, ‘cause no more coming from the maestro.

Photos are from my trip to Sado, early August 2003. Shot, with a single use camera I got in a hurry at a kiosk somewhere, from the last ferry boat of the day, my way back to Tokyo. On the isle time passed like a deep sea current, with the kind of depth that does not weigh. I watched for a long time the fading silhouettes, its picturesque rocks and the dark sea widening between us.

Yesterday I closed my eyes and consumed a semi dried persimmon from the island. Sugar in the fruit spoke to me in Sado, and the characters I met there came to life again: silver-scaled sushi fishes in clear teal sea that gets cold at 3pm sharp, a crane with black and red design who had to nearly brush this tourist’s windshield, a coffee at the goldmine that came with a surprise gold flake floating.
Then I thought of the film, words between a man and his third passenger, the depth that doesn’t bind. And the director who passed last July, the way he used time as his medium, and the subtext that does not force meaning.

(The persimmon in question is sold under the name “Anpo”. Melty on the inside, look for the ones from the island.)

Creative Process, November 2016.

A flower petal drawing in progress.

November 13, 2016. While bed-ridden with a common cold, made a decision to drastically cut down my use of mobile devices and a magic called wifi. After all, my eyes are LED sensitive and the whole thing of me is now recoiling from EMF signals. Days of feeling slick and current streaming anywhere is over. Hard to part, surely will miss.

November 14, 2016. Super Moon Monday. A router in hand, called my provider, show me where the switch is, I gotta turn this necessary evil off. The support man was also lightly a comic, was so with zero malice and I noticed, after the call, my eyes were already hurting less*.

November 15, 2016. Woke up fairly fine after four days in futon. Maybe it was my mobile no longer zapping my zzz, or the highly anticipated Moon sending me its ‘super’ through streaks of dark clouds. Either way, it was the kind of night the only thing missing was wolf howls in the distance.

Art works in studio.

The photos are of a dyed silk dress series called “Spider Lily Red”, the 1st (top) and the 2nd piece, both in the making. I harbor an ambition to finish the first dress and open my web shop before 2016 is over, which may come to pass now that my smarty phone is nearly just a telephone.

Time seems to fly faster when I halve my attention. A hint astringent persimmons on the side of wild wolves’ grace alive in digital. Things that precious can get thinned down if consumed half-hearted. Was that an excitement of the world flooding through a device in my palm, or did I begin to let a gadget babysit my existential loneliness. In any case I think I downplayed to myself the physical, attentional, and emotional discomfort. Yes, emotional. It gets kinda hollow when I’m not really there.

So what now, what about your wolves? Well, wolf videos, only on cable-connected computer for now. Minimal mobile usage, most importantly never with my persimmons. As for my existential loneliness, will be kept under my care so I can nurse it in my palms as I would a wounded swallow. I’d like to think I got my TLC intact but sometimes, it has a way of slipping through my fingers.

* A little about the eye hurt I mentioned earlier, as this may not be uncommon: is a sensation of light-pulse drilling my eyes, felt at times more like a shallow headache.
I first took notice of this when I switched to iPhone 4s, my introduction to Retina screen. Within a week I was having a clearly noticeable increase in sensitivity to light, which I call iSquint. (LED sensitivity seems to worsen when coupled with their Retina screen.) Now with 6s, the symptom seems to reduce significantly when turning the airplane mode on.

Thank you for your visit, enjoy the last bit of 2016 and in any event, don’t drive and mobile :)

Lily and her friends – June Studio Report


A flower bouquet in art studio.

A flower bouquet in art studio.

While teaching myself how to use fabric dye, I worked in a office translating mostly medical professionals’ scribbles. I’d carve out five minutes here, ten minutes there, to somehow get my art thing going, until eventually I became the only worker on self-appointed flextime.
On Mondays during lunch I’d walk past several cafes with too many tiny tables, on a cluttered Tokyo street down to a florist, and for a couple hundred yen choose just one flower to place on my desk, a beige-gray rectangle. As an ongoing art education I’d pause between each paragraph for a few moments and closely observe the blossom of the week.

Flower shop flowers always made me a little sad: straight stemmed, sterile, tagged. I eventually parted ways with the scribbles, but what I’ve seen in each flower stayed with me, it’s the remembering of the field somewhere outside their greenhouse, accumulated stories woven into their roots. Years later, they found their way into an enlarged flower petal about to be painted on a dress, on silk with the fabric dye, now my medium of choice.

Artist at work with summer flowers.

A flower bouquet in art studio.

Despite the art interferences, I fulfilled my responsibilities at the scribble’s. Enough so that few years later the same people invited me back, flextime and all, which was very nice of them, but I had already made other plans, to give my all to the art thing.
The choice smart or otherwise? One thing I know, it was the only one, and I blame it on those flowers with stems too straight, and all the moments I shared with them.

A flower bouquet in art studio.

Belles in the bouquets, all picked in the wild, from top, Japanese name in brackets for accuracy sake:
– Bell Flower (Hotaru Bukuro) / Honeysuckle (Suikazura) / Hyacinth Orchid (Siran)
– Hydrangea / Spiderwort (Murasaki Tsuyukusa)
– Dame’s Violet (Hana Daikon) / Yarrow (Nokogiri Sou) / Oxalis (Imo Katabami – the pink in focus. They were “asleep” at the time of photographing, which was immediately after getting picked from under a shrub.) / Cherry Sage (Yakuyou Sarubia – leaves only) / Fennel (leaves)
– Polygonum (Hime Tsurusoba) / Coral Flower (Haze Ran) / Herb Robert (Hime Fuuro)
– Adenophora Gaudi Violet (Sobana) / Gooseneck Loosestrife (Tora no o) / Prunella Vulgaris (Utsubogusa) / Gymnaster Savatieri (Miyako Wasure) / Spiderwort

In blurry background is the various stages of the dress series “Spider Lily Red” in the making in chronological/ascending order, with photo copies of 2 large pencil drawings of a spider lily petal pinned on the wall.
Also refer to my previous posts for the actual size of the petal, and the daring demeanor of each petal and my earlier attempts at grasping some of it upon fibre.

I Remember Everything That Made Her Special.

Dog friend portrait.

Photographed in September 1997, at Larchmont Village, Los Angeles, CA.
Uploaded to Flickr on September 27, 2012. It was in an album titled “I remember everything that made her special”.

My best friend here, a goddess in fur sitting under bougainvillea. What you don’t see is a servant holding a camera, on the cloudy end of the leash that tied two of us together.
We lived in a 1920’s studio apartment, somewhere between Larchmont and Korea Town, walking distance from places like the Wiltern Theater. It costed a little over 500 USD per mo. with utilities included. A friend told me recently, that a place like that now charges at least 3 times more.

I moved to the City of Angeles in late 1980’s. There were a lot of rooms to be alive for someone like me – a young creative with a penchant for adventurous and experimental. I lived by a motto “I didn’t cross the Big Pond to sit in front of a TV set.”

I’m not saying I found a paradise. It was “spacious” tho, before social media, before smartphones, I thank my God to this day that there was no instagram back then to have my follies documented.

Don’t get me wrong; I love technology. If I didn’t I would have not spent my precious hours learning to run my own website. But. Here’s what I think. More advanced the technology is, greater the need to implement, and USE it/them with empathic, compassionate, good-natured, warm-blooded kindness, which may require each individual – the user end of equation – a consistent willingness to self-reflect.

Or else we’d end up building an invisible cage where Creativity may struggle to flower. And without Creativity life may just be….o, never mind.

The photo was taken shortly before moving away. When I first landed there I had known not even a soul; in little less than a decade I carved out a life I so not wanted to leave. It was an experiment, a challenge, a blank canvas upon which I stumbled, struggled to let myself go.
What’s photographed here is the perfect moment I had to seize, at the conclusive time of contemplation on my long stay in the city I chose, my imperfect life unfolding with impeccable precision leading up to that point.
Examining her smile now as a not-so-young creative with much less self-doubt, it makes me wonder if she had known, an angel in her fur coat, that one day I will come to know that I had done the job just fine.

Published on April 07, 2022.

Self Reflection 1986

Self portrait on a convex mirror.

First posted on Myspace (it was fun there, learned a lot, thanks!!) in July 2008, the photo was taken around 1986 in my apartment in central Tokyo. In case you wonder, that is me in the reflection.

My 20’s was in 1980’s, and I spent large portion of the decade pretending I was in the 1960’s, thinking there was a genuine “creative””cultural””explosion”happening in the era I thought I “missed out” on.

The convex round mirror has a person’s name on it, the scribble was acquired at a meet and greet of a band I thought was very cool to “get”, looking back, I was falling in a trap of validating my coolness by liking a socially well recognized (but not too well, cuz you see, obscurity is also cool) figure in one of the “creative field”.

Trouble with the stance is that, the moment you out source your existential dilemma you end up compromising your creative freedom. But no worries, if you deeply desire such freedom Life will conspire and arrange circumstances that will catapult you out of such dependency. May hurt a bit but totally worth it.
My story, anyways. Took a bit while like everything else that is worthwhile to attain. Lemme quote myself…

“No more heroes; everybody off the pedestal.”
– me, a status on Myspace, 2006.

Published on February 16, last edited March 14, 2021.

At Work, Autumn 2005.

Artist at work, self portrait.

Photo#1: Self Portrait – 31Oct05. A selfie before there was “selfie”, was meant as a snapshot taken for myself, as a record of things going well on the test version of “Dragon Series”, the fragmented / deconstructed dragon, a blueprint roughly drawn with fabric marker, creating “flow” good enough that made me smile.

Originally posted on my website which used to have different URL, sometime in 2006, then on Flickr in 2014. With those uploads I photoshopped/trimmed out the clutter – it was shortly before moving out, but this time you get the full picture – nearly untouched / minimum edits, messy as a part of the story.

Photo#2: Wall Decor – Oct05. Also a snap of my apartment wall. 

The drawing is one of the ‘study’ sketches of the dragon below, the print from Redon exhibit I traveled to see in Gifu, and a few impressive leaves I collected, all somehow translated into the piece above.
Honorable mention: I have a special fondness for wire hungers and clothespins. The one on far right facing the pic is from Italy, and so far the most durable. The top three on wire are classic Japanese bamboo pins, they are also very sturdy but I haven’t seen them in stores for some time.

Photo#3: Dragon Carving – photographed circa 1998 at a shrine down the street, where I used to swing by in the morning and practice drawing the dragons even just for 5 minutes, before heading out to catch a commuter train packed like sardines in a glass jar, carrying a purse heavy with books (mostly materials to aid unblocking my creativity), a journal, a sketch book, pens, pencils, a sharpner, swim gear, lunch, a mini disc player…

Now that I am on the subject please allow me to elaborate…..
In 2002-2003 I painted the first dragon dress using the acid dye, spent about a year painting it and messed up over-applying the dye. Couldn’t wash off excess dye. The “failed” piece became the threat, a potential source of air bound dye particles. Had to throw that one out. So disappointed I nearly threw the whole thing out.
(Special shout-out to Mr.S from the dye material store in Tokyo for going out of his way to give me his constructive criticism to the 2003 me nearly in despair, along with all the encouraging know-hows since around 1998.)

What you see in Pic#1 is me working on the second try – the semi-abstraction on the test piece I worn is “flowing”, but when I painted with dye it looked like was drawn with a felt marker, which was not what I was after.
In 2006 finally “got” it the 3rd time (if included the first dress painted with pigment marker on rayon/poly, this would be the 4th try) – the year I worked on 3 pieces – Aqua Dragon Dress 1, Aqua Dragon Dress 2 and Indigo Dragon Top.

Why am I telling you all this – mostly as an encouragement in case it’s needed.

I am getting good at what I do, in other words I like where I am at but it wasn’t done overnight. I had to practice, make lots of mistakes, and while at it hold the vision and believe in it all by myself, simply because no one else could see it, it was my vision.
Believe in what I alone can see and keeping at it thru thick/ thin/ fine/ foul, when what is happening in the current is anywhere near where I wanted to get to. That probably was the hardest part of the whole process. Made me stronger though. And proud, in a way nothing can take that away from me.

Additional Note on March 23, 2022:

“Is your dad Poseidon and is that a pyramid?”

Me: no and no.

Since early on, I sensed what was there but not visible, a form of floating vibe / energy / emotions.
I was an empath before there was ‘empath’.
What I try to depict is what’s sensed combined with what’s seen. Bring the “hidden” to surface.
…And be hated – worry not tho, I am being funny mostly.

The triangle, bottom-left of me facing the pic, is a calendar falling off – as mentioned above, I was packing to move. Calendar had pictures of wild horses, their mane was what I used to draw dragon’s flowing, um, hair..?

Poseidon’s daughter Lamia, in Greek mythology, was a half-lady, half-snake creature with a sorrowful history. I didn’t know anything about her until someone pointed out to me.
In contrast, I am a common human female down the street. doing her clumsy best in this strange world of ours.

A pencil sketch, a Redon print, and leaves on a wall.
Japanese wood carving of a dragon.

History:
Written / compiled 19~21Feb22, published on 21Feb22.
March 23, 2022 – Additional Note added.
October 22, 2023 – Post date changed from October 31, 2005 at 18:38 (the top photo taken) to November 28, 2007 at 0:16 (when the version of the top photo was created for my website’s about page – the time stamp embed I dug up from the depth of digital files today)).