Sunday, December 30, 2007

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Another year is almost over.

Where do I begin this entry?

Well.... finally I have my own laptop. I bought myself a Mac Book on Thursday evening and have spent all my spare time over the past few days uploading all my music onto iTunes. I have missed music featuring heavily in my life of late. I finally feel like I am starting to get my life a little organised again after being back for over 6 months now! It has been a slow process and an eventful year. 33 has not been anything like what I had imagined - but what age or year ever really is?

I have felt a little more robotic than human recently. Art, or at least my production of it, has taken a back seat in my life, which has been challenging. It is forever in my heart and on my mind but this year took a strange twist and I found myself returning from Japan in June with financial debt and a mixed bag of emotions. The mixed bag, despite leaving a relationship as well as the country, was partly just one I carry around at the best of times but the financial bit I had to do something about.

I returned to the hospitality industry shortly after my homecoming in order to get things 'sorted'. It's a fickle industry, a strange place for an artist at times, but oddly enough - I have a love for it.

The painting waitress. The waitress who paints...the painter who waits... and I have been waiting.... waiting for the inspiration to come sweep me off my artistic feet again - but it has remained hidden for most of this latter half of 2007. It has been a time for putting other things first, which at times has been very difficult and has had quite an emotional effect on me. Still, I have worked hard to get back to some sense of normality or should I say stability... never without at least a little bit of artist's chaos. The festive season has been an exceptionally busy time for the 'painter who waits', and with Summer comes the tourists and long, long hours. At times it is a bit of a catch 22 but I know part of this is temporary so I do not let it concern me too greatly.

I have been burning the candle at both ends a little lately and my body and mind are certainly feeling it. My art is suffering from it but I do believe in the long run my art will benefit from this - it has just been somewhat hard to see that until now.

I have a strong desire to re-read 'Skinny Legs And All' and once again bond with the character of Ellen Cherry Charles.

I also have a strong desire to begin my new body of work. Fresh ideas have been few and far between since I returned home but I can finally feel something brewing.

In my semi-robotic schedule of late I have neglected, (not always through choice or lack of want), my 3 main personal passions: art, music and words - (reading and writing them). C bought me an iPod nano for Christmas... Despite being a mad music lover this is my first mp3 player. It has probably come just in time as my CD collection was beginning to take up too much space. I have now synced it with my iTunes and feel delighted that music will be more accessible to me no matter where I am and can once again feature heavily in my life. My dear C also bought me Jeanette Winterson's latest book; The Stone Gods. I am looking forward to reading it. I have also really missed writing. It has been so long that I am actually struggling to string words together for this entry. It's not that I have nothing to say or write, I just feel out of practice when it comes to the delivery.

I received a letter from one of my dearest friends just before Christmas. She knew I had been struggling with the art thing and she wrote: "And of art...what becomes of Simone when she isn't painting? My guess is that she does a lot of writing and/or reading. Have you had much time for working lately? I suppose the artist is 'working' every day, even when brush doesn't hit canvas, because of the inspiration the subject's life gives rise to every day. Kind of like the cook simmering the stew. Whatever the case, I look forward to your 2008 exhibition...I assume there will be one." It was a typed letter, made on the computer, printed in a rather small (10pt?) and elegant font, consisting of two pages - the second not quite a full page - yet with these words, it hit home just how 'robotic' and passionless my regime has been recently. Her words reminded me of the simple things that bring me much joy, and how I have not been making time for them. Time for me.

Speaking of which... C and I joined a gym a couple of weeks ago. A first for me and something I thought I'd never do. I believe it was a good decision though. It has inspired in me a motivation that I had been lacking, a motivation to do something for myself and to do something that makes me feel better about myself - and the bonus of feeling fitter and healthier is more than welcome. Between a hectic hospitality schedule and getting a persistent cold for Christmas I have only managed to get to the gym 3 times since joining. There's a new years resolution just bursting to be made!

So what of 2007? The year that is nearly over.

Although there are many aspects of this past year that I would happily forget, I know I will want to remember much about 2007 in years to come. Hence wanting to catch up a little on the blogging side of things so as not to let the most part of 6 months slip through the files of life with little to know record or recognition.... It has been an important year - and years to come will show perhaps just how important it was.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Spring into Summer

It has been over 3 months since I wrote in this blog. A whole season has passed. (And I am STILL cleansing!).

I shall not write too much tonight in this gin infused state but will make enough of a mark to say I have blogged...

I will say though that it was extremely refreshing to be able to pay a visit to my Melbourne gallery the week before last and spend the best part of 3 hours enjoying the company and conversation from the owner/directors and to leave there feeling inspired and supported. This has been a weird time, these past 3 months, as art has not featured heavily in my life during this period and it has felt foreign... even a little depressing at times. Part of it has been a conscious decision, the break that is, another part of it was beyond my control. i have felt a little detatched from myself - at least my artist self, which is basically my whole self.

I have until April to rectify this!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Shedding Some Skin

I started my biggest Spring clean(se) ever and it felt GOOD. Liberating even.

I have been a little all over the place since returning from Japan. I had initially planned on spending 12 months over there but ended up spending 4, which felt like 12. I've felt a little detached at times, kind of like I am not really meant to be here because I had planned to be over there - however, I am truly glad to be back, despite not having felt settled yet.

I picked up the last of my things from my parents house on Tuesday evening. I had forgotten just how much 'stuff' I had accumulated over the years and just how much I was still holding onto, much of it unnecessarily so.

On Wednesday I decided it was time to let go of a lot of a lot of those things. I think I had taken for granted that I could use part of their house as a storage facility for my 'stuff' as well as an occasional haven, despite always appreciating it as a kind of 'home'. C reminded me, on the same day, that home is where the heart is and I believe my heart is in a good place.

I have always prided myself on not being a very materialistic person, with a real 'need' or desire for only my art, books and music. I try to travel light and each time I move, I downsize. I have memories that I will always hold onto but I have no real need for a lot of material things or much of the 'stuff' that was being stored under the stairs - they can weigh one down. And I must say, since beginning my clean(se) I do feel lighter and happier...even more in control.

It really did amaze me just how much I had been holding onto and watching the fire in the back yard engulf items no longer needed was a fulfilling spectacle...boxes and boxes of stuff turned into ashes. Watching the fire was actually quite mesmerising and I became more and more frivolous with what I threw into it, and with the frivolity came a greater sense of independence, which is perhaps something i have lacked of late. Perhaps I have been asleep in my waking life for too long.

I feel like my 'artistic block', (pardon the expression), of late is only an extension of a deeper blockage within me and I feel this Spring cleanse is the start of unblocking more than just my creativity.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Prelude to Spring

I've had to leave the house to write this. If I'd stayed at home, my paintings would've sent me on a guilt trip had I neglected them for pen and paper, (or laptop)...and whilst I 'should' be dedicating this time to the canvas, it is such a beautiful 'almost Spring day' that I felt it would be unfair on me and on my art to let it pass without some sort of acknowledgement and perhaps a little basking. Besides, it has been such a long time since I have written in this way that I have been having withdrawals.

I did spend some time with a canvas this morning and promised it that I'd be back a little later to give it some more attention. Right now, this glorious day, and a mind full of thoughts, has mine.

I'm sitting with a glass of Pinot (noir)- a comfort for writing? It's been so long since I have sat alone with my thoughts like this in public that I almost need the glass to feel at ease in doing what I am doing... which only reconfirms my need to do it (write) more often... as I do not want it to ever feel awkward, forced or unnatural.

I've not had as much time to paint recently as I would ultimately like...although I perhaps have not been as productive as I could have (or should've) been in the time that I have had. I certainly do not believe it is laziness that has caused this though. I have felt very tired lately - physically and emotionally - and although it is no excuse, I am hoping that spring breathes rejuvenation into my productive and creative sector. The desire never fades; it just proves harder to pursue it at certain times.

Despite feeling very non-productive, I have still been producing work, the most recent being a commission for a work colleague - the painting being of and for his partner.

I don't often accept commissions but this request came at a time when I actually needed a little push to get me out of my productive 'lull'. It was also somewhat of a challenge, as it was my first piece/portrait of a 'non-Asian' model, (apart from self portraits), in my current and desired medium, other than myself, so it encouraged me to step outside of something that 'subconsciously' may have become a bit of a comfort zone.

Whilst working on the piece I actually had a number of new and fresh ideas that have now fuelled my excitement for what I do...and could do.

The most rewarding part of the whole experience was the reaction of the subject herself. I was thanked in a very emotional, teary and heartfelt way. Commissions, (for me), are/feel very different to my other work, but the one consistent thing I do with every piece that I produce is incorporate a big part of 'me'...including heart and soul. There is a passion that I pour into each piece and to have that passion acknowledged is always a wonderful delight, but in the case of a commission, it is not only a delight, but somewhat of a relief!

(For me), When I am painting a commission, I feel like someone is constantly watching over my shoulder with critical eyes, querying my choice of colour, composition, expression... Perhaps it is my own insecurities as an artist that creates, or allows, these feelings. Perhaps this applies not only in my art, but in my life. Either way, I feel it is a very different experience when I am working on a commission because ultimately, or at least 'in a sense', I am painting for someone else, whereas with my other work, I paint for me.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

So it seems the dynamics have changed at my Melbourne gallery...which hopefully proves to be for the better. I believe it will be. It will be nice to have a rapport with the place again and not be at a point where communication, (or lack thereof), just becomes an unnecessary frustration.

It continues to amaze me, just how 'wrong' artist/gallery relationships can go, when ultimately, it should be simple...or at the very least pleasant...civil.

Like all relationships in life, both parties need to give a little, take a little, in order to 'hopefully' attain some sort of harmony.

BALANCE! Seems I am forever striving for it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Endurance

Having had some concerns regarding my Melbourne gallery in recent times, I was informed this past week, that there has been some major changes at the gallery concerned. I am hoping it's a change for the better as I was extremely close to pulling out of their so called 'stable' - forfeiting any representation in Melbourne, other than my own.

Despite having maintained a 5+ year relationship with the gallery, the past 12 months have felt more like something I have endured rather than enjoyed... like some sort of art induced coma I have been falling in and out of.

As I am writing, the owner of the gallery has just called me. We have scheduled a meeting for next Friday.

I look forward to possibly resolving 'something'.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Brush Strokes

I spent the majority of yesterday afternoon applying paint to canvas and it felt wonderful.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Reunited

I have been back in Australia for just over a month. In many ways, it feels like a lot longer. I have felt very unsettled which has unfortunately had an adverse effect on my artistic productiveness.

Today, however, I went to the house I was living in before moving to Japan to pick up some of my possessions.

Every time I move house I have a tendency to cull my possessions in the attempt to reduce them to one car load. It almost worked today with my canvases being the only things of mine that did not fit in the back of the Land Rover. I will need one more trip. What I did collect today were all my books and music - years of inspiration and two of the things that are most important to me as an artist and in general. I feel more settled and comfortable having them easily accessible.

Of course there are also a few things that I have conveniently stored at my parents house, (some for months, some for years), that I will have to either now accommodate or dispose of as they are moving themselves.

I'm not a very materialistic person - at least I don't believe I am - but what is important to me is my art... my music and my books/literature. The three go hand in hand for me.

The written word has inspired me in life and art for as long as I can remember, so it will be nice to once again take the likes of Anais Nin, Sylvia Plath or Pablo Neruda to bed with me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chasing My Tail

I’m sitting in a lounge room, looking out of the window at regular intervals, watching three Noisy Mynah birds. One just tried to land on a long stem of a flower and in doing so, its weight pulled the flower down and the Mynah found itself lying on its back with its feet still wrapped around the stem. It brought a smile to my face and had I not looked up at that moment, I would’ve missed it.

I have the heater on this morning, and yesterday I set up an area in which to paint and even started working on a new piece. It felt good.

I don’t have my own laptop at the moment which is one of the reasons I have not been writing as much as I’d like to. However, I find when I do have access to one I have so much to organize ‘online’ that I often run out of blogging time. It is a sad thing to think that so much of my life’s ‘organisation’ has come to depend on the internet. Some days, having it is a blessing, other days a curse….but unfortunately it seems to be the way of the modern world these days – even for artists.

I still have so much to do in the way of correspondence, a lot of which I have not yet caught up with since returning home. I had hoped to get to Perth this weekend for an exhibition I am taking part in but it is just not feasible right now. I need this time to catch up.

It’s a catch 22. The things I need to do on here all relate to my art and the 'promotion' of it, so it has to be done, but all I really want to do is paint.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Womb To Move

Sitting at an old computer, that used to be mine, it is incredibly slow, and a reminder of how things have changed. I am at my parents house, alone. It is cold but full of warm memories. Memories almost as far back as I can remember.

I remember moving here...and moving out, then back for a while, and out again.

I spent a lot of time drawing and making art here and developed much of my artistic style in this house. I remember as a very young girl, sitting at my fathers feet and drawing pictures of his face in black biro.

This house has kept part of me a child for many years. It is womb-like for me and has provided great comfort on numerous occasions.

It is only fitting with everything else that has been changing and evolving around me lately that this chapter comes to an end at this time.

With every end comes a new beginning...and so on...and such is life.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The End Of An Era

I just got a call from my mother. Their, (my parents), house has just sold. The house I spent the majority of my childhood in. The house I went back to when I needed comfort, when nowhere else, with my semi gypsy-like lifestyle, felt like home.

Nowhere has really felt like home for a while and at the moment, I am living out of a suitcase. I am ok with this, for the time being, although I am looking forward to creating a new place to paint...a space to make art.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Summer, Winter, Spring, Autumn, Summer, Winter


I have experienced six seasons in the past 4 months. I guess it's no wonder I returned to Winter in Melbourne, (after an 8 hour stopover in humid Cairns), with a cold on Monday afternoon.

Nothing much has changed here, and in many ways, that's comforting, though in others, it just causes my feet to itch again.

I am happy to be home though. There is much to be done.

I have not painted since returning home and after 5 days of readjustment and reuniting I am eager to start. I need to paint.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sayonara


Today, it was Osaka that I said farewell to. A very different feeling to yesterday’s intimacy with Kyoto. Osaka is an eye sore in comparison but does possess some of its own unique charm. It is these random charming qualities that I will miss once I return home to Australia, and in reflection on my time here.

I will not miss holding my breath as I get stuck behind a flock of smokers walking slowly down the mall, or at the lights, or in a bar or restaurant. I am a stereotypical ex-smoker...and Japan is a very pro-smoking society. I struggled a lot with this. I won't miss dodging numerous puddles of phlegm coughed up on the pavement as I walk to the shop or the station, nor will I miss the sound of them being expelled. I will not miss the hostile stares and random verbal abuse I received from various characters in the area I was living. I will not miss the air in Osaka, or my dimly lit apartment.

There are many things I will not miss, but even with its more negative qualities, Japan has continued to inspire me, sometimes even without me realising it. I know I will wish to return.

The list of things I will miss however is possibly greater. Japan does possess much beauty and continues to intrigue me. The experience was quite a humbling one and one I am grateful to have had.

So Long...


I said my farewell to Kyoto today.

I love that place. I hope to return to it again some day, if not, I know it will always influence me as an artist in some way...and I am grateful that I have been able to visit it on numerous occasions during the past four years.

This time tomorrow, I am due to be in the air, flying through the night sky, on my way...home.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Road Runner, Road Runner...

Going a thousand miles an hour.

Such is my mind right now. Racing.

This is my second last night in Osaka, (this trip), before flying out of Japan on Sunday night. I feel quite emotional at the moment - about leaving Japan and about going home. My heart and mind feel a little at tug-o-war right now.

My grandfather had a heart attack on Friday. He is 85 and frail. I want to get home to see him again. There are also many other reasons and things that are calling me homeward.

I took myself out of the grey and into the green today, with a visit to Mino. It was so pleasant being amongst an abundance of nature.

I have had a rather tumultuous relationship with Japan this time around, however, I feel it is a relationship I will never really leave. This place, despite it's many frustrating (for me) aspects, still has a lot to offer and the ability, I believe, to keep me interested for a very long time. Sounds like the perfect love affair.

Today was a brief reminder of the many endearing and inspiring qualities this place possesses, and a reminder of why I keep coming back to Japan. I will miss it when I leave.

A cockroach just crawled across the tatami floor of the apartment. A reminder of a contrary nature. And a sign that Summer is upon us. Perhaps I am leaving at a good time.

Tomorrow I plan to say farewell, for the time being, to Kyoto.

Emotions are running quite high at the moment.

This has been quite a journey.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Insomnia

3am...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Girl Friday She No Square...

I returned from Tokyo on the Shinkansen on Monday evening after spending 4 days in Japan's biggest city. Tokyo makes Osaka look tiny, even though it is not. It was quite overwhelming yet I had an enjoyable time there.

Design Festa was really not much to speak of, and despite there being a couple of artists whose work interested me, I was not really impressed with the event itself.

An exhibition that was most impressive however, was one I saw at the Ueno Royal Museum, which featured the works of two contemporary Japanese artists - Makoto Aida and Akira Yamaguchi. I went to see this exhibition on the suggestion made to me by fellow Australian artist living in Japan, Marcel Cousins, and I was not disappointed. Although I was not awestruck by every piece on show, I was most impressed with the exhibition as a whole. Many of the works, by both artists, possessed such fine detail and a number of the larger scale works by Makoto Aida had me captured in front of the canvas for long periods.

Whilst in Tokyo, the work of South African born artist, Marlene Dumas, was brought to my attention. Though I admit to knowing nothing about this artist prior to my visit to Tokyo, I have since looked into her work and career with the help of the World Wide Web and find myself rather intrigued.

I spent my last day in Tokyo on my own, exploring Asakusa and enjoying a bit of the more 'traditional Japan'...and remembering how rewarding travelling alone can be.

Overall, the trip to Tokyo was an inspiring one. And I must say, those Harajuku girls are something else.

I am due to fly home to Melbourne next week and although I will miss Japan, I am looking forward to creating a fresh new space in which to paint.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Early Impressions

One exhibition that I really enjoyed was Masterpieces from Musee Guimet at the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art in Tennoji. My friend Chika took me along to see it last Saturday.

The exhibition showcased a large selection of ukiyo-e masterpieces, (woodblock prints from the Edo period in Japan), from the collection of the Musee Guimet in Paris. It featured 190 works and included artists such as Toshusai Sharaku, Utagawa Hiroshige, Suzuki Harunobu, and one of my favourite artists, Hokusai Katsushika, who was a big part of my initial fascination with Japanese art and culture. His work, and the work of other Edo artists, actually influenced a number of my early paintings.

Seeing the original works of Hokusai and many others from the Edo period was quite mind blowing, considering some of the works dated back to the 1700's.

The exhibition was possibly the most crowded one I have ever been to, but despite having to battle with the hoards of people to get a good look at each piece, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these finely detailed and most impressive works in the flesh.

The rain falls continuously in Osaka as I prepare to travel to Tokyo.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bright Lights Big City


Such is Osaka at night.

Tomorrow, however, I am visiting a bigger, brighter city. I am planning on riding the shinkansen to Tokyo and despite my recent craving for nature and wilderness, I am actually looking forward to seeing what this massive city of neon has to offer. I'm also hoping to explore a few galleries whilst I am there, as well as visiting Design Festa.

I have been to a few galleries/art spaces here in Osaka over this past week, some of the spaces have been quite impressive, yet I still feel this city lacks some sort of vibe when it comes to art. That's not to say that Osaka hasn't produced any talent, for there is plenty of that, I just feel it lacks an avenue to really encourage and promote it to its full potential. It's no wonder so many local artists relocate to Tokyo or even abroad.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dream a Little Dream


I borrowed J's new bike today and whilst out riding, I came across this sign. I slowed right down as I passed it and laughed out loud. There were only a few people around and I am not sure whether they even noticed my amusement, or what had caused it, but I do live in an area where many people mutter to themsleves and randomly laugh out loud so I doubt my outburst was anything unusual. Perhaps the fact that I was a gaijin was the only thing a little different from normal - though I think it would be quite understandable that any gaijin who lived in this particular area of Osaka for too long might just go a little, let's say, loopy - for want of a better word....and meant in the nicest way possible.

I did not have the camera with me at the time, so I had to ride back there to capture the image in digital form. Whilst doing so, a few locals walked past and seemed a little confused as to why I was taking this particular shot. If only they knew... mind you, it's probably better that they don't or didn't.

I, however, found it worthy of a photo and even a place in my blog. It made me smile, and I see a lot of things in this area that don't so I appreciated this random lighthearted moment.

I think perhaps Henry Miller would have found it amusing too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mysterious Ways



I finished my two pieces for the SQUARED exhibition today and sent them off to Greenhill Galleries in Perth. The language barrier always poses a bit of a challenge at the post office here, however, the staff are always friendly and patient... at least whilst I am in the post office...

From what I could understand, of what the lady was trying to explain to me, standard air mail postage is more expensive than EPS express air mail postage. Odd. Why would one choose to pay more for a delivery service that takes longer?

It's a mystery to me.

Japan is full of such little mysteries and curiosities. I will miss many random things about this place.

Every day I see something that makes me want to go home, and I 'll also see something that makes me want to stay. Japan is funny that way, and I think it just might always have some sort of hold on me.

The Kamogawa Odori

Yesterday J and I went to Kyoto, one of my favourite places in the world...thus far.

I always manage to get a boost of inspiration when I visit that place and yesterday was no exception.

Whilst meandering through Gion, we stumbled upon a small theatre with a number of people lined up for an event that looked as though it would be starting soon. We then saw a poster advertising the Geisha dances of Spring. How fortunate, we thought, and decided to enquire if there were any tickets still available for this performance. There were, up the back of course, but the theatre was small enough to be able to enjoy the performance no matter where you were seated.

The particular dance we saw was 'The Kamogawa Odori', apparently the most famous of the Spring dances, and one that has been performed in the Pontocho district of Gion since 1872.

As my understanding of the Japanese language is not that advanced, I was unable to follow the story entirely, however, visually the performance was stunning, and I was able to find out plenty of information about that particular dance, and story, on the internet.

The second half of the performance was a series of dances representing a selection from the 11th century Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.

It was incredibly beautiful and I am so glad I got to witness one of these performances before returning home.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I've Got To Keep On Moving

I did a live telephone interview on ABC Radio Australia this morning which heard me voice some of the things I have been silently thinking over the past few weeks. To most listeners, it was just an interview with an artist, living and working in Osaka, Japan, which is exactly what it should have sounded like. To me, however, hearing myself voice some of these thoughts made my head spin for the rest of the day.

I feel 'almost' ready to head back to Australia.

Living overseas had been a dream of mine for a long time, and in more recent years, (since my first visit here in 2003), Japan became the destination of choice for that dream.

When I moved here earlier this year, I did not know exactly what I was expecting, just that I wanted to experience life in another culture and also spend more time in this country that I had visited only briefly on two occasions, one that had fascinated me for a number of years. I also wanted to paint over here. To make art in the country that has so heavily inspired my work for the past 6 years. I have done these things.

Although the initial plan was to spend at least a full 12 months over here, I feel as though I am ready to see what's next. For a new dream?

There is no rule that says I have to stay here 12 months in order to achieve or fulfill my dream of living and painting overseas. The majority of my time here has been spent making art. Living here as opposed to being a tourist has also allowed me to see another side of Japan other than the fantastical one that I first saw in Kyoto. There is a lot of beauty here, but also a lot of ugliness... it is the same almost anywhere I guess, but I am grateful to have had enough time here to see both sides. "How does one find inspiration in a city that is not so inspiring?"was one of the questions asked of me today.

There is good and bad in everything I guess. This was not my answer, in fact, I cannot even remember my exact response. I do however remember talking about the fact that one of the beauties of art, and perhaps a skill, is to be able to turn something ugly into something beautiful - to see, or at least search for, the beauty in everything, or at least in most things.

I'm a big believer in 'timing'. And, although I feel a little in two minds about going home so soon, (half way through writing this blog entry, I confirmed my return flight home in early June), I feel that I will be leaving here WITH inspiration... not staying so long that I risk losing it. This may not make sense to anyone else, but it makes sense to me.

I will miss Japan when I get home, and I think that is a good thing. Also, living in Japan has taught me a lot about myself, and taught me to appreciate home and many other things, and people a lot more, and THAT is an even better thing.

So... I have lived out that particular dream. I have achieved what I set out to do. I have experienced something amazing. And, I have been fortunate enough to have the freedom to pursue, and in a sense, control this dream. There have been no rules other than my own.

I read the following quote yesterday and it rang so true for me.

"Most people are not free. Freedom, in fact, frightens them. They follow patterns set by their parents, enforced by society, by their terrors of 'they say' and 'what will they think?' and by a constant inner dialogue that weighs duty against desire and pronounces duty the winner." - Erica Jong (forward from the Henry Miller book, Sexus)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Henry Miller

I have been a reader and fan of Anais Nin's work for a number of years now. I was aware of her association with Henry Miller but up until now had not read anything of his. I know a few people who feel you should like either one or the other, but not both. I have heard people say a similar thing about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, (I own works by both of them), Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I find this a strange attitude to have, regardless of who they were as people, or how miserable or wonderful their relationships were, they were all passionate creators of their craft. I can understand someone liking the work of one more than the work of their lover, but to suggest that you can not enjoy both, that you must choose between the two - like taking sides - seems ludicrous to me. Especially when someone has not even read the work of the person they are criticising.

I want to copy this excerpt from Miller's book, Sexus, here, so that I can re-read it whenever I like. Not to say that I agree with everything that is written, but I certainly find it interesting and thought provoking.

He went on after a moment's reflection: 'Now painting is a little different, to my way of thinking. It takes more to appreciate a good painting than to appreciate a good book. People seem to think that because they know how to read and write they can tell a good book from a bad one. Even writers, good writers, I mean, aren't in agreement about what is good and what is bad. Neither are painters about paintings, for that matter. And yet I have the notion that in general painters are more in accord about the merits or lack of merits in the work of well-known painters than writers are with respect to writing. Only a half-asses painter would deny the value of Cezanne's work, for instance. But take the case of Dickens or of Henry James, and see what astounding differences of opinion there are among capable writers and critics as to their respective merits. If there were a writer today as bizarre in his realm as Picasso is in his you'd soon see what I'm driving at. Even if they don't like his work, most people who know anything about art agree that Picasso is a great genius. Now take Joyce, who's fairly eccentric as a writer, has he gained anything like the prestige of Picasso? Except for a scholarly few, except for the snobs who try to keep up with everything, his reputation, such as it is today, stands largely on the fact that he's a freak. His genius is admitted, i agree, but it's tainted, so to speak. Picasso commands respect, even if he isn't always understood. But Joyce is something of a butt; hs fame increases precisely because he can't be generally understood. He's accepted as a freak, a phenomenon, like the Cardiff Giant....And another thing, while I'm at it - no matter how daring the painter of genius may be, he's far more quickly assimilated than a writer of the same caliber. At the most, it takes thirty to forty years for a revolutionary painter to be accepted; it takes a writer centuries sometimes......'

'........Well supposing you say to yourself - the hell with becoming an artist, I know I am one, I'll just be it - what then? What does it mean, to be an artist? Does it mean that you have to write books or make pictures? That's secondary, I take it - that's the mere evidence of the fact that you are one....Supposing, Henry, you had written the greatest book ever written and you lost the manuscript just after you had completed it? And supposing nobody knew that you had been writing this great book, not even your closest friend? In that case you'd be just where I am who haven't put a stroke on paper, wouldn't you? If we were both to die suddenly, at that point, the world would never know that either of us was an artist. I would have had a good time of it and you would have wasted your whole life.'
At this point Ulric couldn't stand it any longer. 'It's just the contrary', he protested. 'An artist doesn't enjoy life by evading his task. You're the one who would be wasting his life. Art isn't a solo performance; it's a symphony in the dark with millions of participants and millions of listeners. The enjoyment of a beautiful thought is nothing to the joy of giving it expression - permanent expression. In fact, it's almost a sheer impossibility to refrain from giving expression to a great thought. We're only instruments of a greater power. We're creators by permission, by grace, as it were. No one creates alone, of and by himself. An artist is an instrument that registers something already existent, something which belongs to the whole world and which, if he is an artist, he is compelled to give back to the world. To keep one's beautiful ideas to oneself would be like being a virtuoso and sitting in an orchestra with hands folded. You couldn't do it! As for that illustration you gave, of an author losing his life's work in manuscript, why I'd compare such a person to a wonderful musician who had been playing with the orchestra all the time, only in another room, where nobody heard him. But that wouldn't make him any the less a participant, nor would it rob him of the pleasure to be had in following the orchestra leader or hearing the music which his instrument gave forth. The greatest mistake you make is in thinking that enjoyment is something unearned, that if you know you can play the fiddle, well, it's just the same as playing it. It's so silly that I don't know why I bother to discuss it. As for the reward, you're always confusing recognition with reward. They're two different things. Even if you don't get paid for what you do, you at least have the satisfaction of doing. It's a pity we lay such emphasis on being paid for our labors - it really isn't necessary, and nobody knows it better than the artist. The reason why he has had such a miserable time of it is because he elects to do his work gratuitously. He forgets, as you say, that he has to live. But that's really a blessing. It's much better to be preoccupied with wonderful ideas than with the next meal, or the rent, or a pair of new shoes. Of course when you get to the point where you must eat, and you haven't anything to eat, then to eat becomes and obsession. But the difference between an artist and the ordinary individual is that when the artist does get a meal he immediately falls back into his own limitless world, and while he's in that world he's a king, whereas your ordinary duffer is just a filling station with nothing in between but dust and smoke. And even supposing you're not an ordinary chap, but a wealthy individual, one who can indulge his tastes, his whims, his appetites: do you suppose for one minute that millionaire enjoys food or wine or women like a hungry artist does? To enjoy anything you have to make yourself ready to receive it; it implies a certain control, discipline, chastity, I might even say. Above all, it implies desire, and desire is something you have to nourish by right living. I'm speaking now as if I were an artist, and I'm not really. I'm just a commercial illustrator, but I do know enough about it to say that I envy the man who has the courage to be an artist - I envy him because I know that he's infinitely richer than any other kind of human being. He's richer because he spends himself, because he gives himself all the time, and not just labor or money or gifts. You couldn't possibly be an artist, in the first place, because you lack faith. You couldn't possibly have beautiful ideas because you kill them off in advance. You deny what it takes to make beauty, which is love, love of life itself, love of life for its own sake. You see the flaw, the worm, in everything. An artist, even when he detects a flaw, makes it into something flawless, if I may put it that way. He doesn't try to pretend that a worm is a flower or an angel, but he incorporates the worm into something bigger. He knows that the world isn't full of worms, even if he sees a million or a billion of them. You see a tiny worm and you say - "Look, see how rotten everything is!" You can't see beyond the worm....Well, excuse me, I didn't mean to put it so caustically or so personally. But I hope you see what I'm driving at....'

- excerpt from Henry Miller's 'Sexus' (1949), the first book of the 'Rosy Crucifixion' trilogy.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Long Overdue


I started painting again yesterday. Well, technically, I started 'painting' today. Yesterday saw me plan the two new small works I have been asked to submit for a group exhibition at Greenhill Galleries in Perth next month.

I have not painted or even really done much drawing since I returned to Osaka on April 17. That is a long time away from my love. The recess was part voluntary and part involuntary, the latter due to recent dissolution toward the commercial art world, or at least a small part of it, the afore mentioned was just a bit of R and R after my exhibition. I'll take just one R from the standard: 'Rest and Relaxation'... the other R must stand for Reflect.

How 3 weeks can fly! Time to get back into what I love and what is a necessity for me - making art.

Thanks to recent dealings with people who have restored some of my faith in the commercial art world, and a few certain literary works that have restored my determination and, in a strange sense, offered empathy, (particularly an excerpt from Henry Miller's 'Sexus' that J read me the other day), my inspiration has been re-fuelled and I am ready for the next creative journey.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Doe-A-Deer

Osaka is not a city that inspires - fortunately, however, it is surrounded by places that do.

In need of some inspiration and a taste of the 'old-world' Japan, the best part of yesterday was spent in Nara; a 45 minute train ride from home. It was most enjoyable to get out of Osaka and see some 'green', some nature - which is one thing this industrial, concrete city lacks.

Nara is home to six impressive Buddhist temples, a Shinto shrine and Heijō Palace, which was the Imperial Palace of Japan from 710-784 AD. Just thinking about these dates and this country's extensive religious and cultural history amazes me, especially coming from such a young country like Australia.

Nara is also well known for the free roaming, tame deer, found throughout the temple grounds and parkland. According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god, Takemikazuchi, arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijō-kyō. Deers were regarded as heavenly animals and thought to protect the city, and the country.

I am developing a fascination for Japanese folklore, particularly those that feature animals with supernatural powers. I shall be curious to see if this interest sprouts inspiration that influences my work in the near future.

Speaking of inspirational writings, Haruki Murakami's new novel, 'After Dark', was released on Tuesday and I am yet to get my hands on a copy. I had planned to race down to the bookstore yesterday, however, I have been distracted by the work of another writer. I recently purchased a copy of Soseki Natsume's 'I Am a Cat', a book I have been wanting to read for quite some time. Though not far in to its 638 pages, it has already begun to delight me, and after a literary lull since arriving in Japan, it is nice to be able to get lost in the world of words again.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Something Old, Something New


It's raining here today in Osaka. Raining like it has no intention of stopping any time soon. I don't mind it either; in fact the sound is rather soothing and peaceful given the heavy mood in the apartment.

Relationships are funny things... and Japan is a funny place. Strange at times, for a girl like me.

I have been a little disheartened of late; artistic inspiration has not come easy or not come at all since I arrived back here on April 17. There has been a lot going on in my relationship and career that has caused even more to be going on inside my head. It's busier up there than usual at the moment, and it's hardly ever quiet.

The city here itself was starting to weigh me down in some ways, not that I am ungrateful for this whole experience, but I felt I had to remove myself from it for a day and get out into some kind of wilderness if that was possible.

On Thursday we travelled to Koyasan and hiked an ancient pilgrimage route that saw us on foot for over 21km. Mount Koya is the centre of Shingon Buddhism, a Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi, who is one of the most significant figures in Japan's religious history. The walk was a strain physically at times, as there were a number of steep sections, both uphill and downhill, the latter being more of a strain. Mentally however, it was clarifying and somewhat relaxing. It allowed me to remember some of the reasons I fell in love with this place and re-united me with some aspects of my initial 'Japanese-born' inspiration. Whilst walking, not only was I put in touch with every part of my body and used parts of my lungs that I had not used in a long time, I also felt re-connected to the spiritual side of Japan's rich history that has intrigued me so much in the past.

I started this blog entry at 10:46am. It is now 6:08pm. I have been outside, walked in the rain, eaten at Maman macrobiotic kitchen - one of the few 'healthier' options in eating venues we have found thus far in this city of fast and fried food. I am sure there are other places scattered amongst the thousands of varied clothing stores, that sell everything from 5 dollar diamante clad t-shirts with bad English translations to Chanel and Louis Vuitton. This city's 'culture' is very much one of shopping and eating, not so much one that embraces or supports an active art scene. Actually, from my experience thus far, the art scene here is all but dead - if it ever existed in the first place. There are a number of small galleries and art hangs in various little cafes around town, but I must say, despite my current disillusionment in regards to commercial galleries back home, being here has given me a greater appreciation for Australia's art scene as a whole - which to me at least seems ever evolving and somewhat dynamic as opposed to a rather stagnant one here. Perhaps with more investigation I shall find myself pleasantly surprised, but I am not holding my breath. I am however looking forward to visiting Tokyo later this month. Yesterday I received an invitation and complimentary tickets to Design Festa, which I had planned to go to anyway. It will be held in Tokyo on the 26th and 27th of this month. Design Festa claims to be Asia's biggest international art event. It began in 1994 and is held twice a year, showcasing artists from all over the world. I'd planned to get a booth but ran out of time, not to mention ran out of work due to other commitments.

Despite having travelled to Japan 4 times now, I am yet to visit Tokyo. I have spent most of my time in Kyoto, and now Osaka, so I am sure it will be an experience where I will see yet another side to Japan.

For now though, the rain continues to fall in the city of Osaka.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Blogger's Block


I am living in Japan, I should be blogging so much more than I have been, but I feel rather uninspired of late. Creatively that is.

I am having a love-hate relationship with many things at the moment. Though it sounds far more dramatic than it is.

I think I need to get out of the city for a while.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A New Chapter

After 5 days of late rising, resting and a couple of pleasant day trips, I got myself down to my favourite art store in Osaka today to buy some materials for my next body of work. I met up with a Japanese friend of mine, who also happens to be an artist, at the art store, then we had lunch at the gallery she will be exhibiting in next week.

It seems I am not the only one who has felt a little uninspired of late.

I guess after every exhibition I have, there is a kind of lull, as I have focused so much time and energy on one particular body of work and when it's all done, there is a sense of satisfaction, relief, followed by exhaustion. Creative exhaustion, not wanting to sound too dramatic...but it can sometimes take a while for me to get motivated again. The lull is always temporary. I must say though, that this year finds me terribly disappointed in the commercial gallery world. It's no wonder more and more artists are turning to self management and using vessels such as the world wide web to promote themselves and deal directly with their clients. It seems that is a good way to avoid the communication breakdown that often happens with a middle man.

I feel somewhat despondent.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stranger in a Strange Land


I arrived back in Osaka on Tuesday evening.

It felt somewhat surreal as I flew into this city for the fourth time.

It was a whirlwind visit to Melbourne, the two weeks just flew and before I knew it I was flying back to Japan. For someone with a fear of flying I have certainly done a lot of it recently.

I felt a little awkward being back here. My heart has two homes right now. My mind is still racing from the pace of the past few months, my body is telling it to slow down. I am trying to meet them both somewhere in the middle. The ongoing strive for balance.

Since arriving here in February, I had been so busy that I did not get an opportunity to visit Kyoto, one of my favourite places in the world, due to the preparation for my Melbourne exhibition. Yesterday, however, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity and time to visit that wonderful part of the world, and although the cherry blossoms have almost disappeared, I was able to see the last of the season and get an idea of just how beautiful Spring is over here.

I am still inspired by this place.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Comedown


I have stopped. Stopped to take a breath.

My exhibition opened on Wednesday evening.

Another year, another opening, and other body of work.

Today was my first day of doing nothing in a very long time and it felt good.
I will return to Japan on Tuesday, perhaps to bare blossom trees and warmer weather, and start a new body of work soon after that. I have some new ideas that I am quite excited about and I look forward to exploring them.

For the next few days, however, I am happy to forget about- (or put aside)- art or at least the process behind my creation of it, and just reflect.

The works can be viewed here
http://blog.myspace.com/karmacops

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Neither Here Nor There






Age is a funny thing. I often forget my own, temporarily. I have to keep reminding myself of how old, or young, I am. It seems irrelevant at times.

I have not been asked my age by many people since turning 33 in February, so I am still inclined to answer 32 when prompted. I’m still the same person, just 12 months older.

Have I really changed in the past year? In the past 5 years? Longer? I still like sad songs and red wine. I still don’t eat meat. I still possess, and am pursuing, my artistic dreams and desires. I am not, and have never been, married and I possess no desire to have children. Is the latter selfish? To some maybe, to me it’s just honest. I still make mistakes that I don’t necessarily learn from and I still have many, many questions – some that I am almost certain will never be answered. According to my mother, I am still impulsive. This was recently said in a way that suggested perhaps I am getting a little too old to be this way inclined but it was not said with a vindictive tongue, just that of a caring and concerned mother. I guess mothers have a way about them, although I can only really vouch for my own. I love her dearly and I would have to suggest that she knows me better than anyone else, and, usually much to my dismay, perhaps even better than I know myself at times, which, on the other hand, can also be somewhat comforting on occasion.

Do I feel 33? What is 33 meant to feel like? I feel tired, mentally and physically, but not defeated or ungrateful. My body feels as though it has lived every moment of at least 33 years, but I say this not in a negative sense. Some days my physical aches and pains, which are neither great nor insignificant, remind me of how fortunate I am to have these 33 years under my belt and still be here. They, along with more pleasurable feelings can make me feel as though I have lived. I don’t like taking things forgranted, but I admit I often do.

I currently feel a little ‘in limbo’. I suppose it is not surprising given my current situation. That of having relocated to Osaka, Japan in early February this year. At the moment I am home, well, I am in Melbourne, the place I have at least always thought of as home. I have come here for two weeks due to my exhibition at Jackman Gallery, which opens next Wednesday evening, April 11. This will be my fifth consecutive year showing with them and as much as I am looking forward to again seeing a new body of work on their white walls I am feeling as though I am entering a transitional phase as an artist. I am in two minds about having an annual exhibitions in commercial galleries.

The art world is a funny place, not necessarily in a ‘ha ha’ way either. Being an artist can be incredibly trying at times and although there are times when doubt creeps in and I come close to taking on a defeatist’s attitude, I could not be any other way. It is a necessity for me to make art, even when I do not really like what I am creating. It is a process, something that is ever evolving. It is a passion. One that I cannot control, for it controls me. It is my life. I don’t know if anyone, other than another artist, can really understand this and other things involved with being such. Though I could be wrong. Passion covers much ground.

I am rambling, yes, but not whining. I can honestly say I am truly grateful to be in a position that allows me to explore and pursue the life of a so called artist. It is in no way glamorous but it is always interesting.

By no means do I consider myself a simple person, in fact I have been told by many that I am the complete opposite, that being complex. I do however, at times, desire the simple things in life. Even if just to give my over active mind and imagination a rest for a while. It does not often work. I laugh at myself sometimes, not out of humour, but for the fact that if I do not, I could cry. I think people have a tendency to take life too seriously at times, and I am certainly no exception. However, it is not my desire to be careless nor callus either. A good balance of frivolity and compassion would be desirable. Balance being the key word.

The Game

The words are stuck
To the inside of my skull
Though even if
They were to escape
They may possess no answers
No solutions
Perhaps not even one single suggestion

They could perhaps
Be as useless
As words on a scrabble board
There for no other reason
Than a game

Such is life
One big game
And every day
We play

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Sort of Homecoming


Home. Or at least in Melbourne. Where or what is home really?

I arrived in Melbourne on Sunday and it felt rather odd to be back here. Although I had only been away for 2 months, living in Osaka has had quite an impact on me. Having said that, in other ways, it felt almost surreal...like I had dreamt the whole thing and the only reminder of reality were the two 100 yen coins on the dresser next to the bed.

I delivered my paintings to Jackman Gallery today, after finishing the final one on the evening I arrived home. I was a bit nervous about having them stretched in case any got damaged, not having painted on unstretched canvas before. However, I was pleased with the final outcome and happy to have been able to find someone who could do the job in such a short turn around, and for less than half the price I was originally quoted by another framer.

I feel a slight sense of relief and also one of achievement. It's been a very hectic past few months.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

In Search of Sakura

I set out in search of cherry blossoms today.

I fly home tomorrow, for a couple of weeks, due to my exhibition, which just so happens to coincide with cherry blossom season.

My third time in Japan and I am still yet to witness sakura in its full glory. However, I was fortunate enough to see the beginnings of the blooming beauty that captures a nation for a brief part of April each year.

They will most likely have fully bloomed and fallen to the ground by the time I return but I am thankful to have been able to get a glimpse of Spring today whilst walking through the grounds of Osaka Castle.

I feel all painted out. We had a preview of my works here this evening, which was nice. I feel a sense of achievement but also slightly exhausted. I look forward to putting my brushes down for a while and giving my mind and body a rest. Painting on unstretched canvas has some advantages but it has been cruel to my back. I miss doing yoga and would love to take it up again in the near future.

I feel a mild sense of anxiety about leaving here... or perhaps about going home.

I feel tired...and rightly so at this hour.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Please Explain


I just got back from a brisk walk though the tiny streets of my area.

I have been inside painting all day as it has been raining outside since early this morning. I needed to stretch my legs and thought I'd go for a walk to my favourite 100yen store to buy some embroidery thread for my work.

Whilst there, I wandered through the store curiously exploring, as I always do, and every time I discover something new...often useless, but usually good for a laugh. Today was no exception. As I walked through the kids toy section, I found something most bizarre. And whilst it has nothing to do with art, I thought it to be deserving of not only a purchase, but also photographic presence on my blog.

The only English to be found on the packet reads: inflatable wild swan.

Now the picture of the manga-esque girl in her ballet outfit I can understand. The man, however, I am having a little bit of trouble with...remembering that this was in the kids section.

Very odd.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Well Hung


I must say, it has been a different experience painting on unstretched canvas. It has pros and cons compared to working with stretched canvas. It's harder to get a sense of the final work without the neat edged frame that a stretcher provides. One of the good things about working on stretched canvas is that you can sit it upright, or hang it, whilst still painting to get a better look at the piece in progress as a whole. Looking down on the unstretched pieces is not the same...after all, a completed painting is ultimately hung on a wall not laid flat on the floor.

It has been nice to get them up on the wall in the apartment. Not only does the apartment feel a little more like a 'home' with my art on the wall, but it also gives me a chance to view them in a different light and perhaps get a better idea of how my exhibition will hang.

I feel slightly exhausted but I also feel as though I have accomplished a fair bit since arriving and setting up house in a new country. We are even planning on having a little preview evening in the apartment on Friday, for our neighbours and newfound art enthusiast friends. Technically - my first exhibition in Japan - ha! Even if it is for one evening only.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I Felt the Earth Move

This time next week I am due to be home in Melbourne with my unstretched canvas works which I will take to get stretched the following day.

Yesterday, my father turned 74.

Today, in Japan, there was an earthquake.

The Japan Meteorological Agency originally estimated the quake's magnitude at 7.1 but later revised it to 6.9...still pretty high in my opinion and the after shocks, of which there were about 100, were spread far and wide. We had one here. I had just got back from a morning supermarket run and was unloading the fresh produce into the fridge when my partner, who was still in bed, called out to stand still for a second. "Can you feel the tremor?" he asked. I was in a squat position at the fridge, (as everything in our place is of small proportion), and stopped what I was doing, expecting I would have to 'try' to feel this tremor he had mentioned. Within seconds, the fridge was rocking and seconds later the whole apartment block was rocking, literally! We were both silent for most of the tremor's duration, which seemed to last a good minute, although it was possibly half that. It's funny, the silence was almost one of those, 'if we are really quiet and don't move it will stop' silences... not that silence has ever stopped a quake.

When the tremor stopped we began breathing again and I walked into the bedroom, where we both watched the light that was still swinging over our heads.

It was quite surreal.

We turned the television on afterwards and saw footage from a very shaky camera. We could not understand what was being said as everything was in Japanese but we got the general gist from a map of Japan that was being displayed, along with the Richter scale numbers of all the aftershocks. It said 3 for Osaka.

In later news it was reported that a 52-year-old woman died in Wajima, a resort and fishing town on the western side of the Noto peninsula, after being trapped under a stone lantern that toppled in her garden. A freak occurrence caused by a freak of nature.

I can't even begin to imagine the devastation and panic caused by the Great Hanshin Earthquake disaster in Kobe, in 1995, which killed over 6,000. When I visited Kobe in 2005 it was hard to believe that only 10 years prior that city had suffered such a disaster.

The earth is a bizarre place.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reclaiming the Rooftop


I ventured up to the rooftop today, for the first time since my unsavoury experience. I have reclaimed it as my own! As my studio under the sun. The weather has been uninviting this past week and even though I was disillusioned recently, I would have ventured up there sooner had the weather permitted. Despite a determined wind, that I have battled with several times already today whilst applying a layer of collage, the sun is shining, and I am more determined than any breeze.

I am using the rooftop and the 'tiny' studio today, which involves lots of running up and down stairs, so in a sense, I am getting my daily exercise in as well...something I have neglected a little of late. When I first arrived, I was walking approximately 6km every day. That lasted for around 2 weeks. The past two have seen a steady decline in any physical exercise. The weather in uninspiring and my painting takes priority.

I still have much to do before flying home for my exhibition in April.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Recurring Dream


Today, I found this in a 100yen shop.

I thought it was rather fitting. Not only the sentiment, but the fact that it was a pencil case; the pencil being just one instrument that can help project and develop my creative dreams and ideas. A dream storage case. That thought, and 'it', made me smile.

Sometimes...it really is the little things...and from little things, big things grow (again).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Living in a Box


I despise this feeling of complete vulnerability.

At this very moment I feel like a shadow of my former self, and that former self was right here only 48 hours ago. Now I feel she is staring at me through the rear view mirror, wondering what the hell happened.

Dramatic words, perhaps, but I have been emotionally effected in a way I have never been before.

The sun is out today, yet I feel too anxious to venture on to the roof top. I have no desire to step outside and I am searching high and low for the desire to paint. I know I need to.

I feel like I can see everything but cannot touch it.

I do hope this subsides. I need to make friends with time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Monsters and Angels

It's amazing how less than 48 hours after having a wonderful day in Osaka and writing about how much I love Japan, one arsehole can flip my whole perspective on things.

Yesterday, for the first time since arriving, I just wanted to go home. What's worse, is that it totally effected my creative drive and production today, to the point where I wanted to slash my unstretched canvas and pack away my paint and brushes.

I felt as though my dream, and with it my inspiration, was ripped out of my guts and squashed on the pavement of a nearby district. One I had to walk to yesterday to collect a parcel I was looking forward to receiving. One I never want to set foot near again. One where I encountered a horrible incident, perhaps one of blatent racism. An incident that made me feel completely helpless and threatened. Fearful even.

I feel disappointed, even a little angry. I feel uninspired artistically as I feel like all that has inspired me in recent times has just let me down.

I was however fortunate enough to encounter two angels. Their goodwill could be something I can hold onto in order to restore my faith and hopefully my inspiration. I should not let the actions of one take away all that is good in others, or crush my dream, or erase my inspiration.

Actually, I am really fucking angry, and grateful...for very different reasons.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spring is in the Air


Today was a glorious day in Osaka. The nicest day weather wise, by far, since I arrived here on February 10th.

I had planned to spend the day painting, but like most people in Osaka today, the weather persuaded me to spend some quality time outdoors. I almost felt guilty for it until arriving at the grounds of Osaka Castle and seeing the splendid plum blossoms that have begun blooming.

My day quickly became a day for sourcing inspiration, and inspiration flowed like sake and plum wine from the cups of the lovers sitting under the blossom trees.

The walk to the grounds was also full of inspiring aesthetics as temples and shrines were stumbled upon, bringing back memories of my visits to Kyoto.

I often get asked, as an artist, why I am so influenced by Japan. It is sometimes a difficult question to answer without rambling or going off on some kind of dreamy tangent that perhaps others find hard to follow. I guess one would have to come here to experience Japan for oneself to truly understand it's appeal and unique charm. It is quite possible that there are people who visit here and form no particular attachment to anything about the place, I am not one of those people, and it's days like today that re-enforce the fact that I am the complete opposite.

Japan continues to delight and inspire me.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Maintaining My Dreams in the Tiny Studio


The wind has picked up over the past couple of days so I have limited my time on the rooftop due to the fact that I have not completely warded off this cold. I have been painting mostly inside for the last 2 days, in my 'tiny studio'. I just stepped out to get some groceries and came across this little face washer, which I had to buy, for all of 60 yen, as it sums things up perfectly.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

So Yeah!



Happy birthday
To me
Under the Cherry tree
At 33

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Count Down To 33


I turn 33 in 20 minutes. I get to be 32 for two hours longer than I would if I was still in Australia. So technically 32 was a longer year. It is my first birthday away from home. There have been a few times where birthdays did not seem that special, or that much different to any other day. I had the ritualistic 'big bash' for my 16th, 18th and 21st, the first two being really just an excuse for a party and a chance to get drunk. Funnily enough, I was drunk for none of them as I was too busy running around and making sure everyone else was ok and having a good time.

In more recent years I have come to appreciate each birthday as something of a milestone. An acheivement. Each new year, reminding me how fortunate I am to be able to see it in. This year shall be no exception. I am fortunate...fortunate to be here in Japan, and whilst I am far away from many people that I love dearly, I am following a long time artistic and adventurous dream of mine. I have always wanted to paint and live overseas, in particular - in Japan. I am most fortunate to be able to say that I am now doing that...at 32, and soon at 33.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lullaby + Exile


Sleep would be most welcome right now.

I have had one good nights sleep since we arrived. Last night being the worst. Not a very productive weekend due to developing a 'welcome to Japan in Winter' cold that nearly everyone in Osaka has had, has or is going to get. The heating is department stores and other shops is ridiculous here. So incredibly drying and dehydrating. You go from being incredibly cold outside to being on the verge of passing out from dehydration once inside. It's no wonder 50% of the people out and about are wearing masks...a good indication of how many locals it also effects.

The past two days have been very cold, possibly the coldest since we arrived on the 10th. There is a chill in the air here that chills the marrow in your bones. I have been to colder places at colder times, but I am certainly feeling the cold right now. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have come from a hot Melbourne Summer where the average temperature was in the low to mid 30's for some time prior to our departure. Still I am glad to be here, although I must say that feeling unwell whilst overseas does make you appreciate good health and the little comforts of home that we so often take forgranted.

I was very fortunate to be able to enjoy a few consecutive days of good weather during this Japanese Winter that allowed me to try out my rooftop studio. Spring is not too far away now, and considering this was apparently a 'mild' Winter, (I would not have liked to have been here for anything less mild), it may even come early this year, bringing the finer, warmer weather with it.

Despite having been to Japan twice previously, it is still somewhat of a culture shock to actually move here. I am carrying a much different mentality this time around, completely different to that of a tourist. It has been an interesting two weeks, there is still much to explore and I am still settling into my new environment, physically and psychologically. There is always an adjustment period. I look forward to settling in a little more as each week passes, and to many more days of painting on the rooftop.

Friday, February 23, 2007

At Last...





Although the weather does not permit me to paint in - or should I say 'on' - my rooftop studio today, we now have a laptop that enables me to upload images. Even if it means I have to walk around the corner and sit on the side of the road as hundreds of people ride past on their bicycles and look at the weird gaijin all rugged up, sitting on her bag with a brand new apple notebook on her lap - as we have no connection in the apartment so I have to piggyback for now. This means looking a bit strange for a while...oh well, so be it. I am just happy to be able to upload some images.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

On a Rooftop, Osaka

My new studio is on the rooftop of our apartment building in Osaka.
It is a temporary set up of course, or a 'mobile studio', as the weather is not always reliable, however, these past two days have been perfect for painting out doors so I have spent the best part of both of them in, or should I say 'on' the rooftop studio. It is much bigger than my more permanent set up inside the apartment and it is abundent with natural light. The view is also fabulous, even if it is rather urban. Now all I need to do is be able to upload photos on here!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lost in Translation

I am still having trouble working with Japanese computers...
I tried uploading photos to my blog from my data traveler but to no avail. For a minute I even thought I had deleted them all and had a mild panic attack as that little tool is my folio whilst I am over here.

I think I will store it safely away until my knowledge of hiragana, katakana and kanji is a little better...or at least until we get the internet set up in our apartment.

I will keep an analogue blog in relation to my time in Japan until I can sort out something online.

I have set up a little studio space in the apartment and despite the lack of natural light in that space, I am fairly content with my efforts in setting up my own space here is Osaka.

I even managed to prepare a surface on one of my canvases last night and as it is raining here today, I am thinking it is a great day for being indoors and getting stuck into my art.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Camper

I am a happy camper.

Thanks to the internet and Jacob I found a Tokyu Hands store. They only had rather small stretched canvas of not the best quality but I at least felt I was getting somewhere, and with the help of my broken Japanese and the assistants broken English I was directed to a wonderful art supplies store called Kawachi. They had everything I needed and more... needless to say I was like a kid in a candy store. What a massive city this is. I am out on my own today, wandering, picking up a few things before heading back to the apartment to get stuck into my painting. Lots to discover yet! The adventure has just begun.

Now I just need to work out the computer system over here until we get our own connection at the apartment in order to upload images and understand what is on my screen!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Osaka

Well...I made it.
I am sitting in an internet cafe in Namba, struggling with the Japanese characters on my screen and sometimes keyboard and desperately trying to find an art supply store in the area. I have been here only two days and I miss painting. I am so eager to start painting that I find it hard to sit still.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Final Details

Saturday, January 20, 2007

3, 2, 1...Lift Off


This time, three weeks from now, I will be on a plane to Japan.

Returning to the land of the rising sun.

The land of green tea
and cherry blossoms
red maple leaves
and bamboo butterflies
cold soba

and hot sake

woodblock prints

and Astro Boy

painted ladies

and paper lanterns
tatami and tofu
miso and matcha
ponds and pondering
singing cicadas
and wind-up birds...


The land of
my inspiration.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

There Are Two L's in Lily, With 'i' in Between Them


My Peace Lily plant has bloomed once again, only this year, for the first time ever, it has two beautifully shaped white flowers.

I'll hold on tightly to the symbolism...to my interpretation. I am open to interpretation.

I am the space between. The 'i' between the L's. Tom Waits sings In Between Love. I am in between. A rock and a hard place? No! In between a great place and a potentially wonderful one.

I am just as nervous as I am excited about Japan. I can already see my work evolving in relation to emotion and potential experience. I am trying to figure out what I am going to take with me, in regards to art materials, or whether it is best to start from scratch once I am over there. I am envisaging a lot of works on paper.

I feel inspired today, so I paint...and I write.

There is so much to do whilst in between.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Poems and Palettes

As I sat painting on Tuesday morning my partner sat writing. It is nice to see him getting back into his world of words; his passion.

He wrote as he watched me paint and listened to me asking myself questions, at times directing them his way, not necessarily expecting any answers.

His response came in the form of prose as he read this to me...

She is painting
Mixing colours

Will I have pink lips or red lips?

Questions like these are such a pleasure

On a hot day

In January

Of course I don’t answer

Straight away

Give it time

My old head tells me

No sense jumping into anything

No sense making a mess

Of such a beautiful day


Well…
Are those ones pink?

I point to a completed piece
Yes…

With a hint of disbelief

Can’t you tell?


I ended up going with pink, but I am still not entirely sure they will stay that colour. They may change yet.

I dyed my hair black this morning, in order to closer resemble my image on canvas, well, partly...and partly because I enjoy having black hair. I have dyed it on a regular basis since the age of 14.

I was born with a mop of jet black hair, but it all fell out, then grew back much fairer.

I think I am happier with black hair.
Now I just have to decide on the lips.

Choice. It's all about choice.