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September 1- 30, Painting/Drawing Everyday

By October 2, 2019April 9th, 2023No Comments

Day 1 
I’ve drawn this air hanger twice already since arriving at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan. This morning I decided to try it in a 18×18″ oil paint. I’ll include my earlier sketches too for giggles.

I’ll have to finish the painting later this month as the family is heading to Hello Kitty Land tomorrow for Labor Day… so will try.. and sketch…. Hello Kitty…?

Day 2 

OK. I know I said yesterday I would draw at Hello Kitty Land, “Sanrio Puroland” (if you live in Tokyo)…. but you just don’t know how terrible it is. I mean, there was an egg, “Gudetama” who looked depressed, and everyone who visited him was smiling pretending to EAT him. I thought he was supposed to be alive! He had a face!
Next, we visited “My Melody” who had an arch nemesis named Kuromi (sounds promising), but it was basically a Hello Kitty in rabbit form. It was all just photo ops, preying on the weaknesses of unsuspecting Japanese tourists.
Yet, I fought on looking for drawing inspiration. I TRIED to sketch the infamous cat at “Hello Kitty Kawaii Kabuki” but… even my daughter cried bloody murder and we were forced to abandon the performance before the evil Oni were persuaded to change their ways by Daniel.
My artistic spidey senses were suppressed at every corner. Cutesy cartoons EVERYWHERE, my official kryptonite. As soon as I thought it was over there was a parade…. with MORE humans with cat heads and insanely high pitched female Japanese voices. In all the chaos. my artistic voice was squashed, trampled on, I say.
Luckily, on the train ride home, I got to draw some unsuspecting folk playing on their phones. I LOVE cell phones. It has turned the public into instant models that I don’t have to pay. Sigh… drawing them, I felt as evil as Kuromi.

Day 3 
I cannot stand letting dishes pile up. The nice part of having a studio (which unfortunately, is now in our house) is that you can get AWAY from housework. So this is extra hard for me to stand here painting, watching the dishes not being done.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any further on the painting. My son’s school called reminding me that today there was no aftercare (which I knew) and that it was Tuesday, so school gets out an hour earlier (which I forgot).

Parent fail. AND I ended up doing the dishes…. so also artist fail.

Day 4 

Stupid car broke a stupid radiator cap thing (I think). Had to walk home from the Ushihama garage without my car. <<Grumble Grumble>>. As such, my painting day turned into a grumpy drawing day.

All complaining aside, my daughter and I bike under this train bridge most mornings when I drop her off at Yochien (Japanese kindergarten). Today’s the day I got to draw it.

I like working in the three toned (brush tip) Copic markers. It’s a new medium for me as I started using them about 7 months ago. The setup is very portable, and feels a lot like ink wash.

Sketchbook, never leave home without it. You could be all of a sudden walking home 3 miles on a Wednesday.

Day 5 

I’m on house arrest. Well, not really. I do have my bike (and no crime has been committed, so no ankle bracelet). Fun fact, my bike is called a “Mamachari” by the Japanese house wives who bike their kids around because it’s got a seat (or two) for the kid(s)… voila, Mama Chariot. It’s not that fun of a fact, I guess. It also hauls art supplies when not occupied by said kid. I included a older photo of how awesome/useful a Mamachari bike can be.

Anyway, sorta stuck at home so I painted an egg. A fellow painter John Murray did a killer painting of an egg earlier, maybe last month? So, I stole his idea, but I like his painting better. The actual egg is from the Air Base Commissary. Next time, I’m painting a local Japanese egg which has way better color.

Hopefully, I will have some sunshine tomorrow so I can paint outside again. Hopefully, my car is back from the shop without too much $$$ damage.

Day 6 

One fun thing about living near the air base is that there are these die hard Japanese photographers (I think the military folk call them “hawks”) who bring step ladders and take photographs over the fence of all the military planes. Today felt funny because they were on one side of the street photographing the air base, and I was on the other side painting their house. Grass is always greener?

Anyway, I painted the farm that I pass every other week on my way to acupuncture. I’ve been meaning to paint it all summer, but it is usually 37C and 90% humidity. Today it’s only 31C and 60% humidity! There is also a Typhoon heading in Tokyo’s direction soooo.. yeah. I’m taking advantage of the beautiful day.

My trusty “Mamachari” bike ride spared me the self loathing of skipping my morning run. I quit painting because the light was just too different to continue. I might battle it out another morning.

Day 7

Uggg… OK! I learned something today. When I wake up and see the sun is out and I have 3 hours to spare, I need to just go paint. Phrases like “I can totally just do a painting after my sons birthday party” are counterproductive.
Today, was an exercise in failed art attempts. I tried to sketch people at the birthday party, but obviously, I really should have been attending to my son and the guests. Later, I tried to sketch my son while we had an indoor “picnic” and watched Charlie Brown Halloween… and it was going great -until I grabbed the dark marker instead of the light marker… it was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad art day. Tomorrow, the Typhoon arrives(?) but I hope to work on the painting I started on day #1 before all hell breaks loose. Here’s hoping!

Day 8 

Hooray! I learned my lesson from yesterday.

I got up early and left the house before 7am (cause I need to help clean this house… eerr now..) and worked more on the painting of the air base hanger from Day #1. I had to paint quick as typhoon hits later today/tonight(?). Schools are already on a two hour delay for tomorrow…. Anyway, it was nice and sunny when I started painting, but by the end of my painting session the clouds took over the sky. I painted the clouds last today. Still need to work on the guard rail in the foreground.

Day 9 

I became so excited to paint a colorful Japanese egg after I badmouthed the yoke color of my first egg painting from Day #5. So today, I cracked open an egg bought at Costco (yes, Japan has Costco). I actually just ASSUMED it was a Japanese egg… but really, it could have been from anywhere. Now, I’m pretty sure it WAS from anywhere. The egg yoked looked basically the same as my first egg, even though the shell wasn’t bleached white. In the end, I have two regular egg paintings. I promise I’m done with egg paintings (for this month). Unless… no, I’m done.

I’m also very tired from last night’s typhoon being so loud, and small humans migrating to my bed during the cacophony. Sooo I opted for a 2hr quicky painting in order to sneak in 30mins of nap before school pickup.

Day 10 
Fun fact. Did you know that a typhoon can bring in an insane heatwave? My sweat glands are now very familiar with this new information! I had fully intended to setup my easel and paint today, but after lugging it a short ten feet from where I wanted to set up, my body said NOPE.
It took every ounce of mental and physical strength to open my backpack, procure my sketchbook, and despite the sweat dripping from my forehead to my page (plus the waterfall of sweat down my back), I stood in the sun and sketched the C-17.

I’m proud of me. I’d pat myself on the back but I haven’t fully dried off…

Day 11 

Inner child excitement… OVERLOAD…. I so happy…..
I got to paint on a military building roof today! I bet no one has ever done a oil painted here before.
I also might have been playing the Top Gun soundtrack in my head… for possibly two of the four hours I spent painting today…. might have… and, and, and there was a cool Marine helicopter that came near the end! It was loud. All the planes are loud.
Sadly, I had to quit a bit earlier as the wind was picking up…

Day 12 
I went on an art adventure in downtown Tokyo today. The National Museum of Modern Art is having a Takahata Isao exhibition (he worked on “Grave of the Fireflies” and “The Take of Princes Kaguya” with Studio Ghibli). I highly recommend it if you like Studio Ghibli movies… and live here too.
Before that, I stopped by the Imperial Palace and walked around looking for something to paint, but realize that I drank all my water…. so no watercolors today. I did have my sketch book (of course) and settled on now drawing the Tea House.
So much of the Palace was roped off for renovations…. well, so much of Tokyo is under renovation thanks to the Olympics coming next summer.
I had fun.

Day 13

Naaarrcissism….and laundry!
So oddly enough, the house that we rent in Japan has only one mirror. Well, my wife has a vanity table, which has a mirror, and I bought an Ikea one for the shower, so I can shave, but that’s all. So while I was doing the laundry today, I setup my easel for a self portrait… since the laundry room hosts the only built in mirror. Plus, it is rainy out.
I painting today in the time it takes for a full wash and dry cycle. Which, BTW, most houses here don’t have driers but their “bath (tub) room” has a dry feature where you just hang up your laundry and it heats the whole room up. Most folk just hand their laundry outside though.
BTW, if you can’t tell, I’m drraaaawwing out this post even longer so I don’t have to fold clothes. I KNOW that this is super interesting…. and so relevant to painting.
BTW, I have not done a self portrait in 12 years. I always think they feel super narcissistic.

Day 14
Not gonna lie, this was a tough drawing to do. Not only were the sumo wrestlers pretty far away, but there were SO MANY people to draw in order to get the perspective right. I think this might have been the most crowded drawing I have ever done.

Sumo is awesome BTW, I highly recommend experiencing it in person. The rituals are fascinating, and the traditional clothing of the officials were incredible. Just such a different atmosphere than I have ever experienced. Plus, if the champion loses (which he did) all the attendees throw their cushions into the arena. Kind of like squids on the ice rink.

Plus, the beer prices are reasonable. HEAR THAT AMERICAN SPORTING EVENTS… REASONABLE. 🥴

Day 15

We’ve friends from the States in town and as a result, we did lots of Tokyo exploring today. We’re meeting them in Kyoto next weekend. Hooray!
Anyway, I took some time to draw the Shrine at Sensoji while everyone else was exploring the shrine grounds. It’s not exactly easy to do full oil paintings when there are fun friends to spend time with, but drawings are manageable. So again, Copic markers to the rescue!
It was a strange experience as lots of people decided I was important and took photographs of me while I was working. One guy came back with his whole family to watch me draw, and actually two separate folk asked me for my autograph. Someone gave me a gift too… I think it’s a drink coaster? Then one of the security guards came over (I assume) thinking I was selling something because I had a small crowd… it was all very strange. It’s what I get drawing in a very public place. I’m seriously not important enough to warrant giving out my signature… but no one has to know that…

Day 16  

Saturday and Sunday were the “Friendship Festival” at Yokota Airbase and unfortunately (or fortunately) we were off in Tokyo doing Sumo and visiting cool shrines, where people thought I was important (see previous posts).
The cool part of the festival is that air crafts from other bases fly in so that the everyone (including thousands and thousands of Japanese nationals) can check them out in person. It’s the one time the base is open to non military type. I had hoped to go draw some of the cool NEW things this morning before they fly back to their respective bases… but the combinations of both my daughter not having school (Japanese holiday “Respect for the Aged Day”) and it being a rainy morning killed that dream.
On the plus side, later in the day I finally got to draw the CV-22 “Osprey”. It’s always at the base (much to the dismay of the locals as its really loud) but it’s never parked in a place that is conducive for me to draw. This afternoon, it was parked right in front of the bakery! I just wish my sketch pad was wider…
Anyway, that is the last page in my sketchbook (I have some being shipped) so oil paint for sure tomorrow!

Day 17 

So, one of the perks of being an aspiring distance runner, is that you can spend your entire run scoping out new places to paint. Last Thursday, I went on a run across the Tama River and saw a little fishing hole complete with tiny docks and umbrellas from the top of the bridge (looking down). Today, I went back on my trusty “Mamachari” bike (see previous posts) with my painting supplies.
This is a great spot to paint. I arrived to the confused looks of some locals who looked like they have been having tea/coffee in this very location every day for the past 40 years. They came over once to see what I was doing, but everyone there just let me work in peace. Another perk was that people fishing hang around in one spot for a while. So I had a beautiful location plus free models. Also, painting under a bridge, near the Tama River provided shade, and a light breeze.
I think return here very soon.

Day 18 

I wasn’t lying when I said I would go back “soon” to yesterdays painting location. Of course, mother nature wanted to make sure I get to practice all the types of weather and light.
So it rained.
Good news was that I was under a bridge, so it didn’t rain on me, but I had to paint out the sunshine that I started with. Took a bit longer as a result. Getting home on a bike, in the rain, with a wet oil painting was a TON of fun too…
Anyway, I like yesterdays painting better. To me, it was a better perspective and there were more umbrellas. Today, the umbrellas all went home early. I’ll include yesterdays painting in the post as I didn’t get a good photo of it in yesterdays post.

Day 19 

I’m feeling kinda lazy today… or stressed out that I haven’t started packing for Kyoto yet. So I’m doing a still life and quitting a bit early today.
Cut me some slack, just this once.

Day 20 

In Nara Japan today!
I tried drawing a really cool temple that had thousands of oddly tame deer, that you can pet… but it started to rain on me. Forced to abandon the drawing sadly. I drew people on the trains too.
Nara is nuts. It’s 30mins outside of Tokyo and really worth a visit.

Soooo many deer.

Day 21 
Kinkaku-ji: The Golden Pavilion is really hard to draw! I mean, it’s gold! A lot of gold! It was also insanely crowded with tourists which makes drawing harder.

Kyoto has been pretty great so far. My markers are almost dry, hopefully I’ll have enough ink for tomorrow.

Day 22 

Last day in Kyoto!
I skipped the monkey forest (I feel like I’ve done so many monkey forests in the past year) in order to do a quick watercolor sketch down by the river.
I’m not very experienced using watercolor, but I had fun either way and the bridge was great. I’m glad there was a river close by. This painting was made with 100% Kyoto river water (and paint).

Oh last night we saw real Geisha! It was pretty neat. It’s like a celebrity sighting.

Day 23 

 Not sure what to say about today’s painting. I guess I missed painting abstractly (I dedicated most of my art life to abstraction) so needed to paint an interior that had some abstract elements. I love how wall colors change in natural light, so this was a lot of fun as the outside tree projected green light through the window (at least when I started). I normally paint natural light as you never know what will happen.
Once last thing! Japan stairs have this NASTY metal lip that hurts like all hell when you misstep. I absolutely HATE the narrow, designed for small feet stairs in Japan.

Day 24 

I tried something new today.
Often, I’ll take my bike out and peddle around until I find something to paint. I guess I usually have a destination in mind, but whatever. Today, I strapped my sketchbook to my running backpack (Camelback) and just started running. Honestly, I was trying to find a Buddhist shrine that I had found previously while running, but after circling around for a while I was forced to admit that my sense of direction is absolutely terrible.
I did find a pretty cool, slightly run down, shop to draw. I don’t really know how many miles I had run prior to drawing, but I was hot and pretty tired.
It kind of reminded me of the boxing and chess hybrid that the Russians enjoy. Get in the boxing ring, punch each other for a round then play 3mins worth of Chess, then punch each other again for a round… and so forth. Anyway, Google it.

Might try 10mins of running, 10mins of drawing one day. Just for giggles…. and exercise.

Day 25 

So I found that shrine that I couldn’t find yesterday. My daughter had a half day at Yochien (Japanese kindergarten) so I took the bike on an expedition for the lost shrine in Fussa. BTW, seriously, what is the point of going to school for only 2 hours?!?! Half days are a waste of (my) time.

Anyway, the first drawing went well, kind of boring but whatever. I couldn’t stop thinking of Zelda when I saw the tri-force triangles. Hehehe. I think this would be a better painting anyway. Maybe tomorrow? You know, when the kids are in school for a normal amount of time.

We also had swim lessons today so I drew the pool. I am only putting this in this post so I am NOT tempted to just pretend I did this tomorrow… or the next day. I mean, yes, a day off for art would be nice. I could actually clean the house for once this month. But I wont be dishonest. I mean, aren’t basically all the old masters terribly dishonest, horrible people? Cept for Keith Haring, he was a saint. I mean Caravaggio killed a guy…. I thought it was over a tennis match, but it’s far worse… (Google it). I’m not going to be like Caravaggio today. Today, I’m gonna take the highroad and be like Keith Haring….. minus the graffiti arrests, drugs, and AIDS that sadly led to an early death. I still love him.

Day 26 

So I biked back to the “Shinmei-sha Shrine” where I I drew yesterday. I thought I would just paint what I drew previously, but was more attracted to the building next to it. I’m never comfortable painting on religious sites, so I typed up a little blurb asking permission to paint and Google Translated it into Japanese. I am, after all, representing Americans while I am here. Best behave.
Anyway, the guy tending the grounds seemed to think it was OK, and later a nice lady from the temple brought me tea. I’m glad I feel welcome enough there cause I need another day on this one. I was so concerned about getting the drawing right (meh, mostly right) that I didn’t get as much time with the lotus plants and the whole left side is a mess.
My son doesn’t have school tomorrow and my wife is far, far away, so I’ll have to push this painting back a bit.

Day 27 

So no school today (for the boy this time). Wife has been in Hawaii since Tuesday… she’s “working”.
So I drew some zombies.
Aren’t they precious? So cute with the blue light hitting their face screwing up their sleep cycles? You can almost hear the drool leaving their mouths and pooling on their stomachs.
In my defense, they don’t watch much TV in the first place. PLUS it IS Friday, and they are allotted 30mins of “Tablet Time” on Fridays… which might have extended to closer to a hour… mostly so I could catch their zombie likeness…. and I was/am tired and needed to “cook dinner”.
Which was bunny box mac and cheese with chili.
And wine.
for me.

Day 28 

Here is a fun challenge. Try drawing kids in a sandbox.
Please read the below post with dripping sarcasm.

From the field notes of J. Jordan Bruns
“Kids are remarkably still. More often than not, they will decide that their current task at hand is worthy of their full attention, and as such, stay in one place for long periods of time. While dogs may bolt at the first sight of a squirrel, children resist all urges and distractions to accomplish their goal.

It has been well documented that children around the age of four are very tidy beings. Cavorting in “sand” (it was mostly dirt) is never an acceptable endeavor for the average child. Keeping their attire clean is of the highest priority.

In the unlikely chance that a child would like to perfect their mud pie culinary skills, parents who are of the artists trade will enjoy very little distractions while the children blissfully play in the dirt pit, I mean sand box. Even if the artist guardian is monitoring an additional (larger) child, neither child will hinder the worthy craft of drawing. Larger children will refrain from accidentally kicking soccer balls at younger children’s faces.

In conclusion, drawing children in a mud pit is a remarkable experience suitable for artists of any level of skill. The cheerful children will provide you with statuesque models of perfection, free of any stress or anxiety.”

My daughter had a school play thing today. I know it’s Saturday, but this is Japan and most people work on Saturdays. It’s day five with the wife in Hawaii. I might have lost my mind today….

Day 29 

I painted down by the Tama river this morning. I’m “meh” on the painting. I think the paint job is fine, but the square format wasn’t a good choice. Next time, landscape format.
I have one more panel for tomorrow’s painting. It’s at least the right format. Unfortunately, for the last day of the challenge, there is going to be rain in the afternoon. If I get my act together, and go DIRECTLY to the river to paint after dropping the kids off at school, I might just make it.
Gotta redeem the river.

Day 30

I DID IT! Yatta!
I went back to the shrine I worked on last week (I think on the 26th?) to finish up. I’ll include what the painting looked like from last week.
I feel like the extra day helped a lot. I immediately saw some drawing errors that were easily fixed, and the left side and Lotus plants are now much better.
October is next.