One Drawing’s Success

Until I figure out how to add photos in a gallery format rather than on a page, I thought I might appease some people’s curiosity about what has been happening in the past few years. As some of you know, one drawing in particular has been attracting a lot of attention from various circles.



Celebration is a drawing done primarily with coloured pencil over a watercolour base on a gessoed wooden panel. Here I have purposefully not cropped the picture so you can get a better idea of its size. For a piece that is more than two metres (approximately six feet) on each side, people are amazed to learn that it is done in coloured pencil. One painter in Chiba had to go nearer to get a closer look after I told him; he then pretended that he knew it from the start. It was originally done for a show featuring the work of five women who wanted to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese (AFWJ) at their annual convention, hence the title. (More information about AFWJ is available at their  website. I wanted something that would catch people’s eyes as they walked in and  something that would announce that it was not  an amateur show. This drawing did all that and more.

When people wanted to take a photo of themselves and their friends, where did they pose? In front of this drawing, Celebration. When RBR moved to their new location near the international school in Tokyo, they asked if they could hang this piece in their lobby. Because Joei Lau, one of the other artists in the show, worked there, I agreed. You can see my drawing if you look carefully at the photo of their entrance on the Japanese pages of their website and in the Japanese pdf of the gallery specifications. Any attention is good, right?

After the show at Space Galleria in Chiba, three of us had a mini version of the show at Sho in Chofu, Shimonoseki. The entire building was once the residence of a doctor and has been semi-preserved as a museum of sorts with a gallery space in the kura (separate building for storage). Because the building is old, the ceilings are low. The drawing would not fit the space in its original format; it had to be divided.

Celebration: Upper three panels
Celebration: Upper three panels
Celebration: Lower three panels
Celebration: Lower three panels

The six panels in a row filled the wall. I was no longer sure which I liked better, the new version or the original.

When I took it home, I decided that some art on the living-room walls would be a good idea. Once again Celebration was too large for one wall and had to be divided. After living with it on a daily basis, the new version grew on me and has become my favourite. When a friend wanted to see some pictures for possible use in a literary journal, I sent her photos of the new version. The top half appeared on the cover of Yomimono. Compliments started flying in. When an e-mail came from the Kyoto Art Festival asking me if I wanted to participate again in 2012, I knew which drawing I wanted to send.

Let’s back up a bit. I first learned about a group that displayed every year in the Kyoto Art Festival from a friend who had helped organize the show in Chiba. I religiously read the submission guidelines and sent them the smaller Summer Foliage in 2011 although I had really wanted to send all six panels of Celebration. Why? Celebration was once again too large! When I arrived at the Annex of the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, I was amazed at how large many of the other pieces were! My drawing was dwarfed by the others! Six panels would have easily fit on the walls. Also, the smaller drawing was much more realistic than most of the other artwork which was very serious and primarily in black and white. I vowed I would do things differently if I had another chance in 2012. I did not want to push my luck when I knew I would be breaking the rules so I sent only the top half in 2012.

What happened? Celebration won the Kyoto Broadcasting System award! Call me gobsmacked! After the show in Kyoto, I contacted the editor at Fukuoka Now to share the news since they had selected me as one artist of note a few years ago. I thought they might want to toot their own horn and hopefully use it as publicity for my upcoming group show in February. Once again I was surprised  at what Fortune had in store for me: they wanted to do an interview. This wonderful drawing of mine and a photo of me are now glorified on page seven of the first issue of the new year. I am so excited!

I think it is not unusual for one piece to stand out in a portfolio. When the planets align, magic happens with a piece of artwork be it music, a novel, or a painting. We only hope that the magic can be replicated again and again.


2 thoughts on “One Drawing’s Success

  1. For someone with a normal (not artist) eye like mine, sure it’s difficult to know by sight that this was painted with colored pencils! But it’s also difficult, even for this eye, to miss the beauty and fine talent in it, Michelle! Congratulations for well deserved prize and recognition 🙂


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