New challenges for a new year, right? What could be more challenging than a stack of new panels that are not yet gessoed, rolls of Japanese paper, stacks of paper samples from the art book fair, and some other doo-dads? The panels are from a friend who mounted prints on them and they were covered with strips of the paper she had used. I have taken most of the paper off but I still have a few pieces that are glued down. What a pain in the neck! I also learned that the washi plaques do not work well with coloured pencil. The paper is too soft; the pencils too hard. Water colour, markers, and ink work much better, since that is what these panels are traditionally used for.
The hardest part of trying a new project to challenge myself? Starting. That’s right. Starting. To sit still for more than thirty minutes and focus is a challenge. The cats do not help; they love to distract. After thirty minutes or so, I can get into a groove and work more smoothly. The next hardest part? Remembering that more time than imagined is required to do just about anything, especially anything worth doing.
What am I working on? I have this idea to do a project about the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) called yellow dust that blows into Japan from China. Other countries also have pollution problems with particulates in the air, but China is one of the few countries that has had centuries of seasonal dust blowing from the Gobi desert. It is a big problem China and its neighbouring countries. In Japan, Kyushu seems to get hit harder than other areas. Because this has affected me personally, I decided that it might make an interesting topic. In fact, I have started a Pinterest board to save images and articles about air pollution and the Gobi desert.
Dust is a serious topic. I think I will try to do a series of portraits of people wearing those little white masks. When somebody wears a mask, they lose a lot of their individuality. It will be interesting to see if gender or ethnicity will stand out or not. What do you think: coloured pencil or acrylic? Coloured pencil has a lot of appeal and ties in with past work, but I will have to wait until I try both methods with self-portraits. Then I can make an educated decision. My goal is to get the prototypes done by the end of February. After that, who wants to volunteer as a model? I do not want to work from photographs if I can help it. This concept of dust traveling by wind will also hopefully let me create some more abstract drawings of seasonal wind patterns or other migrations. I also want to go to the national library in Tokyo where I think one of my old students works. I want to see what I can find about the history of the dust in China and perhaps any related legends, chemical composition, and perhaps photographs of the dust particles themselves.
I started another Pinterest board called, “Caged Birds Sing in Gardens”, to gather other images that I originally wanted to use for a separate printmaking project. Now I wonder if I can somehow mix these two ideas. That is what I started in that ink drawing that you can see peeking under the wooden panels.
More new challenges for the new year? I want to find several galleries in different areas of Tokyo where I can have several shows throughout the year. I can show my older, abstract drawings at first and perhaps some from this newer project later. I am still not that familiar with Tokyo so I am not sure where I should be looking. I am also not sure that I am getting the names right! Two friend suggested the Meets Gallery (Japanese only) website as a resource. My goal this year is to find a gallery in Shibuya, Nakano or Naka Meguro (I can’t recall which area a friend recommended), Jiyugaoka, Ginza, and/or other areas. The Diginner gallery was suggested by some, and another friend recommended an art-deco building in Ginza that has several galleries in it. One of those galleries, the Amore Ginza Gallery, is only for women artists! I could also try 3331 Arts Chiyoda. Gulp! These are serious decisions to be made this year! Does anybody want to go check out these places with me? New year. New opportunities. New challenges. New adventures.