Finding Inspiration: Japanese Wood Block Prints

This week, I’m planning to do one or two pen drawings that somehow mimic the style of Japanese woodblock prints. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do this, so it will be a bit experimental.

Below are several of the pieces that I find exceptionally beautiful. You can find additional pieces on the Japanese Woodblock Prints Pinterest board that I recently made.

Sarusawa Pond by Hiroshi Yoshida

Sarusawa Pond by Hiroshi Yoshida

Sparrows in the Sazanka in Snow

Sparrows in the Sazanka in Snow by Ando Hiroshige

I really love Japanese woodblock prints, but to be honest, I don’t know much about them, apart from what I read on Wikipedia tonight. Luckily, I did learn that the type of prints I like are mostly part of the ukiyo-e genre.

The name of the genre, ukiyo, means “floating world” in English and is meant to represent the need to embrace each moment and the fleeting beauty you find in it.

The Wikipedia article mentions a lovely quote from novelist Asai Ryōi that describes the concept of this floating world.

“… Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; … refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world…”

It’s no wonder I’m drawn to this art form. How wonderful!

Birds and Snow-covered Peonies by Kono Bairei

Birds and Snow-covered Peonies by Kono Bairei

Kawase Hasui

By Kawase Hasui

In a Temple Yard

In a Temple Yard by Hiroshi Yoshida

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Lake House Bliss

Rocks on IceThis past weekend seven friends and I journeyed northward for a weekend at a lake house that I imagine to be Wisconsin’s most adorable. With its massive stone fireplace, seriously kitschy kitchen, and yards and yards of wood paneling, how could any cabin be better?

Add to that an extremely comfortable leather couch big enough to seat all eight of us, and you’ve got the perfect place to spend a fun weekend with friends.

And it was fun. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe, several times because of repeated impersonations of the “Cheese Doodles Guy.”

Bird HouseShore

Said Cheese Doodles Guy was on a recent Radio Lab episode about the feeling of bliss. In the episode, Cheese Doodles Guy (his real name is Aleksander Gamme) explains that as part of his preparation for a solo trek across Antarctica, he buried caches of food for himself so that he can avoid carrying all his provisions across the continent.  Later, you get to hear Cheese Doodles Guy experience extreme–and I’m talking extreme–happiness when he locates one of the caches of food after months of trekking alone.

Basically he just screams and screams with joy and then, between many Norwegian words, he says the words “Cheese Doodles.”

It’s an amazing clip and since several of us had heard the same Radio Lab episode, we couldn’t help but impersonate his screams and shout “Cheese Doodles” at the top of our lungs. It was so funny.

You can watch a video of Cheese Doodles Guy’s extreme happiness here.

WaterDead LeafDespite all this tomfoolery about the Cheese Doodles Guy, I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about what bliss really is. In the Radio Lab episode, they talk about bliss being this supreme state of happiness, almost like a religious experience, where feelings of joy and peace come together to create some amazing moment.

I think I’ve had moments like this. For me, they often result from being in the water. Perhaps in that warmth you feel when you first put on your clothes after a late night swim or during a sit in a hot spring deep within some ancient forest. During experiences like these, I’ve felt deeply at peace and content.

Our HouseOn Sunday night, after our lovely weekend had come to an end, I started to think more about the fact that most of my blissful experiences have a very physical element because of their connection to water. What I’m trying to say is, I think that getting out of a freezing cold mountain lake or relaxing in the warmth of a beautiful  hot spring results in an actual physical change in my body, perhaps the release of endorphins or  serotonin, that allows me to feel a state of bliss.

Huh. I guess this makes me think that I need to start respecting all of my feelings of happiness equally. I need to stop relying on bodies of water for providing these magical moments and realize that if I’m purely happy, it should be good enough to be considered bliss. I shouldn’t need that physical element. That magic.

And so I return to my friends screaming their heads off and pretending to be Cheese Doodles Guy and to all the other deep belly laughs, basketball games, meandering walks, and long talks that we all shared over the past few days.

These experiences all came together to create an amazing weekend that made me truly happy. It was a weekend that I hope to remember as a time of bliss.

Rock on IceFor anyone reading this, please share your comments! Feel free to respond to any of the following questions:

  • What do you think bliss is?
  • Is there a difference between happiness and bliss? What is it?
  • What have been some of your moments of bliss?

Mask, City, Leg Man

Mask

My project for the first week of 2013 was to make some collages. Because my printer is out of ink, I decided that I was going to have to work only with the fashion magazines I had at home. This made things quite challenging since I had a limited palette of images to work with instead of the entire internet. But I suppose this was good because it forced me to be creative and also made me think about all the things I will probably print out and use in future collages.

CityLeg Man

These collages definitely turned out a little weird, though. Have you made any weird art recently? Feel free to share links.

A Few Doodles

BubblesThis week, I’ve made a few doodles here and there. I guess I’m used to doodling since I was doing it almost every night.

Bubbles Triangle Doodle 2  Triangle DoodleUnrelated, Clare from the blog So Many Crafts So Little Time nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger / One Lovely Blog award. Thanks so much Clare!

Here’s the badge I’ll be adding to my sidebar to commemorate my nomination. Thanks to Cristi from Bent on Better Lunches for combining the two original badges into one. Very convenient!

lovelyinspiringaward

The conditions of receiving this award are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award / The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
  3. Share 7 things about yourself.
  4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
  5. Include this set of rules.
  6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

Seven Things About Me

Here are seven entirely random things about me:

  1. I love to travel and have been t0 16 different countries. In February it will be 17 countries because my boyfriend and I are headed to Argentina!
  2. I’m allergic to cats, which is very sad because I like them.
  3. I used to have another blog called Life Less Plastic, which documented my two year experiment in giving up plastic. I got lots of attention for it, and was even on CNN!
  4. I don’t like cheesecake.
  5. I love chocolate.
  6. I’m a huge hot springs enthusiast and have been in hot springs in several different U.S. states and in a few different countries, as well. There’s something amazingly beautiful about sitting in a hot pool of water in an entirely natural setting, maybe even of the middle of some ancient forest. It’s a wonderful experience.
  7. I love baking my own bread! I think it’s magic!

Ten Nominees

Here are the ten blogs I’d like to nominate for the award:

  1. Sarah Takes Pictures – http://sarahtakespictures.com/
  2. Make and Do Girl – http://makeanddogirl.com/
  3. Thefty – http://thefty.wordpress.com/
  4. Kevein Geiger – http://kevingeiger.wordpress.com/
  5. Melange of Life – http://melangeoflife.wordpress.com/
  6. Art by Anto – http://artbyanto.com/
  7. Lady Lira – http://ladylira.com/
  8. Making Games – http://rmatey.wordpress.com/
  9. What Handsome Things – http://handsomethings.com/
  10. Black Crow White Owl – http://blackcrowwhiteowl.com/

Yay! Thanks again, Clare!

Finding Inspiration: Collages

This week, I’m planning to do a series of collages so I’ve spent the past few days scouring the internet for collage pieces that inspire me. I created a collage pinterest board with many of the examples. Here are some of my favorites.

Slow MagicCover art collage for the band Slow Magic

 

Caro-Ma
Collage by Caro-Ma

 

1_squeezingthesun
Collage by Bene Rohlmann

 

5600184854_d3cf9ac0b0_o

Collage by gvmma

 

Bugmask

Collage by James Dawe

 

Bene
Collage by Bene Rohlmann

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Now that my 365 project is done, it’s time to look forward to what’s next. This year, instead of doing a project every single day, I plan to do a more elaborate project every single week. I suppose that will make it a 52 project. I won’t be doing blog posts every single day, but I plan to post about my creative process, project planning, artists that inspire me, and, of course, my own projects.

I’m also welcoming people to submit their own creative works. If you’re interested in being featured, you can learn how to submit you project here.

Of course, it’s also fun to look back. In the last year, I’ve done 366 different projects. Some have been good, some have been great, and some have been, well, just okay.

Below you’ll find my favorite 10 projects from 2012.

1. I really enjoy making collages and this one, Deer Chicago, was really one of my first attempts. Love the results.

2. This is a drawing of the El stop near my house. It’s called California El Stop.

3. One of my favorite projects this year was my video of everything I’ve done this year. Kinda meta.


4. I really enjoyed doing my photography posts. This one, Day in Wisconsin, was definitely a favorite.

5. I did many cooking posts, including this one about Black Bean Soup. It was a huuuuge batch of soup and turned out quite tasty.

6. My neighbor has a rather nice and rather goofy-looking dog. It inspired me to draw this Boston Terrier.

7. Around halloween, I got inspired to draw many creepy characters such as this Cosby Skeleton.

8. During 2012, I made my first ever animation in the form of a Flip Book. It was very fun to do.

 

9. Even though I don’t have any real sound equipment, I recorded a few of the songs I wrote last year. Here’s one called Goodbye Summer.

 

10. Last but not least is my collage of Rose Byrne. It doesn’t really look like her, but I think it turned out pretty cool.

 

Day 366: Elk’s Own

Elks' Own Last night, I made my final creation for my 365 project. Since it was New Year’s Eve, I decided that a fancy beverage would be the perfect thing so I whipped up a batch of Elk’s Own cocktails. I followed the recipe in my Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide but added a bit more sugar so as to mimic the drinks I’ve had at establishments like The Whistler and Scofflaw in Chicago. They turned out pretty good–impressive considering it was my first time ever even using a cocktail shaker–and the port wine in the recipe gave the drinks a lovely color. See below for the recipe.

Jim and a DrinkHere’s Jim enjoying his Elks’ Own and looking rather dashing in his suit.Friend in Party HatChristina was celebrating the night (which was New Year’s Eve and her birthday!)  by dancing around with the flowers her husband gave her. She also wore the party hat I made for her all night. Yay!

RoomiesTo maintain some semblance of order, Christina wrote our name on all of our drinks. Here’s mine next to Jenny’s drink. She’s my roomie now, but she’s moving out at the end of January. I’m going to miss her!

Annnnyways, it was a fun night and a nice way to end a good year. I had many good times with friends and family over these past 12 months (examples: a lovely March campfire in my parents’ backyard, Sunday dinners with friends, an amazing birthday party), and I also feel like I achieved a lot with my 365 project. I made so many things, learned so much, and really proved to myself that I could take on such a difficult challenge.

Thanks so much to all my friends, family, and blog followers for all your support this year! You’ve been wonderful!

Elks’ Own Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 ounces rye whiskey (I used Old Overholt)
  • 3/4 ounces good port wine
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of simple syrup
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously until a soft foam forms. About 30 seconds.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously to cool the drink.
  3. Strain into a small glass and enjoy!