Tuesday, January 31, 2006

teapot no. 27

for Thich Nhat Hanh

How many years of suffering
revealed in hands like his
small and deliberate as a child's

The way he raises them
from his lap, grasps the teacup
with sure, unhurried ease

Yet full of anticipation
for what he will taste in each sip
he drinks as if it's his first time

Lifts the cup to his mouth,
a man who's been practicing all his life,
each time tasting something new.

~ Amy Uyematsu ~

(Stone Bow Prayer)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

teapot no. 23

Teapot no. 23 is another left-hand experiment: sketched and painted with my non dominant writing/drawing hand. The line of mountains represent the San Francisco Peaks in Northern Arizona, my favorite mountains.

Watercolor on Arches cold pressed paper.

* * * * * * *

Here's an excerpt from Dogen Zenji's Mountains and Waters Sutra.
Dogen (1200-1253) founded the Soto sect of Zen in Japan. Mountains and Waters Sutra is part of his major work, Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma. This translation is by Arnold Kotler and Kazuaki Tanahashi.

There are mountains hidden in treasures. There are mountains hidden in swamps. There are mountains hidden in the sky. There are mountains hidden in mountains. There are mountains hidden in hiddenness. This is complete understanding.
An ancient buddha said, "Mountains are mountains, waters are waters." These words do not mean mountains are mountains; they mean mountains are mountains.
Therefore investigate mountains thoroughly. When you investigate mountains thoroughly, this is the work of the mountains.
Such mountains and waters of themselves become wise persons and sages.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Shirley at Pho King

My friend, Shirley, and I went to Pho King in Seaside last night for dinner. While we were waiting for our Pho to arrive, I took out my ball point pen and began doing a contour drawing on the white paper placemat. I see white paper, I draw.
At home, I colored it in with my colored pencils. The arc marks on her face are from my pho bowl.

I am inspired by Blue Cin who does wonderful drawings with a Bic pen.

Friday, January 20, 2006

teapot no. 20: rainbow pot

This morning I decided to paint teapot no. 20 with my non dominant hand, my left hand, and without wearing my glasses.

80 more teapots to paint.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Going on a tea break

A long tea break...

Be back soon.

* * * * * * *

In the above photo, I am in the Japanese tea house at Green Gulch Zen Center in Muir Beach, Northern California. I am learning how to fold the tea napkin used in the Japanese tea ceremony.
In August, 2001, I attended the American School of Japanese Arts held at Green Gulch Zen Center. For eight full and exciting days, I practiced chanoyu (tea ceremony), bokugi (Japanese brush), shintaido (a new body/spirit exercise), and kyogen (comic theatre) with fifteen other students and our senseis.

We wore hakama (split leg kimono) and geta (wooden sandals) and slept in the beautiful guest house on the grounds of Green Gulch.

The entire ASJA program--daily lessons, the master teachers, the students, as well as the environment at the Zen Center--was amazing.

More ASJA photos to follow.

Monday, January 16, 2006

teapot nos. 16 & 17

I got a new box of 64 Crayola crayons to create 'fake batik' drawings. Here are teapots 16 and 17, drawn with crayons and watercolor on cheap Walgreen's watercolor paper.

The practice of smiling

Yesterday, I took Yuki to the beach at Asilomar. It was cold and windy with a few clouds and some sunshine. Yuki got to run with the wind and sniff big piles of tangled seaweed where swarms of fleas hang out. I saw a pelican dive bomb straight down into the water for a fish. A pod of dolphins were out there, too, playing in the waves.
During this colder, grey time of year, thoughts of Tucson sunshine and blue skies creep in. I wonder how anyone can live in places where it is truly dark and dismal for many months on end. Here in Monterey, we'll have several days of rainy weather followed by a spectacularly sunshine-y day. My body likes sunshine.
So, these little nature trips to the beach with Yuki rouse my body with sea energy, a sunshine substitute. There, I watch Yuki running joyfully, I feel the cold snappy wind on my body, I look at waves, and notice sea otters enjoying this ocean world, despite the cold and grey. Seeing the sea otters play always brings a smile to my face.
And smiling, while breathing in and out, gently and naturally, relaxes my entire mind and body. Laughing and smiling--even consciously, as a practice--frees my mind and soothes my body. Simply playing and being aware (breathing in and out, not attaching to my thoughts) allows space for my inherent joy to surface. This inherent joy is my true nature.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Here's the colored in version of the brush drawing I made yesterday. Colored with Lyra brand Rembrandt colored pencils.

* * * * * * *

I watched Spirited Away the other night for the 2nd time. Miyazaki Hayao's films remind me of watercolors; they're so beautiful with their layers of color. He draws all of his animations on story boards first. I also like the playfulness in the stories.
So far I have only seen Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away), and Majo no Takkyuubin (Kiki's Delivery Service), all in both English and Japanese. I usually show Totoro as part of the "Japanese Culture Through Art" classes that I teach. All the kids like the flying cat bus (neko-basu). Who wouldn't like to get on board a cat bus that flies over the trees?
Another favorite part is when the sisters, Mei and Satsuki, help to raise the huge tree. It's a magical sequence which shows the Japanese reverence for trees and for nature. There's so much in the film that can be used to explain Japanese culture and language.
I also enjoy showing Big Bird in Japan. Kids LOVE the One-Two-Three means ichi-ni-san song. Using this movie in ESL/ELD and bilingual classrooms, I have witnessed that playfulness of language encourages sound experimentation, imitation, and eagerness to learn more Japanese through the medium of English.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Morning sketch, January 14th

teapot no. 15

Here's teapot no. 15. It's actually a white teapot, but i chose to paint it pink. I don't know yet how to get white things to look white on white paper with watercolor. I'll just have to experiment. I read once that an ancient Chinese Zen monk-painter-poet was asked how one learns to paint bamboo. His answer was to look at bamboo for ten years. I've kept that saying inside of me as I walk around and look closely at things. Sometimes I have looked at a particular shadow on tree bark, at the colors of the southwestern sunset, or light on the mountains, and wondered how I could paint these things. The "answer" is to just look and wonder. Then, pick up the brush and paint the wonder that seeps in. It takes time and lots of walking and looking. There's no technique, really. It's all about seeing and becoming the thing that you are painting.

I'm a little teapot short and stout
Here is my handle, here is my spout..."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

teapot no. 14

Yesterday I went to Walgreen's for a small calendar book. I found a small stack with a choice of two cover photos, a lighthouse or a floppy eared dog, for only $1. I took the lighthouse. At home, I made a new cover from construction paper, which you see here as teapot no. 14.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Morning sketch

This morning, my friend Christopher called me from Paris. We don't talk very often, and haven't seen each other for about 14 years now, yet our friendship is still so easy and warm. Only place (or space) separates us. Before Chris called, I was sitting on my floor sketching the above in a Moleskine Volante journal with my Kaimei brush pen. My intention was to do a quick sketch. I will need to shorten my art making time and lengthen my portfolio working time if I am ever to finish this MATESOL degree. Will I do it? This remains to be seen....

Sunday, January 08, 2006

teapot no. 13

I painted this teapot with acrylic paints on 100 lb. Bristol paper.

Take a look at the growing set of 100 teapots.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006