22 December 2013

Happy Christmas

I wish you a wonderful Christmas!

This sketch is from the Christmas last year. I wish I was going back to Cambridge for Christmas! The three Christmases I had in England were all gorgeous memories.
I can not find any of those Christmasy things like the real spruce tree or Christmas pudding, panattoni, mince pies, stilton, crackers with paper crowns or a big Father Christmas chocolate here in Japan. But I insisted on buying brussel sprouts, at least!


This year, I was in Christmas mood as early as the last day of May. Because that day I received an e-mail with the subject "Happy Christmas." It was from the editor of the Atlantis verlag in Switzerland offering a book deal for my Christmas story which I showed in Bologna. I am still working on it but almost there to finish the actual artworks! So it is indeed a very happy Christmas for me. The book should be out sometime in late summer next year.

20 December 2013

Watarase Resevoir

I had a wonderful day at Watarase Resevoir even though it was drizzling all the time. Utaka Godo, a wildlife artist and I have been planing to make some opportunities to sketch birds, wildlife and nature landscape with other "sketchers." I am dreaming of having the Seabird Drawing Course in Japan! And this was the very first step. We sketched together!  

This resevoir in the middle of Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama and Gunma prefecture, was created to purify the water by precipitating the mineral poison from the Ashio Copper Mine, which caused a big pollution in the late 19th century. It now has huge reed beds and some eastern marsh harriers and hen harriers roost there. In fact we had fantastic close up sights of hen harriers, Mr. & Ms. Grey!
Last year, this place was listed on the The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. As I studied the Ramsar sites, I learned that almost all the nature reserves in the UK are on the list! Splendid!

Rain drops (not snow flakes as it was forecasted) fell on the left part of this painting because I was drawing it on the passenger seat and the window was open. It was that wet. But because of that, the trees in the mere were all in dark colour and looked characteristic.

And since it was a rainy weekday, nobody was there to watch birds. The path was turning into public baths! There were large number of rustic buntings, quite a lot of oriental greenfinches, black-faced buntings, azure-winged magpies, a long-tailed rosefinch came to take a bath! An oriental turtle dove and a Japanese pheasant were walking by.


Eastern Buzzard



17 December 2013

Christmas Cormorant Count

Last Sunday was CCC (Christmas Cormorant Count), an event to follow the movements of the cormorants, which leave their colony in Gyotoku early in the morning. 40 of us spread around the area and stood at the beaches or on the bridges along the rivers, where we could see cormorants flying, and recorded their movement, number and time that we watched from 6-9 in the morning. While researching, we each could only see what we saw from the certain place. But later, when we combined the results, we could follow some big flocks of cormorants, where they flew to and landed on water to feed.
This was something like its tenth year or more (depending on which year to count for the beginning) and this annual event is becoming an established one. Even I joined it six times since 2006! It's a wonderful event for students and local bird watchers to step in the world of researching birds.

After the research in the morning, there were several more events to follow. But I skipped some and drew birds from the Gyotoku Bird Observatory. This reserve is one of very few reserves in Japan which has chairs and desks to sit and watch birds. It's nice to have them for drawing purpose!

The grey heron in the dusk.

A grey heron caught a huge flat fish and tried to gulp it down. But he couldn't. The fish was too big. He dropped it, picked it and tried to gulp it several times... but he couldn't! He brought the fish on to a bank and tried it again there... but he couldn't!! It seems that he really didn't manage this time. Silly Heron!

A study of the black-headed gulls.

I even did some "colour studies" inspired by Turner!

There was a Christmas party in the evening. The great thing about this event was that many people from different background, including research specialists, conservationists and famous artists, joined and we could talk to each other like longtime friends.

14 December 2013


丸一日、上野で過ごした。 昼過ぎまではスケッチブックをかかえて不忍池でカモを描き、日が傾いてからターナー展とエドヴァルド・ムンク版画展。たまには刺激のある日も重要だ。

Shoveler at the Shinobazu Pond. This pond with lotuses is in the middle of Tokyo but always has several kinds of ducks in winter and we can see them right in front of us.

It was very difficult to paint this scenery with many dead lotus stems and leaves, ducks in the water. The more I worked on the more it got muddy!

There is someone feeding sparrows regularly by the pond. So sparrows (I found that quite a lot of them were young one) were very tame. This one came near me as close as 30-50 cm as I was sitting quietly and drawing ducks.

Pintail is one of the commonest ducks in winter here.

In the late afternoon, I went in two museums to see the special exhibition of Turner and the prints of Munch. The Turner was fantastic! There were a lot of sketches (including some in his sketchbooks) and colour studies as well as finished paintings. I love looking at those unfinished works or study works because I feel that I could somehow see the secret of making the amazing pieces. And a lot of subjects he drew were familiar British sceneries and those in Venice. Oh, how I miss those beautiful places!
The small exhibition of Munch's prints was also interesting. There was a series of prints from his story Alpha & Omega inspired from the story of Adam and Eve. His strong lines and posture of people are so beautiful! I learned that Gil Shohat made an opera out of the series in Hebrew. Interesting!

7 December 2013


For almost the whole month of November, I was working on designing and making this leaflet and brochure for the YBIRD travel agency. The brochure has 20 pages and includes all the tour advertisements as well as some articles written by the bird guides. I wouldn't have been able to do it if I haven't leaned all the techniques on Photoshop and In Design from my classmates. Thank you!

I made this cover image with two layers of monoprint and a layer of lino. Monoprint was much fun!

When the print came out, I immediately realised that the back ground colour is slightly different from page to page... it's always this way! When something comes out from the printer, I find mistakes that I couldn't find during my count less number of checking! It's very frustrating! Well, it is almost impossible to make a perfect data without a colour proof... isn't it?