Four Birds

My dad sent me a book about Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchu!  It’s called Colorful Realm, and it catalogues a special exhibition at the National Gallery of Art.  You can see the book here.

Jakuchu’s paintings are breathtaking. One of his techniques involves painting on the underside of the image, which makes it luminous.  After looking through the book for a while, I made these two pieces: 

You can find the first of these pieces in my etsy shop.

Not So Still Life

There is a cat who lives in the grocery store next door.  If you put your basket of groceries down on the wooden floor, she will come running to see what you have chosen.  She hides her face in the beet greens so that her head looks like something growing in a garden.

Down the road, near the waterfront, there is an old building painted in drips of bright colors and decorated with curious objects.  A feline family lives here.

Though I’m more of a dog person (I’m allergic to cats!), I like cats, too.  I like the way they dart about the neighborhood, and the way curiosity draws them out from their hiding places:

Painting with Grandma Claire

My grandmother Claire was a painter.  She studied at the Art Students League of New York and created beautiful semi-abstract paintings in vivid colors. Later, when she moved out to California, she taught me to oil paint. She would set up an easel in the backyard or in her kitchen and let me roam free on canvas.  She taught me how to clean the brushes on a bar of soap to keep the bristles soft.  And she would heat up a can of chicken broth for lunch, adding little noodles and peas. It was my favorite!

When my grandma passed away, I inherited her old wooden box of paints, her brushes, and her unfinished canvases.  Today, whenever I pick up a brush, or even smell a bit of turpentine, I think of her.

There is a painting in my room that I made last year. I left it a bit unfinished because I liked it that way.  I can imagine my grandma, sitting in her kitchen somewhere, filling in the missing brushstrokes.