Okinawa

I’ve just spent eight glorious days in Okinawa for the first time. It was the perfect moment and place for a break from work. We landed in the wake of a typhoon, which meant the days to start with were a little grey, but the sun soon came out, and the seas turned their famous turquoise blue…

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We stayed in two beautiful airbnb places, both lovingly made of wood, to fit into the landscape, a mix of Japanese and Western aesthetic.

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We visited the huge aquarium, and I loved seeing the weird and wonderful sea creatures, but am at the same time upset by seeing the larger fish, like whale sharks and manatees, in such confined spaces. Somehow it seems wrong…

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I absolutely loved all the local food we tried, the shaved iced with tropical fruits, the ‘seagrapes’ that burst in a savoury tingle in your mouth, and the agu okinawan pork dishes.

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I sketched here and there, taking in the glorious skies. This is the famous ‘heart rocks’ on Kouri Island. I’m not too sure they really look like hearts, but still liked them anyway!

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I loved watching the sea and the sky changing …

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I definately want to go back. Maybe next time to visit some of the outer islands and reefs, and do a little more looking at fish, but this time out in the wild.

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Izu visit

Last weekend I took a trip to the Izu peninsula, not too far from Tokyo. It was a perfect day for a cable car ride to the top of a hill to look at Mt Fuji in the distance.

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I did a quick sketch and had an icecream and enjoyed the wonderful sunshine.

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We stayed overnight in a ryokan, and they offered us a private onsen rotemburo, which was wonderful! And then we took the little train past the rice fields the next day on the way back to Tokyo…

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exhibition - artists books

I have two pieces in the show ‘Reading Between the Lines’ that’s opening tonight at the Launch Pad Gallery in Yokohama. I’m an honorary member of the Art Byte Critique group, who are holding the exhibition. I’m showing my first artists book ‘The Perfect Cup of Tea’, which is made of a long 12 block mokuhanga print, in an accordian-fold book.

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I also have my mokuhanga piece ‘into the garden’ on display, waving slightly in the breeze.

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There are so many lovely books to look at! I do hope you’ll manage to pop down and take a look.

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Weekly Affirmations

My illustration agent Marlena Agency made a little book called ‘Weekly Affirmations’ with 52 positive affirmations left by Buddhist teacher Trime Lhamo. I was asked to do the lettering for the cover and inside headings.

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Each affirmation is illustrated, and I chose to do this one with my peony etchings and hand-lettering.

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At the moment it’s not a book that you can buy, but if you manage to get hold of one, hope you enjoy it and get the benefit of these mindful and thoughtful teachings!

Hong Kong

On my way back to Tokyo I stopped in Hong Kong for a few days of work, and spent alot of time looking out at the rain from buses, trams and taxis, going from meeting to meeting...

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I was happy to see my HK toile products at HK airport, and also to sip tea from them at my friends house.

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When it wasn't raining I enjoyed walking around Sheung Wan...

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...and when it was, I sheltered in various places, like the Man Mo temple.

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Even in the summer rain, I love Hong Kong!

Oxford - Tolkien

I made a trip to Oxford while I was in the UK, specially to see the J.R.R.Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian Library. It was incredible to see the original artwork for the Hobbit, and all the notes Tolkien made , as well as the many fan letters he received. I loved the one from a Mr Sam Gamgee!

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Oxford itself was golden and beautiful in the August sunshine, with cobbled streets and punts on the river.

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We stayed overnight in St Stephen's College, an old monastery, and had our sandwiches in the quad.

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The views of the dreaming spires were delightful, and the evening was warm and gentle.

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We also visited Whittington Court in Gloucestershire, a delightful old house with beautiful interiors. I sketched some of the things in the living room as we listened to the history of the house. 

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The gardens were lush and a little wild, my favourite kind! Maybe I can visit again next time for a longer stay...

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Brecon Beacons

A quiet, restful holiday in the English countryside was just what I needed, and our trip to the Brecon Beacons was perfect!

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We stayed in a wonderful little cabin at Little Trewern Farm, in a meadow all our own, and I sketched happily every day.

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We had fresh eggs in the morning with our breakfast, which we ate sitting outside, and then went walking and of course had plenty of naps!

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We visited the site of Dinas Castle, the highest in England and Wales, and I painted the dramatic views all around. 

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I'm on my way back to Asia very soon, but I already miss the green of the landscapes in this part of the world.

London

A summer visit to London makes me so happy: meals with friends, a picnic in the park, and so many exhibitions to see. We stayed in a tiny hotel in Paddington, with a lovely view over the rooftops. Here are the sunset and sunrise...

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We saw the incredible mastaba sculpture installation by Christo in the Serpentine river...

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...and watched the sublime The King and I at the London Palladium with Ken Watanabe. It was such a joy!

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The Great British Seaside exhibition at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich was inspiring and emotional, especially the photographs of Martin Parr, always a favourite!

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I'm here for another week, so more London blog soon...

Hong Kong visit

I made a whirlwind stop in HK and managed to fit in an amazing amount of wonderful things. I always love the neon nights in the city...

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We visited the HK Park aviary, which I haven't done in a while, and I enjoyed sketching the birds.

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And whilst in HK Park, a visit to the Flagstaff House Tea Museum is always a special treat...

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See you very soon HK!

blue exhibition

I have some prints in the upcoming show BLUE at CLOUDS ART + COFFEE in Koenji, Tokyo, which is opening this week. I coloured this teacup print with blue spots especially for the show.

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I'll also be showing the blue version of my peony mokuhanga print.

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The exhibition runs from tuesday 7th of August until sunday 12th August, 10am to 6pm
There is a reception on saturday 11th August from 6-8pm (I won't be there unfortunately) but I hope you'll still drop by! Everything is for sale!

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All details:

CLOUDS ART+COFFEE

2-25-4 Koenjikita Suginami-ku, Tokyo 166-0002 

03-5356-9358 

info@cloudsartcffee.com
cloudsartcoffee.com
東京都杉並区高円寺北2-25-4

birthday party!

I've had a lovely birthday week, with friends and treats and tea, it's been wonderful...

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I love baking, and baking for my favourite people especially!

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Thanks to everyone who came to party and eat cake and cucumber sandwiches!

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I painted a little sketch afterwards of the delicious sponge cake my friend Alvin brought!

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exhibition

I have two pieces in the group show journey's beginning at the Setagaya Museum Gallery, Tokyo, along with this list of fantastic ladies:

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There's an artists reception party tomorrow night (saturday 21st July) and I'll be there. Hope you can pop along and meet us all!

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I've never shown any of my paintings before, so I'm a little nervous. Hopefully it won't look too awkward. Here's a little detail of my Bontan Ame painting:

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The artwork won't be for sale (it's a museum!) but I will put edition prints of my maneki neko for sale in my shop after the show ends. 

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See you there!

Gion matsuri

This weekend I went to the Gion matsuri in Kyoto and enjoyed all the many facets of this amazing festival. On the 17th, during the morning, there was a parade, with lots of different floats pulled along the streets for everyone to see.

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This grand procession of floats (Yamaboko Junko) was fabulous and colourful, and I managed to do some quick sketching, but it was honestly just too hot to stand around for long! Kyoto in the summer is really no joke...

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On the nights preceding the parade, all the floats are put on display with lanterns and music and shopping...

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The packed streets are lined with games to play and food stalls, and it was so fun to try as much as possible!

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Here are some boys in yukata playing bells and drums with long strings, sitting inside one of the floats.

I loved the lights and colours and the feeling of everyone out having a nice time together, but the temperatures of 38C made it a little difficult. It might be a while before I go to this again!

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tosca

I went to see Tosca at the New National Theatre, Tokyo and absolutely loved it. Of course the singing was lovely, but the incredible sets were truly breathtaking, and the lighting was masterful...

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I tried to draw, because the costumes and poses were so wonderful, but it was pitch black and I couldn't see my sketchbook at all, so it was sort of guesswork. I worked up two of the sketches I did afterwards, and added some colour...

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The singer who was Scarpia liked my drawing on instagram, which made me happy!

pine cup

Here's a little sketch of a tiny sake cup I bought at a flea market in Tokyo a little while ago...

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I've been collecting a few pieces that I really want to draw, and hopefully will be able to put them together into a project soon!

Yayoi Kusama museum

After trying for several months, I finally managed to get tickets to the new Yayoi Kusuma museum in Tokyo. So exciting!

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There was no photography allowed in several of the rooms, but this mosiac pumpkin on the roof in the open air was lovely to draw and selfie with!

I really enjoyed this pumpkin light installation too, it was really magical...

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nail designs

I get my nails done when I'm in HK by an incredible lady who interprets my artwork into a nail pattern. These are the ones I got last week, to match my mokuhanga garden print.

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I love experimenting and thinking of designs, and I especially liked these dark ones, to match one of my etchings.

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I really liked this more minimal combo of pink and grey too, made to match my Chinese New Year design.

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Hong Kong part two

This week I spent in meetings, and the rain. So much rain. Typhoons and the rainy season, here we are again...

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The rain made all the neon and street lights glow even more beautifully than usual, and I photographed the many ways lights fascinate me there.

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I attended a gala for onesky, and drew sketches of the presenters. It was an amazing evening and raised funding for this wonderful charity, hurrah!

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I visited PMQ and the HKTDC shop there sells my HK toile products, which I always love to see.

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On my last day I did this little watercolour sketch of the red room, where I stayed at my friend's house. I love this room so much! 

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And of course I ate dimsum at City Hall with my friends, my all-time favourite HK thing to do. I already can't wait to go back...

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Hong Kong

I'm in HK this week, meeting clients and eating great food. I took the weekend off to get into the HK mood...

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I love HK so much, in so many ways. Visually I find it fascinating, and always inspiring. I don't take enough time to sketch here, as I'm usually running around, so I'm making an effort to take the time...

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I miss dim sum and Chinese noodles and all the local desserts when I'm away, and they tend to be the things I look for as soon as I can when I'm back.

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I really enjoyed being a tourist for a day, and taking the star ferry to see the view from both sides of the harbour.

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This really is a crazy beautiful city.

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sumo

Last week I went to watch the Tokyo sumo tournament and absolutely loved it! The space is beautiful and the crowds loud and appreciative...

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I sketched the whole arena and then the players. 

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I loved the old-timey photographs and memorabilia in the metro station, so you could get in the sumo mood!

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