Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Crabapple for the sensei



Our Man loves Molly Crabapple's sketches. Check out her work from Guantanamo Bay too. Hmmm. Our Man fancies having a go at this politically charged sketching. Might be something or other for him to sketch in the coming month. You know, the Japanese election that Abe has just called. Yes, Our Man can tell you're as excited as he is. Shame the coronation of Abe has all the sexiness of a city council planning subcommittee. But, with the news of another election, Our Man could rerelease Guts Pose: the Diary of A Japanese Election Gone Bad. If anyone wants to relive the, er, excitement of 2012 or 13 or whenever it was.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Uncomfortable truths


An article in the NYT by Mindy Kotler even better than this excellent illustration by Robert G. Fresson. Our Man's only quibble is that if the US thinks anyone really believes US foreign policy is based on a respect for human rights, well, he likes contemporary fiction too. Still, two wrongs don't make a right and all that.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Nobody died


Our Man's not so happy with his latest watercolour. It's all right as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far. And apologies for the poor attempt at kanji on the sign. Oh, sorry, remiss of Our Man, let him introduce you: this is Suzukiya, an old-style, upmarket inn and restaurant on Route 356 that Our Man passes on his way to work most days.

The sky is better than Monday's effort and Our Man is beginning to figure out how to paint trees. The downside is the sketch, though true enough to its subject, lacks a little punch. Lack of a focal point? Cold pallette? No people walking about?

Ahh, but whatever. It is what it is. Our Man might like it tomorrow, so all is good. The great thing about painting, writing and showing your arse in public is even when it sucks, nobody dies. And some deranged folk might even think it doesn't suck.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Too many shades of grey


Picked up Our Man's dog-eared copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 along with the bottle of shochu after work today. And then in a Vonnegutian coincidence, noticed he was quoted in this angry rejoinder to the US legally mandated preference for the patriotically correct Veterans' Day rather than the sacred Armistice Day. Our Man likes Vonnegut.

Anyway, this here is Our man's latest. He cocked up the sky -- what was going to be a stunning wet-on-wet sunset of dazzle behind an otherwise nondescript 60s relic of an Abikan house became a trench-footian mess of mud after Our Man committed the watercolorist's worst sin of adding light tone onto dark by mistake. Still, who knew dull grey had so many constituent colours? 

So it goes.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Wet behind the ears


Our Man's first ever painting, rather than coloured-in sketch. It's a boat on the Teganuma marsh round the corner from the bunker in just three colours - yellow, light blue and dark blue. It's also the first time he ever did wet on wet, which amazingly is legal in these parts. It was his attempt to ape this proper wine-glass-mixing artist on YouTube. Though Our Man was armed only with a 100-yen watercolour set, a piece of paper and Our Woman's shopping bicycle. You don't really need anything else.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Instant art, just add water


Somehow Our Man blew his hour lunch break that he'd earmarked for sketching on trying to decode the Japanese heating instructions on a packet of microwave fettuccine and when he got home the light was fading and he thought he'd lost his opportunity to sketch today. But all was not lost. He nipped upstairs and while bringing the washing in, thought he could make out enough of the details of the rooftops to capture something of the flavour of his neighbourhood. Sketched in an hour and watercolours added (from memory) in 30 minutes or so on the dining table. Served fresh to you. Ching!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Almost cut my hair


Our Man passes this place on Route 356 just about every day and has been meaning to sketch it for just about as long. At first, he thought it was a poorly named pub, but then he noticed the pole and realised it was not Bar Ber, but a barber's. But hasn't been active since the beehive was superseded by the mullet by the looks of the decor.

Today, Our Man finally got round to committing the place to paper. He sat in a gravel car park across the road in his new fold-up chair and managed to complete the sketch and watercolours on scene. He spoke to an old lady who made polite noises about his efforts, and a rather brusque younger chap who as far as Our Man could tell wanted it made clear that the car park was his and although I could sit there it was at his pleasure not mine. In such circumstances, as in all of life, Our Man finds the best course of action is

a) Act first, seek permission later
b) When inevitably busted, plead ignorance
c) Use a deft mix of deference and self-deprecation to disarm
d) Carry on regardless.

Almost cut my hair. But instead, I let my freak flag fly.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Soccer moms


November 2nd, 2014, was not the greatest day in the history of Abikan girls' soccer. The results of Abiko's three 5-a-side games were: Narita 8-0 Abiko, Kashiwa 4-0 Abiko and Matsudo 14-0 Abiko. The silver lining was Our Man's youngest played in goal for the first time and let in the least (just 4, ahem). And the stadium in Kashiwa also impressively outmatched the occasion, with a pro-running track, real grass pitch and seating for 10,000 spectators.

Here's three of them.

Carry on.

Yellow flight


Sure, a boxy block of flats in downtown Abiko probably isn’t most folks’ idea of sexy.

But Our Man has always been intrigued by the brazen yellowness of the ceilings of the flights of stairs that hint at a secret life behind the barred faux paper-screen windows he can hardly dare to imagine. Something like that anyway.

He would have added more detail but Our Woman summoned him to buy some plastic bags, which was probably just as well as a whopping great delivery truck had just pulled up in front of Our Man, blocking his view completely just as he was going to start detailing the car. Lessons learned from this sketch:
  1. When on location, sketch the likely to move, or be obstructed items first (cars and passers-by).
  2. Vanishing points, even if you can’t see them, really should exist.
  3. Don’t carry a mobile phone. Ever.