Lassen National Park

This weekend I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. It had forests, volcanic rocks, and beautiful lush meadows with wildflowers… There were tiny streams and creeks of clear icy water…and incredible mountain-top lakes, surrounded by snow.We watched the Perseid meteor shower and saw many falling stars.It was like a dream…

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Vermont map

I recently illustrated a small map of Vermont for Middlebury Magazine. It’s a lovely little article about the author’s annual journey to Bread Loaf. I think it’s always interesting to see how an illustration starts, so these are the initial sketches I made when I was thinking about how to approach the project. The first sketch, which I ended up working with, shows the map from an aerial bird-eye view, and the entire route. The second sketch shows the road to Bread Loaf in a more 3 dimensional way, although some of the road is hidden behind hills…I take the page layout into consideration when I work, so it makes me happy to see everything come together nicely on the printed page.

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birthday

As usual, I like to make my birthday last longer than a day, so I had three! On my actual birthday I went out for dinner to the Cliff House in San Francisco, and enjoyed a relaxed dinner with sunset views over the Pacific.I was given a little cooking course as a gift, and spent the next morning with chef Jean Yves in his kitchen learning how to make pate a choux and eclairs. So delicieux!Then my birthday picnic in the park. I love spending time with friends, eating sandwiches and cake, in the sunshine on a lovely day…Summer birthdays are the best!

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mokuhanga print

I completed one large-ish print while I was on the mokuhanga residency in Japan: one that features plants in a garden. I was inspired by the abundant greenery all around the house, and in the surrounding gardens.I did some initial pencil sketches and arranged them in a wide landscape.Then did a painted version to work out solid areas of colour.I then started carving a long block of shina wood. And then carved, and carved some more…When the block was fully carved, I set up, ready to print.It’s the largest mokuhanga print I’ve ever made, and was extremely challenging. But I learnt alot, and really pushed myself. I had only meant to do a pink and green version, but felt that blues might work too. I’m now fond of them both!I intend to take the print further, and create an artists book out of it. It’ll be shown in Hawaii in a few month’s time, and I’ll blog again when it’s all done…

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tokyo

This week I spent a few days in Tokyo, visiting friends, art stores and exhibitions. First stop the Ota Museum in Harajuku, to a ukiyoe exhibition of Edo from the water, and then the Nezu Museum, to a ceramics one. Both were wonderful, and highly recommended!Then on to Pigment, a store with paints and paraphanelia, and more brushes than I’ve ever seen in my life. So. Many. Brushes. And all of them gorgeous.I love the city, well, cities generally, but in particular Tokyo, and I find the everyday urban views beautiful. Even just the railways at dusk, walking home after an exhausting day.Can’t wait to visit again soon!

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mokuhanga peony

This week I’ve been busy carving and printing, and trying out all sorts of new things. Here’s a picture of my little peony print with some experimental paper cutting…

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Kawaguchiko

This weekend I did a little sightseeing around where I’m staying, in Kawaguchiko, Japan. There are a series of caves you can visit at the foot of Mt Fuji, formed from lava from the last eruption. The Narusawa Ice Cave is one of them, and is a National Monument. And also a little bit scary to get through due to the extremely low ceilings. The entrance is fascinating, as you go down under the floor of the forest, and suddenly it’s literally ice cold, like you’ve walked into a fridge. The haze you can see in the photo is the air condensating between hot + humid and freezing!

A walk in the sea of trees, along lava strewn paths, was also truly beautiful: it had my favourite combo of moss and ferns.I visited a site called Saiko Iyashi no sato NENBA, a recreation of a thatched village that was destroyed by a typhoon in the 60s. Each lovely building had examples of local crafts.And of course, a visit to the opposite side of Lake Kawaguchiko, to get a magnificent view of the sacred mountain, looking just like a Hokusai print.

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mokuhanga peony

This week I carved a small block from cherrywood (my first) to do some paper-testing. I printed two versions of my peony design onto many different types of washi paper to decide what sort I would use for my big project.

I’m hoping to do some bokashi printing, and wanted a paper that would show the gentle gradations well, as well as printing black sumi ink sharply.

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mi-lab

I’m in Kawaguchiko, Japan, for the next few weeks, on a mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock) printmaking artists residency with mi-lab. It’s in a beautiful location in a small town on the edge of the lake at the foot of Mt Fuji. I’m working on a series of prints, but in the meantime, here are some little sketches of the famous mountain.The views all around are beautiful, surrounded by mountains, wildflower meadows, and small farm plots,

but it’s Mt Fuji that dominates the landscape, whenever it appears from behind the clouds…

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HK/Japan

This week my mokuhanga artists residency starts in rural Japan. On my way here I spent a day in Hong Kong……a few days in Tokyo……and am now here, through the mountains…..at the foot of Mt Fuji. I’m looking forward to spending some time in one place, making prints.

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