The helpful handtowel samurai

A little thing I did during my September 2009 trip to Japan. I was relaxing in my room after a hard day of relaxing in the various hot springs at Oodaru Spa Amagisou, drinking cold beer and chomping down sembei crackers while watching Japanese tv. There was some sort of live action & stop-motion commercial featuring this guy, in which he instructed a visiting tourist about the proper way to eat soba noodles (by dipping them in the accompanying sauce with your chopsticks). He used his toothpick sword to cut her soba. It was far too cute not to draw.

This reminds me of another commercial I saw during my stay. I think it was for Asahi beer? An adorably graying middle aged guy walking with swinging arms to the corner combini to buy his daily beer, singing about how much he loves a cold one after a day’s work (“ma-i-ni-chi ♪ ma-i-ni-chi ♪ ♪ … suki ni nattchao yo”), which the girl behind the counter mistakes as a love confession. Wish I could find it online somewhere, there was something so charming about his cheery face and little song.

Kanshinbashi bridge

Kanshinbashi bridge

Another 3×5 inch “I’mma paint this bigger someday” watercolor study. Not a great scan, but it’ll have to do for now.

I’m starting to get a good workflow with these. I just set up a “photos to paint” folder, much easier to flip through when I get the urge. Only has my Japan 2009 trip photos in it so far, but that’ll change. I’ve taken hundreds of pictures over the past few years with this aim in mind.

I picked this one out on Friday night and spent a little while tweaking it in Photoshop, adjusting levels and changing the colors to bring it closer to what I wanted. I deleted some elements to improve the composition, and because I knew I’d be doing this too small for them to come across. Then I did a quick pencil sketch to warm up, get a sense of the values, work out perspective and do a little more compositional editing in the process. Then I drew it again on watercolor paper and busted out the paint!

I took lots of notes this time on the color mixtures I used, techniques that worked well, and things I wanted to improve on the second time around. I also tested my colors out on scraps of paper, with even more notes about things like dilution strength and drying times.  I’m going to file these all together with this painting, to refer back to when I go to do the big version.

I like these little paintings: I can get them done in the course of a couple of nights, which is satisfying, and I’m not terribly worried about screwing them up. They also force me to simplify, since there’s not as much room for detail. But I do tend to go crosseyed after a few hours of working on them, and I kinda miss all that detail. I’m trying to coax myself into painting bigger.