Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Coelacanth Diaries

Domestic and work matters have occupied so much of my time I've not had chance to blog much lately. Things shall settle soon I hope. In the meantime here's another fine illustrator's blog I found Coelacanth Diaries

Saturday, 15 April 2006

John Nez Illustration: Champagne & Tulips

Well back to business, here's the blog of Seattle based children's illustrator John Nez, a long-time cyber colleague.John Nez Illustration: Champagne & Tulips

The world really is getting to be a smaller place when I can call someone a friend, though they may live the other side of the world and we may never have met in person. Thanks to the internet I believe I know more people in North America now than I do in the UK.

Friday, 14 April 2006

Hakone photos

The architecture was an amazing crossover of Victorian Western design and traditional Japanese, with a dash of China thrown in for good measure. It reminded more of Shanghai than Japan.

The surrounding parks and garden were beautiful - winding pathways, waterfalls, a watermill, cherry blossom... and the ubiquitous carp.

Appearance of the bride.

My daughter Seren spies on the rehearsals.

It was a simple, but elegant service. The vicar(?) was a Brit, and gave a sermon in stumbling Japanese that no one could understand, but which seemed to be all about "love". God barely got a mention, unsurprising in this heartland of Shintoism.

We were a small crowd, but included the bride's grandparents (Seren's great-grandparents) who came all the way up from Takamatsu in Shikoku to attend.

Water god.

I'll spare you the endless family groupings and smiling faces. I only wish we were there longer with time for me to sketch.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Hakone wedding

Now here's somewhere that really is in the middle of nowhere. Last weekend was spent in Fujiya Hotel, Hakone National Park's oldest western-style hotel.
The whole family was there to celebrate my sister-in-law's wedding, which took place in the hotel chapel. Half way up the side of a long-dormant volcano, the scenery is fabulously beautiful. After a nervous climb up a jerky single-track mountain railway I just had time to scribble the architypal clean-cut bell boy as we checked in and the view out of our room window.
The walls were lined with photos of famous former guests, ranging from Albert Einstein to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The groom and his bride stayed in the 'Helen Keller' room (yes I know the couple are not supposed to meet before the wedding, but sssh! This is Japan, such rules are flexible).

Overall it's a fine location and had me itching to paint. Instead I had to pull on the suit and tie, and concentrate on the serious business of my wife's sister's marriage.

If I had to complain about anything it would be the rip-off restaurants. 1,200 yen for a beer - extortion! And only two pieces of toast and a dab of scrambled egg at breakfast - how stingy can you get! However all was made up at the wedding banquet, which was a feast, and as I'm the only one who drinks alcohol (though I'm no boozer) I ended up with constant refills of champagne all afternoon. Slept like a baby on the long train home to Yokohama. That's the spirit!

Saturday, 8 April 2006

Middle of Nowhere

Here's another children's illustrator's blog from the UK I just came across. Lots of images to warm the cockles of an old ex-pat's heart and remind him of old merrie England

Middle of Nowhere

Middle of nowhere? Looks more like the middle of Oxfordshire to me, a place I'm actually thinking of moving to if I ever leave Japan.

What? leave Japan? Well, my daughter is approaching school age, my family back home are not getting any younger, and I have been in Tokyo/Yokohama for 20 years now, long enough perhaps, so I'm toying with the idea of flying "home" to roost. Since I made the big decision to slow down with commercial illustration and concentrate on children's books as my primary source of work I'm finding more and more of my clients are in the West rather than local, so it might be a good time. The missus thinks it's a good idea.

Why Oxfordshire? It's half way between London (where clients lie) and Staffordshire where my parents are. Also Oxford has a lot of writers and artists, several of whom I know, so I'm tempted.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

..... the end product

..... and this is how she appeared in the final story.

Yolanda sketches

More doodles on the train. It takes just half an hour to get into Shibuya (central Tokyo) from my area, but I try to utilise the time as best I can, often by working out sketch ideas for current jobs. Here's some quickly jot ideas for an evil hag character in Jenny Nimmo's "The Blue Boa", which I recently illustrated.