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Around this life and back . . . .

Forgive the time between blog posts, please. It's been a busy year of graduations, transformations and travel. My oldest graduated from college, my second oldest graduated from high school, and we've traveled with the younger two to Japan this summer.

Graduations, check! But what of these transformations in this artist's life?

This spring, I took on greater responsibility at my workplace, the YMCA. In addition to teaching yoga and personal training, I returned to teaching Pedaling for Parkinson's and have become a Rock Steady Boxing coach. But wait, there's more . . . . I have been working with our church on a few art projects that deserve their own, dedicated blog post. And, as I mentioned up front, we traveled to Japan. While there is no disputing that this is a lot of activity, in my spare time, it seems that art is even more pressing and integrated into daily life: made during lunch at the Food CoOp, in an airport, on a train or in the wee hours of summer mornings, when the world is light, but the family sleeps.

Here, I'll focus on Japan. Days before we left, we rushed around, gathering omiyage (gifts) for family and packing for the three-week journey from Osaka to Takeo to Okayama/Kojima to Kyoto to Tokyo. We each packed one of those little, carry-on suitcases. It would be over 100 degrees, so we could dress light, and we planned to do some laundry along the way. The bulk of my suitcase--and my dear husband's--was comprised of art supplies. Arches block pads, sketch pads, pencils, water-soluble graphite, palettes pre-loaded with watercolors, my favorite brushes and folded paper towels and an old kitchen rag that I seem to take everywhere. No easel. I figured that with two young kiddos along, I'd have to paint for 5-20 minute plein air sessions, and I'd sit, kneel or stand for those (remember that I teach boxing;).

Chinese Lanterns at a seaside market before Obon.

Sometimes I take painting supplies along with me, but I don't always have time to paint. This time, I had set the intention to paint. I did that. In Takeo, I was fascinated by the screaming hiss of cicadas and the beetles that clung to the trees. I fell in love with the giant Chinese lantern plants that held a prominent place at all the markets and would adorn home altars in preparation for Obon (when ancestors and families come home for a visit). I ran alongside the brilliant green rice fields and listened to their grasses, sweeping me along before the red sun rose. Land of the rising sun and flighty white cranes, marking the rice fields, large, white grains.

Rice paddies near Takeo, as seen while running one morning.

I drew a bit, painted with graphite, and left some of these paintings or drawings where we stayed, a remnant of our visit. I was surprised that those receiving even little sketches admired them--bestowed value upon them. Perhaps more than I give myself. I think I'll pause there. There's so much more. I'll try to blog as I go with a bit more diligence, and, in the meantime, I'll post a few paintings in my watercolor folder. Thanks for reading!

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