Kiko Kiturami vs. the (Men) In Her Head (mixed media, 2017)

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Kiko Kiturami vs the (Men) In Her Head (mixed media, 2017)
So this is my newest painting, I just finished it last night.

It’s a frame from a graphic novel that I haven’t written yet. Well, it’s a frame from a comic inside of a graphic novel. A comic that might or might not be real, about a girl that might or might not be real/missing? I know, at this point I’m just being purposefully

The (Men):

I’m not sure anyone will even ask, but the Japanese character in the center is 面, which is pronounced “men” and translates to “mask.” I learned about it from a book called What’s Japanese About Japan, which I bought from Goodwill for the title alone. (Excuse my ignorance, but wouldn’t a book called “What’s NOT Japanese About Japan be a little less redundant?) I’ve had it for probably four years, and I’ve never looked at it.


I was procrastinating on something else (of course) and decided that the ONLY medium which would allow me the freedom to truly express myself was… collage. I think it was at that moment that I evolved into my true form: 45 year old scrapbooker from Ohio named Joy. And then I murdered Joy’s innocence by using her artistic passion to depict a decapitated girl. Sorry Joy. Life is hard, and it hates you.


The crowd in Kiko’s head came from that book. And so did 面. Actually, the entire inspiration from the painting, and some of its meaning, was inspired by a passage, describing how a face and a mask are sometimes the same thing:

“A face in the crowd. We do not know the man, but we think we know the face. We have seen that face many times before, on men who were happy and on men who were sad, on men who were angry and men who were bored, on men who were sure that they were right and on men who were uncertain.”

The book goes on to explain that in some Japanese arts, like noh and kabuki, the mask and face blur together, so that it is either unclear or unimportant which is real.

“Once, puppets imitated people, and this entertainment fave rise to a new art form where people imitated puppets.” 

I was intrigued by the idea of “mask” being pronounced “men,” as if the idea of being “a man” is something of a mask that someone can wear to depict an idea, rather than an actual expression of the person inside. Or even, more broadly, if “men” (in the ‘realms of men/all humans usage), are never not wearing a mask, because their “mask” is their face, which can be manipulated or left blank to suit the wearer’s purpose.

The idea went through several iterations, and more than a few horrible sketches, but for some reason I kept coming back to the idea that it was Kiko, and once I figured out the story behind it, the piece came together quickly.


Kiko Kiturami is the sister of the MeiMei Kiturami, and she’s missing. MeiMei finds a comic book that depicts Kiko in a violent, terrifying, and more than a little surreal situation. MeiMei is desperate to find Kiko, but she also is scared and confused. Before she found the comic book, MeiMei didn’t realize her sister was missing. Before she found the comic book, MeiMei didn’t realize she had a sister.


What I’m most proud of:

  • My drop-shadowed Japanese character (that I was terrified to mess up/mis-translate despite cross-referencing it like 30 times)
  • The smoothness, post-editing (in real life there’s a lot more texture on her face… because I glued it on over the crowd picture.)
  • The purple tile (I got this canvas from Goodwill and it was pre-colored lavender (!!) and when I realized I was going to be covering it up almost completely I was v sad that I was wasting such a magical find. Thankfully, I decided to make it into purple tile and voila, I spent an hour looking at the ugliest bathrooms in the world as references. I love how it turned out.)
  • Her weird asymmetricality.  (surely there is a noun of this word??) At first, I thought I was going to have to repaint her eyes and hair, because they ended up being very strangely different  from each other, but after finishing the piece I actually like it. It kind of looks like the left side (our right side) is an older version of the same Kiko, her hair and face are longer, and the features are generally less childlike. This fits with the weirdness of the
  • That damn crossword puzzle

I entered this into a contest (the deadline was midnightPST/ 3amEST. I finished at 1:30AM. I like to stay completely in-character at all times.) And although I don’t think I will win (I’ve seen the other entries and they are… much more in-theme…) it was an excellent way to force a deadline… I doubt I would have finished this piece anytime this year without it. Now, if only there were a contest for vacuuming my house.


#30FOADAY Day 1

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New challenge: a finished thing a day. (Sketchbook page, full piece, other Finished Objects) 30 days! Starting today March 14.

This is not an especially cohesive piece, obviously I was feeling really scattered today and was procrastinating a lot on finishing anything important/”real.” I’m really excited about a few of the small ideas that are on here, and also some from some other pages I didn’t show from today (I did a LOT of procrastinating today.)
Cohesive or not, this is my first entry in my new challenge I just started #30FOADAY which, despite the possibly-confusing hashtag, doesn’t mean 30fuckoffs in a day, though tbh is that even a challenge if you ever venture into public?
Basically, for the next 30 days, I want to finish 1 Finished Object a day. This could mean a full art piece, an embroidered something, a clothing alteration, etc. etc. as long as it’s a finished thing I can add to a portfolio of finished things, it’s A-OK. I decided to make this challenge inclusive of full sketchbook pages because it’s definitely a goal of mine to use my notebooks more deliberately. Until recently, though I’ve always been a devoted (almost obsessive) journal-er, I’ve never really bothered to keep an “art journal,” where all of my ideas, both written and visual, get equal space. I am definitely more comfortable with writing, so my journals have almost always been pages and pages of writing with little doodles here and there. I always had visual ideas, but I aways thought of myself as really limited in my talents. Writing was my thing, and nothing else was open to me. Recently I’ve told my past self to go sit in a corner until they can stop being so negative, and let loose with whatever sort of creative projects I felt like doing. (It’s a work in progress, there’s a lot waiting in the wings.)
For some reason the idea of keeping an “art journal”, though basically no different from the “do whatever you want” journal aesthetic I’ve always had, really appeals to me. I think it’s because the name denotes a sense of shareability, or at least completion, like the book itself is worth something, rather than just the ideas inside it. Ramping up my visual art practice has been really relaxing for me, but it’s also been a good self esteem boost. This is because I realized (recently, but all at once), that if I was going to blend my natural style of “throw any idea you get on a page in the easiest form possible and don’t worry about the presentation of it” with the more aesthetically pleasing idea of an actual book full of art, rather than just a messy idea dump, if I was going to blend those two I was going to have to accept one rule:

Make Mistakes Intentional.

I know, how Pinterest-y is that. But I realized that when I was sketching and I accidentally drew a head too small or I needed the space to complete my drawing that was already taken by a grocery list, my natural instinct was just to give up when coming upon these roadblocks. (Again, I’m a lazy person, most of the time. I’m glad that I’m manic sometimes because otherwise I would literally never be productive. Ok now I’m literally just rambling. Mhm…. Right.)


Make Mistakes Intentional.

Like right there, when I totally could have  should have just edited that paragraph and all of the ones before it and every other thing that has already appeared on this blog, I didn’t! You know why? Because I’m taking a mistake I made and making it look like it’s on purpose. Also because fuck that, that sounds boring and hard and this blog post is literally about how I just started another Challenge despite barely handling my current schedule as it is, so I think we all know there’s no being sneaky around here.



When I’m sketching in pen, and I draw the head on a portrait too big, or I accidentally put a weird mark in the middle of a perfectly lovely sketch, or the hair on my character looks like someone scalped Jon Benet Ramsey and used the knockoff cosplay wig for some fire-based ceremonial ritual, I’ve gotten the best results when I just said “ok. Fuck it.” And kept drawing. Finish Everything. That’s the new motto. None of this “keep working” bullshit. Not for me, Queen of Unfinished Ideas. This Challenge, and hopefully the new movement on this blog/my life in general is all about FINISHING. Just like sex.


Not kidding.



P.S. (I know, my natural writing style is a LOT of run-on sentences and honestly, ask literally any teacher I’ve ever had– I hate editing. It’s because I’m lazy, not because I’m pretentious. Though I am, separately from this issue, pretentious for various other reasons.)

Recent Works in Progress

I’ve been flooded with ideas lately, new projects, new stuff for my old projects, random bits of here and there my brain just spits up to avoid doing anything that will make me any kind of money. I want to start sharing more of my just-everyday life here. What do you say to once a week?

Good, that’s what I promised at the beginning and you haven’t called me on it yet. You’re getting too complacent. (This “You” is probably really “Future Me.”)


Here are two recent works-in-progress that are both in the nautical boat. They are also, coincidentally, both in the “I’m not impressed with what you look like right now and I don’t have a clear plan to fix it so I don’t want to look at you”… boat. Boat types are very specific these days, but even a layman like me has heard of that one.

Last night/Today I got a lot accomplished, after several days of feeling incredibly procrastinate-y and useless:
  • Designed a handout for my job
  • Paid my electric and power bill (ouch)
  • started work on a truly-ridiculous-but-fun piece of art that I’m using to learn Photoshop
  • Laid out my calendar for the week and booked a ton of paying students
  • Pulled myself out of a slump that I was tiptoeing near
  • Started a new NEW piece that I’m VERY PUMPED ABOUT. I’m sure you guys will see it soon enough.

I’m slowly doing a blog re-design as well, but to be perfectly frank, it is absurdly boring and I just don’t know what I want it to look like. Marketing is not my forte. Suggestions welcome. Donors welcome. Housecleaners that work for free and also bring pizza are welcome.