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.

UNTIL

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.

Anyways.

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.

WHO IS KIKO?

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.

DUN DUN DUN. etc.

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.

W

I Opened My Etsy Shop

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Check it out!

 

UPDATE: 

I already made my first sale!!! I WILL NEVER GET OVER THIS!!! This is the kind of high people search for their whole life/Capitalism Has Hooked Its Nails Into Me: An Autobiography

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#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.

 

Basically

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.

Kidding.

Not kidding.

AM I?

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW.

W
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.)

This is my favorite song of today, and also the saddest song I know.

My year living in Korea felt a lot like living in a with my  head in a bubble. Like a bubblehead charm of English. Like a helmet to reassure my brain that it was still functioning, despite not comprehending any of the information flooding it.

There were people– many people– around me that spoke English. But they were usually grouped together at destination points, like the glowing beacons of understanding at the end of a long trudge through… wait what am I saying? I was thinking of a video game character that had a glowing light around them because you could talk to them, unlike the other NPCs or something, I don’t know, we’ll unpack that later.

What I mean is at times I felt completely alone. (Don’t awww.) It was refreshing in a way I didn’t realize I was craving. I could stand on the roof of my apartment building at 3 in the morning and know that nobody on Earth could say with 100% certainty where I was at that moment, save myself.

Of course, capital ‘L’ Loneliness is inevitable eventually, wherever you are. But honestly, after the first two weeks of satiny panic (culture shock), the loneliness morphed into something insulating, even comforting. Like a… Thundershirt? What I’m saying is… I was a puppy and it was storming outside, and the fact that I didn’t really have to talk to that many people while coping with the rising panic was my Thundershirt.

Yes. That’s good. That’s quality writing. People come to this blog for a reason.

Anyway, regular life is an absolute barrage of information, usually information that you take in unconsciously. It wasn’t until I moved to Korea with zero knowledge of the language that it really struck me how much of that constant information flow is language-based. Do you want to do an experiment?

Ok.

Look up from your computer for a second. No, I mean after you read the rest of these instructions, come on. Are there books around you?Can you read the titles at a glance? Do you have any

Or maybe you’re outside. Are there street signs around? What about shopfronts? Where would be the closest place to get food? Do you know because someone told you and pointed it out, or because you read the sign? Was it almost like your brain read it before you even told it to? Do any of the words or book titles or signs or roads mean anything to you? Maybe you live on a street with the name of a famous city, and you know the city because you learned about it at school, and you’ve watched Anthony Bourdain tour around eating its most photogenic food, and once you wrote a paper on the mayor who helped found a famous hat shop. When you read that word, you are slightly more in touch with the outside world than you were the moment before, because of these layers of familiarity.

However, when you are walking down the street or sitting in a coffee shop or combing through racks of clothing in a place with an unfamiliar language, none of these layers of familiarity exist. I want to say “your brain reaches out for any source of familiarity, trying to add context to the information it is drowning in,” but I don’t know anything about what your brain does, so samesies, but mine.

Getting on a bus or a subway or walking down the street having crowds of voices around me without the, allowed my thoughts a lot of time to parade around in my head uninterrupted, and allowing me a lot of time to sit quietly and listen to them.

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I started working on a tiny film I want to make about a girl named Annie or possibly Winnie or possibly something else being sent to work the solitary, mind-numbing, and minimum-wage job of tending to a one-man satellite in the upper middle regions of Earth’s orbit. The story quickly became more complicated than that, but I’m sure I’ll get to that later.

There was something about the feeling of being so far away, combined with being able to go for entire days without speaking to someone, without being able to speak to another person, that leant itself (rather bluntly) to writing a character that spends the story in a state of isolation. Plus, you know, space is dope. It started me thinking about this idea of having a familiar concept, being presented in an unfamiliar (at least to me) way. My character, Annie (or Winnie or WhateveR), does some fairly outrageous things, but my idea for the visuals of the film is to go overly-cliche, insipid even, in the way the scenes are shot. In the coloring, in the scene layouts, in the <insert other professional-sounding film things here>, I want to highlight the major differences between the real world and Annie’s perception bubble.

Does this sound like Underwater Matrix to anyone else? Ok, new plan. Scrap everything I just said, I’m going to start writing Underwater Matrix 2. (Because obviously as soon as I publish this someone’s going to steal the Underwater Matrix idea, and being a slow writer I will be finishing just in time to cash in on that sweet sequel cash.)

Oh right, right. This is a blog post not just a thought dump. Hmmm. Right. Oh! The Commander Thinks Aloud by The Long Winters. AKA the reason I started writing this blog post. I first heard this song on one of my long, long subway rides, autoplaying podcasts and staring at the crazy amount of people packed into the streets of Seoul.

In the podcast interview which you should definitely listen to, the songwriter John Roderick, of the Long Winters, explains that he wrote The Commander Thinks Aloud about the moment on February 1st, 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart upon reentering the atmosphere, killing all seven crew members. The way Roderick tries to think through this horrific tragedy from the mind of the Commander of a doomed crew, that moment when you know for a fact that all is lost and yet you are still alive for a little while longer… It hurts. When you listen to him, and when you listen to the song again. It makes it personal.

This is a big part of the feeling I want to explore with Annie.

Ok, this has gone on long enough, see you next time.

W

 

2016 Resolutions

Yes, I make resolutions. I know it’s kind of the cool slash practical thing to not make resolutions, especially because they’re usually doomed from the start, but I am neither cool nor practical, and I love a fresh start. Also, the first day of the new year is also the first day of my new year, and I am powerless to that kind of symbolic beginning.

pusheen_the_cat_new_years_resolutions

There are a few general things I want to do in 2016, namely be happier, be not as lazy, eat food that wouldn’t make my health-obsessed friends scream in horror, but some of my resolutions are easier to track, so I’ll put them here for prosperity’s sake. Also for the possibility of completing them due to imaginary internet pressure. Of all the imaginary forces that work on my guilt, this one is perhaps the most effective.

  1. Read 100 books in 2016. This one is a repeat of last year, and one I completed with little trouble. Last year I started with 52, but ended up totally blowing that out of the water, so this year I’m going to stretch for a challenge. edbc6bccc96592d7845a623c9475bfcd
  2. Watch 50 movies in 2016. I thought about making it 50 classic/critically acclaimed movies, but I don’t want to doom it before it ever starts. I’m just going to say 50 movies, any movie counts as long as it’s not a re-watch of a movie I’ve already watched in 2016.c0c6090d075b1492d33b441da8a798c9
  3. Blog twice a week. I’m doing great with this one this past week, I want to keep up the momentum!3cecc345c72aab7c6f05db7a1e3b42d4
  4. Explore Korea. Check out my Korea Bucket List page (which will probably be updated within the week). I’m here for another 9 months, and I want to see as much of this country as possible. efd533ed0e7dc7f9793a2322914cdf6c
  5. Exercise. 3 Times a week? I always put this one. I always fail. But I think doing yoga at my house after school is a doable goal. Also, I got a FitBit for Christmas, so. It would be kind of embarrassing to do zero exercise all year, and just be wearing a dorky, non-time-telling watch. 115b75ced11e32ab9b26ef84625313ef
  6. Drink more water. I started using this super adorable Plant Nanny app last year, but by the time I got to Korea that habit had pretty much died a dehydrated death, so here’s to reviving the dead! 0db6acea0af99cfd618c9536794fc02c
  7. Eat Healthier. So for the first day of January 2016, I’ve eaten ice cream for breakfast and chicken nuggets for dinner. This one will take some effort. I am not going to do any particular diet, because I know a lost cause when I see one, but I do want to really figure out how to cook healthy, delicious stuff for myself that might be able to tear me away from the overwhelming desire to mainline french fries. 1d2a5125c00829a2db525211c794a228

 

So yeah. Those are my goals for 2016. They’re pretty doable, I think, and I’ve left out all of that stuff about losing 20 lbs and paying it forward and blah blah blah. These are things I want to actually accomplish, after all. What are your 2016 resolutions?

 

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W

I’ve read 93 books…

of my 52 books challenge.

At least, it was supposed to be a 52 books challenge. 52 Books in the year of 2015, and one I would have finished neatly the week I arrived in Korea. Upon finishing and realizing that without the deadlined reading minimum set by an imaginary internet challenge I would never read another book, I upped the goal to 75 books. Then to 100 books. Because fuck having a social life, I need to be as competitive against myself as possible. That’s where real joy comes from.

And now I only have 7 to go to win.

 

I’m pretty pleased with myself.

I’ve come to realize (not recently, this is one of the only things I’ve been sure about myself from pretty much day 1 of language memory) that I do not respond to outside motivation. I mean that in maybe the opposite of the intro to psychology way, I’m not sure, it’s been several years since I took that class and let’s be real– I was never going to last as a Psych major. (Did you know that as a psychologist you have to actually talk to actual people? Eww.)

I mean that outside motivation– of the “this is the job I should have by now, this is the salary you should be making, this is the goal you should be striving towards” type– just doesn’t work for me long-term. Sure, I feel guilty, and a little like a failure, when I compare lives to my peers and realize they’ve just won the Pulitzer while I’ve just opened a $9 bottle of wine with a pair of scissors and stained my face and half my kitchen purple.* But the guilt doesn’t make me want to do better, it just makes me feel guilty. And like I need different friends. And like I need a shower (ok, that’s just the wine. I’m sorry, but who designed wine bottles that you need an extra tool to open? Shouldn’t such a commonly-drunk drink be stored in self-sufficient packaging? You, with the powers, go back in time and have that obviously-always-prepared, never-without-a-corkscrew, inventor flayed for uselessness and lack of forethought.)

I’m also not one of those people that when told “you can’t do that” thinks “you know what! Yes I can!” And proceeds to go out and become the next woman president, or whatever the naysayers are naysaying at these days. Usually, when people tell me I can’t do something, I don’t listen to them. Because I feel like they’re wrong? Nah, it’s just because they’re dicks. And I try not to listen to talking dicks, because then where would we be? Talking Dick World, where we get all of our advice from phallic-y jerks who are constantly naysaying about random non dick-related queries?

 

What am I even saying? Oh. Right. My locus of motivation or something. I hope I don’t publish this. Ok. Here’s the thing: I am really only motivated to do stuff I have decided is important. This seems obvious, until you see upon closer inspection that apparently I have decided things like shaving my legs, or paying my bills, or writing research papers that are 50% of my grade, or finishing college in a timely manner (whoooo, got that one out of the way two years late!), or getting my car fixed before it explodes, or… well. You get it. That stuff does not get my Bunsen(s?) burning.

Random goals I set that have no way of affecting my future prosperity like, say, reading 100 books in the year 2015? Those I will work at until my eyes bleed from the staring strain, and the neural pathways in my brain misfire due to the overload of information being shoved in at the last minute, just to get that shiny purple 100/100 achievement badge on Goodreads.

 

Basically what I’m saying is… *licks finger and sizzles* I’m doing great.

Not sure when the next time you’ll hear from me will be, but when you do, you can be pretty certain it will be about books. Or maybe the yawning abyss of dread and self-doubt that made up my last post.

Prolly books tho.

 

W

*the funny thing is, I’m not drinking wine at this moment, even though it sounds like it, but I did experience this exact catastrophe two weeks ago and now there are purple splashes on my kitchen wallpaper. I think of it as a little personal touch, to give it that sought-after *lived-in* feel.

Monthly Resolutions – October

I’m starting a new series.

I’m hesitant to say I’m “starting” it, as that would presume that I was planning on continuing it, and as you’ve noticed by my blog’s checkered history, planning is hardly my strong point.

No– that’s not true. I’m great at planning. I guess where I fall through is the follow through. I just can’t get the hang of finishing what I

 

Just kidding. Does that joke even translate to text? Blogging is hard.

Anyways, I’m starting a new series, which is meant to help me keep track of all the things I’m starting. Because, well, I’m tired of not finishing.

*waggles eyebrows*

 

THEME:

Finish what you start. (Books. Projects. Thoughts. Goals. Exhibit a little self discipline.)

 

RESOLUTIONS:

  1. Run 3 Days a Week (Couch to 5K program should span October and November.)
  2. Make “Week Of” Pages Every Sunday in my journal (Even boundless creativity could use a little context.)
  3. Don’t bite nails or cuticles. (I stopped in college but the stress of post-grad life has worn them down to scraggly nubs a la Fagan in Oliver. Sexy.)
  4. Stick to morning and evening routines (That means washing face, showering, and cleaning so my body and apartment both stay clean and fresh. You know, like an adult would do…)
  5. Write “Taking Stock” posts every other Tuesday (That’s two in October, I think I can handle the strain.)
  6. Blog better. (I know resolutions are supposed to be specific and conquerable, but literally any blogging would suffice. If I want a record of my life I have to be the one to write it!)

 

TEST DRIVE:

Sometimes I have ideas for Monthly Resolutions that need a practice run before I commit to them. Because I have a fear of commitment and a penchant for forgotten plans. High five!

 

  1. 30 for 30. Set aside a 30 minute block to do something creative for 30 straight days. I’ve seen this idea around the internet, and I really like the broadness of “something creative” combined with the rigidity of the schedule. I wish I’d started October 1st! But perhaps today will be the first day of 30 for 30, and I’ll report back weekly! I’ll let you know how it goes. Probably.)

Rocktown, Rocksylvania (Part two)

Here are the rest of my pictures from Rocktown. Don’t worry– I won’t talk as much this time.

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Yeah this face is my money maker. (Brb, shaking it.)
Yeah this face is my money maker. (Brb, shaking it.)
I told Xander to go up there for this shot because I thought it would be cool and it WAS. #psychic
I told Xander to go up there for this shot because I thought it would be cool and it WAS. #psychic
Followed this very insistent girl's instructions on how to get down here. Thanks, insistent girl! You were right, very carefully did work.
Followed this very insistent girl’s instructions on how to get down here. Thanks, insistent girl! You were right, very carefully did work.
Getting this shot made my knees shiver. I do it for the ART!
Getting this shot made my knees shiver. I do it for the ART!
*Following Xander up the hill*
*Following Xander up the hill*
*Xander telling me to go back down so he can get photos*
*Xander telling me to go back down so he can get photos*
*Reaction*
*Reaction*
Derpy climbing shot!
Derpy climbing shot!

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Baking Cookies and Too. Much. Wine.

Before I sat down to write this post, I said to myself, “Ok. Relax. Let’s begin.”

That, my friends, is how to tell if you are properly, winedly, schnockered.

And I am.

That,

What?

No backspaces, that’s the rule. That I just made up. Drinking game for one!

Ok…

Moving on.

Tonight I made chocolate chip cookies. I don’t know when this blog became a food blog, but I’ll tell you something… I don’t hate it. There is peach and blueberry cobbler in the fridge and chocolate chip cookies freshly tinned on the stove (ok, tupperwared… Value Village was fresh out of decorative cookie tins, the bastards. Don’t they know baking needs are srz bzness?)

choc chip batter

I swear, this whole “cooking for a hobby” thing has done loads for my sweet tooth quotient.

That’s not a real thing.

What am I saying. Wine, you clever, vengeful, purple bitch.

Anyways, the cookies.

choc chip cookies

I followed this recipe and they turned out beautifully. Well, I’m pretty sure they were good. I only had half of one, since I ate so much homemade queso and steak quesadilla that I couldn’t handle more than the idea of a cookie, much less 24 wholesome, golden-brown morsels of chocolatey goodness.

But I’m pretty sure I’m a genius in the kitchen.

This post, however, is not about the cookies. It’s about the new year. How’s that for a transition? My English professors would be so proud.

2014 seems so… hopeful. Does it to you? Everywhere I look I see posts about the bright new future, the new year, new dreams, all of this stuff about this year being the best  year that has ever happened, and how many new things are coming.

And you know what?

For once, I am in total agreement.

This year just seems so hopeful. I don’t know if it’s because it’s January and freezing and real life seems to have slowed juuust a hair so that I can catch up some… but it seems different. As if something good is just around the river bend.

And I don’t mean Pocahontas’s boyfriend.

My next post will about resolutions. Not crazy, difficult ones, like losing 30 lbs and a shit job and turning into Emma Stone in a year, but, you know, ones that I am pretty sure I’ll be able to keep. Like not becoming Emma Stone, or eating 300 hot dogs. The kind of things that I can finish before February. Because the thing with resolutions is: if you don’t accomplish them, you feel like shit.

I know. It’s a hard lesson to learn. Shh. It’s alright, I know it hurts. But take it from me. Make resolutions that you can keep that will make you feel good about yourself.

It’s worth it.

You’re worth it.

And this is now a Maybelline commercial.

Fuck wine.

drunk

W