Happy to share with you a special moment in the Wakabayashi family!
Israelis, I’m discovering fast, have a lot to teach me about the nation and the culture I lived amongst for thirty years. I choose my words carefully when I say “amongst.” To live with the Japanese traditions day in and out with the goal of perfecting one of their classic art forms is something that to my great surprise I find that Israelis take seriously when they go to Japan to study one of the traditional arts.
I’m in the process now of writing on this topic. Geographically speaking, culturally, linguistically and religiously speaking, even I can’t think of two more different mindsets than that of Israelis and Japanese. Israelis are emotionally demonstrative to a fault whereas Japanese are so reserved that one can easily mistaken typical Japanese reserve for national depression.
Then again, to meet Japanese artists is a powerful way to break through a veneer of correctness and untouchability and get to know their creative and light-filled ways of living. That was what I thought in the three decades I interviewed Japanese artists and artisans whose passion for their life work made writing their stories down one of the joys of my life.
Now here come a very unexpected twist of fate. I’m about to interview and write up the stories of Israelis who went to Japan and were transformed by the experience of opening up to the Japanese heart and soul of creativity that comes with teaching what they know. Some teachers have students. Some lecture. Some create the most thrilling youtubes imaginable.
Tonight this question leads me to look at some beautiful sites showing the work of Japanese artists I never knew about when I lived in Japan. Tomoko Fuse, a world-class paper-folding artist, is one artist I would have loved to interview and get to know. Her work is breathtaking, monumental, subtle as she takes origami to new heights.
What do you think?
Genesis Art Workshops has a new home and a new studio location in the quaint 19th century cobble stoned village of Yemin Moshe. I can’t wait to share my inspirational neighborhood with you, both the beauty, the spectacular views and the techniques I’ve brought with me from Japan, my home for thirty years.
Formerly the first Jewish settlement just outside the walled city of Jerusalem, after the Six-Day War, Yemin Moshe was redeveloped as an artists’ colony by Mayor Teddy Kolek, who saw the potential that artists could bring to the steep and stepped community facing one of the world’s most photographed views of Jerusalem’s medieval city walls.
This week I don’t know what makes me happier. That I became a new Israeli citizen or that after months of being locked out of this website I found the elusive password! Both bring tears of joy to my eyes.
Seriously, now that I am back in the wordpress saddle, I’d like to tell you about what’s ahead as I shift gears after 30 years in Japan to a new life with my kids in Jerusalem.
Genesis Art Workshops will continue as before. You can still do online private sessions internationally with me as a way of developing your intuitive art skills and take precious time out to refocus, recharge, and concentrate your energy on painting and drawing from the world within. Now with so much of our attention gobbled up by the world-without — social media, online news, youtube and the like — we need more than ever the tools and discipline to help us return back to our true self. This self is incredibly resourceful and creative, given the chance to demonstrate it’s stuff. If you are curious, I’m offering from now until December 31st, a special online one hour introduction to Genesis Art: one hour for $50, regularly $70.
If you have the Genesis Cards, and even if you don’t, this one hour session will give you an opportunity to focus on a creative goal you want to achieve in the months and even years ahead. You’ll take a few minutes before we speak to draw a colorful sketch, following simple instructions I’ll send to you, and then over the session, you’ll learn techniques to interpret what you’ve drawn in ways that help you move into high gear and take action.
As someone who has just left Japan after 30 years, I can tell you how elated I feel to have realized a dream that I have drawn over and over in my art, which was to move to Israel. Drawing what you love brings it closer to you. I’d be thrilled and honored to show you how.
Private session are offered Sunday through Thursday at times throughout the day and evening. Please contact me with specific time and date requests at
Love from Liane from our new home in Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem
Today here in Israel I heard an incredible story about a young woman called Rachel Joy Scott who very very sadly was the first to be massacred in the Columbine shootings. She was a talented actress, and also used to draw in her journals.
On the morning of her death, she drew in her journal a set of eyes with 13 tears raining down onto a rose. She died at lunchtime in a hail of bullets when a boy who she knew since kindergarten, holding a gun to her head, asked her if she believed in God.
Deeply religious, she said yes. A month after her death a pastor by the name of Frank Amedia from Florida couldn’t get a recurring dream out of his head. He saw in his dream that Rachel had left behind a drawing of a set of eyes with 13 tears raining down onto a rose–the same number killed in Columbine.
So he called Rachel’s father, having no idea that in her journal was the image he had seen in the dream.
Okay, there’s a formula here. A dream and a drawing that connects two spiritual souls who never met in this life but met in dreamtime over a work of art.
Art can be that powerful. A healing force in life and in death.
Note: To see the artwork Rachel drew of the rose and find out more about this extraordinary 17 year old life, see: http://rachelscottblog.tumblr.com/post/121342514308/rachelscottblog-the-13-tears-drawing
I was at the post office yesterday, went up to the counter and asked for some stamps. The postal worker went right to work. She slammed open a drawer, fumbled for a sheet of stamps, tore off two with a flourish, and handed them to me with one hand, taking change with the other.
You’d have thought there was a long line behind me. Or a few. Or even one other person in the post office. But I was the only one. The nervousness was infectious. I dug fast and deep into my wallet to produce some coins and get the heck out of the post office as fast as I could.
What is it about Tokyo society that turns us into speeding trains? I can get things done, for sure. Just don’t stand in my way or stop to chew the fat because I’m on a schedule, a tight schedule. I’ve got to get home and check my Facebook account. And send out a Tweet or two. And some guy in Ein Hod wants to friend me on LinkedIn.
This skewed relationship to time, to enjoying life at a sane and leisurely pace wasn’t always this way in Japan. Zen Buddhism stills teaches how to stop to smell the roses or at least appreciate the rapidfire song of the cicadas without feeling the obligation to join at their pace.
This is why I return to my creativity for short breaks, for meditative pauses
to step outside the speed of a life that feels increasingly out of sync with my heartbeat. When I draw or write, I can forget about the pressures of the fast life and enjoy doing things really, really slowly. Like selecting a paint brush so small and thin, I’m covering the paper with the detail of another world, another reality.
Drawing in community is great fun too. There’s still a few weeks remaining before summer break to join me in Tokyo at a Genesis art workshop –with a stopover to draw in beautiful Ueno Park. For details see Workshop schedule
I have a soft spot for George W Bush’s new book, a monograph of his paintings paying tribute to injured veterans who served the country while he was president. It takes a big man to apologize and an even greater one to linger over a canvas with a wet paint brush while faces of these still recovering former soldiers become etched in his brain forever. What leader has ever done that?
Well, Winston Churchill was an avid painter–and Bush’s role model. But not to this extent. Painting abilities aside, even factoring in the fun he’s having with his creativity, Bush found for himself the best painting instructors he could in Texas and dedicated himself to honing his craft. His subjects come from real life and display a humility. For George W Bush to go for a visual message to deliver his apologies is mind blowing to me.
I wish that we lived in a world where media didn’t get rich from making laughing stocks out of the strong or weak –people who do dumb things even when we hold them up as smarter than ourselves.
I will order George W Bush’s book, Portraits in Courage, not because I ever liked his administration or the way he handled himself in government. But because the opposite is true. What can I say? As one painter to another, as one portrait artist to another, as one whimsically inclined colorist to another, George Bush and I are finally on the same page.
If you’re like me, you have countless photographs of sakura. How can we not resist the temptation to snap away? And yet what becomes of those photographs? Well, I think I’ve found a happy solution–paint them!
Come join me for a relaxing few hours where I’ll show you a technique for painting flowers that will blow your mind. If you thought it impossible to draw sakura or any flower for that matter in a beautiful way, this technique you’ll learn in a matter of minutes will open up the world of painting nature like never before.
For this session please bring 3-6 of your favorite photos of sakura and a B4 Sketchpad. The rest-paints, palettes, brushes and light snacks are provided.
Limit: six participants. Fee: ¥3,000 for two hour session
To register: email email@example.com or call 080-7743-8531
At Ueno Zoo 10/30 I had a drawing experience like nothing I’ve ever had before and it made me mighty uncomfortable. I had chosen as my “power animal” a rather jovial duck who struck me in taking a pose I know well from yoga–Vrksasana, or tree pose.
An interesting aside about tree pose. The great yoga master B.K.S Iyengar once pointed to flamingos at the San Diego zoo to demonstrate to yoga teachers how well balanced these enormous pink birds were when in “tree pose.”
Well, here was my well-balanced duck who kindly maintained its pose for long enough to draw it without effort. Just as I’m finished with the quick sketch what happens? The duck collapses into a heap on the dirt and vomits. I can’t believe my eyes as it struggles to get up but can’t. It struggles for several minutes while my eyes are popping out from the tension of watching whether my “power animal” actually gets up or drops dead in front of me. There is nothing that upsets me more in this whole world than stumbling upon a dead bird–a phobia kept under check in Japan by a fastidious society that removes unsightly non-moving objects instantaneously.
Power animals suggest beasts that are strong, powerful, confident and rulers of the animal kingdom. Interestingly. four out of five of us drawing at the zoo chose birds as our power animals. And it wasn’t as if we were drawing eagles or vultures. We were drawing skinny legged laidback everyday birds, like ducks.
My particular duck for reasons I will never know made a spectacular recovery and just as easily as if the whole spectacle of its struggle hadn’t happened, it picked itself up after a few minutes and resumed a lackadasical tree pose.
Art mirrors life–I believe. Animals mirror people–especially those we are drawn to. Drawn to watching, drawn to sketching.
There are moments in my day when I feel like that duck that is struggling to get up. I am immensely cheered that in the end my duck rallied. It did find the inner strength to carry on.