“Hurry Up!” is drawn with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.
250 x 305 mm.
I may be nearly 57 but my eternal inner child is alive, well and as insistent as she was when I was actually her age. A fortnight ago we travelled to Kyoto together.
“Hurry up!” she implored on each of the three nights we stayed out to photograph maiko and geiko. “I’m bored already. We’ve been out all day. I’m tired. I want to go back to my room. I want to eat.” And – “Buy me a macha ice cream”. [I did. It was delicious.] “My feet hurt. My knees, back and shoulders ache. I need a bathroom. I need a bed.”
I had to be firm. “Just another half hour”, I replied. “Wait until I get a couple more photos. I tell you what, after the next maiko or geiko shows up, then we’ll go. Just until 9, 9.30, just until 10.”
So the internal dialogue continued. Adult Julie simply HAD to hold out; resist the whine from within. This was a small window of opportunity (three days and nights) to acquire new source photos to draw from. I couldn’t waste precious time by giving in and going back to the hotel. I MUST HAVE PHOTOS! (Or to quote a famous lady, “I must have my share…”)
We agreed on one thing; when maiko and geiko appeared, enabling us to get photos, both adult and inner child were exultant. “YES!”
Maiko and geiko finally came out of various ozashiki and dashed in the rain to their next appointments. The drawing’s title refers to their speed as they hurtled (with grace) past one another beneath red umbrellas.
“Hurry Up!” is a drawing about movement; an impression of speed. Plus the title acknowledges Inner Child. It reminds me of our nightly reckoning as we endured mind-numbing boredom and fatigue on the dark wet streets of Gion – waiting interminably for a few quick bursts of elegant action.
Photobombs on the streets of Kyoto
When one is trying to photograph maiko and geiko on Kyoto streets, one is certainly not alone. Cars cruise by while dangerously-speeding taxi drivers blare their horns at straying pedestrians. Delivery boys on bikes whizz and a constant stream of cheek-by-jowl pedestrians wander willy-nilly. Huge whale-like tourist buses haul themselves down narrow Hanamikoji-dori. (Why, oh why, are buses allowed on such a narrow pedestrian-filled street?) On every trip I get many photos which are severely compromised by other people’s body parts or rushing traffic. I usually delete them but I thought you might like to see some from this trip. It can be quite entertaining to see what turned up in one’s photos, often not realised until one is examining them back home. (Click on each photo to enlarge.)
A very common situation – another person walks into my picture frame. (By the way, the girl at the back is a shikomi; if she makes it through her shikomi year, she will become a maiko.)
“Dear Shikomi, one day in the future you may wear clothes like those whose bags you are carrying, but for the moment, you spoiled my obi shot”.
Sometimes it is the people behind your subjects that spoil the shot. No offence to them personally, mind you.
Another person walks into my picture frame. Because I always stand and photograph quite far away from my subject, this often happens. I never want to loom in a person’s face.
In this case I was the unwelcome addition to a photo. The person you see taking a photograph of this wedding couple kindly asked me to move. (I quickly did so.)
Fast action on the part of the photographer who jumped in front of me.
The ubiquitous elbow photobomb as its owner takes a photo of Kimihiro.
“Look at me!” I was in the view of all these guys (sorry guys!) just as they are in my view.
Another ‘drats’ moment.
There is one of those tourist buses. In my opinion, such a huge vehicle should not be allowed on this tiny street. Plus, a small example of the billion school children who I saw over my three days on Hanamikoji-dori.
Nothing wrong in the foreground. But the guy in the black face mask behind the maiko is the spoiler. And the car doesn’t do any favours either.
I would just like to point out how NOT to photograph maiko and geiko. Here is poor Sayaka having her personal space totally invaded by a woman. Meanwhile the woman’s partner waits right at the entrance to Ichiriki, where Sayaka will enter, to accost her again. This is utterly insensitive and predatory behaviour by tourists.
As opposed to the previous photo, these tourists, also at the entrance of Ichiriki, look on with admiration and respect; completely non-threatening.
And finally, if you have read and looked this far, I am happy to say that not every photo I take photobombs out! Here is Fukutama.
I made a spontaneous visit to Kyoto last week. As far as I knew nothing was happening; no erikae or misedashi (debuts). I planned to walk and photograph for three days and hoped that I would find some good material for drawing. Imagine my surprise when on the second day I walked into an erikae! It was the erikae of Kimihiro of Miyagawa-cho. I was incredulous and gobsmacked! But there was no time to be a stunned mullet. I gathered up my wits and got straight to work with my camera.
Today I have been sifting through 800+ images from my three Kyoto days and printing a great many of them. The top photo moved me to stop what I was doing and quickly write a blog post. The photo is of Kimihiro and her younger sister, Kimitoyo. I don’t mean just geiko/maiko sisters but REAL sisters. Kimitoyo looks so proud of her big sister. You can see there is love, respect and admiration between these two girls.
This interaction came when the official erikae walk was over. Kimihiro went inside her okiya and at that point most of the photographers left. I was chatting to a friend when, surprisingly, Kimihiro came back outside with Kimitoyo. Only a handful of people witnessed this sisterly scene. There was much posing, chatting and laughing – and happily for me, tolerance of the photographers.
Related post: Kimihiro and Kimitoyo more photos from the Erikae of Kimihiro
Speed of Life
“Speed of Life”
Neocolor II and coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.
285 x 415 mm. June 2016
For the past fortnight I have been working on “Speed of Life” – a title I borrowed from David Bowie’s album “Low”. (Thanks again, David Bowie.)
I caught this magical moment when Satsuki dashed across Shijo-dori with a big smile (as she recognised a friend) on the night of her Erikae last year. I wanted to show Satsuki’s energy, vibrancy and speed. (Maiko and geiko are ALWAYS rushing!)
I had wanted to draw this for months but the original source photo had so much road surface in it that it put me off. Also, the light behind Satsuki cut off part of her nose. It was only recently I realised that I had other profile photos of her which I could refer to, enabling me to give her a nose. And then – those lights behind … I complained to Matthew, “You won’t be able to see her face because of those bright lights”. We had a discussion. He convinced me that the viewer wouldn’t really have to see her face as the title (which I’d already come up with) suggested to the viewer that he/she was looking at the whole figure moving at speed. OK. Matthew convinced me so I was prepared to give it a go. (Thanks again, Matthew.) In the end, you can see the face pretty well after all!
The original source photo.
Even though I cropped the composition so that I didn’t have too much road surface to cover, it was still a considerable amount. The first layer of colour I put on the paper was with Caran d’Ache Neocolor II. Having this crayon as a base then made it much easier and faster to cover and build the road surface with pencils.
Not all maiko and geiko are as great as Satsuki. No wonder I want to keep drawing her!
Below are the other drawings of Satsuki which will be included in my September 2016 exhibition.
Oh! You Pretty Things
(Satsuki on the left)
Finally, a photo of the night I gave Satsuki her portrait. This was taken 48 hours before I took the photo which I used for “Speed of Life”.
Artist and her muse
A wide view from our “Chicago Architecture River Cruise”.
During our recent trip to America, Matthew and I had one and a half days to briefly look at Chicago. Here are a few photos taken during our walk on a rather brisk (fairly freezing) spring day.
I will remember Chicago as a city of flowers. I have never seen such a wealth of beautiful flower displays on major city streets as I saw here.
The spectacular tulips grabbed my attention.
I was continually aiming my camera down…
…and back up again!
The banner says “Chicago. We’re glad you’re here!” And we were glad as well. I photographed the sun just to prove it was out. It didn’t appear to have much heat in it though.
Matt in front of Trump Tower. Matt’s hat outed him as a tourist…(most probably from Australia).
Did somebody say the word Trump? (Just seein’)
This caught my eye. It was at the entrance of a shopping centre. It was quite a jolt – reminding me graphically that guns are real and plentiful in America. No, I had never seen a sign like this before and I have been to many countries.
Imposing steel bridges cross the Chicago River at regular intervals.
What a great city if you love architecture.
On reflection: a cityscape within a wall of glass.
A touch of elegance to finish which brings to my mind Fred Astaire. The dress in this display window is made of chain mail!
Our glimpse was enough to fuel our curiosity and enthusiasm to return. Chicago seemed like the modern gleaming city, embracing high rise living and looking towards the future while retaining gorgeous buildings from many past eras. “Futuristic”, says Matthew.
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