in my cosmic garden

in my cosmic garden

“in my cosmic garden” (12 x 20″)

it’s very tempting to just play with elijah all day long and forget about drawing.

elijah, now 2 years and 3 months old, is a curious boy.  all summer, elijah and i were covered with dirt head to toe, digging holes as deep as we could, and watching ladybugs climb up on our fingers.  i’ve rediscovered that spinning around fast and falling down is fun, and that the sky is actually high and deep, and that getting dirty is relaxing.

i’ve heard that this stage of childhood is called the ‘terrible twos’.  i think children this age are just curious — we should call it the ‘curious twos’.  i want elijah to do as many experiments as he can think of even if he ends up feeling frustrated sometimes.  i try to play with him as much as he wants me to.  but at the end of a long day of running around in the playground and climbing up on monkey bars, i end up exhausted.  after all, i’m not a 2 year old. i’m a middle-aged mama.

when elijah was a baby, i used to stay up late at night drawing.  but with a toddler, it gets harder.  he just doesn’t stop, all day long.  by the time i put the laundry in at night, i need to go to bed and get ready for tomorrow.  i’d get ideas for drawings i wanted to do but i was so busy that i never got around to them.  even when i finally found some time, so many of the images in my mind would be gone, or stuck inside my head, not fresh or flowing out of me.  it’s fun to play with elijah but it was still depressing not to have time or energy to draw.

that’s how things have been going for the 6 months since my solo show opened this spring.  i’ve hardly done any drawings except the little sketches i do for elijah.  he draws more than i do and he seems to be having fun doing it.  i was jealous watching him — i almost forgot how much fun it is to draw.

a few weeks ago, i started to draw again.  all the images in my head started to stream out.  i felt better –drawing really is fun.

i was invited to send a new drawing to the mackenzie art gallery’s gala auction this november.  i took a piece i’d started earlier this month and finished it last saturday night.  it sure is a nice feeling to be drawing again after so long.

this is my first drawing after a long vacation.  it’s called “in my cosmic garden”.  i spent a lot of time playing in the garden and taking care of plants this summer.  my mind is still out in the wild and natural world.

Gala Art Auction

Friday, November 6th, 6:30 pm

With an East Indian theme, we will begin the evening at 6:30 with an appetizer reception, including entertainment, raffle offerings, followed by a Live Art Auction of approx.20 works of original art by local & national artists. The evening will end with our raffle results, dessert, coffee & tea.

Tickets: On sale October 1, 2009 at the Gallery Shop ($100 each)

Limit of 250 tickets available call 584-4295 to reserve.

Auction items will be posted on on October 14, 2009.

morning glory

during my summer holidays from elementary school, i was supposed to do a drawing every day showing the growth of  a “morning glory” flower i planted in the spring.  it was a combined science and art project.

i always drew the entire made-up 6-week record of the flower growing two days before school started at the beginning of september.  my drawings would end up showing a bigger, more beautiful and impressive flower than actually grew in real life.  a big bloom would show up suddenly in my drawings on august 30th or 31st.

one year, my flower died because i forgot to water it.  i did the same kind of drawings anyway.

350 million birthday cards


i just made a birthday card for a seven-year-old boy named shane, from lancaster, ontario. he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of five. he made a wish this year – he would like to break the world record for the most birthday cards ever received. his goal is 350 million cards. so far, he has received 125,000 cards. his birthday is may 30th.

i was contacted by one of my contacts on flickr. i thought i should spread the word.

if you would like to wish him a happy birthday, here is the address:

Shane Bernier
PO Box 484
Lancaster, Ontario
K0C 1N0

for more about his story, visit his website.


taste of mama :: art recipe final


i can’t wait to breastfeed poko-chan. i hope my milk is as tasty as a fresh apple.

i spend most of my waking time thinking about poko-chan and our life together as a family of three. i’m really looking forward to meeting poko-chan in seven weeks. people like to tell us horrible stories about giving birth or bringing up children. but i listen to them with a grain of salt. of course it will be difficult because we are new parents and poko-chan is new to the world, but i think our effort will be nothing compared to poko-chan trying to live.

like my dad always says, “you’ll forget about all the hard things that happened when you look at the angel face of your child”.

you can view the progress of this drawing here:

art recipe 1
art recipe 2
art recipe 3

actually, i’m pregnant


i’m just starting my 21st week. it’s our first baby.

my belly has really started getting bigger recently, so i’m visibly pregnant as well. the baby is already quite active. it started moving in my belly around 17 weeks. at first, it felt like bubbles popping. some pregnancy books describe this as “butterfly flapping”, but i’ve never eaten any live butterflies, so how would i know?

more recently, i can really feel the baby kicking. this involuntary movement (on my end) is absolutely amazing. sometimes, when i feel its kicks, i tap it back around the same area. a few seconds later, it kicks back :) i’m enjoying this non-verbal communication so much. the kicking feels like “poko-poko” to me (the japanese language has lots more sounds to describe things than english does), so i gave the baby a nickname: “poko-chan”.

yesterday morning, i could feel the baby pushing out against my left and right sides at the same time — like stretching out, slowly. the baby is building a new body, and it’s going to be crowded inside me.

just before i found out i was pregnant, i started drawing the baby in my drawing “numb“. after i found out, i went to the doctor and saw the heart beating on the ultrasound, and heard the heartbeat sound with the fetal doppler. i did another drawing: “new heartbeat“.

paul and i went to get an ultrasound last week. the radiologist gave us a 3D image of one of the photos, which shows our baby’s face, with the right hand held up shyly in front of it.


mmm~~ good looking. as you can tell, i’m already starting my “oya-baka” (foolish parents) plan (親ばか実行計画). :D

during the ultrasound, we saw our baby open its mouth and wave its hands around. the baby got much bigger since the last ultrasound. now it actually looks more like a human. it’s got fingers, toes, ears, eyes, and a cute bum. at first, i thought i might give birth to some sort of animal, but now officially it’s a human. :)

i knew something was living inside of me… no wonder my belly is getting so much bigger. i’ve never experienced this type of rapid physical transformation before, except in my mind. it’s interesting — all the changes seem to happen according to a schedule. it’s like my body is a machine. but i’ve never felt so human before.

some other time, i’ll post about my early pregnancy experience, and my weird “morning sickness” behaviour, which lasted about 8 weeks.

in a meantime, this is me with our baby inside. :)

16 weeks 2 days

20 weeks 1 day

(paul took the photos of me)

umeboshi blues

(click the image to view close up)

many canadians ask me if i miss japanese food for the past six years. my answer is YES. but when i say “japanese food”, i’m not talking about sushi, or tempura, or green-tea ice cream. they are japanese food and i like them, but i don’t miss them, i guess. i like sushi, but i’m saving my sushi-craving for edohei japanese restaurant in winnipeg. edohei is the best sushi on the prairie.

anyway, when i say “japanese food”, i’m talking about umeboshi. if i could have umeboshi for breakfast every morning, i might not miss japan… as much. umeboshi are pickled plums (“ume” means plum and “hoshi” (“boshi”) means to dry). they are sweet and extremely sour. mmm… just to think of umeboshi makes me feel sour. most commonly you eat umeboshi with rice. you can put it on top of a bowl of rice or you can put it inside of an onigiri (rice ball).

i had a huge craving for umeboshi a couple weeks ago. i needed to eat something sour. i could have eaten lemons, but i didn’t want to eat rice with lemon — too weird. i went to the asian market here in saskatoon, but they don’t carry umeboshi. it’s really more like a chinese market, they only carry a handful of japanese foods. i guess there probably isn’t a big enough japanese population here to support a japanese market.

my craving grew and grew…

so i phoned up my mom :D my parents live in wakayama prefecture, which is famous for… UMEBOSHI! they make the best of the best umeboshi in japan, more sweet and sour than salty. they make a special type of umeboshi with honey in it, that we call 優しい味 “yasashii” (kind + gentle) flavour. i love them. i asked my mom to send me some umeboshi along with some of my other favorite japanese foods.

a few weeks later, the package arrived! actually, i just got the notice from the post office to come pick up the box. the notice said that i wasn’t at home at the time of delivery, which is not true — i was home all day that day. i guess the mailman would rather make me carry the big box in my hands than put in on his nice red truck.

anyway, picking up the package and running a couple of errands was just enough time to make some rice. so i put the rice in the rice cooker and went out. it was a cold and snowy winter day, and when we got back, paul and i were ready to cuddle up and have some warm rice with umeboshi. this must have been the best umeboshi i’ve ever had. thanks mom!

drawing children’s dreams

(click the image to view close up)

this is a drawing for an exhibition in spain in 2007. this exhibition is called “dreams” organized by roger omar in spain.

In 2002 I started a project of dreams. I ask kids from
different countries to write their dreams during 2 weeks.
From hundreds of dreams I made a selection of 60 very short
dreams from kids of México, Spain and Brasil.

he invited artists to select and draw one kid’s dream, to make an artbook of 60 dreams/artists. from the interesting children’s dreams, i chose #32.

32. (SPAIN-GIRL) – Yuka Yamaguchi
I dreamed that I married my dog. I was in the altar, dressed in white, with my fiancé. When the priest said “Kiss the bride”, I saw that my fiancé was a boy with my dog´s face.

usually i’m not good at drawing with a theme in mind. but to my surprise, i had a good time drawing this :) i hope the girl who dreamed this dream will like my drawing.

this result of this project will become an artbook. The exhibition of the project will take place in Cadiz-Spain, 2007. The kids dreams and the images of the book will be exhibited, as well as some other things related to the project, like photos and some original kids-written dreams.

along with their drawing, the artists are asked to submit one dream that they had in 2006. oh boy… i have tons of dreams to choose from. i dream a lot, or so it seems. after seeing my drawings, some people have asked me if i have nightmares. i really don’t. i have some scary dreams featuring cats (i’m scared of cats), but i’m not sure if those are in the nightmare category.

i have some of the same dreams over and over again. here are my recent dreams:

  • i enter Nijo castle (in kyoto) at 2am and have to run around and around the castle 10 times before dawn without being caught by the security guards. it’s hard, because Nijo castle has special “nightingale floors” that squeak when you step on them (protecting against ninjas!). cats keep getting in the way and i can’t run past them…
  • i’m on an escalator with hundreds of steps, and it’s not moving. i need to get to the top of the building because i need to buy a toy from the toy department of this department store. but by the time i get to the top of the stairs, a different dream starts…
  • i’m riding on the electric streetcar in kyoto, but i’m on the wrong train, going in the wrong direction. i’m carrying a suitcase that i have to keep secret and safe.

none of my dreams are really nightmares but they’re pretty stressful. maybe i’ll draw them someday.

uchuu-jin bag

(click the image to view close up)

i’ve been wanting a good size tote bag but i haven’t found one i like enough to buy. so when i went to the downtown public library the other day i didn’t have anything to carry my books home in. as usual, i got carried away and took out more books than i could carry in my hands. the library gave me some recycled plastic grocery bags, but they weren’t strong enough. the bags ripped and my books fell onto the street. so i decided i’d better design my own tote bag.

i bought a canvas tote bag at a craft shop yesterday and hand-painted 宇宙人 (“uchuu-jin”, meaning alien) on it in kanji. you might remember that “uchuu-jin” was lesson one in my quasi-calligraphy series. one good thing about writing in japanese in an english-speaking country is that not so many people understand what it actually says. they just see the kanji and think “ah, japanese — how beautiful”. or maybe they think it’s chinese — same thing, right? either way, it’s easy to have a secret meaning in public. this is the mystery of the orient.

i have another bag that says in kanji: 回収 (“kaisyuu”) and underneath it says “recycle” (in english). i bought it at an artsy gift shop in kingston. it’s kind of funny because kaisyu doesn’t mean “recycle”, it means “collection”. maybe there’s confusion because you can see signs saying “kaisyuu” at garbage collection areas or recycling collection areas in japan. there are several kanji that mean “recycling” in japanese, including 再利用 (the kanji mean “repeat use”) and 再資源化 (“re-resourced”, more or less), but the most common word is リサイクル which is written in the katakana alphabet, because it’s the english word “recycle”, borrowed into japanese (“risaikuru”).

it’s kind of funny to have 回収 “collection” written on a bag in a thick font. when i was travelling around japan with paul a couple of years ago, i carried this bag around with me. i remember seeing some japanese people looking perplexed and obviously thinking it weird to see that written in beautiful calligraphy. i enjoyed the reaction.

that gift shop in kingston (where i used to work, until i quit) sold “japanese” calligraphy greeting cards and framed calligraphy. but the calligraphy itself wasn’t very good. it looked like my ten-year-old nephew’s writing. some of the word choices were interesting, like one that said “horse, tiger, dog….” — the chinese zodiac animals. nothing amuses me more than seeing “dog” in calligraphy. imagine someone writing “dog” in english in beautiful gothic calligraphy — what’s the point?

i guess these things are the equivalent of the weird english you see in japan. when i was in elementary school, i had an “english newspaper print” shirt. it was a white button-up bowling shirt with fake newspaper printing and newspaper photos all over it (even on the collar). hey, it was the 80s. to me, any english writing seemed cool. i knew a few words of english, but not enough to read my shirt. later on, as my english improved, i started to notice mistakes in the english phrases you can see around japan. in college, my foreigner friends would point out “funny engrish” to me. they would have a good laugh about it.

i don’t mind people noticing mistakes and finding them funny. but when i find canadians making mistakes about japanese, it’s hard for me to point them out, especially when the mistake is impossible to correct. in kingston, i once saw a pretty girl at the gym who had a tattoo of the kanji 太 over her shoulder blade. i was speechless, because that kanji means “fat”. maybe it was a mistake, since 大 (without the little dot at the bottom) means “big” and 犬 (with the little dot in the top right) means “dog”. i don’t know why she would want a kanji tattoo saying “big” or “dog” either, but it actually said “fat”. she was working on her upper body in front of me. as the kanji for “fat” stretched across her shoulder, i decided not say anything. too painful.


“nothing brings me more happiness when someone i love knows my sweet spot.”

that’s what i thought when paul brought me this spam museum brochure as a omiyage (souvenir) from his annual football trip to minneapolis.

i like this sort of present. probably he came across this brochure somewhere and picked it up because he knows i’ll like this sort of thing.

(click the image to view close up)

this brochure for the austin (minnesota) spam museum promises hours of SPAMUSEMENT for the whole family. you can try out spam dishes, put on a lab coat and hairnet to make your own spam, and many other SPAMTASTIC exhibits. the whole brochure is written like that. it’s SPAMAZING! (sorry)

i’m very curious what’s in spam, exactly. i’ve never eaten it, or even opened a can. but everytime i walk down the spam aisle there’s a strong urge growing inside me to reach out and buy a can. but i can’t. i can eat a can of tuna, but a can of pork? that’s a whole new world, my friend. the catchy design always brings back the strong urge to just buy one and get it over with. my curiosity continues.

(click the image to view close up)

besides this new addition to my spam collection, i also own a mini spam cookbook. i found it at a indigo bookstore in kingston. there were bunch of them scattered in a sales wagon AS IF no one would want them.

this “spam the cookbook” is a SPAMALGAMATION of recipes: spam casserole, spam macaroni & cheese, spam clam chowder and spamusubi (sushi). basically just by adding a can of spam, an ordinary dish turns into (bam!) a spam dish! how magical. can you feel the power of spam?

well, someday when i finally have the guts to buy one and actually open it, at least i know what to do with it. i’ll make spam-takoyaki!

umbrella of invisibility

it rained today, so i went for a walk. it’s easier to go for a walk in the rain because i can hide my head under my umbrella. when i got home, i drew this.

i have to erase my mouth because i have many secrets.

for one, my umbrella is actually baby blue, not red.

UPDATE: you can buy this drawing from my SHOP.

8.5 x 11″