Monday, December 5, 2016

Evolving Inspirations

The nice thing about being an artist is the world around us holds vast amounts of possibility for inspirational ideas.  They come from everywhere - in expected and unexpected places.

If you don't know by now - I love the use of metallics.  I love them in every form, shape and/or size. In my exhibition, Indian Icons, www.rshah-studio.com (Tokyo exhibition page) metallic colors were not only part of the textile borders in the paintings, but also used in many paintings were gold and/or silver leaf.  Metallic pigments combined with other oil hues were also used. The result is hard to see in a photograph - but if you move around each painting, the light hits the painting in different areas (and at different times) which allows for the viewer to see the painting differently each time.

Field of Lotuses
58cm x 66cm
Silver Leaf & Oil on Canvas
Coconut Whimsy
42cm v 52cm
Silver Leaf & Oil on Board Mounted on Panel















It's no secret that Monet is one of my all-time inspirations.  Recently, I have found a Contemporary artist whose technique I absolutely adore! Nancy Reyner is a Contemporary artist based in Santa Fe, NM www.nancyreyner.com.  I have enjoyed quite a few hours watching her on YouTube and videos accessed via her website.  Her tutorial on the application of gold and silver leaf is a MUST for any artist who wants to use the medium.  She also illustrates many techniques on the use of Acrylic paints and grounds with Leaf.

Between my travels within Japan, my classes in Japanese Brush Painting and Acrylic Workshops with Roy Kinzer at Hudson Acrylics School in NJ http://hudsonacrylicschool.com/roy-kinzer/ and Nancy Reyner's tutorials, I am developing my next series of paintings that I hope to exhibit in the next year.

I am calling it my "Mystical Japan" Series - and I started with Mt. Fuji - an dormant volcano which can be seen from Tokyo.  It took me a few years of living in Tokyo to have the confidence to put forward my rendition of this famous mountain.  After all, it is greatly revered Japanese and foreigners alike.  It is worshiped by the Japanese with great respect and awe.  To me, observing the reactions of the Japanese to this lovely mountain has led me to believe in its mystical (and magical) powers.

Fuji-San the Mystic
51cm x 41cm
Variegated Gold Leaf & Acrylic on Panel

I hope you will stay tuned for the series!

Lastly, as I was speaking of inspiration from unexpected places...  Recently, I and some other artist friends of mine embarked on a few classes in Travel Sketching.  Personally, I wanted to capture the essence of this medium as I travel extensively and want to observe and record the beauty of the places I visit outside of the many photographs I take.  This class helped me do that.  After putting my travel sketch class images on social media - I received a request from a friend of mine to articulate the famous Spider Sculpture that resides in the plaza of Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.  I found this request to be very humbling - because I am not a watercolorist AT ALL!  It's not a medium I find myself pursuing.  However; I did find Watercolor Pencils and enjoyed working with them in the area of my travel sketches as they are easy to carry and allow me to still play with colors as part of my composition - even on vacation.

Roppongi Hills Spider
31cm x 41cm
Watercolor Pencil on Paper
With my friend's very gracious encouragement, I completed her commission.  I find it to be much fun! And will probably do some experimenting with watercolor pencils, metallics and such...  I am grateful for and inspired by my friend's confidence in my work. - And hope she loves it as much as I do!

Until my next post!

Peace. ART. SouL.

Rajul

www.rshah-studio.com


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Artistic Detox

It's been a while since my last post - in between I had a couple major events happen.  The first (a visit to The Farm in the Phillipines) - very positive; the second (the US election) - I am still processing.

In late October I (thanks to my gracious family) treated myself to a week in the Philipines at a Wellness Spa known as The Farm.  One and a half hour south of Manila in the mountains - lies a vegan spa in the middle of a plantation/farm.  Words I would use to describe this place: beautiful, lush, quiet, solitude, zen, peace, green, silent, calming, internalizing energy and recovery.  I close my eyes and I can feel the peace when I imagine myself there.

I actually had a week where I took advantage of their "Detox" program.   I fasted on vegetable/fruit juices, clear soups and herbal teas and supplements with complementary spa treatments for 6 days and 5 nights.  Not knowing what to expect from such a program as I have never fasted in my life - I was pleasantly surprised to come out of it feeling refreshed - in body, mind and spirit.

Artistically, the "alone" time gave me a chance to really internalize that part of my spirit. I sketched, I walked around the property enjoying the various colors of greenery and photographed.  My most favorite piece of this week were the many peacocks which are located around the property, including two white peacocks!  They were beautiful and unafraid of human visitors as I could get up very close for photos and they would just stay put!

Here are some of my sketches and photographs:

Sketch of the Ampitheatre - yoga and meditation every morning

Sketch of the Villa Yard
Palm Trees as seen from my Window
Sketch of the Healing Sanctuary Spa Pool








Fountains off the Mango Tree Lounge

The Farm - grounds and walking area 

Having a week to decompress, and just "BE" in silence offered comfort and renewal.  The Farm has many places where one can meditate and be alone.  The food served in the restaurant is vegan and grown organically on the plantation owned by The Farm itself.  Villas and bungalows are spread throughout the property so you don't even notice people when it's at full capacity because there are so many walking areas, and places to meditated.  While the fitness center and restaurant might feel crowded with 6 people, the rest of the property felt like I was the only guest.  As I was on the Detox program, I didn't really visit the restaurant and so managed to avoud any and all crowds.  Which - for an introverted artist like me felt like pure heaven.


The Mango Tree Lounge - My Favorite Place
Peacocks would sleep in the tree at night

Peacock hanging outside my room
It was a good week.  I missed my family - but as an artist - I found it very relaxing to wile away time thinking about my next potential projects, scoping out what they would require and thinking about how to combine different ideas.  As a result, I came home and prepared 5 pieces to exhibit in a bazaar that I and 3 of my fellow artists were planning to attend. - But I will hold that for my next blog post!

Peace. ART. SouL.
Rajul

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Indian Icon Exhibition...

So!  My exhibition has passed and if I can say - it was a great success!  It is truly inspiring to watch people enjoy your Art.  And a feeling of being utterly grateful that they do is a big part of that inspiration!

I was a co-exhibitor with my husband's cousin who was kind enough to fly in all the way from Mumbai, India to do the exhibition.  If I may brag - we sold 17 pieces out of the 40 we had on display... between the two of us.

I am humbled that I sold 8, and received an inquiry for a potential commission.

Needless to say - this was the ultimate Artistic Adventure for me.  It took 9 months to plan - between the time we booked the gallery to opening night.  And there were so many times when I would wake up in the middle of the night; or when I would be in the middle of a painting and say to myself "What the hell are you doing?!" Not only was I nervous for myself - but here; I invited a family member to make an investment of plane tickets, a hotel AND all else!

Then! It was the anxiety of opening night... getting the paintings there - getting the food there (the gallery is in a neighborhood with small alleys - a car cannot always get through the narrow streets).

But! We did it! Opening Night arrived and people CAME!!!  That was the best part! People. Actually. Came.  Granted, they were a vast and supportive circle of expatriate friends, work colleagues and community - but hell! It is still optional! And I found myself deeply humbled by the support and genuine appreciation for the Art that was hanging on the Walls.  So..  I have to say THANK YOU.  I. AM. BEYOND. GRATEFUL.

I will leave you all with a few photos of the wonderful night and for a list of my pieces that sold - please visit my website www.Rshah-studio.com.

Until my next blog!

Peace. ART. SouL.
Rajul




Opening Night!


Artwork displayed is from Ashok Mody and Rajul Shah

The Peacock was my largest canvas - ever! And I had so much
fun once I figured out the composition for that canvas!

The artwork is a combination of textile, gold/silver leaf and oil

Ashok Mody's Portraits of Mahatma Gandhi in Acrylic on Canvas

Ashok Mody's Portraits of Mahatma Gandhi in Acrylic on Canvas

Monday, August 29, 2016

"Did you get the Joy Spark?!"

The Joy Spark

One of my favorite people and closest friends in Tokyo – also an artist – often talks of the “Joy Spark”.  Whenever I finish a painting, she asks me, “Did you get the Joy Spark?”  If my answer is anything but “YES!” – she says “You are not done.”

She is right. 

The concept of Joy affiliated with an experience is also used in a book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  The Author basically suggests that if something doesn't bring you "Joy", it doesn't belong in your home, closet, etc.

In fact, I could apply that philosophy to everything I do – not just the creation of art. But! That is a topic for another blog!

I haven’t blogged since May – all summer.  And all summer, I wanted to because I was having such great experiences, but I just didn’t have the time.  So – here we are – finally…  It is the end of August and I have a few minutes to highlight one of my experiences this summer that led to a consistent array of “Joy Sparks”.

Being back in New Jersey for these past months allowed me the opportunity to take some one-on-one workshops in Acrylic.  Acrylic is a new medium for me.  (The bulk of my experience is in Pastels, Oil and Nihonga painting, which is a water-based medium).  I always wanted to learn how to use Acrylics – another water-based medium – but it is hard to find English-speaking classes in Tokyo.  So, I swallowed the hefty price and went to 4 private sessions with Roy Kinzer at Hudson Acrylics.  http://hudsonacrylicschool.com  It was a whole new world for me!

There is so much one can do with Acrylics.  Aside from the benefit of the faster drying time – there are so many possibilities with all the different types of Acrylic grounds!  The most wonderful thing about it all is that it dries quickly – AND I can paint on TOP of it – Pastels, Oils and Nihonga!  SO COOL!!!  The other wonderful thing: I can apply the metal leaf to it all as well!  The combinations are endless!  While there are many brands of Acyrlics (i.e. Liquitex and Holbein); but the Hudson Acrylic School teaches mainly with Golden. So, those the products I learned to use and will probably keep using until I feel comfortable to experiment. http://www.goldenpaints.com  (For those of you who are artists, Golden also has a wonderful customer service department – where you can ask just about any technical questions you wish!)

There are things such as – Fiber Paste, Acyrlic Grounds for Pastel, Pumice Stone, Glass Bead Gel, Self-Leveling Gel, Molding Paste, Glazing….  And then there are all the colors!

My favorite grounds were the Fiber Paste (as I can experiment with applying the Nihonga and Pastel on top), the Acrylic Grounds for pastels (this is literally the name Golden calls it), the Glass Bead Gel and the Self-Leveling Gels.


I did a lot of experimenting in my studio before, during and after my classes.  The textures achieved are amazing! And I can’t wait to apply Oil over them!  Here are a few examples….




You can add color to any of these grounds, including molding
paste and pumice stone - and you get an effect!
Micaceous Iron Oxide on Canvas
with Acrylic and Golden Mica Powder
Can you see the beginnings of the
Bamboo Stalks?


















The Micaceous Iron Oxide has a gritty texture - it is already Black in color.  It can take Oil, Water-based paints and/or pastels.  Although I am not sure if the Japanese Brushes can be used on the textured surface as the hairs are immensely delicate.





I was playing around with the Glass Bead Gel and
applying it with a knife on Canvas.  This is a complete
experiment!

The other important point I have learned is to experiment.  Buy small canvasses and try different things - different combinations and see what works together and what brings me the "Joy Spark".  I love working with metal leaf and using its luminosity as a background for paintings.

This is a board with variegated red gold leaf, a self-leveling gel
and a copper and gold Mica Powder sprinkled on top. I had a
happy accident when sprinkling the mica powder - it brushed
into the gel. I loved the effect so much, I incorporated it into
the composition.  I am still going to paint something on top of this!


Here is Fiber Paste sprinkled with White Mica Powder
on a board which I painted a silvery blue.  The fiber paste
allows for Oil or a water-based medium on top.

My next step in this process is to figure out WHAT I will paint on top of these "foundations".  I will have to go through my photographs from my latest artistic adventures to see what lends to the "Joy Spark" as I think of the composition.  It's been a lot of fun applying the various grounds to different surfaces.  I am looking forward to the finished products!

Until Next Time!

Peace. ART. Soul.
Rajul

R. Shah Studio
rajul@rshah-studio.com









Monday, May 16, 2016

Another Muse - Indian Textiles

So, it's been a bit too long since my last blog post. Spring has become busy!  I have been working steadily on pieces for my first exhibition!  It's coming to Tokyo September 30, October 1 and 2 this Fall.  I am nervous most of the time, excited some of the time and thinking "What the hell am I doing?! and wondering if I have become audacious and arrogant" all the other times.

For those of you who are not as familiar with the oil medium, once an oil painting is finished, it can take anywhere between 3 to 6 months to completely dry (depending on how many layers of oil and how thick it is) before it can be "sealed" or varnished.  This protects the painting from everyday type of damage.  So, if I have an exhibition in September, I need to be finished with a painting by June, at the latest.  Hence; Spring has been a very busy season.

It is exciting to create.  I work on multiple pieces of artwork at the same time, so I can put aside a painting for a layer to dry and easily pick up another one.  At the same time, it is scary to create.

Art - like beauty - is in the eye of the beholder.  Everyone comes to view a painting or piece of art with a different frame of reference.  These views are influenced by a person's environment, a person's past, goals, desires.  The combination of all of these factors - when put together - culminate in individuality.  So, for an artist - appealing to the "masses"?  There really is no such thing.  Something we learn to accept over time... and making it scary to create for public display.

The default becomes what the artist loves.  Creation of any artwork is an individual journey - no two artists go through the same one.  Which is why someone once said,

"When you buy something from an artist you're buying more than an object.  You're buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy.  You're not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul... a small piece of someone else's life."

My inspiration for my upcoming exhibition is rooted in my ethnic heritage.  Growing up, I always loved the designs and textiles of India.  The cotton, the silks, the unique combination of colors that would lend to festivity and joy.  In the part of India that carries my ethnic heritage, black was always considered a morbid color - and something I was always discouraged from wearing.  White was and is still considered a color of mourning.  Associated with peace and worn at memorial services/ cremations; widows also wear white.

Every other color in between is splashed across wonderful and intricate designs, yards of beautiful fabric meant to drape and adorn the Indian woman (and man).  It is within these colors and designs that I have found my inspiration for my first exhibition.  Intricate designs and embroidery are interwoven into the fabric and there is no description for it - so the only thing to do is to actually show you....  (these photos were taken from the internet)




I love the color!  Using the textile borders and appliques that are used in saris and other indian clothing I have incorporated the designs into the composition of my artwork.  I am excited as it blends three of my favorite things - the textiles, the designs and painting!  I will give you a sneak peak at a few of them!  And hope that you will be able to view my exhibition in the Fall!

Oil and Textile on Gold Leaf on Board

Appliques and Oil on Canvas

Textile, Copper Leaf and Oil on Canvas

Textile, Green Metal Leaf and Oil on Canvas

Please stay tuned for my future blog posts where I introduce you to greater detail regarding Indian Textiles and designs.  Until then!

Peace. ART. Soul.
Rajul

R. Shah Studio
rajul@rshah-studio.com


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Monet! Monet! Monet!

My Major Muse


Back in October, I had the good fortune of visiting the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art to view the Monet Exhibition.  I LOVE MONET!  I have always loved Monet...  Monet is what originally inspired me to pick up a paint brush.

Most people remember everything about a moment that changed their lives.  Ask someone where they were, what they were doing, what they were wearing - and they will tell you.  I remember the first time I saw Monet's The Water-Lily Pond, 1917.  I was 28 years old; however, I couldn't tell you where I was, what I was wearing or what I was doing because all of that just. didn't. matter.

I do remember that I saw the painting in a book - not in a Museum.  And still.  All I cared about was getting as close as possible to the painting to look at the color.  How did he DO that?!  How did he combine yellows and pinks and gray and blues and greens and reds and make it look so "obviously a pond of water-lilies"?!

Separate and individual small, medium, large brushstrokes of color interconnected and interwoven to represent a composition.  Brilliant!

I was hooked.

I was determined.

I got that happy butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach and just knew...

Someday, I would learn how to paint.


The Water-Lily Pond, 1917
Oil on Canvas, 100.3 x 200.5 cm

Claude Monet


Claude Monet was born Oscar-Claude Monet or Claude Oscar Monet on November 14, 1840.  He was the founder of French Impressionist Painting and heavily influenced by his friends, Renoir, Bazille, and Sisley.  Manet was also a friend, and together they would all experiment, share ideas and develop the use of rapid brush strokes in a broken color format to lay the foundation for a new style of painting, called Impressionism.  In fact, the term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.  Who was Claude Monet?  He would live a full 86 years, enriching the world with his paintings.


Impression, Sunrise, 1873
Oil on canvas, 68 x 63cm

Monet and Me

Now that I am a painter, I thought I would give Monet a try.  And so, on a couple of smaller canvasses (much smaller I should say - specifically 33.5 x 24cm), I gave the concept of Monet's Water Lilies a try on a background of gold and silver metal leaf.  While I didn't quite mimic the use of broken color, I did quite a bit of blending and used several different hues.  The goal was to allow the metal leaf underneath to provide a background of luminosity upon which the water lilies would float.  I am not Monet - but I was pleased with the outcome... and can't wait to try more!


Ode to Monet
Oil and Gold Leaf on canvas (33.5 x 24cm)
Ode to Monet
Oil and Silver Leaf on canvas (33.5 x 24cm)

In Japan, one way to teach an artist is to have him/her literally "copy" a Master's work.  Learning the technique and mixing the colors that the master used to recreate the same composition is an efficient way to learn as it is easy to see where one is making a mistake.  "Blending" is key in a composition of Monet.  And different mediums require different methods of blending.  Recently on vacation, I participated in an acrylic workshop so I could experiment with the fast-drying medium.  While Oil is infinitely easier to blend due to its slow-drying properties; acrylic can also be blended with the use of water.  But! It was hard to manipulate!  I "re-created" one of Monet's Japanese Bridge compositions below.

Acrylic on Canvas
Re-creation of the Japanese Bridge


Lastly - I am also in the process of trying out "blending" in the Japanese Ink Wash medium.  I do find this medium to be easier to work with versus acrylic - and love the delicate quality the ink wash gives to the composition.  This one is still a work in progress and I will share the final one in a future post - but you will get the idea.  One addition to the ink wash is the use of iridescent pigment mixed with water in the gold and green colors.  It is this iridescent pigment that offers the luminosity in the painting below.

Work in Progress
Re-creation of Ice Melting near Vetheuil
Japanese Ink Wash on Canvas Panel

It is my hope that one day - I will be able to assimilate my own version of Impressionistic style into my paintings - which means a lot more practicing Monet for me!

Until my next post!

Peace. ART. Soul.
Rajul

R. Shah Studio

rajul@Rshah-studio.com





Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Japanese Temari Ball - Craft Evolved Into Art

Art Versus Craft


Before I delve into the main topic of this post, I must address an issue that is always a debatable one.  What is Art?  How do we define it?  What is the difference between Art and Craft?  Some people will say that a "craft" is something that is functional in its use, versus "art" is something that is enjoyed, viewed, pondered.  There are many definitions.  However; I did find an article that lends credibility to my view that the Temari Balls in my photos below are actually Crafts that have elevated into Artforms.  article link:  Art Versus Craft

What is a Temari Ball?


In Japanese, Temari literally translates to hand-ball.  "Te" means hand, and "mari" means ball.   

According to The Japan Temari Association the Temari Ball evolved from Kemari (a football/kickball type game); and came to Japan from China between the 5th and 7th century A.D.  

During the Edo Period (1603 to 1867), women in the Royal Court would make brightly colored balls for little girls which were used as toys - balls that were gently tossed around an played with. Making the balls also gave these women an opportunity to showcase their "stitching" talents to gain the attention of their favorite princes. 

At first, Temari balls were limited to the upper class or royals as they were made from silk threads. When cotton thread became available, the art of making the Temari Ball became accessible to the larger population; thus, the toy became a favorite of children all across Japan.  In fact, each prefecture (state) in Japan became associated with a specific style of Temari Ball based on local culture and materials.  

A Temari ball is made by using a core piece or filling that is shaped into a ball and sewn together.  In olden days, this would be a ball of deer hide stuffed with pine needles, or discarded pieces of fabric.  Today, often a styrofoam ball is used as the core.  On top of this core, strips of fabric and thread would be sewn/stitched into a pattern.  The tightness of each layer of stitching is what would allow the ball to bounce.  Many times, small pebbles or rice would be placed into the core of the ball to allow for a "rattling" sound to delight young children as they played with the balls.

Over time, the beauty of stitching the balls into patterns and themes would lend an aesthetic beauty to the Temari Ball.  They are now highly valued and cherished gifts that symbolize good luck and deep friendship.  Temari Balls are usually made of vivid and brilliantly colored threads - to wish the recipient a happy life.  They are given out on auspicious occasions; but it is also traditional for a mother to make a Temari Ball for her daughter as a New Year's Gift in Japan.
   
The art of making the Temari Ball is a learned skill.  There are Masters of this craft who teach and there is even an official Certification that is administrated and managed by the Japan Temari Association in Tokyo, Japan.

Recently, I had the good fortune to do a photo shoot for three friends of mine who are "Temari Ball Artists".  They have been studying this art for at least 2 years and spend anywhere from 4 to 7 to 25 hours stitching and sewing one Temari Ball!  It is a skill requiring hours of dedication and focus.  It was fun day of taking photos as we found different ways to "show off" the many Temari Balls they have made.  Beautiful and vibrant colors everywhere!

Temari patterns are often symmetrical and geometric.

The art of Temari is in the stitch.  Cotton, silk, and even wool
thread is used n the making of the Ball.

Temari Balls are made in different sizes.  Large ones are favored
as playtoys - but smaller ones can also be used in Jewelry.
Often times, a theme will be applied.  In this case, the Pink Lotus
as surrounded by a "pond of green".

This Temari Ball has patterns of an Umbrella

This one is clearly showing off a snowflake.
One can imagine many uses for the Temari Ball in one's home.  I have a few tucked into an old hibachi table in my home.  But I also feel that they are works of art - and can be displayed just as you would display a painting.  Highlighted in your home as part of a shadow box or larger display.  They are beautiful in their colors and in their patterns.

For more information on the Temari Ball, please see the website http://www.temarikai.com.  I will leave you with some more photos of these beautiful Temari Balls and urge you to check them out online or - if you are local to Tokyo - at the next Tokyo American Club International Bazaar!

Until my next post!

with Peace, In Art, to the Soul.

Rajul

www.rshah-studio.com







Wednesday, February 24, 2016

LIFE. is not Short!

Life is not short.  It's actually quite long.

If you live in an advanced economy, you will probably live until you are anywhere between 75 and 85 years of age.  If you keep a healthy diet, stay active and maintain close and productive relationships with family and friends, you could probably live closer to 85 years of age.  Life is not short for most of us - it's just 15 to 20 years short of a century!  That's a long time...

I just celebrated my 48th birthday on the ski slopes of Hanazono Mountain in Niseko, Japan.  Why is this a big deal for me?  I hadn’t been skiing since a ski accident in Killington, Vermont left me with a torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in my left knee – which required surgical repair about 10 to 12 years ago.  It was a bit intimidating to get back on the slopes after so many years!  Thankfully, I had a great instructor at the Niseko International Ski School (Mark) who patiently “re-taught” me how to ski with improved form and great tips.  A half-day lesson from an excellent teacher and my confidence was back!  I skiied for 3 1/2 days with my husband and boys (boys snowboard, hubby skis)  And now! I can’t wait to go skiing again and am determined to stay in shape so I can (hopefully) ski into my 70s!  OK – maybe that's ambitious - but if I shoot for 70 - maybe I can make it to 65?  

An inactive volcano in Niseko - simply beautiful
I am ready!  See the bells behind me on top of my head?
Tradition is skiers and snowboarders ring the bell for good luck
on the mountain.  My hubby rang it for me to have good luck (and injury-free).
 On my last day of skiing as I finished my last run - I rang it to celebrate being BACK!

My husband tree-line skiing in the powder.
A trail on Hanazono Mountain in Niseko, Japan. Snowing every
day meant FRESH powder every morning!



It felt so good to be back on a mountain – tons of snow every day – the cold, clean air, the only sounds coming from the gentle swishing of skis and snowboards, followed by the occasional “Woooo HOOOOO” as someone would attempt a jump or conquer a slope with pure JOY. (my favorite word in the English language - JOY)

A very sunny morning looking at the ski trails of
Hirafu Mountain
It was refreshing, meditative and having an “aha” moment of “I can ski for the next 15 to 20 years if I keep fit” turned into another “aha” moment of “OMG – Life is LONG!”…. This realization became artistically therapeutic on so many levels. 

I realized I have time… I spent 20 years in my first career and am grateful that I enjoyed it every day.  I can do the same as I start my artistic career... whatever that ends up looking like.  And – because life is long – I get to enjoy it and look forward to it for at least the couple decades! 

Where life does come up short, however; are the many experiences and adventures we have.  The short time I have left with our parents, or the short time I may have in learning something, experiencing a new culture, embarking on a new adventure is something to cherish and something to look forward to.  More importantly, I have to make the most of it and simultaneously - slow down to enjoy the moments so I can savor each one later.

My Oil/Drawing Instructor is a wonderful woman in her late 60s, she is inspirational to me because she is fit, active, and doing what she loves – painting and teaching.  I have been under her tutelage for the past 3 years and love it.  Living in Tokyo has allowed me the opportunity to study under her.  My time with learning the art of Sumi-E (Japanese brush painting) is even more urgent while I am here in Tokyo.  I can’t depend that upon my return to the US I will find such excellent instruction from such talented Sumi-E artists. (see previous blog post The Art of the Japanese Brush).  

And so, not exactly sure of the time I have left here in Tokyo – I am determined to make the most of the experience and learn as much as I can from my amazing Senseis (teachers), across photography, painting and drawing.  I also want to make sure I enjoy the friends I have made here before we all move on to our next assignments...

So, what is the moral of this blog post?  Life is longer than we think.  So, have a plan.  Take your time.  You don’t have to have it all – all at once.  But! You can have it all across your lifetime.  You can have children, and work, and volunteer, and go back to school, and have a second career, and try a new hobby.  One of my dear friends worked in Corporate Finance, stayed home to raise her children, went back to school and is now in her second career as a teacher.  I have two others who have also "re-started" their careers in new and different roles.  Maria Shriver  (John F. Kennedy's niece) said it best on American TV News Magazine, The Today Show, many years ago… and it went something like this… “I can have a career in my 20s, be a mother and wife in my 30s and be an author in my 40s…” (She wrote a book in her 40s and is still working in Journalism.)

In the meantime; we have to take the time to care for ourselves – physically and mentally – so that we can take full advantage of each adventure.  For me, that means staying fit and making sure I eat well. (i.e. some chocolate – and more veggies!)

I have always had a bucket list of things I wanted to accomplish in life – I have been fortunate to be presented with unexpected opportunities where I can accomplish things that seemed so out of reach when I was a teenager.  Who knew that traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia would be possible 35 years ago! And I never thought I would live in Japan. While I was on the slopes and experiencing that "endorphin high" and "aha moment" - I added re-starting piano lessons and maybe trying out some guitar whenever we make it back to the States... hell; maybe I'll even write music again! (I used to sing, play the piano, violin and write lyrics - but that's a whole other blog post at a different time). I also figured out the theme for my first exhibition... (crossing fingers!)

For now, thanks to an excellent ski instructor and my family for encouragement I can cross off an item on my bucket list!  Getting back on the slopes to ski!

Until my next post!

(With) PEACE.  (In) ART.  (To the) SOUL.

Rajul


www.rshah-studio.com


Always - I love hearing from you and your thoughts, ideas on future posts. Please feel free to leave me comments below!