I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chihiro Tanaka: Waterbrush inventor

Necessity does it again. Chihiro Tanaka wanted to do something and what he wanted didn't exist. So, he improvised. Excerpt from the very imformative Russel Stutler website:

Chihiro Tanaka, the man who is credited with inventing these. He used to empty the ink out of regular brush pens and fill them with water. Then he included photos of these modified tools in his books on watercolor sketching. Some of brush pen makers realized he was on to something big and started to produce these brush pens with translucent barrels and no ink, calling them waterbrushes (mizu-fude)

A proper demo of the brush from da man himself.

Picture of the man.

Page of thumbnails of How-to books on the waterbrush. All in Japanese unfortunately.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Watercolor Brush with reservoir: A fan's demo

Sketchcrawl would not be as portable for me as it has been without this little helper. These are the essentials: mechanical pencil, small sketchbook, watercolors, and this plastic wonder. I found mine at the Kinokuniya supplies store across from the Kinokuniya bookstore in Japan Town in S.F. I'm sure you can find it elsewhere (the Yasutomo Waterbrush I found online is not the same as mine but must work the same). I'd annotate these photos, but really, it's as complex as chewing gum. It will take some getting used to for traditionalists, I mean sometimes you just don't want that much water with the pigment--a small quirk of the tool that one can live with, I think. I hope this is instructional. Post a comment for specific questions.

Check out the watercolors in these posts (1 2 3 4). All were done with this brush on Ingre pages of the famed Fabriano Classic Artist's Journal.



Found the brushes, as mentioned by Justin. Went to Longs and found the Royal Langnickel Aqua-flo pack of three brushes. Small medium and large. Made in China. Quirks of Art Link

Niji Waterbrush by Yasutomo is sold in single brushes also at Longs. Made in Japan. More expensive than the three pack Aqua-flo. Maybe price equals quality. Art Supplies Online.com Link

Pentel Aquash is the one I use and, for my money, the best. Though I can't seem to find net source inside the U.S. Link Link

The "Website of Russel Stutler in Tokyo" has a rundown on his experience with the waterbrush here.

Wetcanvas.com has a thread on people talking about our fabled plastic brush here.

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3 Trees Gallery store is up

"Nina cloud pillow" was my fave of the originals I made for the exhibit. I'm happy to know it's found a good home.

Nucleus Gallery has the entire show up on a page. Originals as well as prints. I've got to buy a Tadahiro Uesugi print the Sunday after the show. A couple still to be printed. 'Tis the season, I tells ya. No where else can you get an Uesugi print. Unique and wows them in aisles without fail. Below is a detail of "Nina cloud pillow." Just 'cause I was really happy with it.

Even better if you got to stare at it up close. The gallery is up till December 6, see?

Nucleus 3 Trees Gallery
Enrico's wordpress blog
Tadahiro Uesugi

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Piedmont Avenue flower shop next to an unassuming antique store. It was a beautiful day Saturday. The light was just perfect and the air was crisp, fall colors adorn the trees. Good to be alive.

Ahhhh.Back from the road trip and glad to be back home. The dinner at Rick's and Luisa's was quite filling. My father was well enough to be driven by the managed care facility to be with us. A big surprise since he's been very limited to his hospital bed. A drive to Melrose for the kids to take a gander at the shops there yielded some shoppping finds for my brood. I found this (below) taped to a payphone and though I lived in L.A., for ten years before moving away I almost forgot that this is the movie capital of the world. And it needs extras!

Not really unusual but I found the insistence on "Real People" funny. I guess the other kind shows up more and they've had it them.

Last night we lit the first fireplace fire of the year and we had dinner in the living room. Salads and fruits, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (my fave) and ciabatta bread, wheat beer...a quiet night at home. My son's one time stuffed toy friend, Lasky, stares longingly at the fire. Hope you all had a relaxing thanksgiving break.

Lasky was bought at an Ikea store back in '96 and its become his pal ever since. Rather hairless now he stays with me more these days. Eighteen-year old boys cannot be caught with their old toys anymore.

I'll be taking dear Lasky on an Alaskan trip someday to meet up with his "people."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Turkey Day

Enrico drove our van down to L.A. with the Uesugi's and he couldn't resist taking a photo of Ralph Eggleston's "For The Birds" critter I have hanging on my rear view mirror. I took this one a few weeks earlier in my drive down to bring our framed work to Nucleus.

Driving down to L.A. It was just last weekend, three days ago to be exact, that I was in L.A. and now it's time to drive down there again. Meeting my mother and brothers at the gallery opening along with all old an new friends at Nucleus seemed like we had Thanksgiving precursor of sorts (Enrico even had birthday cake on the roof of Nucleus). These last months of the year always seem to zip by and we're all scheduled to the hilt. All of you travelling, have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

The Classic Blue. Acid-free, alternating bright white and ivoryl pages. Mine's a almost a year old and I've got just a few sections to go. Time to get new one for Christmas! I use the 6.5"x 8.5" size.

Where did you get that magical sketchbook? Enrico found this book one day when were were shopping at the Art Store to prep for San Diego. Since seeing his watercolors on those lovely pages (Ingre paper, man) I've been a devout convert and preach at length to anyone about the virtues of this lovely sketchbook: The Fabriano Classic Artist's Journal. I love it and carry mine everywhere I go. That, along with a compact watercolor set and plastic brush that has it's own reservoir of water and I'm set to document at a moment's notice. Below are a few links I've found to point those who's interested in acquiring one. Not shilling for these places, mind you (Vickerey's seem pricier). I bought mine in the Oakland Art Store, for those of you at the studio and wondering where to go that's close.

The Art Store

Monday, November 21, 2005

Gallery event: A Blast!

Unreal. Kathy Ringgold had mentioned that she saw the three of us were constantly surrounded by people whose eyes were pinned to our faces hoping to catch our gaze, waiting for their turn to say hello or get a signature. I cannnot judge the event clearly because is was all a churning haze of faces and conversations done in fast forward. I can only hope I made genuine connections to people. I look up every now and then and get a glimpse of Enrico or Tadahiro surrounded as well.

"Would you sign my shoe?" wins the prize as the strangest request of the evening. I signed the shoe. A novelty nugget I can retell for years.

The flowers, Kuro and Tess. Muses and support team. Lucky guys we are.

At the start of this weekend I was still at my desk at work. Twelve-thirty a.m. Friday was an hour and a half ago and I was rushing to ending my day's commitment: finish scenes that need to be in Editorial. I got home and caught up on my prep for the flight in the morning. Tried to sleep at around 2 a.m., the alarm we set would go off at five. I can use any shut-eye I can get and I'm tired enough to deserve it. But sleep will elude me till I get to sleep at 3 a.m. Sunday.

The flight was uneventful and the taxi ride was efficient. I will manage to leave my cel phone in the cab and not notice it missing until breakfast with Enrico and the Uesugi's. At ten-thirty we knuckle down to hanging our exhibit at Nucleus.

Inhale. The gallery is a big space and all my suspicions of not filling it dissipated as I walked in. We had a lot. Even for this space. But my mind reeled as I saw the Uesugi prints. Oh...my...lord...! They look magnificent. I mean, looking at the jpegs is a world away from seeing the prints in all it's detail and color glories. Upstairs were the originals. I stood in front of those for good personal moments, drinking it all in. I cannot buy any of these, I had promised myself. It would be unseemly for the artists of the show to buy up the exhibit between themselves. I am going to leave this for the public who were excited to see and perhaps own an original Uesugi. I would change my mind back and forth on that dozens of times before the show opens. And a few more after that, until the one I really wanted sported a red dot.


Tadahiro and Enrico shuffle through the frames. We even collaborated on each other's walls, discerning how to make the flow of each frame relate to the next. No planning, but just roll up our sleeves and do it. A lucky confluence of sensibilities.

At an hour before the gallery opens we were rushing through our filming (and likely will have many an uncomfortable laugh at our faces and voices), I see people gathered on the other side of the makeshift black curtain that separates the store from the gallery. There are people waiting? I can't process this well enough, and wish I can see it from outside of myself. People came. Much thanks to Alex Chun's article in the L.A. times as well as Cartoon Brew announcing it to their public. The internet, what can I say--it, plainly rocks. The gallery floors were soon packed with people and I met so many people. It was a grand time. I still wish I can see it from outside of myself. There is no way to really take a moment to take it all in. Many will say to me today that they had fun. So much fun! I had fun as well but I not able to process it all. Yet.

Exhale. It is now almost midnight on Monday as I write this and the day's deadlines had kept me from finding an exhale moment until I deliver my last shots in for the day. I will find a quiet moment later but this will have to do, writing this. I am so happy about the weekend and thank our lucky stars that it all went so well. Unreal. I can tell you all that I really appreciate each and every one who made it to the show. Tadahiro Uesugi was so amazed by the response. He also mentioned that the crowd was older than he's had in Japan (his magazine illustrations appear in teen mags and so his audience tends to be very young). "Families!" He comments through Kuro-chan, he said that he was pleasantly surprised that there were children. I hope we showed him just how much he is admired here and that he will come back for another show someday.

I really wanted to do doodles on the nine post-its I placed on the wall alongside my prints. I also wanted to doodle on the white walls (I did eventually). Sunday morning we made it back to the gallery and I did a Peg drawing on one of the post-its. Ahhh, finally. My last piece for the show is done.

There's more to say but too much for one post. On behalf of Tadahiro and Kuro, we thank you. Enrico and I are here to run at the mouth about it all for months so you'll be hearing our raves.

Thank you, Nucleus. Ben, Thank you for inviting us and making it all happen. You and your staff should take a bow. It was a grand success.

Till next time.


Blogs reporting on the show and helping us out on details we've missed and all those photos! Thanks guys for the assist.

Ted Mathot's Current Flavor
Louie del Carmen"s Random Anomalies
Drawingboard.org's events post on the show: 3 Trees thread

And of course, Enrico's very up-to-the-minute blog can be found here.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Three Trees write up in the L.A. Times

Three trees and a flower. Kuro-chan (Missus Uesugi), Tadahiro, Enrico and yours truly inside the famed Love Lounge.

Alex Chun contacted us about doing an article about the show for the L.A. times Calendar section. The interview was done over the phone while Enrico and I tried to recall how this all started. We're murky about dates and some chronology. But one thing is for sure, if it wasn't for the internet none of us would have met or even known about each other.

Uesugi says he feels very comfortable showing his work next to Del Carmen's and Casarosa's. "Three of us, we've all grown up in different countries, but you would think that the show is done by three artists who have learned together at the same place."

Our thanks to Alex for getting us some ink in the L.A. times. Couldn't have come up with it ourselves, "An article about us in a major metropolitan newspaper? Of course!" Great timing for the show this weekend. Alex has edited several books, most recently "The Pin-up art of Bill Wenzel" and "The Pin-up art of Dan Decarlo" for Fantagraphics books. And I find out from an entry in Amazon about his books that he practices law in his "spare time." Where he finds the spare time is what I want to know. I need a truck load of it right about now.

Link to LA. Times Calendarlive.com. article on Three Trees Make a Forest.

Nucleus Gallery
Tadahiro Uesugi
Enrico Casarosa

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Alcatraz Crawl sketches

Da Sketches. The payoff in these Sketchcrawls is having a gaggle of artists around you out in the sun doing our drawing thing together! A sort of momentum and goal is set, though no pressure. I can't define it yet but somehow everyone is energized--I mean, you could really do this on your own, in your own pace and likely get some drawings, but in the Sketchcrawl setting we all seem to hit a productivity surge en masse.

After the initial warm up some people really took off--you know who you are--Amelia. Jason Katz did an impressive array of impressions--if you ask to see them he'll have disclaimers or even demure. Don't let him get away with it, those drawings were heavenly. Tadahiro's sketches seemed like they were the drawing structure for the future illustration masterpiece it will be. And, yes, he did say that he intends to finish them back in Japan. I wish I can talk about everyone in the crawl but space and you all's patience will be tested. So, no further ado, the drawings:

The dock had this building that had amazing light and shadow just asking for it. So, a bunch of us drew and painted the heck out of it.

The green roofed building. That's not paint. It's moss. Great color and patina. That door on the roof drops off to...no stairs. Crafty practical jokers, these Alcatraz architects. And the inmates, they laughed and laughed...

As always, Sketchcrawlers themselves make great subjects. They hold a pose just enough time for them to finish a drawing. Consequently, that's when you finish yours.

I liked the blown up detail of that tiny drawing on the bottom. She was way above me and I had only a few seconds before she moved away. The translation up close is not bad, I think.

Another blow up of a sketch. The immediacy of the moment creates these washes that dry to a nice craggy finish. Very little touch ups after the initial lay of colors. All those chinese calligraphy classes seemed to be rubbing off. One can only hope.

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Sketchcrawl with Tadahiro Uesugi! What a treat!

Sketchcrawl Alcatraz. The most prominent feature of our days, Enrico and I, recently has been how we've managed to overschedule ourselves in our extra-curricular activities. Reason dictates that one must have modest goals. Fortunately for us we don't know what "modesty" means. Not while Tadahiro Uesugi's visit seemed to scream "Sketchcrawl!" to celebrate the event. And why not do it in Alcatraz? Why not, indeed!

We had a blast going and sketching alongside Tadahiro-san. Now, I know that that is surreal and don't think I don't do a double blink just to come to grips that he's here and drawing, hiking and being a great sport about our little social drawing experience. And the weather! We easily could have had a socked in day or even rain, but lo, behold! A sunny day! Skechtcrawl in San Francisco has not had a bad day. Angels smile down on our crawlers.

Our thanks to all who showed up to the Alcatraz Crawl. Special thanks to our film crew: First Girl/producer Noelle Page, the ever golden Kathy Ringgold and sensational Suk-Won Park (filming? What's this? We'll fill you in later). It was another successful day out drawing. We didn't get together as usual to pass our sketchbooks around over dinner because of above mentioned schedule pressures but we'll make sure to do our regular sized crawl next time. Give yourselves a hand!

Enrico, Father Sketchcrawl hisself's Forum on our day at Alcatraz. Drawings! From all over the globe. While you're at it check out the other crawls this past year.

Link to Enrico's very excellent and instant blog posts of Sketchcrawl Alcatraz for more pictures. Part 1 and 2

And here is my meager photo string.

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Tadahiro Arriveth!

He's here! I've been incredibly busy and have had no time to post any updates, but ahh, the awaited day of Tadahiro Uesugi's is here! Last Friday, in fact. We had a limo meet our guests from SFO to bring them to the Westin Saint Francis in Union Square. That night Enrico and I met Tadahiro-san to have dinner. We walked to Panta Rei in Little Italy and caught up. Enrico, as usual, translated generously for me and Tadahiro. A late night, pasta and beers. So good to see our friend on his very first visit to the U.S. and glad to be a part of it.