Thursday, June 29, 2017

First Bonsai Nursery in So Korea

Our first experience with a bonsai nursery in So Korea was not what I expected.  Because of what I had experienced both at home and in Japan, I thought of orderly benches with pots of bonsai in rows that encourage air flow, ease of watering and fertilizing, as well as constant attention to all sorts of things about which I know nothing.  Keep that in mind as you look at these photos.

Walking through potted bamboo for sale:

The one gardener for all the trees we saw in the many greenhouses of the owner:

D making friend with one of several dogs:

Here's another:

A magnificent tree (note the background):

Another one that would make most bonsai collectors swoon (again in the background are trees all over the place - some almost impossible to get to)

And more:


Here are all sorts of trees grouped near a foot bridge (the turtles made me think of our grandson who loved turtles) and a small pond.

Such a lovely pot:

D among the trees:

 The owner of all these trees has enough money to purchase all those spectacular trees but has little if any interest in displaying them in an orderly fashion.  Since I have the same tendency to ignore order in my studio, I didn't mind the higglety-pigglety state of this nursery. Besides - there was great beauty there.

At the second nursery, D found and purchase some Korean hornbeams; that's a very fine tree not available in the US.  Here he is looking carefully at the available specimens.

A collection of bells and a rock with a heart-shaped opening caught my eye:


Outside the greenhouse there was a beautiful little columbine nestled in among some rocks:

That plant was part of a very lovely section of the nearby landscape.

Finally, we had lunch and ate traditional Korean food like kimchee (pickled cabbage marinated in a very hot sauce):  The pots of kimchee are traditionally buried in the ground until they have been there long enough to be deemed "ready".  The pickling pots are very attractive as you can see; I found them outside the restaurant:

And another ingredient in - well, almost everything!

A  picture from the waiting area outside that restaurant

Seen on our way back to Seoul and our hotel - three forms of transportation:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

South Korea - First Day

Yes, we're finally on to South Korea!  Today's photographs are from the morning of our first day.  D and I went out for a quick walk; we needed to get some from cash from the ATM and took the opportunity to wander the streets near our hotel.

How's this for a store full of interesting merchandise?

Lovely planting - the tree looks as though it could be a bonsai if only it were smaller!

Very European architecture:

A very interesting fountain both design-wise and environmentally aware (it is on only in the morning).

Something in the geometry in this picture really appeals to me as do the different languages in which the street names are written.

Back in our room D took out the South Korean currency he got from the ATM.  He put them near the notebook he used to keep a journal of our trip.  It's the first time he did this, and I hope he will continue to do this.  It has been invaluable in writing this blog.  We went so many different places and saw such wonderful things - one after another after another after another . . .  Without his journal, I wouldn't have been able to identify all the photographs I took.

One of my favorite pictures from the first day.  As we left the city on our first foray to a bonsai nursery, looking out the window I saw the South Korean flag flying in the country in which our daughter was born.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"La Promenade"

Today a break from our Asian adventure and a return to my struggles with watercolor paints.  I am blessed and cursed with the ability to see the finished product I want to create in my mind's eye.  Usually.  Sometimes I see the image, but as I work, sometimes the image changes and morphs into something quite different.  Sometimes I don't have the ability to make what I envisioned  - at least at that moment.  Ironically, when I think I have learned how to do whatever it was I was unable to do earlier, I may have lost the desire or simply dismissed it as no longer worth spending time on.

Why am I going on about this?  Because today I finished a painting which I saw in my mind several years ago.  I saw it as an oil painting using a brush rather than my preferred palette knife.  D and I had traveled to Savannah with another couple on a Road Scholar trip.  Like many travelers, we fell in love with the city and the beauty of its parks.  I wanted to paint the famous Forsyth Park with its overarching trees and equally renown fountain.  In my mind that painting had an Impressionistic flavor.  I had the photographs to guide me, and in one of them, D and our two friends were walking toward the fountain. Perfect for my purpose!

Okay, here it is in a not very good cell phone photo:

This painting, which I have named "La Promenade" (The Walk), does not match the painting in my head.  This is watercolor not oil.  The colors do not match the palette I thought I would use.  These are pastel and soft instead of the vivid brights I prefer and thought I would use.  The fountain, which I thought would be the focal point of the work, is now distant and indistinct.  Some features have been given only a nod instead of a real presence (the street lamps and benches - only one each in my version).

The only ways in which this matches my ideal is that is bears some semblance to an Impressionistic painting and D and our friends are in it.

What does this tell me?  As is so very often the case, the work takes on a life of its own.  As I began this version, I realized very early on that since I had decided to use watercolor rather than oils  (much easier to carry to class and home again with no noxious smells), I should use the techniques of that medium - layers of washes and loose brushstrokes (not fully realized here). Then I discovered I was mixing pastels rather than the strong colors I had thought to use.

The subject was calling the shots!

So there you have it.  There's no real way I can always tell exactly what a creation will look like no matter what my plans may be.  Some deeper, hidden portion of my spirit weighs in and may take over while I'm not looking.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mejiro Garden

On our last full day in Japan, our major trip was to Ginza St for a shopping/sightseeing trip (see previous entry). We took the subway back to our hotel.  Since it was too early for dinner and was a lovely day, a few of us decided to take a walk and see if we could find the garden we'd been told about.  

Japanese signage can be really attractive as this one for the garden shows.

The way to the garden led through residential streets with a few small businesses thrown in.  These ladies could have been going home or going to a boutique.

 There were several very attractive gates.  I especially like the ones that are promisingly ajar.  It signals, "Hello, do come in!"

This subtle sign indicated what this shop sold.  Can you guess what it is?  It took me a minute or two to figure it out.  Fabric!!!  What I didn't realize until we went in was that the fabric was antique kimono fabric.  At long last - a shop that sold fat eighths (and some sixteenths) of glorious silks.  I discover this on our last day??? or I finally found this even though it was on our last day in Japan.. Hooray!  My only disappointment was that D successfully restrained me from purchasing their entire inventory.

As I said, this was also a residential area and many of the owners have lovely gardens in their very small lot.  This wonderful yellow rose bush grew up a fence and over an arch.

 We made it to our destination.  This is a lovely, small garden with a gazebo (not pictured) a path around a medium-sized koi pond, rocks, and waterfall.  This is what we saw as we walked in. 

Here you can see the rock wall around part of the pond and some of the koi.

We seem to have been especially lucky on our trip.  Here is another bridal couple who were having their photo taken in a small clearing in the park.  Her kimono was the most beautiful one I saw while in Japan.  They were willing to let us take their picture.

As we left that clearing we passed a building with glass walls (we never found out if it was part of this garden or a nearby independent business).  I took this photo so I could get a good look at the design of the obi fabrics.

One of the many rhododendrons in flower in the garden.

A paintable scene:

A distant view of the small waterfall and another paintable view.

Wildlife - a female duck (I don't remember what kind; I'll have to look her up)

Here is a close-up of the waterfall.  Charming, isn't it?

From the waterfall looking out:

Simply pretty pictures:

Leaving Mejiro Garden, we saw lovely flora -

and fauna:

As you can tell, we had a very good walk.