Happy New Year!! I hope everyone had a happy holidays and a happy new year!
I want to start the new year by making a post about a gallery event that I was a part of in December. The event was held at Design Festa Gallery in Harajuku, Tokyo. Above is what our flier looked like, as well as a short description of the event.
I had a lot of fun! So many people came to the event and it was quite crowded! I did an event similar to this in 2016 before I moved to Japan, and it was nice to be able to sell my work in person again.
After cleanup, me and some other artists from the event went to get okonomiyaki, a type of savory Japanese pancake (we cooked them ourselves! the ingredients are in that bowl), and celebrate our success! I would love to do an event like this in the future.
In other news, my website is now fully up to date with all the work i completed in 2018! the homepage will lead you to my illustrations…
…and my sketchbook tab is also completely updated as well! What do you think? Please let me know if you take a look!☺
In 2018, I started the year off by releasing a zine of my sketchbook work from 2017. I have completed a lot of new work, enabling me to redo part of my professional portfolio, as well as create a lot of pencil drawings. I was also able to have my first successful art show in Tokyo. I already have a few exciting things planned for 2019!
It’s somehow already December… This year has gone by fast. Even though it’s fall, there were still roses blooming at Shinjuku Gyoen. They looked so beautiful~ I want to try and go somewhere else closeby Tokyo this month to see flowers again. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!
I’ve been playing around with the concept on the left page for a while now, and one day I want to paint it really big! The flowers were a perfect background for this sketch.
At the end of November, I went to Taiwan! I had been wanting to travel somewhere outside of Japan before this year ended. It was kind of a last minute trip but it was exciting to see somewhere else in Asia since I’ve only seen Japan. I went with a friend for a three night, four day journey. We stayed at a hotel in Taipei. On the second day we went to a place called Shifen, which is in the above two photos! It’s a place that is famous for having many different kinds of small shops and food stands, as well as a train that runs very close to all the shops.
Closeby to where all the shops are, there is this beautiful waterfall known as the Shifen Waterfall. It is said to be one of the most beautiful sites in Taiwan. The water was a really pretty blue-green, and listening to the sounds of the water was really relaxing.
After Shifen, we took a taxi to Jiufen. The teahouse in this photo is said to be the model for the bath house of Spirited Away! It was really pretty in person. This whole area is built on a hill (mountain? haha) and is full of different places to stop for tea. We went to a teahouse for some delicious oolong and oolong flavored cakes and cookies. Taiwanese oolong is one of my favorite teas. When I used to work in a teashop in America, one of our Taiwanese oolongs was the most expensive tea in the store!
There were so many stairs and it had started raining when we went so it was actually a little scary walking up and down the slippery stairs with umbrellas everywhere! But in the end I am glad that we went! The lit up lanterns were really pretty at night.
On our third day, we went to Kaohsiung! It was around two hours from Taipei by high speed rail. It was south of where we were in Taipei and the temperature difference was crazy! It was so hot there! We went to a place called lotus pond, which is a large pond dotted with different sight seeing locations, such as the dragon and tiger pagodas in the above photo! It is said that if you walk in the mouth of the dragon and out the mouth of the tiger, bad luck will be turned into good luck! But this week I’ve had some bad luck already so I’m not sure if it worked!! Haha. The view from the top of the pagodas was also really beautiful.
For some reason this was really difficult to photograph! But we stopped by this place called the Spring and Autum Pavilion. There were a lot of turtles around here! And the pavilions were really beautifully detailed.
I drew this little flower based off of a photo I took in Shinjuku Gyoen!
Here are some photos of the other various things around the pond! I don’t know if you can see any in any of these photos, but the lotus flowers were so beautiful to see in person. There weren’t a ton of flowers in bloom when I went, but the ones that were in bloom were so beautiful and big! At one point we saw a bird eating one though and I felt a little bad for the flower :,(
Ahh after we got back from Kaohsiung, we went to this fantastic vegetarian restaurant called Yang Shin in Taipei. Online, I had read that without a reservation, it’s hard to get a seat so I was worried (their internet reservation page wasn’t working!) but luckily we got a seat! I ordered ham buns with fake ham and these beautifully wrapped spinach dumpling (what do I call these? haha) things that were amazing! We had black dragon pearl tea with dinner that was perfectly steeped. I hadn’t tried Taiwanese black tea until this evening so I was really happy that they had it in the shop! There really weren’t a lot of vegetarian options at all of the sightseeing locations we had gone to, but luckily it wasn’t too difficult in Taipei for me to find things to eat. But this restaurant was definitely the best. I will say though, going to Taipei made me grateful that Tokyo has so many amazing vegetarian restaurants! That was a lot of food talk, but I love food!!
It’s October 31! Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!
I’ve had a very busy two months since the last time I was able to post! Within the last two months, I went to Sendai, Osaka, Niigata, Nagoya, Saitama, Chiba and Nagano! Yes, I know I am a little crazy but to be honest I love Japan and I love traveling so I don’t regret any of it! The above photo was taken at Zuihoden in Sendai. During most of September, it was still quite warm and even now there’s still a lot of green leaves on the trees around Tokyo.
I usually love to draw a lot of pumpkins around this time of the year, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to draw as many as I would have liked to!! Next year I would like to paint/draw pictures of pumpkins more during fall.
I was able to see the spider lillies in Saitama this fall!! Saitama is famous for spider lillies. I went with a friend right as they seemed like they would wither. Luckily we were able to see them when they were still quite beautiful.
Probably from now until spring we won’t be seeing many flowers… I am patiently waiting for cherry blossom season! Although fall is my favorite season, Tokyo isn’t the best place to be during fall because there’s barely a ‘fall’ here.
Sometime during this month (I already forgot when…) I went on an overnight two day trip to Chiba with some friends. It was fun! But very cold by the ocean!
It was very relaxing to be able to draw by the beach.
I found a lot of nice shells on the beach! Aren’t the colors beautiful?
On the second day of the trip, we went to an island called Niemonjima. We had a barbeque there, and the weather was actually quite warm!
Lastly I want to talk about my trip to Nagano! I went there last weekend. I loved it there more than I imagined I would. I was so happy to see that the leaves were changing colors! These photos were taken at a temple called Zenko-ji.
I pulled an omikuji, or fortune, for the first time in a while at Zenko-ji.
I had a lot of fun trying foods that were famous in Nagano! My favorite were these buns called oyaki. They’re traditionally filled with all different kinds of vegetables and every kind that I tried was so delicious! This one had mushrooms in it!
I thought these were pretty so I took photos of them too and wanted to post them here~
I finished this sketch the day before I went to Nagano and found a little garden outside Nagano station to take this photo in front of.
On the second day, I went to Matsumoto! I saw more beautiful fall colors and walked around a lot.
There were also a lot of frogs everywhere!!
I had a delicious vegan lunch at a place called Healthy Penguin Cafe before heading to Matsumoto Castle. This burrito bowl was so good!
Somehow, someway, I was able to come back from Nagano and finish this painting just in time to post for Halloween. Yay!
And I would like to end this post with some cute little pumpkin cupcakes I got last night. I am going to miss seeing all of the cute Halloween sweets!!
I think that is all I have to update for now! Thank you for reading!
Hello blog! It’s been a long month! I’m not going to type too much but I have some things I would like to post!
I did this skull study before flying off to America for two weeks.
My parents got a puppy recently and I finally got to meet her, so here she is making a guest appearance haha. We went to Maine for a few days right when I got back, but unfortunately I got a bad cold and fell asleep a lot due to bad jetlag.
After Maine, we headed back home to Massachusetts. I had a lot of fun seeing my friends again! I haven’t been back for 8 months but time really does fly and January doesn’t even feel that long ago. I visited a beautiful town on the water called Rockport, where I used to sell some of my art! There are so many small shops in this area and if you’re from Massachusetts, please go take a look and support them! I would love to sell my work at stores there again someday. The weather was so perfect at home; in Japan it’s still very very hot and humid.
Right when I got back to Tokyo, I started thinking of ideas for a new project. I have a lot of traveling coming up in September and I am hoping I will have enough time to plot and plan and hopefully start something new in October!! But I’m always sketching down thoughts and ideas in between~
Here’s a photo of me in a yukata from this weekend. I was so excited to wear this before the summer ended! I have one already but I wanted something new, and all I had my mind set on was one with giant peony print. To my surprise, the first store I went into had this beautiful yukata and I was so happy! I wanted to end this post with this photo as a memory of a good day.
Thank you for reading!! Please stop by and visit again!
Hello blog! It’s officially summertime in Japan and I have some things I would like to post about!
To start, here’s a piece that I painted based off of a sketch I did before I came to Japan two years ago. It has an important meaning to me, and completing the painting actually took me quite some time because I felt so strange bringing these emotions to life again in this piece. I think this is one of my favorite pieces I have completed so far this year.
Next, I want to talk a little about my trip to Okinawa! I went on a long weekend trip with a friend for the first time in the middle of May (sorry I haven’t sat down to make an update sooner! I have been very busy!). On the plane to Okinawa, I was able to see a great view of Mount Fuji! Also, look how cute our plane was, there was a little heart on the wing!
When we got off the plane we rushed to the famous Churaumi Aquarium. I don’t want to post too many photos from there, but I really love the colors in these two photos and wanted to include them here.
Being vegetarian in Japan can be difficult at times, but I had no trouble finding good vegetarian options in Okinawa! On the left is a dish called tofu chanpuru (I’m honestly not sure if thats the correct translation haha) and on the right is umi budou, which directly translates to sea grapes! The tofu dish had beansprouts and scallions and a yummy sauce. The portion was so large I felt like I was in America again haha. Umi budou are a type of seaweed! Both were very delicious Okinawan dishes!
The ocean in Okinawa was so beautiful! I have never seen water so blue and clear. I wish we could have stayed at the beach all day, I had such a nice time.
We swam for a while before having lunch by the beach.
For lunch this day, I had Okinawan soba topped with ginger and scallions (those white things are some sort of fish cake that I gave to my friend) and on the side I had a delicious agemochi, or fried mochi! We also enjoyed shaved ice. I got mango flavor!
If you know me well you know I love plants. Soon after I got back from Okinawa, it was my birthday! I had a great time celebrating with so many friends and I got a few new plant babies from them! Here are some (soon to be) strawberry, lavender, and (soon to be) basil plants! I get a lot of inspiration for my art through nature so I love to have a lot of plants always in my room.
After all the Okinawa and birthday fun was over, I finally had more time to sit and draw. The sketch on the left is an idea I’ve played around with before; I haven’t perfected the thought yet but sometimes I just need to keep trying and trying before I feel like I can really get it right. For anyone who maybe has been following me and my art for a bit, you probably have noticed a theme of the moon being somewhere in most of my sketches. This is actually a way for me to mark time. When I was a senior in college, my thesis was about lunar astrology and how the moon phases affect us and our lives. When I am working on a sketch, I usually include the moon as a way to mark what phase it was in as I was creating the piece. I don’t always do this, but most of the time, thats why it’s there!
I would like to share some photos from when I celebrated Litha, or the summer solstice, with a close friend. We had a picnic in a spacious imperial garden in Tokyo. We made sun water and flower crowns. The weather was perfect, not too hot and no rain.
This was my first time making a flower crown, and it was much more difficult than my wreath I had made for the first day of spring!
I love spending these kinds of days with people who are close to me, and I had such a nice day. This is my friend Nolita and you can find her on instagram at @confettibastard!
Nolita was working on a photography assignment for class and this is one of my favorite shots that she took.
The hydrangeas by now have mostly all wilted, but in mid/late June they were beautiful. I wanted to take so many pictures with them in it! And for the sketch… I have a fascination with the shape of ginkgo leaves. I think theyre so charming.
This weekend was tanabata in Japan so I went to a tanabata festival in Shitamachi! If you’ve never heard of tanabata, please look up the history! I walked down this street and there were so many colors, food vendors, and trees where you could hang your own wish (you write it on a piece of paper and hang it from the tree!). I walked around for a while and enjoyed my time.
I like doing these small sketches because I feel like its a great way to get out some ideas in a time efficient but still polished manner. It’s been on and off rainy here in Japan.
On July 9th I went to Asakusa for a Chinese lantern plant festival! The windchimes made such beautiful sounds!
The plants were very beautiful and so unique! They sold them like this, as pictured above, and even by the single bulb (is bulb the right word…?)
Completely unrelated dahlia (and tooth, haha). Also related to flowers, as I browse through flower shops I have been finding so many beautifully colored dahlias lately.
The festival was right next to Sensoji-temple. Nearby the many many stalls of these plants, there were also many food stands! You could buy so many kinds of foods such as yakisoba, fried meats, candied apples, chocolate bananas, shaved ice, baked potatos, etc.! But I chose to buy one of these little buns with pickled greens in it, and it was amazing!
So I believe that is all I have to update about! I have been quite busy lately so I haven’t had as much time to be as productive as I would normally like to be. I also had a few friends visit from overseas over the last few months and I will actually be returning back to America for a few weeks soon! I will probably update again either right before my trip or right when I come back. Thank you so much for reading this blog entry, check back again sometime! Have a great morning/day/night!
A little while ago now I painted this jackalope based off of a photo I took of a tree in a forest many years ago. The sketch for it was also completed a while ago, but I never sat down and actually got the chance to paint it! The full image can be seen on my website at http://www.juliaelizabethstasio.com
I went to Fukuoka last month for the first time in three years! One of the first places I went to was Ohori koen, a nice open park with this cute little pagoda (?) in the center. You can see all kinds of animals here! Turtles and koi fish and ducks and…. many pigeons.
Next is this guy!! This is the buddha at Nanzoin. It’s not too far from Hakata in Fukuoka. The train ride is a nice relaxing journey through a very rural part of the city.
I always find things when I’m traveling that I wish I could read and comprehend. Learning a language really is a lifelong journey and the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I’ll keep working hard so I can understand the things I want to read (like these signs that I thought were interesting)!
Whenever I think of spring in Japan, I think of lots and lots of flowers! This photo was taken in front of some tulips in a park in Tokyo. They were close to withering but most of them still looked nice. Here’s a poppy and a bat skull!
Recently was a series of holidays in Japan called Golden Week. Many people travel during this time and lots of places become busy, but me and a friend were able to make it to this beautiful park in Ibaraki! It’s a bit of a hike from Tokyo, and our commute was rough so it took us a bit longer than expected. But it was worth it to see this beautiful view! The flowers are called nemophila; they were in my painting that I posted last month! They’re quite small flowers, but I find something about them to be very charming.
Me, a dark priness in my flower kingdom, and a closeup of the flowers and a little red friend ♡
I drew this for the full moon, with a little nemophila at the bottom!
May 1st was Beltane, and I drew this little sketch for it. Beltane is traditionally a fire festival, and a day to honor the sun. It is also a day to represent the peak of spring and also the coming of summer. Here I took inspiration from all the flowers blooming in Japan and I drew this sketch. I was busy this day and didn’t have much time to celebrate unfortunately.
My final journey I took during golden week was to the Ushiku Daibutsu in Ibaraki. For how close it is to Tokyo, I’m a little surprised that most people don’t even know it exists. This is the largest Buddha statue in Japan standing at 120 meters tall. It was a little intimidating to see in real life. I’m so happy I got the chance to come here, I have been wanting to visit this place for years!
Spring was a great time to visit because there were so many flowers all around the buddha. I imagine it must be beautiful to see in the winter after it snows as well!
Hello! I’ve been up to a lot lately so I figured now is a good time for a new post. March has been very busy for me. I had a few friends come to Tokyo and I’ve been doing a bit of traveling. I will be posting art photos along with travel ones in this post!
I want to start by posting this photo that I actually completed sometime in February. It is a painting based off of a sketch I completed over a year ago. I had plans to actually complete this painting back in the fall of last year, but I couldn’t get my color palettes exactly how I wanted them to be. But I am happy I waited and thought it over because I love the way this came out!
Here’s a closeup photo, plus the original sketch and color studies.
I’ve had a lot of downtime at work recently because March is graduation month for Japanese schools. Watching my students graduate was such a bittersweet moment for me. I’ve grown close to a lot of the graduating students and I will miss them so much. But it’s been an amazing experience to be a part of their lives, even if only for a short period of time. During my downtime at work, when I’m not preparing lessons, I will often do small sketches (like the ones above). Here is a study I did of lavender and chamomile.
March marked the beginning of spring! But unfortunately for Japan, the first day of spring involved a lot of rain and even snow. For the spring equinox, also known as Ostara, I had plans to gather with a group of friends and have a picnic in a park while doing spring crafts. Since it was raining/snowing/doing some sort of wintery mix outside, the plans had to be changed and we were all a little disappointed. So, we sat inside a cafe for five and a half hours chatting and doing our crafts as planned; thankfully they didn’t kick us out of the cafe!
Here is the result of my craft time during Ostara! We each made our own spring wreaths. This was super enjoyable and very relaxing to do and I’m so glad we all got to make them together. I looked at a few pictures of wreaths for inspiration since I had never made one before, and something about the asymmetric look really stuck with me. For the summer solstice we are planning on doing a similar activity, and hopefully we can be outside!
Eventually, it really began to feel more like spring in Tokyo and these flowers, called ume, began to bloom! Since high school, I have always loved to take my camera around and photograph flowers, so this was very fun for me.
Although they are beautiful, the ume don’t last very long. But soon after they begin to wither away, the sakura begin to bloom! I got very lucky during the time of the sakura blooming because one of my best friends from home came to Japan and we got to enjoy traveling and looking at the sakura together!
The two places we traveled to were Kamakura and Kyoto. I have been to both these places before (Kyoto maybe five times by now?) but revisiting places you love is always fun! I want to post a few travel photos because I really enjoyed a lot of what I did this month and I want to share! In Kamakura, before visiting the Daibutsu (big buddha!) We went to this adorable cafe called Kannon Coffee which was not only one of the cutest cafes I’ve been to in Japan, it was also so so so delicious. We got buddha crepes (mine was red bean and strawberry flavor!) and these super refreshing lavender mint citrus drinks. If you ever make your way to Kamakura please visit this cute cafe!
And here’s the Daibutsu himself. He is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan at a height of 11.4 meters.
One more food post before moving on to some art… In Kamakura we also visited this cafe called Cafe Kaeru. ‘Kaeru’ means frog in Japanese so there were tons of little frog statues scattered around everywhere! This cafe was truly in the middle of nowhere, located inside a cute garden. Our food was delicious. I got a bowl of rice with grilled seasonal vegetables and a miso soup. This is the perfect place to go if you love being surrounded by nature. So peaceful, and a great break from tourist madness.
After some more Tokyo fun, we were off to Kyoto! The sakura were so beautiful here. Before we went to Kyoto, I was working on a few little succulent drawings. This one here is actually based off of a very old painting that I never finished with the same composition… I think I had started it in college and I thought of it recently which brought me to completing this little sketch!
During our first day in Kyoto we went to Fushimi Inari, which is one of my favorite places in Japan. I came here first back in 2012 when studying abroad for two weeks on a trip with the pottery department of my college, and I always am reminded of that trip whenever I come back here.
During our second day in Kyoto we came to Ryozen Kannon. Upon arriving, we each received an incense stick to place in front of the statue inside an incense burner. This is done for respect for ancestors as well as for purification.
Ryozen Kannon Temple is a war memorial, built in 1955 to honor soldiers who fought in World War II.
We spent a lot of our time in Kyoto in Maruyama Park, which is famous for its sakura! Here is a photo of another succulent sketch I completed. This one is of a succulent that I purchased recently and keep by my windowsill.
The sakura at Maruyama park really were beautiful! We sat under the trees while drinking iced matcha. Matcha is famous in Kyoto and whenever I go I make sure to drink it as much as possible!
We ended our adventures together in a park called Inokashira Koen in Tokyo. I rode on a swan boat for the first time! It was so fun and the sakura petals falling into the water were so beautiful.
Since it’s the beginning of the month I’m going to take some time this week to think about what I want to accomplish artistically for the rest of the month, and as I’m sitting here typing I realize I have yet another painting I have completed and neglected to photograph… But I think after that I will be all caught up with work I’ve completed so far this year! Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed the travel photos along with the art.
It has been a very long time since I actually sat down to blog. Probably close to a year or so now. I had an old blog account that for some reason I wasn’t able to login to anymore, but here we are with a new account starting fresh this year. Since it’s only the beginning of March, I figured I would recap on some of the things I’ve been working on since January.
In 2017, I spent most of my time working in my sketchbook. I wanted to make a collection of the pieces I had done over the last year, so I spent many hours scanning, editing, and assembling a zine of the collection. It was tedious but receiving the zines in the mail and being able to hold them in my hands and also give them to others was a really rewarding feeling. My etsy can be found below and there are still copies left to purchase!
As usual, I have still been sketching a lot. I’m not sure if I will create another zine next year of my 2018 sketches, but we’ll see!
In January, I traveled a little bit and did two day trips. Even on a short trip, I still like to explore whenever I can. One of the trips was to Niigata, where I visited Hakusan shrine. It had snowed a lot around this time so it was quite difficult to get there on foot, but seeing the shrine covered in snow was really beautiful. I also pulled an ‘omikuji’ which is a Japanese fortune, and I got little luck! I am still waiting for my luck though, hopefully it will come sometime this year.
Right when I thought it was winter, I feel like suddenly it started to become spring. We’ve had a few really nice days recently and over the last month or so. I even walked to a small park and found a lot of little planted flowers! I can’t wait for the weather to get warmer but not too warm, Japan in the summer is a heat-wave nightmare.
A fun fact: when I was younger Jupiter was my favorite planet because it started with the letter J and there weren’t a lot of things that I thought were cool that started with the letter J.
In February I made another short trip to Sendai. I have been to Sendai three times now but I had never actually gone sightseeing there, only around Miyagi Prefecture. But I wanted to visit this giant statue of Kannon so I wandered to see her. It’s hard to capture her height in these photos. I’m always amazed by statues of Kannon and Buddha etc. in Japan and I have more on my list to visit this year. February was a rough month but I am glad seeing her, and also painting a lot, came out of it.
I have been painting this year!! At the end of last year I got together with a good friend, made wassail, and talked about art and what we wanted to accomplish this year. I not only just want to paint more but if possible I would like to redo almost my entire portfolio. I’m actually holding back and posting work slowly because I’ve really been up to a lot… Aside from these two paintings I have already finished another full size portfolio piece and am about 70% done with another!
I really love the way these two paintings came out. I am very happy with the colors.
Detailed photo. I had a lot of fun painting the faces on both of them.
I completed the sketches for these two faces so long ago, I forget what my original inspiration was.
And lastly, today is a full moon in Virgo! The virgo full moon brings out the practical and rational thinking within all of us. We become more dilligent and responsible. Today I will spend some time with friends and celebrate the moon.
I think this is all I am going to write for now! Like I said before, I do have some more things in the works that I would like to post about but maybe I will wait a few weeks or so. Or not? I’m not sure how often I will post but I am aiming for at least 1 or 2 times a month. I feel like this post was long since I have been working hard over the past two months and this isn’t even all of it. I think how much I post will depend on my own personal pace. But if you’ve made it down to here thank you so much and I really appreciate you stopping by to take a look. I really do appreciate any support from the bottom of my heart.