Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Mini-Tribute to my father... PART 6

(continued from Part 5; images are my father's work.)

After a career that kept him abroad for most of his working life for years at a time (in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Malaysia), retirement in Japan was a difficult season for my father to cope with, but the watercolour painting group in which he was an active member gave him a rich social circle as well as some form of routine and a sense of purpose. The weekly sessions got him out of the apartment regularly, while outdoor landscape painting excursions lifted his spirits. The semi(?)-annual group shows at a local gallery were occasions that he reported about to his children who lived far away on another continent; we were always delighted to hear him talk with such enthusiasm and receive e-mail updates of his latest masterpiece. At his funeral, a good proportion of attendees were from this circle of amateur painters. He was their peer, bound by a unique friendship that only a fellow painter who had week after week painted the same subjects together, struggled through the same technical and expressive challenges together, and shared some joyful ways of seeing together, could enjoy. 

(to be continued.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Mini-Tribute to my father... PART 5

(continued from Part 4; sketches are my father's work.)

His wife and his children were not the only portraits my father sketched; in his later years, my father would sketch bartenders and servers (without exception, female and young) at his favourite bars and pubs, giving away their portraits… this he also did at annual class reunion trips.  The receivers probably only humoured him most of the time, but I am sure he felt some satisfaction knowing that others appreciated the little, unique gestures, and the thought of putting a smile on someone’s face through such a solitary activity as sketching. 

(to be continued...)

A Mini-Tribute to my father... PART 4

(continued from Part 3; sketches are my father's work.)

Painting...(my mother is seen in the extreme top left)
My father further pursued this pastime of sketching and painting (en plein air) when he began working at a large corporation, first in Osaka, then in Nagoya where he joined the company’s “painting club”. It was in this social circle that he also pursued a young woman, who a few years later would become his young bride and favourite model. The sketches that are left today from this time, especially during my parents’ days as newlyweds in New York, are intimate sketch portraits of my mother. (to be continued…) 

circa 1970, in New York

circa 1970

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Mini-Tribute to my father... PART 3

(continued from Part 2; sketches are my father's work.)

January 1961
In his youthful earlier years, my father was more deliberate about sketching and painting than the casual approach of our childhood. In his own young days, he probably enjoyed drawing, as did two of his three older brothers who likely had an influence on him. In his twenties, my father took hiking trips around his hometown of Nagasaki where, treating watercolours like oils, he painted some vivid images of local mountain landscapes. But artistic pursuits were always second place in comparison to his real passion -- baseball -- evident in how he named his son, who also became a catcher all the way until high school. 

(to be continued…) 

circa 1960
March 1960

A Mini-Tribute to my father... PART 2

(continued from Part 1; images are my father's sketches.)

Sketching was always a part of my father’s life. But as I was growing up, it was not in any formalized, structured, or intentional way. He never “planned” to sketch on any given day; it was always done at the spur of the moment. He never carried a sketchbook around -- often on a napkin or the back of an envelope (the kind that utility bills came in) most of the sketches that he left were done with whatever ballpoint pen or pencil he happened to find at the kitchen table, and usually while nursing a glass of scotch on the rocks. His choice subject matter was his family or familiar objects that, again, happened to be on the dining table.  In some ways, all this seemed to make sketching a more natural activity so intimately tied into daily life, inspired by some impulse of endearment as opposed to artistic discipline or exercise.   
 (to be continued…)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Mini-Tribute to my father... PART 1

It will be just over 2 months since the passing of my father, whose life on this earth ended peacefully in the early hours of January 1st in Nagasaki, after a 13 month struggle with cancer. I am comforted knowing he is now in heaven with the Lord Jesus praising his Father. Since returning to Canada after the funeral, it’s been back to life-as-usual for me, but not without moments to reflect and be thankful for the wonderful father I had.

This post is the first of a series as a tiny tribute to my father in the context of the subject of this blog… sketching. For without his influence, both direct and indirect, I would not have developed the privilege of this tool that enabled me to discover so much in this world. It is one of the many legacies he has left me, and which I wish to pass on to my own children.
(to be continued…)

March 1987, a sketch by my father of me

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kallin Chinese Restaurant

One of our favourite restaurants... it doesn't have much presence along 109 Street, but has been a regular weekday and weekend lunchtime hangout for the last few years.