Monday, March 21, 2011

Tokyo Interlude : Sumos and Shinkansens

The past week or so has been pretty busy for me.  That and constantly refreshing google news to update myself on the Japanese quake/tsunami/budding nuclear disaster has kept me from revisiting these sketches for a while.  These were sketched during our Shinkansen (bullet train) ride from Tokyo to Kyoto.  We managed to get a Puratto Kodama* ticket thanks to the translation powers of our friend Raffy, and eagerly awaited our first ride on the famous train.  While waiting we noticed that there were some Sumo Wrestlers waiting in the same area of the station as us.  Turns out they were seated right in front of us on the train, which was great for me because it led to what is by far my favorite sketch of the entire trip.  I’m very rarely pleased with my work, but this one seemed just perfect to me, with smooth, flowing lines and an economy of information presented on the page.  In short, everything that needed to be in the sketch was there, and nothing more.  Unfortunately I went over it again in gray marker after I got home, and I think I ruined it by shading in the armrest.  It breaks up the boundary between the Sumo and the chair, such that the armrest and the Sumo’s backside (which is in shadow) start to blend into each other.
I think part of the reason why the lines on the Sumo Sketch were so confident was because I made lost of preliminary sketches beforehand, unlike the rest of my previous Japan sketches.  There was a lot more time to kill on the Shinkansen so I didn’t feel too rushed, and by the time I made the final sketch I’d already built an image in my mind of what I wanted to portray, and my muscles were loose enough to allow me to capture the image exactly as I wanted to.  In any case, these are the first sketches of the Sumo.  Noticed that his head seems out of place?  That’s because in real life, my view of him had the chair covering most of his face.  Since that was kind of boring to draw, I tried playing around with the image so that more of his face was showing, which really didn’t work out at all.
It’s traditional on long train rides to bring a bento with you to eat on the train.  Aissa and I picked up a couple of boxes on the train station (both seafood based, I couldn’t tell you exactly what was in them aside from Unagi).  One thing that strikes me about the Japanese culture is the emphasis they place on presentation.  Even the most minor items are packaged carefully and beautifully, so I decided to render the bento packaging.  I quite liek this one as well, which I think was a combination of fountain pen and pen brush.  I finally got to use the red pen brush here, which helps the label on the bento box really stand out.
*The Puratto Kodama is the cheapest way to get reserved seats on the shinkansen, and also the cheapest way green car (business class) seats.  Our green car seats cost us 11,300 yen per person, while normal JR rates are 17,860 yen.  They seem to be seasonal though, so make sure do your research ahead of time to make sure they’re available.

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