Wednesday sketches (summer, 2004)

Like many sketchers I long to travel and sketch far away lands. That many sound funny to you since I already live in a far away land. How soon I forget!

So I have been spending my Wednesday sketch afternoons wandering my neighborhood here in Tokyo looking for things to sketch. I am fortunate to live near the Arakawa River and the old Nakagawa River which used to be a gateway for boats bringing goods into Tokyo during the Edo era. As a matter of fact, I can see the historic spot where the Nakagawa "Bansho" used to stand. This was a checkpoint at the intersection of the Nakagawa River and the Onagigawa River which goes into the heart of Tokyo. Now an old rusted van usually parks there.

These sketches were done on traditional hardbound sketchbooks. The small thin Moleskine on the previous pages has its place in my pocket as a traveling companion, but when I'm actually going out to sketch, I prefer bigger sketchbooks with paper that is more friendly to watercolor.

Nakanohashi Shotengai, the local shopping district. (Brush and ink and wash -- with my yatate)

Sakasai Bashi over the old Nakagawa River.
(brush, ink and watercolor)

The Intersection of the Old Nakagawa River and the Onagigawa with the spot where the Nakagawa Bansho used to stand on the left. Beyond the Nakagawa is an old lock gate that looks like a castle. Most of it is buried under a hill which was made into a park. Behind that is the mighty Arakawa River, a man made river which took 25 years to build. This was sketched from my veranda. (brush, ink and watercolor)

This is the famous bridge at Tenjin in Kameido. It can be seen in an old block prints from the Edo era. The original bridge was destroyed long ago and the present bridge is not as high. The two boys asked me to draw their picture so I told them to go over and stand on the bridge.

Until recently I had been doing mostly quick sketches on the subway or lunch breaks. Now I had the luxury to actually go out and sit down and sketch for long stretches at a time. Unfortunately these sketches lacked spontaneity of my earlier quick sketches.

This sketch took 4 hours! Something had to be done. The next page will show my breakthrough.

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