Another Wonderful Way Pro-Wrestling is Art 2

In Another Wonderful Way Pro-Wrestling is Art I talked about the the wrestling centric work of Rob Schamberger. Here, in addition to featuring more from Rob, I’d also like to spotlight another artist who specializes in wrestling related creations as well as an artist readers of this blog will be well familiar with who has entered the realm of drawing professional wrestlers as the result of commission requests from me. 😉

 

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A mix of originals and prints of Rob Schamberger’s striking work.

 

WWE’s Asuka (formerly Kana) is a longtime favorite of mine, and was the subject of first wrestling related commission request I ever made (top left above). She has remained central to collection (and will come up again later), particularly in terms of Rob’s wonderful mixed media creations which generally start with a framework from a photo of the subject and grow from there via Rob’s creativity, expert techniques, and incredible use of color. I’ve also added an original painting (as well as signed print) of current NXT Women’s Champion and Stardom alumni Kairi Sane (formerly Kairi Hojo) that nicely capture the unique presence and charisma of the Pirate Princess.

 

More information about Rob’s art can be found on his website.

 

 

 

As I mentioned in Beautiful Dreams and Beautiful Dreams 2, I’ve been a fan of Juri H Chinchilla’s amazing art for several years and have been fortunate enough to develop a nice collection of her work.

One of the more unique requests I made among a plethora of video game and anime characters was a card featuring one of my favorite professional wrestlers, Mitsuru Konno from Gatoh Move. I thought Juri’s style would be perfect for this and it came out far beyond my high expectations. I specified only the subject here, and I adore the incredible way Juri captured and combined Mitsuru’s strength, determination, grace, and beauty in her remarkable hand drawn rendition. From there I got even more excited about having her draw more wrestlers. Asuka of course was on the list, and Juri wonderfully depicted her striking presence and style.

Aoi Kizuki is a personal favorite of mine who recently retired, so Juri’s fantastic rendition of her will be a treasured momento of a wrestler who will be greatly missed. The little details, like the patterns and textures on both Aoi’s and Asuka’s outfits and the highlighting use of metallics really make these incredible works come to life.

 

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Dash Chisako PSC by Juri H. Chinchilla.

 

Sendai Girl’s Dash Chisako is my favorite high flyer in all of wrestling, and I’m amazed and ecstatic with how perfectly Juri captured Dash mid flight performing her trademark frog splash. Having Dash performing one of her flying moves is the most specific I got with any of my wrestler requests for Juri, and she absolutely knocked it out of the park. The likeness, colors, sense of motion, etc are all pitch perfect.

 

More information about Juri’s art can be found on her artist page.

 

 

 

Shining Wizard Designs is another artist who specializes in depictions of wrestlers, in this case wonderfully stark, hyper realistic black and white ink drawings he regularly shares on social media. I adore the striking assortment of pieces of his I’ve gotten, and have been lucky enough to get a few of them signed by the wrestlers. In addition to excellent versions of the previously mentioned Asuka and Dash, SWD drew the reigning Wave Pro Tag Team Champions Bossy to Mammy (Marvelous’ rising star Mio Momono and Wave veteran Yumi Ohka) as well as Ice Ribbon’s MMA trained rookies Team DATE (Hana, Nao, Nori, and Karen) for me.

Aoi isn’t the only wrestler I follow retiring this year, so in tribute I commissioned a combination piece featuring Aoi, Wave’s Mika Iida, and Tokyo Joshi Pro’s Maho Kurone, as well as a stand alone piece of Wave’s Misaki Ohata (who will retire in December) doing one of her gorgeous flying cross bodies. Of course later even more retirements were announced, which gives subjects for the future I suppose. 😉 I will miss all of these wrestlers greatly but wish them the best.

 

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Gatoh Move (Mitsuru Konno, Sayaka Obihiro, Emi Sakura, and Riho) by Shining Wizard Designs.

 

Finally, I had a piece done featuring some of the core members of Gatoh Move, a small, wonderful company run by the incredible Emi Sakura. In addition to Emi and Mitsuru (from Juri’s work above), Gatoh’s ace Riho and lynchpin Sayaka Obihiro are also pictured. I’m extremely happy with SWD’s work and greatly appreciate the opportunity to get these done.

 

More information about Shining Wizard Designs art can be found on Twitter.

 

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Thanks again to all three of these artists for their impressive creations.

Remembering the Past to Avoid Repeating It

“Let us learn from the destructive past, and walk together towards a peaceful future.”

 

Tenri Cultural Institute, in addition to its language school, concerts, and various other cultural events, hosts an art gallery that is home to a variety of excellent exhibitions ranging from demonstrations of traditional Japanese techniques to innovative displays of multinational modern art. I’ve written about several past showings, and two of my absolute favorites where the textile based Chika MacDonald’s “Mugen” and Nobuko Tsuruta’s “12 Years.”

Here I’d like to spotlight an important and thought provoking exhibit, the annual and currently showing “Atomic Bomb Panel & Peace Art Exhibition.”

 

 

 

 

The Peace Exhibit is a wonderful combination of works, across numerous mediums, aimed at education and reflection. It includes posters created by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, calligraphy pieces, sculptures, origami, and more (please see the full list of works and artists). The message of examining past events, including horrific ones, to reach for understanding of how best to proceed in the future is a great one, and there is great significance and meaning to the various pieces and the insights, emotions, and messages of hope they contain.

 

 

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The opening reception was held on the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing, and was a lively evening in celebration of peace, a meaningful reminder of the weight of the past, and perhaps most importantly a glimpse at how that weight can be turned into hope for a better future.

 

 

The reception added further depth to the already impressive exhibit, with a striking and captivating calligraphy and dance performance, prayers of remembrance given across several faiths, and a heartfelt musical performance to close the evening.

 

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“Atomic Bomb Panel & Peace Art Exhibition 2018” is running until August 14, 2018, and I highly recommend going to take in this collection and the meaning and messages behind it in person.

 

Vibrant Imagination: The Art of Achilleas Kokkinakis

One of the best parts of Perna Studios’ excellent card sets and the vast array of phenomenal artists involved is discovering new favorites. Since my first glimpse of his vivid, eye catching art via Perna sets Achilleas Kokkinakas’ creations have become a prized part of my collection.

 

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Original art for Perna Studios’ Classic Mythology III: Goddesses set base card.

 

Achilleas’ art makes an immediate impact with deep, vibrant colors that make his subjects seem to come right off the cards. Enhancing that wonderful feeling is his masterful sense of composition and positioning, with everything in careful balance.

 

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Original art for Perna Studios’ Spellcasters II set base card.

 

Equally impressive are the minute details he manages on such small works, ranging from intricate borders and background patterns to flower petals dancing in the wind to dragons covered in tiny scales and a ton of other exquisite little touches.

 

 

My first Artist Proof from Achilleas featured a grim reaper positioned straight at the viewer, “spilling out” over the card’s frame and holding a scythe decorated with tiny skulls all over. A later one had a witch similarly coming out of frame, stunningly decorated with intricate jewels, flanked by a wonderfully done pet raven, and surrounded by gently falling Autumn leaves.

 

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Wind AP by Achilleas Kokkinakis from Perna Studios’ Elementals set.

 

As will come as no surprise for regular readers, I adore Japanese culture and art, and as such Achilleas’ Japanese themed cards from the last couple of sets have been some of my favorite pieces ever. The base card art of Benzaiten for Perna’s soon to arrive Classic Mythology III: Goddesses set is breathtaking.

 

 

I was lucky enough to get one of his gorgeous wind elemental geisha sketch cards, and adored it so much I got two APs in a similar vein but with variations based on ideas I wanted incorporated from other cards he’d done. The results were all I could have asked for.

 

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Incredible sumi ink rendition of Usagi Yojimbo on rice paper.

 

While I’ll endlessly praise Achilleas’ amazing use of color, my most recent additions showcase a different side to his art and a different corner of my personal preferences. When done well, limited color art (black and white with a single color for accents) can be amazing, and these sumi ink creations depicting Usagi Yojimbo and Yoda certainly qualify. Again the compositions are perfect, and Achilleas’ captures a genuine feeling of motion in these pieces.

 

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Incredible sumi ink rendition of Yoda on rice paper.

 

This is a newer technique for him, and his pieces are already fantastic. I can’t wait to see more of these, and of Achilleas’ art in general, as he continues to explore and push the boundaries of his craft.

Impossibly Amazing (spoiler free)

Although I haven’t seen much in recent years, I’ve always had a soft spot for and fascination with magic. So when an extremely intriguing looking show popped up at a unique venue I was familiar with I jumped at the chance to check it out. Joshua Jay’s Six Impossible Things is the most intimate, engaging, and yes, best magic show I’ve ever seen.

 

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My first time Wildrence (then The Mist) was last summer for Refuge, a competitive escape the room type experience. It was atmospheric, creative, and a lot of fun. The space itself has a lot of character, and Jay makes excellent use of it here as the audience is brought back and forth between the various rooms for each phase of his show.

 

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Everything about the show has a touch of the unusual and unique to it, including the venue, the small audience size (twenty people), the fact that the show is strictly limited one viewing ever per person, and of course the tricks themselves. I’d love to get into glorious detail about all the fantastic things I saw and the captivating way Jay utilizes the cozy setting, his mastery of showmanship and innate charisma, and a fresh approach that twists familiar tricks and elements to push his craft to new heights. But honestly it would be a disservice to anyone who wishes to check out this for themselves to spoil the sense of surprise and wonder I was fortunate enough to experience as Six Impossible Things progressed. Jay’s concept for this of creating magic to be experienced rather than just watched is implemented in a variety of ways, and the result is simply incredible. Catch this if at all possible while it lasts.

 

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Surrounded by Vibrancy

Tenri Cultural Institute, in addition to its language school, concerts, and various other cultural events, hosts an art gallery that is home to a variety of excellent exhibitions ranging from demonstrations of traditional Japanese techniques to innovative displays of multinational modern art. I’ve spotlighted several past showings, and two of my absolute favorites where the textile based Chika MacDonald’s “Mugen” and Nobuko Tsuruta’s “12 Years.”

Here I’d like to share my impressions of another wonderful textile exhibition, the currently showing “Our Road.”

 

 

The immediate visual impact of this exhibit is incredible. Japanese Dyeing Artist Ken Arai and Textile Artist Kiyo Masuyama’s exhibit, featuring collaborative pieces that span the length of their careers, showcases an amazing array of diverse tapestries in a variety of vivid, impactful colors and gorgeous patterns.

 

 

 

The opening reception was a fun, lively affair allowing guests to absorb the grandeur of Arai and Mauyama’s work amid a lovely background atmosphere enhanced by Indonesian Gamelan music provided I.M. Harjito and Anne Stebinger.

 

 

 

Beyond the inherent quality and beauty of the pieces themselves, the exhibit reaches further heights in it’s construction and brilliant use of space. Tenri Gallery, with it’s high ceilinged main area, large support pillars, and side area stretching to the front windows looking out on 13th street, provides great opportunity for exciting presentation and “Our Road” makes the most of its potential. Contrasting yet complimentary pieces placed side by side, impressive pieces stretched from floor to ceiling, gorgeous works draped above viewers heads, and all the other little details in placement and display choices combine to make the whole effect even more striking.

 

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Simply put, “Our Road” is absolutely wonderful. It runs until Tuesday July 3, and is well worth stopping by to experience in person.

 

 

Beautiful Dreams 2: More Art of Juri the Dreamer

As I mentioned in Beautiful Dreams, I’ve been a fan of Juri H Chinchilla’s amazing art for several years and have been fortunate enough to develop a nice collection of her work. Here I’d like to share and talk about more of it (as well as ramble a bit about the stories and inspirations behind certain pieces).

 

 

Juri continues to be heavily featured in Perna Studios excellent card sets. I’ve been lucky enough to get several diverse, beautiful sketch cards of hers from sets like Witchcraft, Elementals, etc, in addition to having the opportunity to commission some incredible Artist Proofs (APs) as well.

Juri’s also done promo and base card art for Perna’s sets, and special cards including metal and spot foil chase cards and variants.

 

 

Some particularly interesting pieces of my collection include unique original works, such as Juri’s original pencils underlying her Mistress of the Night piece (the final version of which I featured in Beautiful Dreams) and colored and original art versions of her page from Sarah “Sakky” Ruth Ford’s Magical Girl Coloring Book.

 

 

Juri’s Personal Sketch Cards (PSCs) have been more fantastic additions to my collection, with the great opportunity to request particular subjects and design elements.

As always I adore her use of color, particularly in her hand drawn work, and like with her Perna sketch cards and APs above that aspect also really shines in her PSCs. Seeing her visions of some of my favorite characters come to life has been a real treat. I’m a diehard gamer, with particular preference to RPGs and fighting games over the years. With Juri’s pitch perfect confrontation between Kasumi and Ayane from Dead or Alive and jaw dropping melding of Morrigan and Lilith from Darkstalkers joining the original sketches I got from her featuring Millia Rage, Jam Kuradoberi, and Dizzy from Guilty Gear, I now have incredible renditions of all of my favorite characters to play from each of my favorite fighting game series.

 

 

Valkyrie Profile is my single favorite RPG of all time, and Juri’s intricately detailed, soft yet strong interpretation of Lenneth Valkyire is exquisite. Favorite series honors go to Persona, and I adore Juri’s vibrant, striking depiction of a key supporting character from one of the series’ best entries.

 

One of the more unique requests I’ve made is a card featuring one of my favorite professional wrestlers, Mitsuru Konno from Gatoh Move. Mitsuru’s already showing great potential and instincts even with only a little over a year in wrestling, and I adore the incredible way Juri’s captured and combined her strength, determination, grace, and beauty in this remarkable rendition.

 

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Mitsuru Konno PSC by Juri Chinchilla.

 

The last two pieces I’d like to talk about are anime/manga related. I’m using the word “favorite” a lot, but in explaining the inspirations for choosing these subjects across various mediums it has been appropriate and illustrative in every case. Gorgeous animation, thought provoking stories, and an incredible atmosphere come together to make Kino’s Journey my all time favorite anime. Juri perfectly related Kino’s cool, somewhat detached demeanor resting for a moment atop Hermes against a wonderful background horizon that evokes the show’s sense of traveling through a vast, intriguing world.

 

Rosario Vampire is an amusing, fan-service and action heavy harem style manga based around a high school for monsters where students regularly get into fierce battles with one another. It has solid story progression once it gets going, but is admittedly largely formulaic and trope ridden. However halfway through the second “season” of the manga there’s a side story,  introducing a relatively minor supporting character (who didn’t even make the anime adaptation), which embraces and upends cliches in equal measure to present a nuanced, emotional story that is easily at the top of the (long) list of things I’ve read. San Otonashi is a phenomenal character and (here’s that word again 😉 ) an absolute favorite of mine despite her relative obscurity. Even with being initially unfamiliar with San, Juri was able to create a gorgeous, spot on card of her, conveying both delicacy and strength and again really elevating the final work with her incredible coloring.

 

 

More information about Juri’s art can be found on her artist page. I hope to continue to follow and collect her incredible creations for a long time to come. 🙂

 

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Edit 2/9/18: I recent received three more wonderful Personal Sketch Cards by Juri, and wanted to add them to this celebration of her art.

Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro is an incredible, unique adventure. At its heart are Kuro’s ever curious companions Ninjuku and Sanju, enjoying their journey but also gradually losing their blissful ignorance of the larger world around them. Juri’s wonderfully captured their playfulness and variation of personality.

 

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Brian Q Miller’s Batgirl series was an wonderful comic with the headstrong yet lovable Stephanie Brown in the titular role. One of my favorite issues of the run was a lighthearted story about her friendship with Supergirl. I absolutely love Juri’s rendition of the two of them together.

 

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Finally, Food Wars is a surprisingly fantastic manga/anime with a sports competition manga feel applied to idea of a highly competitive cooking school. Beneath the (admittedly enjoyable) humor,fan service, and general ridiculousness are compelling story arcs featuring an interesting, fun cast. A personal favorite of mine is prodigy Alice Nakiri, who’s simultaneously sheltered/immature and world traveled/formidable in a highly amusing way. Her confidence and attitude are perfectly reflected in Juri’s depiction.

 

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Elegance on Paper… and Cookies :)

I’ve always found various types of calligraphy to be beautiful art forms. So it’s been great seeing a friend of mine, Lillian Liming, share her wonderful brush lettering based calligraphy designs via inspirational quotes, an assortment of decorated items, and instructional workshops. I recently attended two of her workshops and wanted to share thoughts on them here.

 

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Decorated canvas tote bag.

 

My only previous experience with any sort of calligraphy was a (thoroughly enjoyable) Shodo class at Tenri Cultural Institute taught by Tomoko Furukawa. The Japanese calligraphy I was taught there focused on writing kanji and paper decorating, so I had no previous experience with English lettering.

 

 

 

The first workshop I took of Lillian’s was Introduction to Brush Calligraphy (held in partnership with Artsi Workshops). As indicated by the title this was a beginner’s course designed to convey the basic strokes and concepts behind brush lettering and let participants practice them. The format was great as getting right into trying things out is the best way to start learning most artistic pursuits. A lot of important, interesting information was shared regarding things like how to hold and move the brushes/brush pens to properly form the lines and letters, good places to order supplies, and the effects of using different types of pens and paper. A bit difficult to get the hang of, but even by the end of the class practice had made things much easier.

 

 

The second workshop I attended was significantly different as this time the theme was cookie decorating for the holidays. It was again really interesting to hear about things like different types of food coloring and edible paints, the effects of using a faster evaporating solvent for diluting, etc., and tons of fun trying to transform that knowledge into actual festive looking decorated cookies.

 

 

Lillian’s workshops are a wonderful combination of informative and comfortable. The atmosphere is calm and welcoming, with light refreshments served and an unpressured environment, but she still conveys a lot of great information and instruction during her intros and explanations and keeps things moving at a good pace that allows a lot of time for practice/writing with her providing individual help and tips as needed.

 

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My creations.

 

I had a great time at these workshops above and beyond the added bonus for me of catching up with a good friend. I highly recommend checking out any future ones Lillian holds if you have any interest in brush lettering.