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.

Glimpses of the Stars, the Past, and the Present

Tenri Cultural Institute, in addition to its language school, concerts, and various other cultural events, hosts an art gallery that is always home to a variety of incredible exhibitions ranging from demonstrations of traditional Japanese techniques to innovative displays of multinational modern art. I’ve spotlighted several past showings, including Chika MacDonald’s Mugen exhibit and Nobuko Tsuruta’s 12 Years.

Here I’ll be talking about last month’s Pseudoastronomy by Kiichiro Adachi and the currently ongoing The Art of Japan: NOW, with the Past by the
Alumni Association of Tokyo University of the Arts.

 

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Kiichiro Adachi sees his art as a way to explore the “distortion” of using made man things to “control or simulate nature.” His Pseudoastronomy exhibition (which ran from November 9th to the 22nd) sought to capture a small piece of the grandeur of  the universe via light reflections of off intricate, carefully constructed mirrored apparatuses.

 

 

 

The exhibit was tailored to the space available at TCI and the effect of the moving reflections through the darkened space and added light smoke effects was captivating. In comments about the exhibit Adachi mentions he likes “the absurdity of using mirror balls to simulate the sacred universe.” This perspective and his creativity created a striking piece of art with a thought provoking theme beneath it.

 

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Tokyo University of the Arts Alumni Association of New York’s “2nd Art and Music Collaboration Exhibition,” entitled The Art of Japan: NOW, with the Past, features an art collection by several artists, along with musical performances and workshops all focused on highlighting a combination of modern and traditional Japanese influences.

 

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The opening reception featured shamisen music by Yoko Reikano Kimura and tango/jazz by Machiko Ozawa (violin) & Ayako Shirasaki (piano). Both performances were excellent.

 

 

There are also workshops related to this event, including the still to come “NOH WORKSHOP: VOYAGE TO NOH” with sessions for both children and adults on December 10.

 

 

 

The varied and distinctive pieces that comprise The Art of Japan: NOW, with the Past exhibit can be viewed at TCI until Monday, December 11.

 

 

Elemental Beauty: Perna Studios’ Elementals

I’ve previously written in general about the excellent card sets available from Perna Studios, as well as spotlights on their Witchcraft set and Artist Proofs. Here I’d like to focus on their set that was released in Spring of 2017, Elementals.

 

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Water AP by Peejay Catacutan.

 

For me this was perhaps the most highly anticipated set they’ve done yet. The concept of fantasy cards dedicated to people and creatures embodying the four classic elements is fantastic, and lends itself to endless variation and interpretations.  The 20 card base set is a wonderful example of this, with a multitude of artists providing numerous unique, captivating visions.

 

 

Also included were four striking spot foil cards by Soni Alcorn-Hender, as well as gorgeous metal and lenticular chase inserts.

 

 

As always Perna’s sets shine shine with their one of a kind sketch cards and Artist Proof’s.  Each artist’s individual style, choice of subject, composition, etc all make every card distinct and all of them together result in the extremely high quality these sets consistently achieve.

My favorite elements are wind and water, so those were the main focus of my collecting. I got wonderfully diverse sketch cards featuring each including a gloriously semi-abstract piece by Mick & Matt Glebe (my first of theirs), Danielle Gransaull’s vivid mermaid, Arwenn Necker’s air elemental with a classic fantasy feel, and a hauntingly etherial work by Sean Pence.

 

 

 

Artist Proofs (APs) are generally directly commissioned from the artists and thus provide an opportunity to request something specific (within the guidelines and theme of the set).  In a couple of cases, such as the incredible half formed female elemental made entirely of water by Peejay Catacutan at the top of this entry, I gave just a general subject then chose between more specific ideas provided by the artist.

For the rest, instead of a common base idea for my APs as I’ve done in the past this time I tailored most of them a bit more individually based on other cards the artists had done. Stacey Kardash’s sketch cards featured recurring elementals of each type, and I requested an AP with those wind and water elementals. She gave me a number of great compositional options, and I ended up with a fantastic metal AP of the two face to face.

 

 

I was lucky enough to pull two of my absolute favorite sketch cards from the pre-release previews (and pick up more later). One of the pulls was Achilleas Kokkinakis’ geisha themed air elemental making tea. I adored the idea and execution so much I got two APs inspired by it. One with a water elemental against a gloriously colored sky (prompted by another beautiful sketch card he did) and a wind elemental forming a dragon made of air. I can’t say enough about all the exquisite details, including the intricate borders, small thematic scrolls showing the kaiji for the element, etc.

 

 

 

My other pull of a sketch I’d been eyeing in previews was Alexis Hill’s striking wind elemental gathering lightening. After I’d added her mermaid and earth elemental sketches to my ever growing collection of her cards, I decided to request a fire elemental AP to complete representation of all four elements. Doing a pairing with water was an idea I’d been batting around, and the resulting metal AP from Alexis is great.

 

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Wind and water AP by Juri Chinchilla.

 

And of course I was thrilled to add another AP from Juri Chinchilla, this time a playful meeting between a mermaid and her friend made of air. As always Juri’s work is gorgeous, brought to life with her vibrant shades of soft colors. What I really adore about this one in particular is the sense of motion she’s achieved on a small 2D card with the mermaid’s bubbling hair and the (pardon the pun) windswept curls in her counterpart’s.

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Hope everyone enjoyed my look at the Elementals set. Of course there are MANY more phenomenal artists featured in it and other excellent sets from Perna Studios to check out..

Captured Realism: The Art of Sean Pence

 

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Daenerys Targaryen PSC by Sean Pence

 

Some of the most realistic artistic depictions I’ve ever seen come from Sean Pence. His work for various card sets (usually pop culture and/or fantastical in subject) is always highly sought after and admired. Sean has such a talent for capturing his subjects that some of his cards could legitimately be mistaken for photographs. His subtle shading and eye for little details further help to bring his creations to life. The wonderful rendition of Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen above is spot on perfect.

 

 

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Air Elemental sketch card by Sean Pence

 

I first discovered Sean’s art through collecting the excellent card sets available from Perna Studios, and several of his works for Perna are among my absolute favorites he’s done. Certainly included is his stunning Air Elemental I was lucky enough to pick up (pictured above). There’s a delicate, etherial feel to it I adore.

 

 

 

I’ve also been lucky enough to get ahold of a couple of Sean’s witches from Perna’s Hallowe’en sets. Haunting and beautiful in very different ways, the contrast between these two interpretations of a common subject spotlights Sean’s imagination and versatility in presentation. The Witchcraft sketch card also demonstrates Sean’s deft use of color in limited fashion, in this case with wonderful contrast between the background purples and the stark highlighted silhouette in orange.

 

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Kylo Ren PSC by Sean Pence

 

Sean has an excellent feel for composition and how to draw the viewer’s eyes to his subject for maximum impact, leadin to powerful, striking portraits. He captures the essence of his subjects down to the most delicate features and subtle details making anything from superheroes to Sith lords to fairies feel genuine and real.

 

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Spellcasters II Fairy Metal AP by Sean Pence

 

Hope everyone’s enjoyed this brief glimpse at Sean’s creations. They’re just a small sample of the wide array of wonderful pieces he’s created.

Wickedly Beautiful: Perna Studios’ Witchcraft

I’ve previously written in general about the excellent card sets available from Perna Studios. Here I’d like to spotlight their set that was released in Fall of 2016, Witchcraft. This was a targeted subset of their Hallowe’en series (of which there have been two previous sets) and as its title suggests exclusively featured witches (both of classic witch hat and coven styles).

 

 

Witches are always a great artistic subject. Some of my favorite sketch cards from Perna’s previous Hallowe’en sets featured them (I’ve shared pictures of a few above). The prospect of an entire set devoted to them was quite exciting, and as always the Pernas delivered in a big way.

 

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Base card art by Yuriko Shirou, Eric McConnell, Stacey Kardash, Ingrid Hardy, Andre Toma, Jeena Pepersack, Molly Brewer, Helga Wojik, Collette Turner, and Melike Acar.

 

The base set is a great showcase of the theme, already reflecting numerous styles. Also featured were four spot foil cards, as well as metal and lenticular chase inserts.

 

 

Beyond that of course are the wonderful sketch cards. I continue to be in awe of the the detail the artists achieve on such a small workspace. There’s an incredible amount of room for variety and different approaches even within the seemingly narrow field of a singular subject.

 

 

With choice of background, color, attitude, and of course physical characteristics a wide range of interpretations are possible even within a given type of subject. Add in the diverse personal styles of the excellent artists the Pernas include in their sets and a dazzling array of imaginative depictions are represented.

 

 

As I talked about in a previous entry, Artist’s Proofs (APs) are another great part of these card sets. Directly commissioned from the artists, APs are an opportunity to request something specific (within the guidelines and theme of the set).

I once again went with a common base idea for most of my APs, and this time it was coven witches wearing blue. Depending on discussions with the individual artists (and what I was feeling like getting at any given time) some extra details, like a pet raven or a particular background, were included, but for the most part I like to leave the requested subject open to interpretation.

 

 

I was extremely happy with the variety and creativity that resulted in the beautiful cards I received from everyone. Achilleas Kokkinakis’ witch showcases his trademark vivid colors and a striking composition that has her edging right out of the frame toward the viewer. Stacey Kardash drew me a wonderfully serene and evocative scene depicting a witch under moonlight.

 

 

The pair of witches I got from Alexis Hill have a wonderful elegance to them, from their poses and features to the delicate designs in the trim of their robes. I find Alexis’ style a natural fit for the themes of the Halowe’en series, and have several great cards from her from all three sets.

The intricate patterns on the witch Craig Yeung drew for me are amazing, and add to her striking appearance. The soft color palette is perfect, and lets her stand out just enough against the ominous background.

 

 

This set marks the first time I’ve gotten any type of sketch card from Yuriko Shirou, and I adore the incredible atmosphere her AP has to it, from the composition to the little details of the witch’s appearance to the wonderful deep blue hue of her robes.

Norvien Basio’s cards always have impressive texture and detail to them, and the design of the great witch he drew is complimented by those elements in her clothing, the skull and raven that adorn her, and the stark metallic background.

 

 

I wrote about being a longtime fan of Juri Chinchilla’s art in Beautiful Dreams, and I discovered Perna’s sets through her. The various witches she’s done for their Hallowe’en series are all gorgeous. The AP I got from her this time was a little different from the others, as I particularly adored one of the sketch cards she did for Witchcraft and asked for something in the same vein. The result was fantastic. As I mentioned before I love the soft yet vibrant colors she achieves in her work, and the little details, from the texture of the ravens feathers and the witch’s hair to the little touches of sparkles glued on as highlights, all come together in a marvelous way.

 

So that’s a quick look at the wonderful witches of Perna’s latest set. Of course there are MANY more phenomenal artists featured in it to check out than those I’ve featured here. Perna’s next set, Elementals, is also imminent (within the next several days in fact) and will no doubt bring with it the impeccable level of quality and variety they always provide in their sets. As always I’m very much looking forward to it. 🙂

Serenity on Paper

In addition to the art gallery at Tenri Cultural Institute (which I’ve written about on several occasions), TCI hosts various other cultural events and classes.

I recently participated in a three day Shodo calligraphy course at TCI taught by Tomoko Furukawa. It was a particularly great opportunity to attend as it was Paris based Furukawa’s first class in the US.

 

 

Having never tried calligraphy before in any form it was  fascinating and enriching experience. Furukawa explained learning calligraphy is a hands on endeavor and all three classes were structured in a practice based manner, with her demonstrating the day’s techniques to open, creating guideline pages for us all to reference, and then offering guidance and suggestions as needed as we attempted what she showed us.

 

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My final attempt from class 1.

 

During the three two hour sessions we experimented with three different aspects of calligraphy. On the first day we practiced what is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when calligraphy is discussed: stylized kanji. Furukawa demonstrated a line of four kanji (“flower,” “bird,” “wind,” and “moon”) in three different styles, then focused on one style for us to attempt ourselves throughout the session. One of the most interesting things was seeing the ways in which everyone’s results were individual and unique even with working off the same examples and writing the same kanji.

 

 

In the second class we learned about making Japanese Ryoshi paper, a technique of lightly decorating paper to be used for calligraphy. The concepts of using small amounts of color to accent etherial and similarly faint metallics really appeals to me, as does the idea of negative space. I had to leave this class a bit early so didn’t get to do as much of it as the other techniques, and would really like to revisit it in the future.

 

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One of my completed papers from class 2.

On the final day we tried creating patterns evocative of bamboo. This was perhaps the most difficult to get a handle on, between trying to capture the essence of bamboo in minimal representation while making the brush and ink do what you want them to.

 

 

Everything was “trial and error” to some degree, and of course nothing looks the way you want it to the first time.  In all three cases, even over the course of two short hours, I could see improvements in my (of course still rudimentary) efforts. It was quite satisfying, and the process itself relaxing and fun overall.

 

 

Furukawa provided a wonderful primer on several different nuances of calligraphy in the limited time we had. In addition to the basics of the techniques we were focusing on each class, she had us use different types of paper to see the ways in which different techniques are needed and the ink, brushes, etc all react differently and produce lines with different qualities.

She also touched on the importance of how each work is approached mentally, visualizing what you wish to create,  and the importance of negative space in the compositions. The breath of knowledge she shared and variety of topics covered while still spending the majority of class time letting us practice was quite impressive.

 

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My final bamboo attempt from class 3.

 

While I found some things difficult (as of course expected when beginning any new art), I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into Shodo and greatly appreciate the time Furukawa spent teaching us. Thanks to both her and TCI for such a rewarding class.