Postcard from Tokyo

Greetings from Tokyo, Japan! This week’s postcard from our little woodland friends comes from the heart of a beautiful city full of natural and concrete delights. I have attempted to capture the fast pace of the modern city, as well as the natural beauty of the ancient landscape. What a complex convergence of nature and man.

When I began to sketch out some ideas for this weeks postcard, I began with some humorous plays on sushi and geishas, a few little fans, and tea. I couldn’t quite mold these random stereotypes of Japan together, so I dug a little deeper and changed my approach.

I looked at some Japanese watercolor of animals, some modern illustration of Tokyo, and read bits and pieces of Japanese literature. As I began to overthink this little 5×7 postcard, I scratched everything I had begun and started over.

First, I nixed the small paper and went for a nice 9×12 sheet and blocked out a 8×10 space. I figure, a big city needs a coordinating canvas. Then, I took what little I knew about Japanese brush painting and sketched out Milo and Millie. They look a little different again, but I’m trying new things and still jumping out of my comfort zone to learn. I decided to wrap everything around a common theme: movement.


After building up a cityscape and some whimsical animal play, I incorporated some well known associations with Tokyo including a red sun and Mt. Fuji. After the line work was dry, I added a turquoise wash to represent both the sky and water.

To play on movement even more, I added an old texture trick I learned in school years ago. While your wash is wet, lay some crinkled plastic over your surface and let dry. When you lift the plastic, the lines of the plastic are threaded through your dry wash.


After the wash was dry, I also lifted my blocking tape. At this point I knew I wasn’t working out of the sky and waterline. (Tip: Always pull diagonally away from the paper to avoid rips and paper lifting.)


I worked quickly, wet on wet, to blend and move the watercolor around the city and animals.


I hope you enjoyed the process of how I created movement. I’m still not sure if I’m moving forward in style. It was definitely challenging, and it’s so much fun pushing my creative limits.




15 thoughts on “Postcard from Tokyo

  1. it looks really nice! 🙂 I agree with you, sometimes its hard think of an idea, most of the time I also fall on stereotype ideas and must think hard and dig deep to not fall into this category. I love that shade of red-orange you use for the fox and circle 🙂 very vibrant and very contrasting 🙂

  2. Really like that you write about the challenges you face and the fact that you have to throw out what you initially started on, just to get a better result. Thanks for giving us a little insight.

    1. If I had a dollar for every unfinished or restarted painting haha. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Renate 🙂

  3. I love it! I love all the bright colors. I think it is interesting how Milo and Millie look different. It is an interesting idea – them changing style depending on where they are. The plastic wrap effect came out really nice!

    1. Haha thanks! It was a shot in the dark so to speak, so I’m so happy with the nice feedback! It’s an evolving idea of shape changing along their travels. I thought I had a lot of my “style” figured out, but I was cheating myself staying stagnant. Now, any ideas where they should visit next? Hehe

  4. Good writeup, I am normal visitor of one’s site, maintain up the excellent operate, and It’s going to be a regular visitor for a long time. gceeecakeded

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