M. Ward at Revolution Hall

I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things after an intense few months of traveling (and moving). This summer we spent some time with my parents on Cape Cod, visited friends in Boston, then flew to Westport Ireland. Shortly after returning from Ireland, we set out on a cross-country drive to Portland OR, where we now reside. Leaving Brooklyn was a difficult decision and continues to be an adjustment, but there's a lot to love about Portland. 

Portland Japanese Garden © Carly Larsson 2016

Portland Japanese Garden © Carly Larsson 2016

Last weekend was a milestone birthday for me, so Saturday we checked out the Portland Japanese Garden and had dinner at Bamboo Sushi (amazing), then saw M. Ward perform at Revolution Hall on Sunday. Above are the two drawings I got in at the garden before they told me I could not use ink or COLORS? I was going to buy a membership because the BBG's Japanese Garden was one of my absolute favorite places to draw, but this was a huge bummer so I didn't. 

Telekenesis opening for M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

Telekenesis opening for M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

Sunday we saw M. Ward at Revolution Hall, which is in an old high school auditorium (formerly Washington High School, built in 1906). There was no photography per the request of the artist, and it was really nice to be at a show where everyone was present, watching the show, and nobody was on their phones the whole time (honestly, when does anyone actually watch those iPhone videos they spend entire concerts filming?) Luckily, drawing was permitted, *unlike* at the aforementioned garden (can you tell I'm not over it?) A band called Telekinesis, pictured above, opened. They had maracas and got people dancing, which made drawing them great way to warm up.  

M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

When M. Ward came on I was surprised how different he sounded live than on his albums. Not in a bad way - it still sounded like him - more in the sense that it felt like he was playing around, improvising and trying new things. I like that. 

M. Ward & his fluffy-haired bassist at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

M. Ward & his fluffy-haired bassist at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

I was happy he played some older favorites, like Chinese Translation from Post-War (drawing below). He also played a few covers, including Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly, and John Fahey. I was improvising too, since it was pitch black in there and I couldn't see what I was doing. It was a pleasant surprise when the lights came on and the colors I was blindly grabbing out of my box of pastels were similar to the colors of the lights!

M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

He is an unbelievable guitarist and was joined by some equally talented musicians, all from Portland. There was a lot of focus on the instrumentals and a few amazing solos. I love how he is able to incorporate influences from so many decades and genres, making them his own. That's something I aim to do in my own work. After all, it was Picasso who told us that "good artists borrow, great artists steal." 

M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

Drummer for M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

Drummer for M. Ward at Revolution Hall © Carly Larsson 2016

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I spent Sunday afternoon drawing at the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, located in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre urban oasis located between Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, NY. The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is a 3-acre expanse within the Botanic Garden, and was the first Japanese public garden in America, opening in June 1915. It is considered the masterpiece of Japanese landscape designer Takeo Shiota. The balance between natural and man-made elements is an important aspect of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden,  and each man-made element has a very specific meaning.

Shinto shrine at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Shinto shrine at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

The garden features a large pond in the shape of the Japanese character for "heart," and it really is the heart of the garden. Situated in the pond, among the pine groves, is a shrine dedicated to the Shinto god of harvest. The pine trees are a symbol of longevity and permanence in contrast to the ever-changing aspects of nature. Nestled in the pine grove, behind the Shinto shrine, is a bridge overlooking a small waterfall. The waterfall, in contrast to the pines, is meant to represent  constant change. 

Tōrō and bridge at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Tōrō and bridge at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Rocks and stones are used in a variety of ways around the pond. Some are believed to be conduits of "ki," meaning life energy, while others are sculptural religious elements. Pictured above is a tōrō, a Japanese stone lantern. Tōrōs were originally used in Buddhist temples to line and illuminate paths, and were considered an offering to Buddha. During the Heian period (794-1185), they began to be used in Shinto shrines. 

Koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Turtle and koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

Turtle and koi fish at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden © Carly Larsson 2014

The pond is also home to many koi fish and turtles. The koi fish is a symbol of ambition, perseverance, courage, and success in Japanese culture due to its ability to swim against currents and travel upstream. They also symbolize longevity because of their long life spans (30-75 years, though legend has it that some koi have lived up to 200 years). Turtles are also considered a symbol of longevity and luck in Japanese culture.  In the above left image, the fish were competing for some potato chip crumbs being dropped in the pond (not sure how much that will contribute to their longevity, but they seemed to like them). The koi and turtles coexist peacefully within the pond (except where chip crumbs are involved - some turtles joined that competition). In the above right image, a turtle and koi fish seemed to be deep in conversation after their delicious snack. 

A small turtle suns himself at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden 

A small turtle suns himself at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden 

Last but not least, this tiny turtle was sunning himself on an equally-tiny rock. He was there for a long time, and he was stretching his neck out as if to say "I'm ready for my close-up now!" So as I was packing up to leave, I relented and quickly drew his portrait. He was a very still model. It was a beautiful, relaxing afternoon and I can't wait to go back to draw some more!