Saturday, November 19, 2016

Having fun with my New Mop Brush

[Mike Daikubara in Boston, NYC and LA] Influenced by many amazing sketchers in our community, a few months ago I decided to try a different sketching technique from my usual approach of Fountain pen ink line first then adding color. This approach was the exact opposite of adding washes of color first, then going into the details with ink.

For my first sketch ever using this approach, I used tools found in my art closet that I even forgot that I had: a cat's tongue brush I bought many years ago (that I never used) and a small Nalgene container (which I also never used too).

I've been Urban Sketching since 2000 but have only used a Waterbrush on location so the first step was figuring out how to hold all the tools in my hand! With a little bit of fumbling around I was able to hold the color palette, water container and sketchbook in my left hand while I dipped the brush into the water container. The brush width was just about the width of the mouth of the Nalgene making it really hard to dip in, and I also had to be careful not to spill the water too (which I never had to worry about when using a Waterbrush).

Another difficult part (at least for me) was since I was using so much more water in my sketch, I had to wait a long time for the paper to dry before I could start going in with ink. This really did feel like it was forever. The sketchbook shown is my trusty Stillman and Birn Alpha series book I've been using for years but for this technique, the paper must have been too thin. I love the way the thin wash came out though - something I could never achieve with a just a waterbrush.

For my 2nd sketch, I switched to the thicker Beta series sketchbook and  the paint definitely dried much quicker! I also purchased a smaller mop brush which holds lots of water/color and went into the water container mouth really easily too! I also 3D printed out a small plastic sleeve to protect the tip when carrying the brush in my bag - works great!

On a sunny day the wash dried much faster than I originally imagined it would take so that was nice. While I waited for it to dry, I could start to think about how I should approach the inking details too. I also noticed that my fountain pen ink lines didn't go onto dried color washes very well but switching to a Micron felt tip pen worked nicely.

There are times where I couldn't finish though since the paint didn't dry fast enough and it got too dark outside. With the inking approach first, I rarely had this issue since I could at least get the inking done and color later on from memory or a photo.

During this business trip to NYC, I also tried using pencil lines first to block out the rough shapes before going in with the color wash. It definitely gave me much more control of the shape which was really nice.

This is a crazy feeling but I also felt like I was 'cheating' when using a pencil! I think it has to do with the fact that I trained myself for so long to sketch directly with a pen without any underlines.
But in the end I was pretty happy with how this one turned out especially where some details are accented using a white gel pen.

Back home in Boston, I was able to capture this war memorial sculpture just in time before sunset. I love how gravity drips the paint.

For my most recent family trip to LA, my wife let me sketch the famous TCL Chinese theater in Hollywood. She was sitting by my side for most of the time and took pictures of me while I sketched.

Sketchers knows this well in detail but the great thing about sketching is it allows you to control the details/colors of what you see. The sunlight was so strong during this time of the day that when taking a photo the dark/light contrast was too strong and made it an awful photo like shown below.


But when sketching, that could all be changed.
Here's the breakdown of the steps I took.

Pencil: 10 minutes. Once again I felt like I was cheating when using a pencil... I'm quite sure this feeling isn't going to go away for while.

Color Wash: 15 minutes + 5 minutes of drying time.
Inking: 30 minutes

 Additional color: 15 minutes. Adding more dark spots and details using my trusty Waterbrush.

Finishing with White accents: 5 minutes. I used 2 different white gel pens that has different opacities.

Total time: 90 minutes.

Here I'm sitting in the corner with my mini stool trying to take up as little space as possible since there were tons of people and I didn't want to get stepped on! But what's nice about a place like this is that while there are tons of people, they just come, take a few pictures, and then leave making it pretty easy to sketch without being obstructed by people.

This was a fun day and I'm glad I was able to get this sketch thanks to my wife.
Here's my wife that slipped into my sketch-selfie shot!

For me 90 minutes is an awfully long time for 1 sketch, especially when I have someone waiting for me. I don't think I'll be able to use this approach frequently but I found it refreshing to be able to occasionally work on a different approach.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ramen is HOT in Boston! (+1 bonus London Ramen)

I remember many years ago, it felt like there was a brand new Ramen shop opening up every month in New York city. Now NYC is filled with great Ramen shops that you could only once get a taste of in Japan. Fast forward to 2016 and Boston is finally starting to boom too!

I still have a handful of places I need to visit but here are some that I was able to go to eat and get a sketch of too:
  •  Little Big Diner (1st Sketch) in Newton is probably one of the more newer places to open up and I had the Shio Chicken Ramen which was excellent! They had a number of nice looking appetizers and a nice selection of alcoholic drinks too. I'll be sure to be back!
  • Yakitori Zai (Now Closed) - This place used to be a high end Yakitori restaurant that also served really nice Ramen just on the weekends. I heard that the reason they closed down was due to the neighbors complaining from the restaurants food venting. Bummer... 

  • Snappy Ramen - They have stores named Snappy Sushi too and I've been to the one on Newbury Street as well as the one in Davis square. This sketch is from the Newbury one and it was my very first 'Lobster Ramen'! This Ramen was actually more of a novelty item and was fun sharing with friends. I thought their more standard ramen dishes offered at the Davis Square store was much better.

  • Here's the Davis Square version of Snappy Ramen:

  • Yume wo Katare  This place has been super popular ever since they opened up 3 1/2 years ago. known for their Jiro-kei style Ramen, the place usually has people waiting in line for hours to get in. I thought the taste was really good but portion wise, I couldn't even finish 1/3 of the ramen bowl since it was too big. I have numerous friends who swears by this ramen and their large portion so if you're super hungry, this is the place to go!

  • Santouka Ramen This ramen shop originally from Hokkaido is probably one of my favorite places in Boston. I used to visit New Jersey to see my father quite often and used to always have a bowl of Santouka before returning to Boston. Well, now it's open in Harvard square and it's really good!

  • Ganko Ramen This place in Brookline opened up about 8 months ago and really enjoyed the overall presentation of the place. The menu is simple ( I believe only 4 dishes and couple of drinks), the interiors simple and calming too. I really like this place.

  • This last one's not from Boston but had it on my recent trip to London at Shoryu Ramen 
    It was Excellent!

(Added January 2017)
I've been to the one in NYC but this was the first time visiting Totto Ramen in Boston.
It was actually really good and for some reason crazy filling too.

I had this for lunch, and skipped dinner and wasn't even hungry the next morning too !

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sketch NOW think later: Workshop booklets have arrived!

Updated 8/20:

I'm all sold out!

Thank you for everyone that showed interest in my booklet!
My last 2 copies were shipped out to Pennsylvania and Germany today and I'm completely sold out of this booklet.

I hope one day to be able to expand on this material to create a bigger sketching book and to be able to do more classes & workshops.

Thanks again,



Updated 08/10:
I'm super excited to have the booklets finally made available on my shop HERE

Sad news is that I only have a limited amount of copies but hope it's enough for everyone interested in this booklet.



Updated 6/20:

Hot off the press!  I'm so excited that my workshop booklets have safely arrived. I thought they came out really nice, and my cat TenTen agreed too :)I can't wait to share them with everyone that signed up for my workshop.

I ordered more then the amount of people that signed up for my workshop and plan to make them available on my website in August after the symposium.

If you're interested in a copy, please leave your email here and I'll be sure to get back to you with the info! (Sorry, sold out on 8/20)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My first solo sketching Trip to Puerto Rico

Back in December I found out that I needed to use up my 4 days of vacation at work that month or I would lose it - so of course I decided to use it!
Looking around for things to do, I asked my wife if she wanted to go somewhere. Since we recently got 2 kittens, we couldn't leave them alone so she decided to stick around.

Thus my first ever solo sketching trip!
I was super excited and looked everywhere for all possibilities but had a few criteria that was important to me. 
I wanted to be:
  1. a warm place so I could sketch outside.
  2. a place I can walk around everywhere and not have to drive.
  3. a place where there's a direct flight from Boston.
  4. a place that was pretty inexpensive to travel to.
 After lots of searching Puerto Rico rose to the top! specifically "Old San Juan".
If was also off season making everything cheap as well as having mile points saved up that I could use!

2 weeks later I was in Old San Juan sketching my first subject at the hotel:

In total I was able to do 35 sketches and had an amazing 4 days.
Here are a few scans from my sketchbook.

Excited by the trip, after coming home I started working on my 6th book.
To keep the book as raw as possible, I kept all the content as is but only rewrote my hand written letters to make it much more legible- Hope that helps readers want to read my text a little bit more :)

Now available through Amazon.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

100th Hotel drawing in Las Vegas

[By Mike Daikubara in Las Vegas] 2 weeks ago I was in Las Vegas and it was the 5th year in a row I was there working in the trade show booth for my employer Symmons Industries.
Vegas is a strange place in many ways and definitely exhausting too - but what's been great about this annual trip is that my employer allows me to stay at different hotels every year so I can add a new room drawing to my collection!

So it turned out that this drawing of the Aria hotel marked my 100th drawing since I started measuring/capturing hotel rooms 10 years ago!

I'm glad I kept up with this little hobby which turned into an addiction of mine since what I learned and the feedback I've been getting from people has been excellent. I even had my employer purchase a few hundred copies of my Hotel book to give out to our potential customers which is a pretty nice feeling.

Also if you're also in Massachusetts, I have 40 of these drawings currently on display all of May at L'aroma Cafe in Newton so drop on by for a nice cup of coffee and some artwork ! :)

I also noticed I have enough drawings to start working on the 2nd edition of the Hotel book which I'll be starting to work on soon!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

'Sketch NOW Think Later' Workshop: Booklet

For the past few months I've been preparing for my workshop 'Sketch NOW Think Later ' taking place in Manchester UK for the Urban sketchers Symposium this summer.

The basis of this workshop actually goes back to about 10 years ago when I started carrying a stack of index cards and a pen (+an emergency pencil) at all times and would jot down anything I found relevant at the moment. This could be anything from what I saw that I wanted to research later, design ideas for work/personal projects and sketching ideas.

This workshop is actually made up of all these notes that was on sketching tools, techniques and mindsets that I find fascinating and important to me as an Urban Sketcher. Those thoughts over the years has not changed very much which turned into the core basis of this workshop: To be able to sketch more, with limited time and just have fun!

If you share this same thought, I hope to see you in this workshop!
The workshop booklet shown is currently being printed and will be distributed to everyone that signs up to my workshop :)

Index cards that I always carry with me

Trying to lay out the cards in logical order (while being disturbed by my 2 cats)

A few note cards in details

Sample thumbnail pages of the booklet