I wanted to tell you about one of the two pieces I did for the Totoro Forest Project. One of the wonderful discoveries of this project has been reading all the great stories it brought out from all the artists involved. So, here’s the story behind my “Kappa Ramen”. The title comes from the Ramen restaurant just left of the picture. I actually drew a restaurant just by that name a few years back in Japan, in Takayama a little mountain town. I didn’t go look at that old drawing but the little stand with the ramen cup on top is very similar to what I remember. This tree spirit seems to be a little bit like an homeless bag lady, roaming the streets and collecting trash. Maybe he’s recycling or maybe he’s just lost. I am pretty sure though he’s been evicted from his tree.
The idea for this piece was first born out of this photoshop sketch. The image just sort of came out of my head and the story unfolded from the image. Very often doing a photoshop study for a piece can take the wind out of my sales in actually finishing the piece. This time around though I really wanted to turn this digital illustration into a watercolor.
When I got to the day I wanted to start it though I didn’t have a printout of the image, I’d forgot it at work. I knew that it was on the internet though on a temp site we had made, so I ended up redrawing it in pencil on watercolor paper while looking at the digital sketch on the screen of my laptop. It was pretty silly, but also kind of fun, bit of a challenge. Thinking about it now, the strange process probably helped me keep the new drawing alive, since I couldn’t trace or copy the first one.
I worked in consecutive washes of blue, getting darker and darker. The eyes of the totoro spirit are the only part of the watercolor I left completely white. The step I left for last was the actual spirit, which was done with one wash only, watercolor’s transparency totally suited the subject and I am quite happy how this all turned out. As you can see Fio helped too.
And here’s the final! For Japanese speakers, maybe you noticed I mispelled “Ramen” on the sign. It should be ラメーン. Ah well …