” Okin the Panda Bear Finds his Family “

 

Time flies…
I feel like I’ve started painting the illustratoins for this Panda story, "Okin the Panda Bear Fined his Family", just a couple of weeks ago.
But it’s actually 6 months had already passed!

Now, "Okin" is coming out to the world making this colorful book with more than 30 illustrations which I’ve created for this book.
Isn’t it gorgeous? *smile*

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"Okin the Panda Bear Finds his Family"

 

The story is about a little blue panda bear named Okin, who was ‘different’ from other panda friends. And getting through some heartwarming happenings, Okin eventually finds his place and a new family where he can be really happy being as what he is.

children's book, cool children's book, heartwarming children's book, panda story, panda illustration, animal illustrations, blue panda, sign language, sign language hand chart, cute panda,panda,dreams, challenge, gay family, same sex marriage, gay parents, adoption, sky blue, babble, heartwarming story, family, love, artist illustration, hiroko sakai, hiroko, san francisco local artist, gift for kids, cool gift for children, cool, cute, drawing, illustrationWhen I got the script from my publisher at its start, I found myself smiling reading the story. Story is simple, but containes some interesting themes, such as ‘two Daddy’ family, mixed colors, child adoption, sign language, etc. Especially, being an Artist in San Francisco where different cultures and various values on the styles of love are jostling each others, I felt a lot of empathy in this little tale. It was rather amazing that Jeff could weave such various subjects in this short story.

Jeff Lutes, who is the author of "Okin the Panda Bear Fined his Family", is a licensed sychotherapist, writer, public speaker, and social justice advocate in Austin, Texas. He is a member of the American Counseling Association, the International Association for Relationship Research, Counselors for Social Justice, the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Issues in Counseling, the Council on Contemporary Families, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.

children's book, cool children's book, heartwarming children's book, panda story, panda illustration, animal illustrations, blue panda, sign language, sign language hand chart, cute panda,panda,dreams, challenge, gay family, same sex marriage, gay parents, adoption, sky blue, babble, heartwarming story, family, love, artist illustration, hiroko sakai, hiroko, san francisco local artist, gift for kids, cool gift for children, cool, cute, painting process, oil paintingAnd through the conversations with Jeff in the process of my illustration painting, I found he wrote this story based on his own life. Jeff and his partner, Gary Stein, are the proud fathers of three children they adopted as a couple. Gary and two of their children are deaf. American Sign Language is the primary mode of communication in their home. It is no wonder why all charactors and words are so vivit and lively here.

I am a believer in the third sex.
While homosexuality often has hard time to be accepted in some societies, I have to say that we could not forget that those non-sense custom was built mainly by the influence from religions. Before them, in the ancient cities that had built high advanced cultures such as ancient Rome, homosexuality was rather regarded as noble form of love.
Even in Buddhism, we Japanese has a famous story, " Chigo no sora ne- 稚児のそら寝", which shows Buddhism monks had some little boy in their temples with them for their sexual needs. I remember that I have learned this custom in a class at my junior high school.

children's book, cool children's book, heartwarming children's book, panda story, panda illustration, animal illustrations, blue panda, sign language, sign language hand chart, cute panda,panda,dreams, challenge, gay family, same sex marriage, gay parents, adoption, sky blue, babble, heartwarming story, family, love, artist illustration, hiroko sakai, hiroko, san francisco local artist, gift for kids, cool gift for children, cool, cuteIf you are interested in digging into this subject about homosexuality and gay culture more, I would like to introduce these two great resources.

What the Science says and Doesn’t say – About Homosexuality by Jeff Lutes

What the Bible says anddoesn’t say – About Homosexuality by Mel White

Anyway, in this Art world in San Francisco, I’ve been blessed with the chances to work with gay people. Most of them are wonderful business people who have keen sense of beauty, detail oriented and they are generally very romantic and sweet.
I love gay people.

 

Meanwhile, one of other main themes of this book was "Sign Language".
It was my first interesting challenge to create a hand sign list.

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Here is the process of creating this chart. Click thumbnails to view lager images.

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1. draw painting base line 2. paint hands 3. paint back
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4. scan all hands 5. extract each hands 6. make a grid by illustrator
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7. copy grid on photoshop 8. inlay hands 9. add back
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10. add alphabets 11. hide grid 12 add frame line

 

"Okin the Panda Bear Fined his Family" has some quize pages in the end of the story where you can learn sign language playing with fun activities.
Let’s practice sign language alphabet and challenge the quize!

 


 

 

You can now order this fabulous book online.
Please visite Hiroko Sakai Fine Art Online Shop/ books / "Okin the Panda Bear Fined his Family"
Each books from my website comes with my hand signature.

 

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Thank you~*

 


Got Art?
☞ Check out Hiroko Sakai Original Oil Paintings, Art Prints and more!
☞ Hiroko’s Original Artwork for Sale Online by Artist

 

” Interview from Maria B. Villa “

 

Writer: Maria B. Villa
Original URL : http://mariabyoga.blogspot.com/

—————————————————————————————

Interview with Hiroko Sakai

This artist´s vision gives us account of how many possibilities we have as human beings to transform our lives consciously so that we can liberate ourselves from the obstacles we experience on a daily basis. Hiroko Sakai opens her heart and soul in this interview to share her inner battles by which she has evolved as an artist. The deepness and honesty of her words, as well as her paintings, are subjects of great worship.

—————————————————————————————


MB: Where were you born?

HS: I was born in a small town of northern Kyushu island of Japan.


MB: When did you start painting?

HS: It seems to me like I´ve been painting and drawing since my first breath. My school notebooks were filled with drawings.


MB: What are your major influences?

HS: My parents, they were great patrons of cultures and art in Japan, that´s why I had so many opportunities to grow artistically.


MB: What relationship can you establish between your paintings and peace of mind, body, and spirit?

zen painting, buddhism painting, mercy face, bosatsu painting, hiroko sakai, zen, asian painting, meditation, hiroko sakai fine art, miroku bosatsuHS: After having to go through many difficult experiences and after I started painting again, I became quieter and introverted but at the same time I started to reach deeper into my inner being. I am convinced that painting can make the spirit calmer, at least that´s what happens to me; the more I paint the calmer my spirit feels. I think that´s represented in my paintings.


MB: Can you tell us about an important personal experience that has marked your life and that it´s also reflected in your art?

HS: Yes, It all started several years ago when one day I suddenly got a heavy pain on my back, so I had to be taken to the hospital. The doctor said that a tumor, which size as a fist, was growing in my pelvis where the ovaries are located and that it was really difficult to check its position, he could not tell if it was benign or malignant until the surgery. If it was malignant, he said, I might not have any chance to live and even in the best case scenario I would lose my womb.

The hospital room where I was staying at was the room for cancer patients. Some ladies had already gone through surgery and some of them were waiting for their wombs to be taken out. Others were wearing scarves on their heads to hide their hair loss. That was all very shocking to me therefore I was losing all the hope left in my life. But on the other hand, I was fortunate enough to take some time to pause and look at my life, and realized that I had kept myself running all the time. It gave me some time to think deeply about my life and to see where I was standing and doing with it.

Fortunately, my tumor was benign. Thanks to GOD, I am still here to meet you today. Anyway, getting through this experience has made my artwork deep and focused; now I have time to think about my life again, which used to be so hectic. It was truly a gift from God that I could change my life for the better.

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MB: Describe your process of healing through art. Do you think that painting can provide you with good health?

HS: Yes, I really agree so. First, after a long blank, I started drawing which helped me to sweep out all the emotions stuck in my soul. There were no colors during that difficult time. Then red came back… and blue came next. One by one, colors slowly came back on my canvas. Looking at that pattern I should say that this was my art healing process.

I had not thought about such things so intensely before but as I got through them I could see that Art has some power to heal and balance our mental state.

The creation process can bring up good and healthy feelings of achievement. Also, expressing our own originality into actual visible figures can reassure our own existence. It is like communicating with the outside world using what I have deep inside naturally.

When I got back all the colors in my drawings, I decided to start with oil painting. To be honest, I had never touched oils until then.Oil dries very slowly and in my previous job with commercial art in Japan I couldn´t use it because I was always pressed with heavy deadlines. But as an artist I´ve always wanted to paint with oil because I’ve always believed that oil is the basis of painting. And it is precisely the slow dry process of oil that attracts me the most as it gives me plenty of time to communicate with my canvas. It gives me time to think as much as I need.


MB: Is life and death a recurrent theme in your works?

zen painting, spiritual painting, butter fly, buddhism art, hand, god, rebirth, life, karma, new journeyHS: Life and death can be one of the themes in my paintings. But basically, that is not the only theme of my art. My inspiration is my own life, what I see, feel, read, and think…. every day. So many themes can be brought up as I am living and feeling every minute.

But in a sense, you might be right. I think about life and death a lot in my life, it might be because I am Japanese and was raised into the philosophy of Buddhism. In Japan, most of the people do not practice Buddhism as a religion anymore (I think), but still Buddhism has a big influence on Japanese people and teaches them to learn how to live, appreciation and humbleness, and harmony towards other people. One of my biggest influence is how Japanese think about life and death. It’s really hard to explain it in English, but Japanese have the belief of "Rinne Tensho", which means life repeats. The body is just a carriage of your spirit in this life, the spirit lives forever and from time to time. Our spirits are sent to this world to learn and get trained, and afterwards it goes back to heaven again, death is just the expiration of the physical body.
I keep that as a constant reminder, in a sense birth is the start and death is also the start of life. I’m so much interested in this process of life and death, and I’m also very curious of what would happen next, when my body expires.


MB: In your webpage you talk about how hard it was for you to move to North America, about being in exile. Can you elaborate a little bit more about that? And in what way is that represented in your artwork?

HS: What brought me to San Francisco was my marriage 11 years ago, after that I became a single mother and a struggling artist. I got married to an American man (half Japanese) who gave me extremely warm support and encouragement when I was hospitalized. After getting married, he went back to the US because he had to arrange his American life so he could move to Japan to live with me. But he did not come back for months. During that time, I found out I was pregnant and to make a long story short, it was me who had to move to the US. My new life in a far away country had started with a big belly, a difficult language, and domestic violence. I found help at an Asian Woman’s shelter in San Francisco.

life painting, hiroko sakai, rope walking, feather, angel, bird, skyscraper painting, eye painting, emotion, cool paintingI had lost everything, my studio, my career, I had spent all my savings on moving expenses and compensation for my staff (months of salaries and equipment lease…). Anyway, now I believe that it was worth the lesson.Before I came to America, I was such a naive and silly girl. Then I got a chance to survive in San Francisco for almost 10 years. I am pretty happy with the strength that I´ve developed over the years as I learned to get over the hell I was living. To keep custody of my daughter, I couldn´t leave California until she became 18. But I finally got my life back, I’m quite satisfied of what I have done and what I am working on, and also my future possibilities here. I believe that now I’m headed in the right direction toward my success.
Those experiences lead me to obtain the “strength" and "independence" evident in my art. As you are one, I am also a survivor who is still struggling on the pass to keep working towards my dreams and future. I believe that my life is one of the most blessed lives in the world because I have found what I am meant to do on this Earth and what I want to do from now on. As long as I am an Artist, I can never fail my life.

Whatever your dreams are, as long as you keep working towards them, you cannot fail. There might be a lot of traps waiting for you in the way, which would disappoint you and generate doubts but as long as you keep going, all of them would tune up to reach your goals eventually. There is no storm which does not get over. After the storm is gone, a beautiful day will come again.

San Francisco, with its vibrant arts and culture, became my second home and was a source of much inspiration. For a while, I felt disadvantaged because I was a foreigner learning a second language. Now I know that my differences are also my strengths and I can combine my Japanese and American background to produce a powerful and unique art work.


artist, artist painting, hiroko sakai, masks, mask painting, cool painting, funny painting, noh maskMB: What are some of the most important philosophical concerns for you as an artist?

HS: My philosophical concerns as an artist…. hum. I have never thought about those kinds of things. It is so natural for me to live as an artist, so when I paint I do not think so much about complicated things… I just let out what I have inside and spread it on my canvas. If there is something you feel from my art that would be my philosophy.


MB: Does your work fill your needs as an artist but also the needs of our time and the contemporary art scene?

HS: Honestly, I do not know the answer for this question yet. I just started my new career in San Francisco as an oil painter only 5 years ago, I changed my career from a commercial artist in Japan, so I need much more time to find out where my art is going to. Actually, I’m at the beginning of changing my art marketing views, until now I had worked on my art marketing in a very traditional way, just repeating gallery submissions. I realized that in this huge competition of artists, it´s like throwing stones in the ocean. Especially because the galleries like art that sells, the kind of art which would go well at rich people house walls, sorry I am a bit mean, ha ha. But I consider that my art is not part of a wall paper. Have you watched the movie “Tea with Mussolini’? I do not remember it exactly, but I think in the movie, there was a scene where the heroine is talking with paintings in a room specially made for them, she was owning paintings like her inspiring books, soul mates to talk to….I want my art to be adopted by that kind of people, by those who are sensible to it, not the people who are just looking for expensive wall decorations.

A great friend named Eric, who´s also an artist, once told me: My father used to say: "know your market and talk to them directly¨. You can ignore the galleries that are scared of your stuff, their reaction is understandable. They are selling pictures that are supposed to fade away behind the beige sofa into oblivion, and match the wall color. They select art to help buyers disguise the anguish they feel, the longing, the emptiness, not to reveal it and display it. You are a bomb waiting to explode. But instead of killing people, your bomb will liberate them. Your art will free them from their shame, their guilt, their fear of discovery. You have to find the people who want to use your art for personal liberation, or to shock people so that they stop and stare. Forget the decorators looking for beige. You shock people in San Francisco! Where people come from all over the world to get laid! People flock here for sexual freedom, which is what you offer them in an instant of recognition. People looking at your art either stand transfixed or run away as fast as they can. You will have no market in between unless you change your style.

 

Thank you, Maria!


PS-
If you are interested in "Hiroko’s Path", you can learn more here.
” A life path why I’ve ended up to be in San Francisco “

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Got Art?
☞ Check out Hiroko Sakai Original Oil Paintings, Art Prints and more!
☞ Hiroko’s Original Artwork for Sale Online by Artist

 

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