Jennifer (third from the right) had married and had a baby since we saw her last year. She came down every night after work along with Hannah to spend time with Rocketman when he was in the hospital with his kidney stone in Suwon. They came down from Seoul which is an hour trip. It meant so much to me and Rocketman to have them there for support during such a scary and stressful time in our lives. She means so much to us and we wanted to spend some time with her, her new husband and daughter.
We met at a TGI Friday's in Seoul for dinner and we got to spend some time together. If you haven't traveled around Seoul with a baby, it's challenging to say the least so we were so happy that she was able to get together with us. We got a lot of food and really enjoyed catching up and talking about the good old days of sleepovers at our place.
Her husband works for the company that supplies pastries to many chains like Paris Baguette. So they surprised us with a special cake made especially for us. Korean cakes are very different that cakes here in the States. They use a lot less sugar and their frosting is more light more like a whipped cream frosting with a hint of sugar. I love them!
Then there was Jennifer's daughter. She is a shy little thing and about the same age as our youngest grandson, Judah.
I wanted to hold her so badly even if it was only for a moment so Jennifer helped me out.
We almost got a smile!!
Until she realized who was holding her. I held her maybe a minute but I quickly returned her to her momma. We had so much fun and left with full bellies and leftover cake. Guess what we ate for breakfast the next morning? It was just as good.
The second day of class with Yuming Zhu began with landscapes. It is probably the most intimating subject for me because of all the elements you can paint. Mountains, trees, waterfalls just to name a few. Yuming supplied a bunch of landscape photos to use. For black ink, he used an inkstick and inkstone. You add a little water to the inkstone which has a well and you grind the inkstick around and around slowly in a circle until you have a little pool of ink. I had never done this before but I fell in love with the process and the feeling of making my own ink. He told us that an inkstick should last 20 years and if we used ours all up, he would personally give us a new one, free of charge.
The landscape painting begun.
After the demo, we returned to our spots and began our own landscape paintings.
Then it was time for the horse demo. He used a very large sheet of sumi-e paper and started by sketching the horse with charcoal.
Then he took his brush and started to paint.
Seriously, I could watch him paint all day long and I think my fellow classmates would agree.
He signed the painting and then took out his chop to stamp the painting.
Yuming Zhu explaining the power of sumi-e.
Now to my paintings. One of the hardest things for me is to know when to stop. Sumi-e is about leaving white space. This space is very important and it takes practice to learn when to stop.
And now my horse. I knew that I do not like to ride horses and I also discovered that I do not like to paint them. I had a photo to use as a reference and I struggled badly. Yuming came over and looked at my horse, turning his head side to side. He took awhile before he finally commented. He told me that I had painted an abstract horse like Picasso would have done and that some people would really like my interpretation. I think he was just being very kind. So take a good look at my first and last sumi-e horse. Oh and for the record, I was not trying to paint an abstract horse.
The class was two days lasting six hours each day. I must say I loved every minute of it. Yuming lives in the greater Seattle area and teaches there. He also travels across the country teaching. If you have the opportunity to take one of his classes, I highly recommend it. There were 14 of us in class and he continually walked around giving each of us individual help. I learned so much.
I have spent the past two days in all day classes with Yuming Zhu, a Master of sumi-e (Japanese brush painting). The class was hosted by the White Bear Center for the Arts. He is from the Pacific Northwest and was surprised that class wasn't cancelled because of all the snow we have which is all of couple of inches on the ground. He also was pretty surprised at how cold it was, the high today being 16 degree F. But we have been unusually cold even for Minnesota.
He began class with a demo of koi fish. It was amazing to watch him work. I could watch him all day long.
Doing things like this.
I love koi!
We went back to our seats and did some painting. Then we moved onto lotus flowers, lotus pod cups and lily pads.
I love the gold fleck paper.
The lotus pods are what happens when the flower petals die and fall off.
Lots of painting going on.
Now for my paintings. I learned so much but I have a long way to go.
To be honest, I have not practiced my sumi-e since my last class with Susan Frame months ago. I know it is something I want to do every day. When I was learning maedeup (Korean knotting) while living in Korea, I practiced 6-10 hours every day, seven days a week.
I've always been afraid to paint which comes from deep within myself. I don't know where that fear comes from because I have worked in just about every medium in the art world fearlessly. I've always yearned to paint but fear always held me back. I found my muse in Korea and saw the joy in creating every day from my Korean teachers and fellow Korean classmates. Korea taught that whatever you want to do , you can. That's not to say that the fear is not still there, I've learned I can ignore it for the most part. I started my journey into painting upon our return in 2012 with sumi-e classes adding watercolors in 2013. I'm so glad I took the plunge.
One place we were welcomed with open arms was the Hanhyanglim Onggi Museum. To be perfectly honest with you, when we walked in I and I saw all the kimchi (onggi) pots, I turned to leave. My thought was that I had seen thousands of kimchi pots and if you seen one, you've seen them all. I was so wrong. An employee immediately came over to Hellena and she was very excited to have us there so I thought that we will tour the museum for her sake.
But first a little history of the onggi. The are made from clay and are said to have been used by all people from commoners to nobility. An onggi was a perfect place to store kimchi and soy bean paste. I have also seen them used to make soy sauce. Until I saw that I had no idea where soy sauce came from. But the use of onggi is disappearing with a lot of Koreans buying rather than making their own kimchi and soy bean paste. They also use modern storage like a kimchi refrigerator instead of an onggi. This is a real concern of the staff of this museum and why this museum is so important to them to preserve the history of the onggi and it's important place in Korean history.
Up until this visit, I had only seen one type of onggi. It was very large and plain. But what we found here at the museum was a building full of talent. I had never seen drawings and designs on the onggi. It was so beautiful. We were encouraged to take all the photos we wanted.
Rocketman took some pretty cool photos too.
Rocketman called me over the this particular onggi and when I looked inside I couldn't believe the pattern I saw. It was so amazing.
They also had a little gift store where you could purchase pieces from local artisans using the same material. Hellena bought these for me. Do you know what it is? I thought it was just pieces of clay but she told me that they are small serving dishes. You put them into your refrigerator to chill, add fresh fruit on top and serve. Love it.
I also bought this small teapot. I ended up buying two, one for myself and one for my son-in-law.
Here is the top. I am a huge fan of anything handmade. This was our last stop before heading back to Seoul. We were meeting another one of our dear friends, Jennifer and her family for dinner. The time in Korea was winding down and we still had so much to see and do.