Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Soot Sprites & The Camphor Tree

Soot Sprites by megan_n_smith_99
Soot Sprites, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.
Another recent watercolor... It's the wrong time of the year (in the Northern hemisphere anyway), but I keep wanting to paint in autumn colors. You might recognize these black critters from My Neighbor Totoro & Spirited Away.

from wikipedia:
Susuwatari (Japanese ススワタリ; "wandering soot"), also called Makkuro kurosuke (真っ黒黒助; "pitch-black assistant"), is the name of a fictitious yōkai which was devised by Hayao Miyazaki, drawn by Ghibli studios and known from the famous anime-productions My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away where, in the former, they are identified as "black soots" in early subtitles and "soot sprites" or gremlins in the later English dubbed version."

I first saw Totoro in 1988 or so, before there was a translation into English. It was rather mysterious, trying to figure out what the characters were saying -- I took a year of Japanese but that was a few years later -- but not too difficult to follow. I could watch it over and over, just for the beautiful "scenery" -- it's animated but Miyazaki does animated landscapes that are heavenly.

I especially liked the tree Totoro lives in, a giant camphor tree. These trees can grow to be huge and live a long time -- there is one in Japan that is 1500 years old and almost 100 feet across the crown! I think I want to move into that tree. Totoro's probably there....

Soot Sprites
watercolor & ink
Available on Etsy.

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