Posted in 日本語

There and Back again, A Language Journey.

I admit I have not been very good at keeping goals and I have failed more than once to achieve my language goals. However, I have been in Japan for more than a quarter of a year now and I have already gotten the go-ahead to stay for more than a year, so it’s definitely now or never.

The goal is to finish N2 on December 2018. Get Kanji Kentei certified (as high as I can go) and to be fluent enough to conduct my business and read and talk in Japanese.  The dream has never faded — only the motivation to do so does.

I have all the tools now. (I do think I have too many books). I am in the country of my dreams … and I am now embarking on this monstrous task of fulfilling my dreams within the time limit.  Yep. The clock is ticking.


  Right now,  I can pretty much speak conversational Japanese. I can even speak it while drunk. I can express myself. I can explain some stuff in Japanese. I can understand generally what they are talking about and what I need to know. But I really want to fully understand them to speak and read like a native.

I am lucky because I am immersed in the language. I use it daily at work. However, it really takes effort to really learn. I can learn from listening, trying to read and writing my daily diary in Japanese. But I guess anyone who wants to learn a language can say that language learning is not just about words and phrases or grammar. It`s about learning a culture. It`s becoming the language or a person who uses the language.

I also know that my biggest weakness is reading. I love looking at kanji. LOOKING but  I cant read all of them. I think my goal should beto be able to read and write and not to speak. So I need to focus on that part better.


So, this is how I plan to do it. I have been studying Japanese seriously for about a year or so without any method (or by experimenting with what works for me) halfway through, I have been losing both focus and motivation to do so.

So I figured, since I am all over the place, I need to streamline my studying to phases.

PHASE 1 : KANJI and VOCAB                            3 months
PHASE 2: GRAMMAR/ READING                     3months

Since I am in Japan and I am exposed, listening has become the easiest part to study.

Time: 3 Months (May-August 2017)/ 2200 kanji in 3 months
Daily time allotment: at least 1-3 hours a day
Tools: Remembering the Kanji 1. Notebook. Kanji 1000. Kanji Dictionary. Vocab Lists for N4-N3. Kodansha Kanji Learning.
  Memrise/Anki. Daily

I use Heisig RTK system because I like how it is a complete system for at least REMEMBERING the Kanji and how to write it. I have to support it with the Kodansha system for the Japanese meanings (since you dont get to do the complete Japanese meanings until RTKII) . I also have several notebooks for drills and another one for RTK/ Kanji I learn daily.

THe goal is to learn at least 25 kanji a day. Meaning and all. I like how RTK has its own app for flashcards. I can at least review on the go.  What I also do is that I try to read as much as I can in Japanese. Right now, I am reading 君の名は in novel form. I am slow, but its fun and I am getting there.

Time: 3 Months (Sept-Dec)
Daily time allotment: at least 1-4 hours a day
Tools:  Genki, Sou Matome Books, etc.

I am not there yet, but I am planning that once I learn kanji, i should be able to go through this. Since I know how to speak and listen, I will seriously sit down with the grammar once there.

For now, I am working on PHASE 1 and will update as soon as I can.




Posted in <3, Japan, JLPT, JLPT N4, 日本語

真剣に日本語を勉強する。The Road to Japanese Fluency

I went to Japan a month ago and it rekindled my spark to be fluent in Japanese. My friends in Japan were all taking the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) which rates the English level skill of the person taking it. They are taking it for work and I were asking me if I had any certification in Japanese Language.

Well… I honestly have to say that I haven’t been officially assessed yet. Aside from a few school assessments that I have gone through which both assessed me as an Intermediate Speaker (about N4-lower N3 level) I do not have the official papers to back up my Japanese Language skills. This made me think.

. I deal with Japanese people daily with the work I do. I can speak ok (in fact most Japanese are impressed by my level of understanding) , but I find that expressing ideas to them has become difficult lately with the language barriers especially once we are talking business. Well, of course we do use English and Japanese but there are things which I cannot clearly explain to them and that they cannot clearly understand. And the other way around.

This made me decide something. I have to get off my lazy ass and check one thing off my bucket list.

I HAVE TO DO IT NOW. Continue reading “真剣に日本語を勉強する。The Road to Japanese Fluency”

Posted in watercolor

A trip into Urban Sketching

City Bike
City Bike, Watercolor and Inks 2015

I have  always loved the style of urban sketchers. They draw as much as they can on a subject on a limited time. The subject is anything they can draw and anything they want on location to capture the time and place they are in . They do it on journals with watercolor, ink, colored pencils and crayons and the emotion, speed and spontaneity of the  style attracts me. It seems fit for a girl like me who is always on the move, always on the go.

You can check out  for samples of the artform.  wish i can do it, but all I can do is emulate the style in the piece on the left.

I was trying to capture a street scene in Italy as fast as I can on a Berkley WC paper, Hotpress. I find that Hotpress paper is best for this because it dries fast and pigments seem to be more vibrant on it. It takes only a little to do a lot.

I first did a sketch thumnail to plan the design (what? Maria is planning a sketch?) and then i dove into drawing. The most complicated are the shadows under the bke and behind the wheels. I just cant seem to get it right. But I really had fun doing this and I think, it does tell a story don’t you think?

I am obsessing over bike pictures so expect more bikes in the near future.

Posted in materials, watercolor

Painting this lady on hotpress paper

Grey and Pink
Grey and Pink watercolor on 300 gsm  hotpress paper A5 size

The painting on the right, tentatively titled Grey and Pink was created on Hotpress Watercolor paper. It was my first time working on this type of paper and the experience was– a learning experience.

Hotpress paper is a lot smoother and thicker and really opaque, you can’t use any light box underneath so either you transfer your drawing on to the paper with carbon paper or a similar technique with tracing paper or use an art projector which i used for this one. You can directly draw on the paper as well but you hve to be careful with erasing lines… its not as it feels that it roughens up if you erase too much. Unlike coldpress paper which has the slight ridges its more durable to pencil work.

Anyway, what i noticed with this paper is that it doesn’t puddle the water,  and it doesnt soak in the pigment and it dries FAST.The water stays on the paper only  allowing for some blending time, . Layering was hard on this, since i was used to blending on paper on coldpress paper, which has more tooth and  can puddle water and allow for some more bleding time. I am now thinking of using Gum arabic to help a little with painting on Hotpress, but i am not sure.

Using, some transparent washes helped on creating more depth. I also tried to use alcohol and other media to create the interesting effects and experiement on this paper.

On the flipside, Hotpress paper also produces some vivid colors on little paint  and it gives it interesting edges and lines when painitng,

I am used to painting on coldpress, So i was thinking i could layer on this, but this was hard to do on hotpress. Its a great one for quick paintings, because it dries fast, and its really really smooth, which I like. I just need to learn how to control the paint on it.

Does anyone else paint on Hotpress? If so, can anyone share tips? I would love it

Posted in <3

Painting at the Beach

CabanaHi! I’ve been on vacation and so I just managed to come here today at Easter to say HI! I also announced the winners of my contests (which I still have to finish their prizes sometime) and I really am grateful for all the support. I just feel thankful that I finally am getting somewhere with my art.

Anyway as you see with the picture on the left, I went out and painted at the beach. It was a good experience and I did fail a lot but i had a lot of fun and learned things that I needed to work on like perspective and a lot more. It was great also to paint on location, and have a different environment.

I should do that more often. Just get out there and paint.