Etegami morning


Wednesday morning I practiced etegami. The subject of etegami is whatever you can have in front of you, so I gathered some vegetables and fruits from the kitchen: garlic, yam potatoes, oranges, onions.


Etegami was invented in 1960s by Kunio Koike a calligrapher from Japan.  He was frustrated that art was only made by professional artists, such as the art printed on New Year’s greetings postcards that were sold in Japan. He invented the principles of etegami so people can make and share their own art.


All you need for etegami is ink, watercolour, and rice paper. To make etegami, you hold the brush at the tip, with two or three fingers. You don’t have control of the brush so, as you move very slowly, the lines are squiggly, imperfect, and there are blotches, but it’s okay. In etegami, they say the lines are ‘alive’.


Once the artwork is done you have to add a short sentence, or greeting. I tried to be spontaneous.


I enjoyed adding watercolour. It added a new dimension to the artwork.


Today I used large sheets or rice paper to practice. Next time, I’ll use a small brush and postcards-size paper. etegami means imagee (e) and letter (tegami).  It’s not etegami until you mail it, so I’m hoping to send some for New Year’s.


I’m grateful to instructor Darlene Dihel, assisted by Dorothy Matthews and Melinda Brottem who gave a workshop  at Seabeck Haiku Getaway and introduced me to etegami.  It was a lot of fun, not having to stress about the quality of the final product, but to simply enjoy the process. This allowed me to make art again.


My favorite part of the process was just focusing on the line and the breath. To be present. In the moment.


In the next coming weeks, I’ll learn to make a seal out of an eraser so I can sign the artwork. This should be fun too.


Rainman, the Frog, and the Willow



Hanufada game cards.

On a rainy November morning, I was playing hanafuda, a Japanese cards game featuring trees, plants and flowers for each month of the year  (hana=flower, fuda=card).

The suit featured in November is the willow.


Hanafuda cards for November.

The most important card in this suit is a man with an umbrella, often referred to as ‘The Rainman’.

I noticed a frog on the card and was curious to know if there was a story behind this image of a man with an umbrella and a frog under the willow.

It turns out the man is Ono no Michikaze (“Rainman”) a famous calligrapher in in Japan.


Rainman, the frog and the willow (Hanafuda card)

One day, Ono no Michakaze was considering abandoning calligraphy. He went for a walk in the rain.


He saw a frog trying to grab a branch of willow.



Each time the frog jumped, the breeze would move the willow branch. The frog would try again, and the wind would move the branch again.


The calligrapher thought this frog would never reach the willow, but after seven attempts, the frog finally grabbed the willow branch.


Then, the calligrapher knew he shouldn’t give up.

He went on to become one of the most important calligraphers in Japan.


If you have a difficult project, and you feel like abandoning, think about the little frog trying to reach the willow branch.

Photos by Jessica Tremblay.

Objects: hanafuda cards by Nintendo,  Japanese paper doll made by a Japanese senior, paperbag cherry tree made by a Burnaby Public Library librarian, frog figurine from a flea market.



Live Drawing with Dancers


IMG_2843Did you do something scary today? I did. I went to Live Drawing with Dancers.

I’ve always wanted to go, but the thought that there would be artists — real artists who can draw — there, and that they might make fun of me, always stopped me.

But today, I decided on three things:

1- I would go.

2- Instead of trying to sketch like everyone else, I would draw stick figures to explore movement.

3- I was going to have fun.

When I  arrived at the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth theatre at 2pm, I saw two dancers – one male and one female – dressed in beautiful costumes, moving in a very graceful choreography. I quietly took a seat and immediately started to draw small kinetic figures.

My first figures were stiff and looked like Chinese characters.  As I loosened up, I drew curved arms, and added little feet.


As my confidence grew,  I added a head to the figures.



I drew the dancer’s tutu as two curved lines on each side of her body.

I started to really enjoy the process.


The dancers changed and came back with black shorts.

As the last hour began, Arts Umbrella instructor Jason Wright said, “Let’s try something loose and goofy.” The session that followed was amazing, as the dancers contorted their body in ways I’ve never seen before, inspiring some of my favorite drawings.



By the end of the session, I had truly found my style and was able to enjoy the process of creating as many stick figures as possible.



So, will I go to the next Live Drawing session? Absolutely. And I will leave my fears at home.


live drawing

the dancer’s shadow

on my page

— Jessica Tremblay


What about you? Is there a thing that scares you that you’ve always wanted to try? What stops you?

Words: Haiku on Paper



Did you know many haiku poets are also paper artists? Among them, Terry Ann Carter, Claudia Radmore, Steve Addiss, and more, will have artwork in the international exhibit Words: Haiku on paper in Whitehorse, Yukon. The exhibit coincide with the Haiku Canada conference in May 2016.

Support the Go Fund Me campaign to receive a catalogue featuring work by your favorite artists/haiku poets.  I just donated now and the process was really easy.

Thanks for sharing the campaign on Facebook and Twitter to help fellow haiku poets.


I created some haiku-origami pieces for the exhibit. Not sure if they’ll be in the final exhibit or not. I mean, I was told they will be, but it seems unbelievable that my work would be exhibited next to international artists, so I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’m keeping the final artworks a secret, but you’ll find above an earlier version of “Childless” with the frog origami not yet mounted.

Any artwork not selected for the final show will be featured in store windows on Main street during the conference. It’s gonna be great to see haiku everywhere in Whitehorse during the Haiku Canada conference. Thanks to Helen O’Connor for curating the exhibit.

Haiku Postcards by Marco Fraticelli (Mail Art)

marcofraticellipostcard3If you’re lucky enough to be friends with Marco Fraticelli – a haiku poet from Montreal and publisher of the famous Hexagram series with King’s Road Press – you probably know that he sends out haiku postcards every year. “Twice a year (new year & summer), I send out a postcard to my haiku friends. I have done this uninterrupted for the last 28 years,” confessed Marco in an e-mail to me last December.

The Haiku Postcards

I had heard about these mythical postcards that Marco was sending, but I had never seen one.  Marco quickly sent me a package containing a selection of a dozen postcards dated between 1993 and 2014. It was great to receive so many cards at once, as it allowed me to see the evolution in formats and style. “In some cases, the back of the postcard is relevant but in others I just used free postcards given out by the Quebec liquor Board as a [promotional] vehicle,” wrote Marco.

postcards-educalcool-coversThe Material

I like Marco’s idea of using whatever material you find around you to write a haiku. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can grab a bunch of free postcards or even write your haiku on a piece of cardboard cut out from the back of a cookie box, like Marco did in January 1993: marcofraticellipostcard7cookiehaikumarcofraticellipostcard7cookiebox Whatever you use (free postcards or recycled material), it’s what you write in the back that counts:


The Haiku Poem

Not only are Marco’s poems good, but the use of rubber stamps adds a touch of colour. The fact that the poems are handwritten, dated, numbered, as well as signed by hand, makes this a collectable piece that haiku poets and friends will cherish. marcofraticellipostcard1


Around the year 2005, instead of postcards, Marco started sending a photo-haiku collage on photographic paper. The photo (usually featuring himself, alone or with his baby grandchild) is always related to the haiku.  Although the poem is printed, Marco continued to date, sign and number the poems by hand.  Marco makes on average 85 copies of each postcards marcofraticellipostcard8countingdays

marco-postcard-6The Seven Stages of Writing

It was a nice surprise when Marco contacted me in December 2014 regarding an idea he had for his upcoming New Year postcard. He asked if he could buy 100 copies of my little book “Seven Stages of Writing” to send out to his friends as part of his “New Year haiku greeting card” series. “This year I thought I might do something entirely different and send out your book with my haiku written on the back.” sevenstagessideDSCN5340 I immediately agreed. I sent him the file (after deleting what was on the back page so  Marco would have room to write his haiku) and Marco printed the book (in color!), assembled it, wrote a haiku in the back, signed, dated and stamped it, to finally mail it on January 13 2015. seven-stagesbackDSCN5353 I really like this idea of sharing haiku through the mail. “It’s hard for me to believe that I have been sending them out uninterrupted summer and winter all these years,” wrote Marco. “Yes, they have evolved and if this project works, your mini-book will take them in a whole new direction.” sevenstagesbackDSCN5341 I hope you enjoy the gift of my little book… brought to you by the amazing and generous Marco Fraticelli. If you did not receive a copy, you can purchase the original zine The Seven Stages of Writing (b&w, without Marco’s poem) on my online store.

Haiku-Comics (zine)


IMG_3894 This zine by Old Pond Comics features forty haiku-comics inspired by poems of famous Japanese poets Basho, Issa, Buson and more!

IMG_3887 Inside the booklet, the haiku-comics are separated by seasons.

IMG_3893The center-fold is a series of 4 haiku-comics on Kobayashi Issa’s snail haiku (my favorites).

It’s important to put good comics in the centre because that’s where the book naturally opens when people browse.

IMG_3886Some winter haiku-comics featuring haiku by Kobayashi Issa and Buson.

IMG_3876The cover features a print from Hokusai’s “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji”.

IMG_3888The back cover features a little portrait of Kobayashi Issa (the main source of inspiration for my haiku-comics).

The zine will be for sale at Canzine this Nov.8 and on the Old Pond Comics online store .

How to write a haiku (mini zine)


IMG_3845Here’s my second mini-zine, “How to Write a Haiku”, that will be launched at Canzine this November 8th.

IMG_3847The story is: a frog goes for a walk to get inspiration to write a haiku and things go wrong.

IMG_3851The frog gets a little bit too “hands-on” with a wasps’ nest.

IMG_3871And when she stops to take some notes… the nest falls.

IMG_3860Good news is she still manages to write haiku.

IMG_3861She shows it to her haiku master.

IMG_3863I guess she’ll have to write another one.

IMG_3867This zine will be available at Canzine and on the Old Pond Comics online store in 2015.

Cherry Blossom fan book (zine)



This fan book (featuring some of my cherry blossom haiku) will be available at Canzine this Sat. Nov. 8  and on my Old Pond Comics online store.


When the zine is closed, it’s a simple cherry petal.


You open each petal to reveal the poems.


The fan book features some of my cherry blossom poems from the VCBF Haiku Invitational contest.


I was inspired to make this zine after seeing other fan books. I thought, “It’s a technique I could use to make a cherry blossom zine!” It’s made with five petals reunited by a bracket. So simple, isn’t it?

Basho Frog Haiku (interactive zine)



Old Pond Comics will have a table at Canzine in Vancouver, B.C. this Saturday November 8. 


One of the items for sale will be this interactive flap book featuring translations of Basho’s poem “Old Pond / A frog jumps in / the sound of the water”  (from the website Matsuo Bashô: Frog Haiku (Thirty-one Translations and One Commentary). 


You can turn the flaps and change each line, for endless possibilities.


Check it out.

IMG_3788 IMG_3801

Frog Haiku will be available for sale at Canzine this Saturday Nov. 8, as well as on my Old Pond Comics online store.