Guess Who’s Back?

Bar towels! These sold out SO. FAST. over the holidays, but now they are back in stock in the old shop. I’m using a different printer and towel this time, and I think the quality is even higher! Smooth, unbleached cotton towels, printed in the USA.

Japan Recap

hanami edit

Hanami at Yoyogi Park

Yes, we’ve been back from our trip for awhile, but man, I have caught the Japan bug again. Big time. This was my second time in Japan and I’m kind of ready for a third time around. There is just so much to see, discover, and eat and always in such a pleasant and sensible atmosphere.

Days in Japan:  19

Cities Visited:  Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and a relatively unmemorable suburb of Osaka.

Most days in one city:  Fukuoka, where we spent 10 days.

Best money spent:  Every single yen spent on food. The Japan Rail shinkansen passes. Our one night in a ryokan in Takayama, complete with semi-private onsen bath.

Favorite Japanese hotel chain:  My Stays, hands down. Larger than most (relatively speaking) and most clever use of limited space. Also, a desk and chair. Score.

tail yakitori

bonjiri (tail) yakitori at Hatchibei, Fukuoka

hide beef

Hide beef on a magnolia leaf. A local speciality, served at our ryokan in Takayama

yaki onigiri

Yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls) with shiso leaf at Hatchibei, Fukuoka.

seared sushi

Plate of sushi, including seared sushi, from Sushi Maru at Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo.

Favorite dishes:   Tsukemen ramen from Rokurinsha at Tokyo station. Chicken tail and pork belly yakitori at Hatchibei in Fukuoka. Seared salmon at Sushi Maru at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

Worst food : This is tough. Nearly everything we ate was amazing. Probably the worst was the random sea snail, in shell, in my train station bento box. It tasted exactly like you’d expect a sea snail to taste.

Favorite places to get food:  Train stations, department stores and convenience stores. Was this the best food? Sometimes, not always. But I could always easily get what I wanted without too much of a language barrier.

What I missed out on doing this time:  Tea ceremony, visiting cocktail bars in Tokyo (boo illness), and eating at a yatai in Fukuoka. Fukuoka is one of the few places in Japan where street food is still allowed. The yatai are temporary street food stalls that open at night all around the city. They typically specialize in one type of food.

Number of bowls of ramen (NOT including tsukemen):  12

Number of bowls of ramen, including tsukemen:  14

Number of times extra noodles were ordered:  3 (twice for steve, once for me)

ramen montage

Just a few bowls of ramen. Top left, clockwise: Tsukemen dipping noodles, spicy miso ramen, tonkotsu ramen with mizuna, black garlic tonkotsu ramen, Hide beef ramen, and super orderly ramen from Ichiran.

ramen stadium

Our favorite ramen in the Ramen Stadium at Canal City, Fukuoka.

tiny gyoza

Teeny tiny gyoza, served everywhere ramen is served in Fukuoka. Often comes with either hot mustard or yuzu pepper.

What I’ll miss:  Ubiquitous and orderly convenience store and train stations. Eating onigiri for breakfast. Matcha everything. Hot drinks from vending machines. Green Dakara (a vitamin hydration water). Ramen. What we have in San Francisco is generally crap compared to nearly every bowl I ate in Japan, especially in Fukuoka.

Most surprising:  The provocative dress of 80% of young females in Fukuoka. The prevalence of dachshunds. That most Japanese people could actually speak English quite well, but were often too shy to do so at first. Alcohol helped with this.

Least surprising:   How often we were excited to see something new, that we didn’t know existed.

yakitori grill

Yakitori grill master.

the doors sake

The Doors loved nihonshu?

tory highball

Tory’s whiskey highball. Classy stuff.

Beer situation:  Again, lots of lagers, like Sapporo, Asahi, and Orion. We went to a pretty cool craft beer bar in Tokyo, and managed to find some local brews in the hot springs town of Takayama. I was down with a cold for most of the trip, but once I felt better, I drank sake or Tory whiskey highballs.

Least favorite:  Hands down, the feeding time at the monkey park in Kyoto. It was super weird, yes, but panic-inducing for this devout monkey-hater. I think this was Steve’s favorite moment. And probably the favorite for our two friends Pete and Kimra who visited with us. Have I mentioned what a good friend I am?

Most frustrating :  Not being able to communicate with people OR easily read menus. The latter issue meant that we had to plan a fair bit more than we typically like to with eating. Wandering around trying to find a place that we could order at easily without English (typically yakitori, sushi or ramen) or searching for a place with an English menu was tiring and sometimes frustrating. Not being able to talk to locals was equally frustrating. Japan is an amazing country and I really would have loved to chat more with locals, especially at restaurants about the food. Not surprisingly then, some of my favorite moments were those that involved English-speakers.

 

girl at monkey Park

Favorite moments:  Hanami (the specific term for picnicking under cherry blossom tress during sakura season) at Yoyogi park on Sunday. Successfully finding Sushi Maru at Tsukiji, and having one of the best sushi meals of my life, all while the chumps were still waiting in line at Sushi Dai.

Our night out at Bar Oscar in Fukuoka, where we sidled up next to a nice Japanese business man, who turned out to not only speak English, but also worked for Suntory. We spent the next four hours chatting in broken English, buying us rounds of Suntory whiskies and American bourbon and showing us a photo album of his trip to the distilleries in Scotland with the bar owner, Shuuichi.

The insane Japanese businessman business card exchange we witnessed on our very last night in Japan, at a wine bar outside a suburban Osaka train station. We made a bee-line for the place after I saw that they had Blanton’s bourbon on the menu (technically it was “Branton’s Bourbon” on the menu). There was no menu, which meant we had to guess what kind of food they might be able to make us. We ordered a delicious om-rice and curry, and chatted with the bartender, sometimes in English, sometimes in French (he had been a sommelier in Paris for 3 years). After a bit, a group of businessmen trickled in to watch the opening home game of the Osaka Tigers. We’re not entirely sure what happened, but one guy was very excited to see the other and a 5-way business card exchange, replete with bowing, ensued.

 That sums up Japan. Totally confusing and completely charming. Thanks, Japan. You are awesome.
night out fukuoka

Our favorite Suntory rep.

There’s always room for more beer.

And epic beer posters. If you’ve followed me on Instagram in the last few months, you’ve probably seen several sneak peeks at some beer bottle watercolors I’ve been painting.

 

And painting.

 

And drinking and painting.

 

And then some more painting.

 

And then the formatting. And re-arranging.  And tweaking (but no twerking). And stifling of OCD tendencies.

 

And then FINALLY a little proofing and, heck, some more drinking time:

 

All for the huge piece of beer-love you see here:

 

Beer Hoarder. If you are into craft beer at all, you know one. You might actually BE one. Scooping up rare bottles at beer events. Stalking your local bottle shop for the next release. Waiting in lines for beer, like some perverse Soviet-era throwback. All to take your precious down to your basement, garage, cupboard, or cardboard box to let that bad boy get some age on it. Develop the funk. Yep, you’re a beer hoarder.

Actually, come to think of it, I’ve been doing a little bit of hoarding myself. I’ve been tinkering with this final piece for weeks now. And while it might be prudent to wait to release this baby into the wild until 2014, I just can’t bear to wait. Real artists ship. (Or so Steve constantly tells me.)

What I AM going to do is release a limited edition series of the Beer Hoarder print on 100% cotton fine art paper. And it is delicious paper, people. So thick and textured, it makes this print look every bit as good as an original. Limited edition of 100. Snatch one up here by Wednesday for Christmas delivery.

And because it is the holiday season and there are serious feelings of gratitude for all of my customers and supporters this year, I’m giving away  one of these limited edition prints! How can you win? Simply be the first to accurately identify every beer depicted. Easy, right?  Your list must be posted under the post on the Drywell Facebook page. I won’t tell you which ones someone misidentifies, only that they didn’t get them all right.

42 craft beers away from glory.

Hoppy Holidays.

xo, alyson

 

 

Bar towels are hot.

Super hot, apparently. I waited over two years to create and decide on a design, and in less than a week after putting them up for sale, they are almost gone. Yep, that’s right. My limited run of 100 bar/tea towels is almost sold out. (Men apparently don’t understand “tea” towels, but totally get “bar” towels. So there you go.)

So if you want one of these really freaking kick-ass bar towels to plop under your Christmas tree (or just to wipe up your spilled bourbon) you should grab one while they are still available.  I will clearly be printing more because I LOVE them, and so do other people apparently, but not until 2014. Consider this your PSA.

Cocktails before they became famous on bar towels.

It’s the holidaze! Time for a sale.

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and has had at least one pie breakfast. There is so much excitement here at Drywell HQ, partly because this is my favorite time of year, and partly because we have so many new arts a’brewing. Kind of literally.

To kick it off, enjoy 20% off your Drywell Art purchase in my shop from now — Small Business Saturday, until the end of Cyber Monday, December 2nd. ( I’m going to call Sunday “End of the Leftovers Sunday”, because I feel like it gets left out in the day-naming mayhem this time of year.)

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter here to get all the info on my upcoming shows and new art!

Ooo la la

escargot at market

Yep. 2013 is truly my Year of Travel. Heading to France for 2 weeks, this time with my mother. The last time I was in Paris, it was about 10 degrees out, so this time around, we are looking forward to picnicking and driving ice cold rose. Oh, and cider, as we will also be in Normandy. As usual, I’ll post photo updates on Instagram, so follow along if you’d like!

And let me know if you have any tips for Normandy or Paris places!

Au revoir!

Original Sidecar For Sale

Framed original watercolor. $175

As you may recall, last month I participated in Project Make, an online documentation of the creative process. The project is over, but that means there is original art for sale!

Offering original art is not something I have done a lot of online, choosing instead to sell at local shows. So now’s your chance, if you’re outside of the Bay Area and in need of an original watercolor painting. Check it out at the Project Make Shop.

meat into food, part III

The ongoing magic trick (sorry … illusion) of turning meat art into actual meat continues! Ever since January 2011, Drywell Art has been donating 10% of the sales of every Meat My City neighborhood meat maps to a local food bank. It only makes sense that if I’m peddling food for a living, I should be giving food to those in need as well.  As I was making my quarterly food bank donations this month, I realized there hasn’t been a recent update on the cold hard cash facts!

Above are the very grand totals of food bank donations by city since January 2011. I’m astounded. The San Francisco donation alone equates to over $5000 worth of food that the San Francisco Food Bank distributed. All from meat on paper. Go Team Carnivore!

(You can also check out the initial announcement , 2011 quarter one results , and 2011 Q2 + Q3 results, and 2011 Q4 plus 2012 Q1-3 results)

 

With no further ado, here are the totals for 2012 Q4, 2013 Q1 and Q2. Drumroll…..

6. Brooklyn – $25.00 to the St. John’s Bread and Life food pantry in Brooklyn

5. Portland. $32.50 to The Oregon Food Bank

4.  Seattle. $55.00 to  the Northwest Harvest food bank in Washington.

 

3. Los Angeles. $65 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. That’s 260 meals of food that can be distributed to needy families in LA!

2. San Francisco. Narrowly missing the top spot is my home city.  $150 to the San Francisco Food Bank. The SF Food Bank distributes $6 of food for every $1 donated. That means the SF Food Bank will be able to distribute $900 worth of food to needy residents of SF! Amazeballs.

1. Chicago. Man, the Midwest is representing, big time. The newest city to get a poster leads the pack with $167.50 to the Chicago Food Bank.

If you’re from one of these cities and think that another food bank needs the donations next time, just drop me a line and let me know. Thanks everyone!!

summertime cocktail prints, ready to rock

 

The weather has taken a turn for the sunny, and dare I say, warm? I was actually able to sit outside at Public House with my father on his short visit to SF yesterday, and *may* have even said it was hot at one point. And the sun went down behind the buildings and it was all over.

But, it is supposed to be quite lovely this weekend, which means it will be a great time to hang outside and stop in Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason. There are over 200 vendors, including your’s truly. Drywell Art will be front and center, quite literally. We’ll be set up next to my pal Kai, at Nosh This, who will be slinging Bacon Crack (TM) after a long hiatus.

Jam-maker extraordinaire, Lemon Bird and culinary soap-master Etta+Billie will be sharing a booth nearby, and my pal Sharon Z. will be there too with her eponymous jewelry line. Some other faves are SF tees for kids by my friend, the newly engaged Jamai of Animal Instincts, and the always amazing art of Ryan Berekley. (I just saw a show of his while I was in POrtland … really hoping he’s made some prints of those pieces!)

 

And Drywell Art will have some new goods on display, including a slew of framed original watercolors and at least two new cocktail diagram prints, the Sidecar and Sazerac.

Stop in, eat some chocolate and say hello.

Making Stuff for Project Make

Booyah! Final Sidecar cocktail diagram

Fully back in the swing of things here at Drywell HQ. Not only is Renegade Craft Fair coming up next weekend at Fort Mason, but I’ve also been busy creating new pieces for Project Make.

pencil sketch of sidecar

Project Make is a pretty fun project headed up by fellow artist Meghan Urback. Basically, for the next month, a group of local artists will be documenting their process for creating art. The process photos are posted on Instagram with the tag #projectmake as well as on each artist’s page on the Project Make website. Here’s mine. After the pieces are finished, the originals will be available for purchase on the site.

Where the magic happens. With the watercolor.

Photoshop mock up from fellow watercolorist Emily Proud

Woodcuts from Sirima Sataman

It has been pretty interesting so far to see everyone’s processes, especially those working in different media, such as wood block printing. My process can be at times …. a bit unorthodox.

Inspiration comes in many (delicious) forms.

 

…but tasty. I’ll post when the final paintings are available for purchase.