Monday, January 23, 2012

Paintings at Ho'olehua Airport, Molokai

     This time last year I finished six paintings of indigenous Hawaiian animals. The paintings are currently on display. The following are a few progress shots of the paintings as I worked on them and photos of them hanging in the airport on Molokai. Prints on canvas are available. Please write to me at if you are interested.
    I’m not sure why it’s difficult to leave comments on this blog, several people have written to say it doesn’t work. I'd like to fix it, but I can't solve computer problems any more than I can do this,
 even though both would be convenient. If anyone can help with this (the blog comment problem, not sticking my tongue up my nose) please let me know.

        Animal Paintings at the Ho'oleahua Airport on Molokai
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Green Sea Turtles
Bottlenose Dolphins
Hawaiian Stilts
Hawaiian Owl
                           Thanks for looking. Keep smiling!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Molokai rodeo

      My apologies for leaving this blank for so long. Where I’m staying the internet connection is slower than media rate mail so I threw my hands up and did other things, like read books made out of paper and watch Humpback whales roll around like goofy big bathtub toys in the stretch of ocean within view. Then the modern equivalent of the dog ate my homework; viruses ate my computer, which was annoying and expensive, but miraculously no data was lost. I’m slowly working up to working on the next project, a series of animal portraits in oils.   
    The following photos were taken at the most recent Molokai rodeo, just a great way to spend the day and I admire the courage these kids have. I have no desire to ride a horse or plant my face in the dirt, convincing myself that taking pictures is challenging enough. There’s a dress code inside the ring so I borrowed a cowboy hat, but had to ask which side was the front, then I worked up enough courage to stand behind a horse and brush its tail.


Monday, January 2, 2012

After the 90 day project

   Yesterday brought a deep sigh of relief and a feeling of having completed something that started as a fun idea before it turned into a daily dialog with myself, running the gamut from how lucky I was to have the opportunity to paint every day to just hit me with a board and put an end to this misery. Sometimes it flowed like warm chocolate syrup and other days it was like pulling cactus spines out of the souls of my feet to come up with an idea. In the end the list of paintings was longer than 90 days would allow. There are two I love just the way they are and there are many that could be improved. A few are just crap (in my opinion), but because it was the best I could do that day I posted them anyway. The benefit, and it's huge, was that I had to quit fretting about perfection. With all endeavors that stretch personal limits the true test was letting go of fear. The creepy negative thoughts that undermine the best intentions are almost always pure hooey. It takes time to weed out negativity, which I didn't have because the next day I had to pull it together and do it again. Pushing myself for three months without a day off finally wore worrying down to a nub, like what's left of my eraser. I'd recommend this type of effort to anyone. Being fully present for hours on end day after day pointed a big neon sign at the ridiculous conversations I have with myself. Ninety nine percent of those negative thoughts were not true and only made me feel bad. Focusing on a relentless positive effort gave me a more upbeat take on everything. Fear too often trumps reason. The quiet voice of sanity and the whisperings of the heart can be heard over the pounding drums of paranoia in a fully present moment and painting requires being fully present. My sister's encouragement certainly helped, actually it was downright necessary. She makes me laugh, especially when I take things too seriously. 
   Turns out I am the worst judge of how long any given subject will take to paint. The shortest time, the lime and coconuts, was forty five minutes, but I thought it would take all day. The paint just flowed. The longest was #6, the still life of fruit, which took nearly twelve hours and left nothing to the imagination. The most challenging was the last one, which took about ten hours and a lot of time over the last month looking at photos of horses, hanging out with my friend's horses, sketching live horses in a pasture and just plain trying to learn what one horse expression means from another (thanks Sherry and Noel for your help).
     It took ten years painting and photographing dogs to find that magic moment, where I just know what will make a good painting. It will be the same process with horses so I'll be pursuing that direction for a while. I can sometimes feel what animals feel, but the exception was the day I went to a friend's yard to photograph the tame deer that shows up occasionally for a bowl of snack mix. I could not get a feeling for her. The painting might look like her, but for me it doesn’t capture the essence of deer. While she didn't seem fazed by humans, I had the distinct impression she could kick my teeth out with her pointy little hooves if provoked, although I might have made that up. Either way I didn't find that connection that gives paintings depth.
    The horse, Sugar, in the last painting spoke to me. She was alone in a corral after the Aloha Week Parade and somehow I caught her desire to be with her owners who were further away. I walked over and felt that spark that happens with animals that care to connect with people. I took quite a few photos, knowing one day I'd be doing a painting of her. She mugged for the camera like a runway model. Sadly, a month later Sugar died in a freak accident and is sorely missed. Sugar's untimely death in her prime underscored just how short and fleeting life is. 
     Worrying too easily destroys the precious moments we have. Painting is a struggle when coming from a distracted place so I had to let go of fretting about nonsense. I'd recommend this type of effort to anyone. Concentrating for hours on end day after day pointed a big neon sign at the ridiculous conversations I have with myself. Focusing on a relentless positive effort wore them out. Fear it seems has the option to trump reason. The quiet voice of sanity and the whisperings of the heart can be heard over the pounding drums paranoia in a fully present moment and painting requires being fully present.      
    I have often suspected that muses are more than fiction, but now I'm sure of it. When the clock fell off my radar and time lapsed with no awareness of it passing the muses were doing their job. Some days I did the work joyfully and others with an imaginary cattle prod on my ass, but I don't feel the least responsible for whether the paintings are good or bad. That is new, I used to have a hard time with criticism, but haven't take comments about this project personally. One friend pointed at a painting and said it was my best so far, and then someone wrote and asked if I was having a bad day when I did that particular one, clearly not on their list of greatest hits. I found my cattle prod and am not afraid to use it, I think it is called discipline. And I get what marathons accomplish. They push you to do your best while pushing all your buttons. 
    Money was not motivation since none of them were done with an eye for what might sell, which was very freeing. I focused on what I appreciated each day and sometimes it was simply the way the sun lit a familiar object. Commissions are an important part of my income, but there is a fine line to manage between painting what others want and painting from the heart. Also I was concerned that if I offered them for sale and no one was interested I would lose motivation, but that worry was just more baloney that vaporized over time. The creative process is not exhausting, it enlivens the soul and makes the most mundane moments come alive with feeling, but managing the business of life on top of painting daily sometimes felt like a burden. I bathed less than I should have because I just ran out of time. I painted a bar of soap longing to quit and just use it. 
     I'll be making giclĂ©e prints on canvas from this series and will post the sizes and prices when I get them worked out later this week. The prints often look better than the originals because the blacks are richer. I'm also looking for a venue to show the originals. Thanks for checking in, your interest kept me going. One of the benefits of blogspot is that it tracks how many people view pages each day and where in the world the pages are viewed. It has helped me with my geography since there were countries on the list I didn't know much about so looked them up. Latvia sure looks beautiful and I'd love to see Riga. A friend in American Samoa invited me to paint 30 paintings in 30 days at the public library so that is on my list for some time this year. I'll strive to be a better painter as there is always more to learn. Thank you all for looking, I'll be posting as often as possible. 
All the best to you in 2012!     

Sunday, January 1, 2012

90! Sugar

     Every once in awhile a special animal crosses my path. Sugar had a way of connecting with people that was truly remarkable. My day was spent feeling gratitude for all the amazing moments this year has brought with friends, family and some mighty fine animals. Here's to ending the year and this project with warm, heart felt thanks to everyone and wishing you all the very best in the coming year. I'll be taking a few days off and plan to write about what I learned from this project.
                                                                    Happy New Year!!