“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”John Muir”
Manabi Province, Ecuador -
Many birds feast in the shrimp ponds; when the water is drained for harvest, the avian telegraph announces the all-you-can-eat buffet!
Elusive white ibis flock to the ponds for their ration of shellfish; petite kingfishers perch near the outlet pipes and spear random hors d’oeuvres. Great egrets tower over snowy egrets and little blue herons as they scramble, squawk and poke for shrimp and fish.
Conceited snowy egrets, pairing black leggings with bright-yellow slippers, fluff their wispy feathers to claim entitlement to the choicest morsels!
In formal attire, the black-necked stilts add a modest touch of elegance and keep a low profile along the edges of the pond! Although the stilts have always captured my attention, I realized that I knew little when I began a study based on an old photo. They are black and white and have very long reddish-pink legs. Do they all have pink legs, or do the male and female have different colorations?
Consulting a bird book, I was surprised to learn that stilts have red eyes! (Red eyes?) I looked at photos on the computer. The less-than precise images showed dark eyes. Details were lacking on the bill as well, and I was unsure – was it curved slightly like an ibis, or did it have a slight upturn – or was it straight as a sewing needle? Rather than guess, I waited for an opportunity for field research. Continue reading
Hi from Mindo Proper (Ecuador)
Julie and I have made a fast trip to Mindo while the mountain road is open, though the road graders have cleared dozens of mud slides, and many of them were HUGE. The roads between their home and town are sloppy and un-passable unless one is in a four-wheel drive. We are in town to buy supplies and return while there is still light. It’s been raining since noon, and I predict more mudslides. The roads are ugly, and I am amazed that some of the large landslides have been cleared!
With a 30-hour power outage, some of the items in the refrigerator/freezer were questionable, and we were out of staples like garlic, onions, spinach, eggs etc. The kitchens will be well stocked when we return! (Their car had been in the shop for two months, and they had just retrieved it (and me) from Quito and returned Saturday evening.)And then the rains came pouring down.
Most of the timeout for Art was written last week, so now here’s the rest of the post!
“Someone else’s vision will never be as good as your own vision of your self. Live and die with it ’cause in the end it’s all you have. Lose it and you lose yourself and everything else. I should have listened to myself.”
― Georgia O’Keeffe
Thanks for your feedback on the ‘Zebra-Energy’ (ZENnergy) painting! I treasured every comment and critique! While answering the comments, I realized that you’ve all earned a more in-depth explanation of the creative process of this particular painting.
The inspiration has been tap tap tapping at my senses for years at nearby Playa El Matal, where the beach is quickly vanishing. The skulls first tweaked my attention from the young artist who was painting a nearby post, and a year later I photographed them again. I worked out a concept on paper while having lunch in town.
Another nine or so months passed, and I sometimes glanced at the sketches and thought, “I really need to bring you to life!” Continue reading
“It takes a very long time to become young.”
― Pablo Picasso
This Timeout for Art project was simple and easy! The design, inspired by a pre-Columbian artifact, was painted on a pillow to bridge the painting on the wall (below) with the fabrics on the sofa and chair. Continue reading
When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. (Georgia O’Keeffe)
Inspired by my friends’ gardens in Mindo Ecuador, this evolving make-believe garden of acrylic paint has grown one flower at a time! Gingers and heliconias make excellent subject matter for botanical studies, but it’s been about ten years since I painted the lovely queen of the night.
Capturing the essence of the elegant datura (brugmansia) raised the bar and challenged me to transport the viewer into the mysteries of a nocturnal cloud-forest scene. Datura, a bewitching queen of the evening, opens at dusk and releases her intoxicating fragrance throughout the night. A dangerous hallucinogen, it is used by shamans in ayahuasca ceremonies and is also abused by criminals to drug unsuspecting victims. Devoted gardeners cultivate it for the beauty of its flowers and the delicate lemony aroma.
The daturas preside over shade loving plants, and each compliments the other. Deep crimson king’s torch gingers dig their toes into the cool soil and stretch skyward toward the datura. Flaming-orange heliconias squeeze between available gaps and fill in the middle ground. At night, I sometimes wonder what creature might be lurking in the shadows only a few feet away!
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
There are times when, with sensitivity, I instruct my students, “Always stop before you think you are finished.” Sometimes we can overwork a painting, and in search of precision, we lose the spontaneity and freshness. It becomes overworked and heavy.
There are other times when I nudge my students to stick with the work a bit longer. I remind them, “The difference in an amateur and a professional, is that the professional takes it a few steps more and puts in a few more hours…’
This painting held its own with the background left stark white. The colors sing against the white background. Shadows could be added, and it would fool the eye, as it was already fooling mine! My friend Xavier often walks into the studio and says, “I can never tell what’s painted and what’s real!” and when this painting was flat on the magic-carpet floor, I often forgot that it was not part of the floor!
When a painting is 35 inches by 48, it’s taking a few more weeks to finish! After several moments of self doubt, I ‘soiled’ the white background with a medium value wash of dark blues and purples and greens. I knew there was no option to return to the original white background!!! I continued adding layers of paint… Continue reading
“When I can’t paint, I can draw, and this simple but very powerful tool gets me back to the very door of creativity.” (Pat Corbin Henson)
Sometimes when I find myself going ’round in circles, I look through my archives and play with the designs waiting in limbo. Rolling this drawing into a ‘bronze’ application on Irfanview provided a much-richer work of art with zero effort!
After tossing around options on the computer, I am usually eager to return to my pencil, which in turn preps me to return to my paints! Continue reading
Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless. When you find something at which you are talented, you do it – whatever it is – until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. (Stephen King)
As if to compensate for the most-recent 2-day power outage, a burst of energy kept me working at full throttle for the past several days. After painting touch ups on the wooden balcony floor, I protected it with two coats of a transparent sealer. Between coats, I painted the inside panels of the balcony white, then rolled a medium to light blue and then a lighter blue over that.
The little built-in bench looked quite anemic beneath the colorful moon window, so i painted the back a pastel orange and the seat area in light blue/green colors. As the afternoon progressed, I added more depth and movement with strokes of color. Continue reading
“Magic swirls about us like an invisible fog of energy that can be tapped by those gifted enough, using a variety of techniques that center on layered spelling, mumbled incantations, and a burst of concentrated thought channeled through the index fingers. The technical name for this energy is “variable electro-gravitational mutable subatomic force,” which doesn’t mean anything at all–confused scientists just gave it an important-sounding name so as not to lose face. The usual term is “wizidrical energy,” or simply “the crackle.”
Jasper Fforde, The Song of the Quarkbeast
Those who know me well will agree; there are times when magic seems to swirl around me like an invisible fog of energy! As I’ve mentioned before, batteries in watches usually self destruct within weeks; elevators and copy machines sometimes malfunction when I punch the buttons. Electric car windows stop working. Sometimes street lights flicker off or on when I walk beneath them. Continue reading
DHL’s international search for Diablo Huma confirmed that he reached Miami; shocked at the absence of end-of-year muencos, he inspired his cabin mates en route to New Orleans to help make miniature effigies.
Handing them out on New Year’s Eve on Bourbon Street, he quickly took cover at the stroke of midnight when the fireworks inside the burning effigies began to explode!
Diablo Huma evaded the massive manhunt by hiding in the darkest corner of the DHL warehouse! A week later, he peered from behind the long-forgotten orange and black crates of Halloween candy, Continue reading
Tropical drinks for everyone!
With the cold weather sweeping across the Northern Hemisphere, I wish that I could fly you to the tropics or somewhere – anywhere other than where you’re cold and miserable and enduring brutally-extreme temperatures. Galleriaredelius’ brilliant mind of a jewelry maker commented on yesterday’s post: “As for the music, how about this new interpretation of Fly me to the moon, by Anna Ternheim”
I wish that I could fly you to the moon, but my budget will not allow that kind of extravagance! I can, however, take you on a cyber-reality magic carpet ride! After all of the hard work and suffering that Barb sacrificed to help paint magic dust into this work of art, it needs a checkout flight at least every six months… and it’s been six months since the last one!
Connections are slow, so there won’t be a Rescue Command Center to coordinate emergency airlift itineraries to any of you who are snowbound and have cabin fever. The Magic Carpet is undergoing preflight tests and will soon be making a round-the-world swoop! Continue reading
Posts from other WordPress friends have been zero (to my inbox) today. This is a first! I’m wondering if it’s a WP glitch or if many of you are battling winter storms. Watching via internet for stories about the ice and snow reminds me of watching Katrina inch toward the Gulf Coast.
Here on the river, I’ve been working (in short sleeves, cropped pants and barefooted) on a not-so-serious painting. Every so often one should paint just for the joy of painting and have fun!
This could be plate; maybe it’s a painting of an egg?
No… Continue reading
All of us are watchers – of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway – but few are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing. (Peter M. Leschak)
Look over my shoulder and see through my eyes! The flowers in my friends’ Mindo (Ecuador) gardens were the inspiration for this 38 x 54″ painting in progress. Drawing and painting from life forces us to examine what’s in front of us, and we learn to see instead of guessing what we see! Continue reading
“It took me 4 years to paint like Raphael, but a life time to paint like a child.”
Thanks, everyone, for your amazing feedback on the Inti Raymi mask! Although it seemed ‘finished’ to most of you, did any of you guess what those very-important final details might be? Continue reading
“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw? I’m sure it would go a lot better.” The man replies emphatically: “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw. I’m too busy sawing!” — Stephen Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Hi from Mindo, Ecuador, where I am property sitting while my friends are preparing to move their pets from the USA to their new home at latitude zero! Although the current painting lacks one more day of extreme focus, I am taking a timeout from art to sharpen the saw!
Several factors have held me to a schedule of very-long painting hours; the painting will travel to a new home in another country – hopefully in time for Christmas! There is also a very delicate factor of losing the spontaneity in the painting; if one’s focus veers elsewhere, it’s very difficult to resume with the original freshness. The painting – and the psyche of the artist – suffers!
“As you can see, I am immersing myself in color—I’ve held back from that until now; and I don’t regret it.” (Vincent van Gogh)
December often crams our lives with tasks and obligations that prevent us from taking a timeout for ourselves. We dart and dash from home to work to social gatherings and events, and we return home to unfinished tasks. Which balls do we drop while juggling too many, and what triggers us to throw on brakes and claim a timeout for ourselves?
Although my life is fairly uncomplicated, the past few weeks have kept me rolling with little time for art. Even though hurried, I am always calmed and grounded even if I only have ten minutes to apply a bit more color to a painting before dashing out the door. I am instantly focused and grateful that I have found an outlet that grounds me in hurried times. Continue reading
Thanks to all of you who have commented and given support over the past few months while I’ve been offline more than online. You’ve endured way too many slices of (my) silence, although I think/hope that I’ve read and appreciated most of the comments. (When in town, I load the pages during lunch at a restaurant with wifi, and I enjoy reading the comments offline at night!)
Several people asked about the paint used on the t-shirt; have you ever soiled your jeans when rolling latex (water-based) house paint on a wall? The paint rarely washes out of clothing – years later those drips and dribbles still hang tight – so why not use that same type of paint for decorative projects? Continue reading
“Talent is like a water table under the earth. You tap into it with your effort and it comes through you, from the bottom of the earth.” (Natalie Goldberg)
After drawing the butterfly design (see previous post) with a black permanent marker, Silvana pondered the colors for her sister’s birthday surprise. With a thick paper between the front and back of the shirt, she slowly applied the acrylics.
Watch over my shoulder and enjoy the magic!
We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather around us, that they may see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer perhaps even a fiercer life because of our quiet. (William Butler Yeats)
Instead of babbling about art tonight, I’d like for everyone to gather ’round and absorb a bit of the serenity that often floats through the I Can Do This sessions. Peer over our shoulders and experience the essence of calm! Continue reading
This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Focus; “…For this challenge, get out there and take a picture demonstrating the concept of focus.”
Each week I photograph the progress on the compass design (painted on concrete floor) from several vantage points, so with pleasure I present the almost-finished design from many-different angles.
Because this is a floor, I keep asking myself, “Lisa! Are those little bitty details really important?” Continue reading
Mystery demons cursed the HP mini laptop today when I awakened it after a ten-day holiday from work. It repeated almost any key or prompt with machine-gun staccato rhythm. Keyboard shortcuts (R to rotate or H to flip) made an image flip round and round and round and round! If I typed a word, it inserted an endless row of lettttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttters until i hit enough keys to confuse and stop it!
I ran CCleaner, Malwarebytes, Stinger, restarted, rolled back, removed battery, ran in safe mode — nothing helped! Does anyone have suggestions?!
I will be meeting a new tour group later today and will be away from home until Sunday. Most likely the little Burrito laptop will be of little use while I’m traveling. (Or maybe it just wanted to get out of the barn and take a road trip!) See you tonight by chance or else when I return home on Sunday night!
Have a great weekend!
Z & Burrito!
“I don’t want technology to take me so far that I don’t have to use my brain anymore. It’s like GPS taking over and losing your internal compass. It’s always got to be tactile, still organic.”
Years ago I worked in a design studio for a company that produced custom carpets for hotels, movie theaters, casinos and private businesses. Every so often we received an order for a hand-made rug, and the pattern had to be drawn on a huge canvas that was stretched to correct proportions in the warehouse. To my amusement, most of the younger designers were graphic art whizzes, but their drawing skills were horrid! I quickly became the hand-made rug specialist, and I would leave a note on my desk, “Gone to the briar patch! – ‘Brer Rabbit.’
How I loved the challenge of using my math and drawing skills to transfer a complicated design onto a giant canvas, then color code the areas to be filled in by another person!
I still enjoy using my internal compass to draw a complicated design on a forlorn concrete floor and watching the room slowly transform! These photos illustrate one of several projects that tested my drawing skills this week. Continue reading
The Daily Prompt states: Photographers, artists, poets: show us ORDERLY.
Would anyone care to guess what this (above) will be? It’s painted on the next section of the bodega floor and will help with navigational skills for the magic carpet!
Have a great weekend everyone! I’m heading out for a walk on the farm!
Traveling one hour down the coastal road to Canoa Ecuador, I met my friends John and Mary who had traveled about the same distance from the other direction. John and Mary and I were celebrating their anniversary as well as birthdays. We had planned to squeeze in a few drawing sessions, but they weren’t expecting a painting session!
Following up on last night’s post, I am pleased to present this photo update! Continue reading
Last year’s It Started With One Lightpole opened with a story about my friend Luchy Cevallos Sabando. The post was one of the most popular for the entire year.
Multi-talented Luchy tapped into his creative genius and opened a cybercafe with emphasis on cafe and not cyber! He wondered what he could do to attract more business, and before our afternoon painting session was finished, people were slowing down and taking note!
Luchy’s artistic touches throughout his Palo Santo Cafe and his nearby hostal leave little room for improvement! Several times I volunteered to help with a new project, but there was no obvious space for custom art.
Last week while visiting Luchy’s Palo Santo, I reminded him that I’d love to help with a new project. He pondered for a few minutes, then showed me an area in the VIP room that might make a fun backdrop for group photos. We did a bit of brainstorming, then started on Wednesday and finished on Saturday! Continue reading
“Good drawing forms the ‘bones’ on which a strong painting hangs.” (Chris Bingle)
Jama Ecuador – Last week I sketched this cow skull then did a test to see how it would look with zebra stripes. What do you think? Would it make a fun painting, or should I consider this an exercise and move on to another subject – like bright colorful coffee cherries?
Today I spent time at Palo Santo Cybercafe, which is more cafe than an internet service. Opening around 7:30 most evenings, Palo Santo has a brisk business and an easy vibe.
Luchy and I had discussed doing a joint painting project in his “VIP” room, and today we began that task.
Luchy’s drawing and painting skills are excellent, so I was amused that he chose to watch instead of paint! He wanted a backdrop for photo moments, and since the word “Jama” means “iguana,” he visualized a large iguana draped across a limb a little higher than shoulder level. We discussed several ideas, and then he watched as I mixed paints and began to ‘draw’ with the paint.
“Aren’t you going to use a pencil first?” he asked cautiously.
“No,” I smiled, “it’s not necessary… there’s no need for pencil…” Continue reading
Sarah Dettman’s friends and family helped with this Sunflower painting to help brighten a community laundry room. It’s my pleasure to present it to all of you out there in WordPress world! Continue reading
“The aspect of Nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, and hands folded. The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.” (Emerson)
Today’s Timeout for Art addresses nature, and my artist’s statement from a show in the year 2000 stated, “I am at my best when alone with nature.” Continue reading
The trip to the Amazon has been postponed, so today finds me taking a two-day time out in Mindo Ecuador. This morning I visited the Butterfly Garden, located three kilometers from town. What a delightful childlike immersion in nature I spent while trying to capture the elusive blue morpho with my camera! Continue reading
This week brought many creative challenges while I spent time with my friend Sarah Dettman and her family. From the hummingbird and butterfly murals, to the sunflower painting for their laundry room, my paint brushes have had a workout!
Yesterday while Sarah was speaking to a WorldTeach group, I sneaked back to the courtyard and left a smile for her to find later! She and her husband walked right past it several times before Eloy spotted it! Continue reading
Quito, Ecuador – Every equinox and solstice remind me to stop and ponder where I am on the planet, where I am in my life’s journey, and to consider how all of us play our roles on this beautiful planet in this beautiful solar system. Someone mentioned this past week that the sun is straight overhead (at the equator) during the summer solstice. I didn’t challenge their statement, but made a note to mark the sun’s position at high noon. Not being at home, this was much easier to record than the end-of-day images!
While critiquing the sunflower painting, I noted the strong mid-morning light and shadow when a surprise visitor ambled into the scene! After a fun photo session, I focused on painting!
A sense of high noon awakened me from my painting trance, and I hurriedly checked the computer to see the time: 11:59! Continue reading
Quito, Ecuador – While the northern hemisphere approaches the longest day of the year, and the southern approaches the shortest, the sun consistently peers over the horizon around 6 in the morning and sets around 6 in the evening on the equator. I often try to squeeze a bit more from each day, as the above photo illustrates!
Before I resumed painting this morning, Continue reading