An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest!

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“All artists are a little bit crazy!”   “Artists are different.”

Over the years, I’ve chuckled when someone looked at  my whimsical works and noted the difference in our personalities.

Yes, artists are programmed differently, and most of us rejoice that every waking moment is a gift!  Whether soaking in a sun-drenched street scene or admiring an alignment of  overhead pelicans or noting subtle color differences in a landscape, an artist’s eyes never rest!

When living in Costa Rica, I lived immersed in nature and marveled at the beauty that surrounded me.  I was also intrigued that most of the handmade products I bought were made in Ecuador.  Hammocks, pottery, linens, masks – Ecuador, Ecuador, Ecuador.   From my first exploratory visit,  Ecuador stole my heart!  I divided my time between Ecuador and Central America and eventually weaned full time to Ecuador.  There have been good times, and there have been bad –  Destructive tides, the evolution of ‘Casa Loca,’ Dengue and Chikungunya epidemics, light-pole painting competitions, impromptu painting sessions, visits to the oldest hacienda in the country, a wedding on the equator, shrimp harvests, floor-painting memories.   The April 16/2016 7.8 earthquake upturned the coastal area, and with a heavy heart I watched the ‘Casa Loca’ chapter come to an end.

Most of my posts feature light-hearted stories, though at times I poke and prod at much-more serious topics.  Deforestation and continued abuse of our planet’s natural resources remind me to speak up for those who have no voice.  Our planet is sick, and we are the ‘predator’ responsible; it’s time for all of us to remember that the other species deserve the right to thrive in their natural ecosystems.

This site will give you a glimpse into the life of the zeebra.  Hopefully you’ll emerge with a lighter heart!

Thanks for stopping by!  Z

* (Click the sidebar  at the top left to receive updates in your inbox, or scroll to the bottom of this page.)

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An Appreciation for Nature

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“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
― Jane Goodall

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Male Variable Seedeater

“Nature doesn’t need people – people need nature; nature would survive the extinction of the human being and go on just fine, but human culture, human beings, cannot survive without nature.”  Harrison Ford

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‘Seeds! Yum, yum!” – Female Variable Seedeater

“Hundreds of species are facing extinction due to human impacts on the environment.” – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Poza Honda Ecuador

“Yum Yum!

“If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us.” –David Suzuki

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2018 – Variable Seedeaters

“Humans regard animals as worthy of protection only when they are on the verge of extinction.” – Paul Craig Roberts

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“This seedeater is a common to abundant bird in lowlands and foothills up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) altitude in semi-open areas such as forest edges, roadsides, low scrub and gardens. It also flocks with other species of seedeaters in pasture, weedy fields and other grassland…This species feeds mainly on grass seeds but also takes other seeds, berries and some insects.”  Wilkipedia

Poza Honda Ecuador – Last year while participating in the bird census for Global Big Day, friends and I noted the strong aroma of 2,4-D pesticide that had recently been sprayed on the pasture by the road.  The aroma lingered for months, and sensitive broad-leaved plants continued to die or curl for several more months.  The young balsa trees showed lingering effects half a year later.

I’m not sure when I noted the Variable Seedeaters’ absence, but their numbers declined rapidly – and have been almost absent until recently.   It’s been sobering to note the perfect seed heads on the pasture grasses, and to listen for the birds’ sweet songs but find there were none.

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Yay! A March 2019 sighting of a Grassquit!

I rationalized: “Perhaps they are nesting.  Perhaps they went elsewhere for seeds.  Or they are molting.”

Month after month, I rarely spotted a seedeater or grassquit.

The cutting of trees, bamboo, the fire that morphed into a larger one – surely all played into the disappearance of those precious little birds.    I wondered if the hotter climate pushed them to cooler areas.  We’ve not had as many cool days/nights as the year before.

I began actively searching for the missing birds, but no. They remained MIA.  Month after month after month I hoped for their return; I was thrilled to spot one or two.

Sometimes it takes a while to notice what’s absent from the normal scene.  Another species was often missing: the Ecuadorian Ground Doves. (featured below and in the header image.) Continue reading

April 16 Memories

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Manabi Ecuador –   Four days ago while working on photos, I switched from images to a blank Word document and typed, “10:45 PM EARTHQUAKE APRIL 12,” then resumed work on the photos.

For the next ten or so minutes, my eyes were perusing images while my survival instincts were tuned to the surroundings in case a second quake followed the first.

Some of those who experienced Ecuador’s 7.8 earthquake (3 years ago near the epicenter) said there was a mild ‘bump’  seven or so minutes earlier.

“Was that an earthquake?” they wondered.

The second one, they said,  arrived like a bucking bull coming out of the chute.

When I recall those days that followed, one of my most-comforting memories was the email from Helene, a friend in France.

Angels Watching Over Us – Ecuador Earthquake

Today her country is adjusting to its own heart-wrenching loss via the  Notre Dame Cathedral fire.

We often forget that we’re all part of the fabric of this planet.  Disasters can dissolve language barriers and invisible walls of separation.   Compassion for our fellow man links us at a soul level,  an attitude that overlooks our differences and focuses on our concerns for each other.

 

 

Latitude Living Weekly

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Ecuador – Arriving each Sunday morning as the sun announces a new day in Ecuador, Latitude Living Weekly awaits discovery in the morning email queue.

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Sunrise after the rain – Poza Honda Ecuador 2018

With short blurbs and images from articles and posts (about Ecuador) from around the world, Latitude Living gives an easy week-at-a glance summary that ranges from serious politics and business topics to weather notifications to blogs about life in Ecuador. I don’t know how Sara does it, but I am grateful!

This week’s summary features an abundance of stories about the arts in Ecuador, with many events in Cuenca. I am wistful to meet all of these artists in person.

It’s been my good fortune to have a little time out of the bosque, and I’ve enjoyed having internet at the hostal.  Now Cinderella’s Cyber Carriage reverts back to two cans and a string Pumpkin Communications. For some reason, the internet doesn’t work well on the latter!  After publishing three posts in almost the same number of days, I’ll wean back to random smoke signals.

This week’s April 07, 2019 edition of Latitude Living Weekly is HERE  .   (Thanks, Sara, for your tireless work!)

(Moon-set Header image: Rio Jama/Dawn)

 

 

ARDIS 2019 – Week of Design for Crafts

ARDIS at the CIDAP / Cuenca Ecuador
CIDAP –  (Centro Interamericano de Artesanias y Arte)
Feria de Comercio/ Craft Fair
12-14 – April 2019
10:00 20:00 in the Gardens of CIDAP
Hermano Miguel 3 – 23 y Paseo Tres de Noviembre
Cuenca – phone: 072840919

Cuenca Ecuador –  Many times I learn about events when the newspapers showcase the highlights – and the event is already over.  This conference, with participants from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Cuba and Ecuador,  opens on Monday, April 08 (2019) and offers much more than the ordinary ‘Crafts’ fair!   Mindo’s Diego Patino will speak about sustainable carpentry at 9:45 on Wednesday.

The schedule of events for April 08 – 10 (and location) can be found HERE: Conferencia 08 – 10 Abril/entrada gratuita.

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Mindo Carpentry prepares for Cuenca ARDIS event

With profound respect for our forests,  the Patiño family salvages driftwood from rivers, find beauty in old tree roots and discarded limbs.  They create beautiful bowls, cutting boards – even earrings from the smallest items that many people might toss in the trash.

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Diego, who is also the president of the Nature Guides of Mindo, graciously allowed me access to their workshop as they prepared the final items for the show.

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The best treat, however, was seeing finished pieces displayed in their showroom!

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If you plan to be in the Cuenca area, I hope you can attend the conference and-or the fair and say “Hi” to my Mindo friends!

For more information: Ardis/CIDAP

If you’re in Mindo, drop by their showroom!

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The Patiño-family’s website: Mindo Carpentry telephone: 0981534809

 

With hit-and-miss internet, all mistakes are mine.  Lisa

Timeout for Art – “Believe in Yourself”

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“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.” Nikos Kazantzakis

Every so often Life presents tiny-yet-humbling gifts as if orchestrated strictly for my benefit. Sometimes it’s a mystical interaction with a bird – like when the pelican swam across the river, walked up the boulders where I was sitting – and gaped at me from about a meter away. Then it returned to the rio, swam back to the other side and joined its companions. Did they dare that pelican to interact with the human who fought to save their habitat?

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A very long time ago in Louisiana, while making a farm-road detour around a fierce thunderstorm, I approached a rainbow not far from the malevolent clouds.  The left side of the rainbow grew closer and closer and almost touched the car.  Navigating an ‘S- curve’ very slowly, I noted that the rainbow came through the driver’s window – I was dumbfounded and full of bliss – driving slowly, trying to comprehend this rainbow in my lap while approaching another curve. As I turned slowly to the right, the other side of the rainbow came through the passenger window!  There I was with the left side of the rainbow in the driver’s window, and the right side streaming through the passenger side!

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A very-subtle rainbow last month at Poza Honda Ecuador

Trying to comprehend this unexpected gift, I exclaimed to the rainbow, to the entire universe, “Thank you thank you thank you” and pondered that no one would ever believe me if I shared what happened! I still marvel and wonder about the science that allowed that ‘just-for-me gift.’  When I emerged from the curve to the straight road, the rainbow stayed behind. Next was the intense rain – and ten or so minutes later, I was home.  The magic was gone, but never forgotten.

Other gifts are not so dramatic, but they leave behind an imprint of gratitude. My neighbor Melissa, with her natural aptitude for drawing and painting, showed me some of her latest work. It speaks for itself – and for her: Continue reading

The Lovely Masked Water-Tyrant

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Masked Water-Tyrant – Fluvicola nengeta

“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could. ” John James Audubon

Poza Honda Ecuador – These highly-active and perpetually-happy Masked Water-Tyrants served as good-will ambassadors in every location I’ve lived in Ecuador.  Attired year ’round in crisp white and black/brown, they chirp, chatter, dance and build nests – always near the water.   At Casa Loca along Rio Jama, they foraged along the mud flats at low tide;  in Mindo they nested in locations just above the water, and now at Poza Honda they thrive in an ever-changing playground of water hyacinths.

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While I worked on the Common Tody Flycatcher study, the Water-Tyrants tolerated my presence;  ignoring the artist, they frolicked and provided ample poses for my growing collection of photos.      Painting these birds would be challenging yet rewarding.

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Masked Water Tyrants – Watercolor in progress by Lisa Brunetti

Working at night from reference photos, I also worked during the day by the water’s edge.    The bi-polar moods of the weather often sent me scampering up the hill to protect the painting!

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Just as I began the watercolor wash, the skies began to baptize the painting!

Within a week, water levels leaped to maximum levels, which brought those handsome birds (and the invasive water hyacinths) closer and closer to the human’s turf.  They provided a grand assortment of poses – as if to benefit no one except the human that studied them!  Continue reading

Water Runs Downhill

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March 08, 2019 – Currents of strong water over the Poza Honda dam. The water reached the 108 mark yesterday.

Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador —   With a meter of water over the dam, four inches of rainfall sent Poza Honda’s waters rising another meter.  Not only did Wednesday night’s rainfall send floodwaters downstream, it also sent another mass of water hyacinths downriver as well.

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Several landslides blocked the road on the  far side of the dam, but that was a very minor annoyance compared to what the folks downriver are experiencing.

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In front of Melissa’s House

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Big landslides, no – trees and bamboo down, yes!

If this weather pattern continues, and the flooding makes international news, remember that the little neighborhood where I live is fine.

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I’ll be off line until Tuesday, weather permitting!

Have a good weekend!

Trust vs Self Doubt

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Smooth-billed Ani in Calabash Tree – Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador

“… If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you – and make allowance for their doubting too…” from the poem If by Rudyard Kipling (for the complete poem go HERE)

Self doubt can sabotage one’s concentration. How well I remember standing at the free-throw line and hoping that I would not miss the final shot for a Jr.-high basketball game.  Aware of my teammates, of the coach, of offensive/defensive choices if the ball missed the basket, of the next team waiting for the buzzer and warm ups; I also considered the home-town fans and strangers in the packed gym. Would my team win, would we lose, or would we go into overtime? The possibilities provided many distractions for an inexperienced young-teen! * That moment taught me an important life lesson: block out the conflicting variables and focus on the goal.

The same self doubt inflicts the creative process. When I painted the watercolor study of Smooth-billed Anis, I used an ultra-smooth Bristol Board which is very unforgiving. Once applied, the dark pigments required for the Anis could not be lifted without staining(ruining?) the paper.

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Smooth-billed Anis – Watercolor in progress (Black and white image)

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” Elbert Hubbard

Quite social and affectionate with each other, Anis stay in family clusters. Sometimes while foraging they are scattered but remain in sight of one another; they also huddle – and even cuddle – during periods of rest.  The Smooth-billed and the Groove-billed Anis prepared a little slide show introduction:

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Painting just one bird would not illustrate the true behavior of the flock.

The painting advanced one bird at a time, and with each bird – self doubt peered over my shoulder and whispered, “Are you sure you want to add another bird? What if you make a mistake? The painting might be ruined.”

Continue reading

…Toss in an Earthquake…

“And now there’s another reason to ask, “Are you ok?” I just read about the 7.5 earthquake this morning. It does look as though effects in your region were light, and I’ve not seen any reports of damage or injuries. It did cross my mind to wonder how a stronger or closer earthquake would affect your reservoir. I’ve seen those videos of swimming pools in earthquakes — quite interesting.”(Comment from  multi-talented Linda in Texas – The Task at Hand)

 

Thanks to all of you for your comments, your critiques on the recent art, and for your concerns about yesterday’s earthquakes.  Yes, the first one gave us a strong dawn wake-up shake, and my house shook for over a minute.  The second quake hit four minutes later, and the third one waited 20 minutes as if to ask, “Are you awake yet?”

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(Poza Honda dam/reservoir – Manabi Province – Ecuador) Water hyacinths soar over the dam – Feb 21, 2019

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Poza Honda dam/reservoir – February 22, 2019

 

Ah, Lisa, your intuition is working overtime again, amiga! There was more reason than you imagined for people to ask after your welfare. Hopefully you are still OK, and I now see that you are pretty far from the earthquakes’ epicenters. “ (from another multi-talented blogger friend Lynn – Blue Brightly)

Would you like to join the ‘water watchers’ to see the water going over the dam?!! Continue reading

“Lisa, Are You OK?”

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Neotropic Cormorants /Poza Honda/Ecuador

“The friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.” ~Elbert Hubbard, The Notebook, 1927

Our friend Hugh Curtler wrote this week about Friendship, a post worth pondering.  Reading off line, I wrote a reply to send when on line (now) but circumstances  dictate responding via a just-received example of friendship.

In my unhurried off-line reply, I mentioned one dear friend who emails about twice a month.  She always asks, “Lisa, How are you?  How’s your back?   Do you need anything?   Are you OK?”

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Dady inspecting the Squirrel Cuckoo watercolor at Museo Portoviejo

This past Tuesday I dropped a music CD at her house after visiting the nearby Portoviejo Museo.  Stocked with ‘survival’ groceries in case the heavy rains provoked more mud slides, I needed to get home before dark.

At sunset I photographed the reservoir, which lacked about a sneeze worth’s of water to send the excess over the spillway.

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That night and last night we received more heavy rains.     The waters now reach the high-water level, and the surplus is surely generating enough electricity to illuminate the planet!

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Water hyacinths cascade over the spillway, and chocolate-colored water marks the beginning of Rio Portoviejo.  After taking photos, I drove to Ayacucho to make progress on neglected cyber tasks.

Waiting in the inbox was an email from my friend Dady.  The subject read “Lisa Are You OK?”

“Hmmm,” I thought, “she must know more about something than I!” Continue reading

Thank You!

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A soaked Whooping Motmot!

A queue of amazing comments patiently awaited my return to cyberspace. Thank you, everyone, for the time it took to leave such heart-touching feedback to the not-so-traditional post. Some of your comments brought tears to my eyes, and I am touched by your kind hearts and your concerns.

Rains continue, and in one 24-hour period last week, heavy rains filled the just-emptied rain gauge. I hoped to catch up today via internet, but another session of heavy rains hit after I reached town! Without time to give each comment a worthy reply,  may this post serve as a token voucher until the next time I’m online.

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(I did not leave soon enough – the rain got me!) The water level is much higher now!

I’ve been drawing and painting a lot, and it will be fun to share images of the waterfalls that can be seen from the house – on the far side of the reservoir! The rains continue to chase me from lakeside perches – and up the hill I dash w/camera in hand/drawing supplies under my arm!

 

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Ah!  Dry feathers – much better!

See you later in the week, weather permitting!

 

Put a Woman in Charge

“Common sense insists that we are awake and not dreaming. But the problem is HOW do we know this? … Carroll later wrestled with the problem in his book Sylvie and Bruno, in which the narrator shuttles back and forth mysteriously between dream and real worlds: ‘So either I have been dreaming about Sylvie,” he says to himself in the novel, ” and this is not reality. Or else I’ve really been with Sylvie, and this is a dream! Is life a dream, I wonder?’ “ Hugh Curtler  ‘Are We Dreaming?‘ March 2017

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Between Rivas and Limon Nicaragua

An early-December dream entangled itself in my waking hours – and lingered for over a month. The dream sifted through my wakefulness, and I wondered if trouble was brewing for Central America.

I had been dreaming of Nicaragua. Of living in a cozy attic apartment not far from the Costa Rica border, yet in a wild and rural area.  In the dream I was interacting with friends that I do not know in this present life.  Returning home just before the last of the natural light merged with the night,  I spotted a military helicopter sinking low in the distance – as if about to land.

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(Helicopter photo taken near Jama Ecuador)

‘Oh no,’ I thought (in my dream) ‘I’m not sure what is happening, but it’s not good.’

Almost immediately the local airport was barricaded – no planes could land or depart. I instinctively knew that I should leave immediately. I knew that all borders would be closed, and that my passport would be worthless – and perhaps even a liability.

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Nicaragua Border

In the dream, someone had just paid me for a painting in a strange type of currency.  Under the cloak of darkness and with money in my pocket, I headed for the mangroves, a place worthy of hiding until I formed a plan for sneaking to safety in Costa Rica.  (Growing up along the Mississippi River gave me great survival skills!)

…….

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I often visited that area of Nicaragua when I lived in Costa Rica.  The people were friendly, and I never felt in danger or threatened.  I could throw on brakes and rest for a week, and the cost was extremely low for food and lodging.  Why – after an absence of nine years – was I dreaming of Nicaragua?

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View of Isla Ometepe Nicaragua

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San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

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Between Rivas and the Costa Rica border

I’ve followed the news/stories of the crisis which started last year, and have heard first-hand reports from friends and new contacts.  People fear sharing many of the stories, which might place their lives in danger.   I wondered if I should take my dream seriously.  Was even-greater trouble brewing in Nicaragua?

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Waiting for the ferry to Isla Ometepe

In late December, my Ecuadorian neighbor asked, “Do you remember that dream you told me about?” Continue reading

The Personification of Trees

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Surely a great-great grandfather tree! Yachana/Rio Napo/Ecuador

..Inspired by the words of Ram Daas:

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees.

And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever.

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Guava tree

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Diversity; how many species?

And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is.
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You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

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The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are. ” – Ram Dass, On Self-Judgment

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Solstice Festival – Cayambe Ecuador – “Touch the Sky”

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See you a bit later this week!

Until then, Lisa

Chocolate and Manabi and Jama and Saving Precious Remnants of Bosque — AND— National Geographic!

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Near Jama – How many species lost their homes when this area was scalped?

Manabi Province/Ecuador  — Parked in Ayacucho with a load of plastic-wrapped paintings from the Museo, I am passing along great news about the Third Millennium Alliance.  (“Who?” – you might ask?!) I intended to write a few stories about this group in the future, but an email sent from the Alliance today prompted me to write AHORA/NOW!

Why so sudden; why NOW?  ( I am writing from the park, half an hour from home.)

If you have an interest in chocolate and its origins, and if you enjoy reading/hearing about people doing good things and making things happen – especially in Manabi Province, and if you respect anything that National Geographic publishes, then you’ll appreciate this hurried notification!

Tomorrow, January 28th,2019 – National Geographic TV will place the spotlight on this just-south of the equator group.   They wrote, “National Geographic sent a team down to Ecuador to shoot an episode of their “Explorer” series. The story is supposed to be about our efforts to save Ancient Nacional cacao from extinction—a project we’re doing in partnership with To’ak Chocolate, which was co-founded by one of our co-founders.”

For the rest of that story, it’s easier for you to visit  the To’ak Chocolate Website – HERE… .

…..

And the National Geographic Explorer TV site HERE...

…..

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Golden Olive Woodpecker, Cassia Trees near my home in the The ‘Not-so-Protected’ Protected Forest of Poza Honda

As for the Third Millenium Alliance, I remain baffled at how I could have been living so near this area and never crossed paths with anyone from this group! You all know my concerns about the rapidly-vanishing landscape, and I am so relieved to know that this amazing group of people are saving precious remnants of my beloved Manabi Province.

They express my same concerns via this very-short introduction video from 2017:

 

and their New Year’s 2019 video gives a great update with startling statistics and will hopefully attract new supporters for the Alliance:…

Please pass this to anyone who might be interested in helping save what’s left – before it’s sold to others who will most-likely destroy it.  The Third Millennium Alliance website is HERE:  Third Millennium Alliance

Thanks in advance for giving them your support, and if possible, enjoy the National Geographic story!

Now I will dash home and hopefully unload the truck before it’s too dark to see!  The skies have been kind this afternoon!

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“The Muir Tree” with John Muir’s quote in English and Spanish . (Thank you again Steve Swartzman for the translation!)  (“Any fool can destroy trees.. they cannot run away… and if they could…”_

 

One Bird at a Time

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April 10, 1824. I was introduced to the son of Lucien Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon, a great ornithologist, I was told. He remained two hours, went out, and returned with two Italian gentlemen, and their comments made me very contented.” That evening he was taken to the Philosophical Academy[32] where the drawings were greatly admired…” –  (from AUDUBON AND HIS JOURNALS – 1897)

Ecuador – The Museo Portoviejo exposition nears the end and presents a new challenge; what will I do with all of these children?!!!!

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For a last-minute tour, here’s a slideshow:

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Alas, nature beckons and prompts me to continue, so I observe – and I paint!  Unlike Audubon, I have an advantage of a camera – but with most every study I wish to have a live (or preserved) bird for more-precise reference material.

July 19th (1824) – Young Harris, God bless him, looked at the drawings I had for sale, and said he would take them all, at my prices. I would have kissed him, but that it is not the custom in this icy city.” (Audubon and His Journals)

Continue reading

The Gift of Sight

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“After I’d drawn the grasses, I started seeing them. Whereas if you’d just photographed them, you wouldn’t be looking as intently as you do when you are drawing, so it wouldn’t affect you that much.” ― Martin Gayford, A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney

Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador — Lluvia! Rain!   The statement, You’d better watch what you wish for, comes to mind when I share that almost daily – or nightly – the rains continue to fall!  Yesterday the nearby stream built enough confidence to roar – a comforting sound to one who lives slightly uphill from it!     A between-rains inspection revealed several fast-growing trees that had sloughed downhill, and a small part of the gravel road showed new erosion.  My camera chip and computer are not on speaking terms, so your imagination is required for the above scene! (Could the most-recent update have caused this new conflict?)

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Birds are happy, trees and flowers are happy – and the aroma of the orange blossoms reminded me of a springtime aroma from Mississippi.  What – could – that- be? I wondered, and then grinned.  “Mock Orange.”   Of course that’s why it has that name!

p2400069 orange blossoms

Between rains, I usually take my art bag and spend time near the Common Tody Flycatchers’ nest.  Let’s go down to the water and see what’s happening!

 

z p2410084 timeout for art y nature common tody flycatchers

Shhhh – artista at work!

Continue reading

Timeout for Nature – and for Art!

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P2390267 timeout for drawing

“Relatively few people know why an artist acts in this way or that . . . . A peasant who sees me draw an old tree-trunk, and sees me sitting there for an hour, thinks that I have gone made, and of course laughs at me.” (Van Gogh letter to brother Theo)

The Ospreys were calling! How could I ignore their distinct aerial cries? A decision awaited – continue dicing the onion or dash to the window? Trading knife for camera, I dashed to the window! Continue reading

Feliz Navidad

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Whooping Motmot y festive holiday colors!

At the midnight hour on December 24th, many people in Ecuador pause during their late-night meal and raise a toast to Baby Jesus,  then they exchange greetings with everyone in the room.  Then they return to their seats and resume their meal!

The rains continue, and for that we are grateful here on the western side of Ecuador.  For holiday cuisine, the Ecuadorian Trogons and Whooping Motmots might dine on festive red tomatoes.  They’re quite thoughtful neighbors, as they leave plenty for the resident artist!

P2330446 ECUADORIAN TROGON Y TOMATOES

Ecuadorian Trogon snitching tomatoes!

What’s on  your holiday menu?

P2330508 dec 12 ECUADORIAN TROGON

Happy Holidays, and be careful if you’re traveling!

 

Shouting Against the Wind?

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Well-appreciated gifts! Hugh’s book and an article about Pluto Mississippi!

“I still think I prefer books to the internet – something more substantial about holding a book in one’s hands!” – Hugh Curtler

If one cannot visit with Hugh Curtler in person, then reading his most-recent book will transport you to a one-on-one imaginary conversation with him!  Over 400 pages of one or two-page essays, Alone in the Labyrinth shares some of his popular blog posts written between late 2011 and 2018. One can start at the beginning and read for hours – or randomly open the book to any page for an introspective ‘Food for Thought.’

P1310634 CHILDRENS PARADE CAYAMBE NEWSPAPER

Timeout for Reading – Cayambe Ecuador

You might envision yourself sitting in his Philosophy and Humanities classroom or kicked back in a casual coffee-house setting. (He’s retired from teaching but not from mentoring!)  He shares his love of the great writers – and why they are/were great; he addresses his concerns for the devolving spiral of education. At time he makes me laugh, and sometimes I wish I were actually sitting in his classroom so I could interject, “Yes! But—-“ and of course that’s his intention – to make us think or to question.

P1310615 CHILDRENS PARADE CAYAMBE

“Do you think that Professor Curtler will speak today?” (Cayambe Solstice Event)

Divided into six sections, Alone in the Labyrinth presents topics to consider:
Seeking Answers, Education, Law and Freedom, Virtue and Values, Society and Culture, Art and Literature.     The Bibliography provides a queue of inspirational reading material.

P1500758 we can do this gonzalos hija

Remember this precious young friend (Natalia) from 2012? Wonder how she’s doing in today’s challenging world?

Sometimes his message floats across in a straight-forward manner, and other times he pokes and prods us to look inward – or even outward and wipe the glaze from our eyes. Continue reading

Life-giving Rains!

“Worldwide we’ve got destroyed landscapes that was looking after itself until humans got involved. Wonder how we recognize that? Stupid – I mean if it were not preventable then I wouldn’t mind, but it is – completely preventable.” Peter Andrews

Rio Jama/Casa Loca – Once upon a time when mangroves surrounded Casa Loca – 2008

2012 – And then came the excavator and destroyed what thrived….

Casa Loca 2012 – almost-barren yard…

( 2014 or 2015?) Jama Ecuador – I stared at the parched landscape; the lovingly-planted gardens showed acute signs of drought. Little water trickled from the system that delivered water from the town of Jama, about 4 kilometers upriver. I peered at the maturing gardens, which transformed a once-barren lot. Native trees leaped skyward from seeds or roots, and transplants seemed eager to contribute.  In a two-year period, they provided shade, shelter and a perpetual leaf-rich mulch. A complete new assortment of birds in the canopy competed with the shorebirds for my attention.

Royal Poinciana – paired with the Green Kingfisher on the back balcony of Casa Loca. 2013

How long could those trees and flowers live without water? Frugal, I watered only those that suffered the most. With concern and empathy I thought, “Please; we need rain.”

Several hours later, my heart-felt wish was granted!

Rain triggers the Poinciana blossoms…

Scribbled in the dry season of 2014 or 15, the note captured my joy of hearing the barely-audible sound of life-giving sprinkles on Casa Loca’s roof. Slowly the sound increased until it roared in the unique way that a drenching rain sounds on a tin roof. Deafening, it can also be some of the most-beautiful music one can hear during a drought. I reached for a sheet of paper, and hurriedly wrote, “Thank you!” and propped it at eye level on a bookshelf.

‘Thank you thank you thank you!’ I smiled, opening the windows and inhaling that unique aroma when dust transforms to earthy loam. My heart smiled while my soul sent thanks to the universe…… The note stays close at hand as a gentle reminder to stay positive and grateful.

December 2018 – Poza Honda – Another fire

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December 2018
Ten days ago with qualms, I shared my concerns about the drought, the fires, and the altered landscape. Perhaps your collective empathy – my dear and cherished readers – conspired with the universe and helped break this long-term cycle of drought! First came a few drizzles, so light they were barely noticed. The trees noted, however, and surely sighed with relief.

This Ecuadorian Trogon zipped down to snatch a tomato!

For two mornings in a row, the sound of drizzle announced the end of the dry season, and literally overnight, that parched landscape sprang back to life! “YIPPEEE!” Continue reading

A Pencil and a Bit of Encouragement

Watercolor Study

“The first and most important thing an individual can do is to become an individual again, decontrol himself, train himself as to what is going on and win back as much independent ground for himself as possible”
— William S. Burroughs

Artifact from Museo Bahia de Caraquez/Ecuador (This museum is still closed)

Manabi Province/Ecuador –   Every so often a planned event affects me in unexpected ways.   This happened yesterday while giving an art workshop to a group of very-deserving people from the area.  Ranging from 5 or 6 year olds to 40-somethings, some were in small family units, and others were alone.  All I knew was that they were facing some personal challenges,  and an organization sponsors and gives them assistance as they find their way to a better stance in life.  Continue reading

“What’s Happening to My Planet?”

 

P1370557 morning view

Ah, that cloud-forest view but much lower!

Poza Honda/Santa Ana/Portoviejo Ecuador –  A year ago, the pristine early-morning view across Poza Honda equaled the beauty of Mindo’s cloud forest.  “I’m in Manabi Province?” I thought while considering pinching myself to make sure this was not a dream.

The skies tightened their taps months ago, and this year’s dry season has been exceptionally dry.  That dreamlike-view is still stunning, but the trees show signs of acute thirst. The abundance of last-year’s birds is quite low, and many are absent.  The Scrub Blackbirds hog the banana feeders, and it is rare to see any other species drop in for breakfast.   The Brown Wood Rails have been MIA for almost two months!  I worry if I’m witnessing the beginnings of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. 

P2290949 nov 27 2018 view from house

Nov 2018

Barbara has been here for a month, and there have been few days of sunshine;   the visibility was low, and grayness tainted each day as if someone cast a light-dimming net over the skies.  We wondered, “Is this some kind of fog, or is there a volcano spewing ash in the Andes, or is this some foreboding sign of the beginning of the apocalypse?”

P2280333 ATMOSPHERE ACROSS LAKE view from house at lake

All-day Gray

P2280334 atmosphere view across poza honda from house

Between painting and varnishing and framing and delivering paintings to the museum – and then attending openings, we veered off the beaten path on three different occasions for a ‘Timeout from Art.”  In all three directions, the end-of-dry season ‘landscape desecration’ was sobering. Continue reading

A Lovely Gathering of People!

P2270106 inauguration museo

A special thanks to my friend Barbara Seibel, who arrived two weeks ago to finalize a mountain of details for this Journey show!

Museo Portoviejo – Portoviejo/Manabi/Ecuador –

“Amazing!  Awesome!” my friend Barbara stated when asked what she felt now that the exposition has been formally presented to the public!   She could equally have stated, “Exhausted, depleted, over worked,” as we put in long hours, pushed our physical limits and battled insects if we worked past sunset.   Our self-imposed deadlines were pushed back when we could only work in daylight hours!

P2090879 insects

(From August) They are harmless, but flock to any light and find their way inside the house! Best to use candles, and one cannot paint by candlelight! (Or varnish a floor!) (Linda, you surely laughed?)

Alas! The show does go on – and it did – though we worked until half an hour before time for the inauguration and then dashed to the ladies’ bathroom to change into more-proper attire! Continue reading

Lisa Brunetti – A Journey – Opens 7 PM -Nov 15, 2018

Portoviejo/Manabi/Ecuador —- Mfriend Barbara arrived two weeks ago to help prepare for tomorrow night’s inaguration of “Lisa Brunetti – A Journey.”

P2260526 BARB Y CARLOS Y A JOURNEY

Museo Portoviejo’s Carlos Wellington proofs the official invitation while dear Barbara surely ponders, “What was I thinking when I offered to come help?”!!!!!

With the truck loaded with paintings, we stopped to sending this post from a cyber.  The next stop – in 45 minutes – is the Portoviejo Museum.

Here’s a peek of last week’s delivery, when we I looked up and said, “Oh.  No,” – yet I smiled.  We were very tired and a bit ragged!

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Television channel 30/Portoviejo (?) arrived for a behind-the scenes chat!  We had been working for days on the floor, brushed three coats of floor finish on it, then loaded the floor and paintings in the truck…  We were not anticipating a photo session, but were honored to be featured on the local news!!

There are many ‘surprises in the show!  The floor is just one of them!

P2260994 2 munecos painted by barb

Barbara painted two ‘New Year’s Effigies’ which is a story of its own!

Here’s the official invitation:

INVITACION LISA BRUNETI OFICIAL

More soon!

Lisa (y Barb!)

 

 

 

Grounded in Nature

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

Cocoi Heron y Grebe  – Poza Honda

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador    — Using a clothes-drying rack as my ‘supply’ table, I spent several hours outside adding details to two paintings. Many times the support-cast of items take more time to paint than the subject of the painting! With my feet propped against the tree trunk, and the painting taped to a drawing board, I added watercolor details to the orchid leaves.

Session One using material inside the house…

Ahhhhh; Session Two – Working from Life!

Sundays are often ‘family days’ when my neighbors visit loved ones, so the neighborhood was extremely quiet. An eclectic chatter of backyard birds provided a calming soundtrack. A Great Antshrike added its chortling rhythm to the afternoon chorus, which made my soul smile; I was painting that same species!

Male and Female Great Antshrikes

Our dry season has been extremely dry this year, and it followed a not-so-wet rainy season.  The landscape is parched, and even the birds display their distress:

Streaked Flycatcher

Barred Puffbird

P2250123 BARRED PUFFBIRD MOUTH OPEN THIRSTY Small file

Even the squirrels are acting strange – or perhaps they often eat grasses?

The watercolor pigments evaporated almost as fast as I mixed them. Reaching a stopping point, I critiqued details and was about to add another layer of depth (darker) to one area when my own counsel to students spoke softly: “Always stop before you think you are finished.”

Great Antshrike Watercolor

No one (except me!) would note or care if one more layer of blue pushed some of the foliage to the back, which nudged other details forward. I rinsed my brush, mixed a new batch of blue-green and signed the painting. Continue reading

How Could 15,000+ Scientists be Wrong?

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Equinox Shadows

Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador –  I’m still a big baffled, here just south of the equator. The sun was still in the eastern sky at noon on the September Equinox. It reached ‘zenith’ around nine minutes past noon and began tipping into the western skies around 12 past noon.

“Amigos!” I called a few days later, when the sun repeated its high-noon stage fright. “Check your watches and help me understand why the sun is late for our noon date!” Jorge pulled out his fancy phone then gave everyone a mini-equinox lesson!

It’s easy to rationalize and say well, we’re not exactly on the equator or maybe all world clocks are running fast and should be re-calibrated with the sun!  Continue reading

Two-part Post!

Part One: Reception Saturday Sept 29, 2018 – Museo Portoviejo/Manabi/Ecuador – Noon – 4 pm.

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Part Two:

We are often advised to focus on one particular task – to pay complete attention without allowing our minds to wander. When drawing or painting or even when gardening, I easily veer into an intense focus, and the outside world fades away. I am unable to read or write (well) if someone is in the room; it is not my nature to ignore another person in order to focus on my own tasks. I usually close the book or shut down the computer until a later time. Sometimes while reading, I realize that my wandering mind is recalling a conversation or is pondering tasks for the day. Exasperated, I shut down what some people call the monkey mind, and start reading again – from the beginning. (I think that’s called going through life in the ‘right-brain’ mode!) Other times I pay attention to the monkey mind’s voice so that it has my complete attention and hopefully dismiss it for the day!

A well-written novel lassos me with the opening sentence, and I am one-hundred percent attentive to that story until the final sentence. I inhabit that world of fiction and am entertained by the story; I also admire and appreciate the writer’s gift.

An excellent storyteller, Don Ostertag shares true stories from his years at the Guthrie Theater. He has been in silent mode, one that cycles through many writer’s lives, and he explains his 5-month absence through this new post. From the opening sentence to the final one, “THE FALL -Act 1” held my complete attention and reminds us that we only have today.

I am writing this while offline and will publish later. Comments will be off, since it seems unfair to all of you who offer ongoing support – while I remain mostly offline and silent. There’s lots to share, but for now, enjoy Don’s post.

Go here: THE FALL – Act I — Please give him a well-deserved standing ovation! He – and his wife – deserve it!

Green or Red?

Semi-frozen pureed beets, carrots, guayusa-stevia tea and lemon. Garnish is Blue Porterweed, which ‘tastes like mushrooms’ (It really does!)

Red as cranberries, the beets give the above ‘drink’ an eye-popping color.  The carrots add to the sweetness.  But how does it taste?

“It tastes like green things,” my friend Dady said last year when she sampled the beet-carrot-apple-orange drink at Hostal Palo Santo.    Every time I make a similar drink, I recall her words – and everyone’s laughter – as she politely drank the raspberry-colored juice.

The resident squirrel has been nibbling grass this past week.

“It tastes like green things!”

The Blue Porterweed is an edible plant of interest and has promising medicinal properties.  Eat-the-Weeds.com

The Amazalia Hummingbird has few flowers at this time of year, but the Porterweed provides a daily supply!  The flowers also make a lovely garnish!

The past few weeks have been busy, and the next few months will be even busier, but I wanted to share that little chuckle and hope that you in the USA have a nice holiday weekend.

If you make a similar blend, let us know if it tastes like green things!

 

Thank you, Mueso Portoviejo!

Museo Portoviejo – back left in this view (Image taken from Ceibo Dorado Restaurant)

Museo Portoviejo y Archivo Historico – Manabi Province – Ecuador
“Exposicion Artistica – Nomadas”

Alfonso Endaram – Ecuador
Lisa Brunetti – USA
Sigrid Tidmore – USA
Crystal Hayes – Canada
Yuliana Shevchuk – Russia
Abigail Herrera – Venezuela

Thank you, Mueso Portoviejo!

 Hildale de Ávila (left) and Alexandra Cevallos Castro (right)

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” – William Butler Yeats

A big ‘Thank you” goes to Museo Portoviejo and its director Jacqueline Álvarez for the Nomadas show that opened last week.  An extra-special “Thank you” goes to Alexandra Cevallos and Hildale de Ávila,  who lassoed these nomads (scattered through the province of Manabi) and showcased their works in this exposition! This is the first show EVER (for me) when all details were tended by others, and all I had to do was show up in time for the opening!

The museum provided lodging at nearby Ceibo Dorado Hotel and also honored the artists with a pre-opening dinner at the hotel’s top-floor restaurant.

Sunset view from the hotel restaurant.

View of the cathedral from the elevator!  (leaving the restaurant and heading to the musuem….)

The show was well received, and the Facebook crowd seemed delighted for photo ops with the artists! The arrangement of the paintings flowed well, with each artist’s work prominently displayed. It would be impossible for me to select a favorite painting – or even a favorite artist! The slideshow provides a sneak peek:

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Some of us were able to visit at breakfast the next morning; we discussed challenges as well as the benefits of creating art in Manabi.   We also hope to have a weekend aternoon ‘reception’ at the museum – so out-of-town friends can visit, meet the artists, view the show.   We learned a lot from each other, but also discovered that we need more ‘reunions’ to swap stories!  Hopefully we’ll get that chance later in September!

We arrived as strangers, but we parted as friends!

Timeout for Art – About that Feather…

Hola All!
The opening reception for Nomadas en Manabi went well. Thank you for your lovely support!  I am writing from the hotel and will be returning to the museum to admire each painting in the exhibit. (All photos from last night are still in the camera!)   The Museum gets high marks for this show and deserves a post of its own.  Meeting and interacting with the other artists was a lovely fringe benefit, and we depart as kindred spirits.

In the last post, the image of the feather was labeled as acrylic; it was painted with watercolor… Blame the editor of the post (me) for that ‘typo’ mistake!

While ‘the feather’ is still fresh in your collective memories, here’s a step-by-step watercolor slide show.
Continue reading

Nomadas en Manabi – Opens Tonight at Museo Portoviejo!

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P2110231 MUSEO PORTOVIEJO AUGUST 2018Portoviejo/Manabi Province/Ecuador – Thanks to the magic of scheduling a post to be published at a specified date and time, this should reach you when the inauguration  of Nomadas en Ecuador begins.    What follows is my ‘Artist’s Statement’ written specifically for this event.  Enjoy! Continue reading

Orchestrated Timelines?

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Museo Portoviejo sponsors and encourages the arts. (Image from 2012)

El Ministerio de Cultura y Patrimonio
a traves del Museo Portoviejo y Archivo Historico
(Portoviejo Ecuador)
Invita a la inauguracion de la exposicion
NOMADAS EN MANABI
Expositores:
Sigrid Tidmore (Estados Unidos)
Alfonso Endara (Quito)
Crystal Hayes (Canada)
Lisa Brunetti (Estados Unidos)
Yuliana Shevchuk (Rusia)
Abigail Herrera (Venezuela)
………
Direccion: Calle Olmedo entre Sucre y Cordova (Edificio la Previsora)
Fecha: Agosto 15 de 2018
Hora: 19h30
(05) 2652235 – 2652279
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“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. ” – Albert Einstein

When one steps into a gallery or museum, they probably don’t think about the stories behind the paintings. Painting can be hard work, especially when ‘the good brushes’ no longer hold a point, and locally-purchased new ones make poor replacements. It is difficult to ‘nail’ the snippet of light on a bird’s eye or sign one’s name when using a brush that flares at the point! Even one AWOL hair on that brush will leave its renegade signature where it doesn’t belong!  Aside from my friends and family in the USA, I also miss the convenience of buying my favorite art supplies!


Painting for me is easy when compared to the next step of matting and framing those works – and having places to store the paintings. There are no ‘Michaels’ or ‘Fads and Frames’ that offer good quality brushes, paints, mats, ready-made or custom-made frames. The larger cities have better options, but what if those cities are hours and hours away? Over the years I’ve adapted, and now use thin plywood as ‘mats,’ which I sand and paint. Just like selecting custom mats at a frame shop, I usually draw and hand paint those windows; when the paint is dry, the original is carefully taped in place.

Ready to paint that window!

“Tres Toucanes”

Because many panes of glass have broken over the years (ha, and in earthquakes!) I now use very-thick clear plastic, which protects the paintings from dust and fingerprints. The curious public can sometimes damage a drawing or painting by touching it…

Ugh; I often forget to photograph the work until it’s beneath the plastic.!

Frames are made by local carpenters; I dole out the requests a few at a time, and almost always they are ready when promised. Continue reading

Why Environment is Cherished

Smooth-billed Ani

Identification of this lovely flowering tree?

Poza Honda Ecuador

Poza Honda/ Manabi Province – Ecuador   — Thank you all for your continued support and comments! When online I’m reading/loading other posts, emails, etc then heading home before the computer battery dies and loses it all! It was another week of listening to the chain saws, some distant and some close, but now I think I hope that all will be quiet for a very long time.

I hope to be online for a longer stretch on Tuesday…. Until then, enjoy some not-so painful images of the beauty of this area!

Balsa near top of hill; I always hoped to find what used that hidey hole!

A vine wrapped its base and was making a lovely natural bouquet…

It provided balsa fluff for many species…

And served as a lookout for creatures great and small; the kinkajou loves to eat balsa flowers.

What’s a kinkajou?

This is a cute Kinkajou!

Several days ago that balsa tree was felled, with four others that enhanced that stretch of road.

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This Chestnut-headed Oropendola should not be here; but it is!

I’d like to introduce you to what is surely the most-precious ‘rat’ species on the planet! Isn’t it adorable?

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There are positive things happening, and hopefully new species will be planted when the next rainy season begins. (Xiomara has been very helpful.)
And with that, I’ll select ‘Publish’ before the battery dies, and I groan!

Keep smiling!

Where to Start?

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P2040684 marcos mural the frog before

Nice idea, but the legs seemed way too weak to support the big frog. It just needed some TLC!

“But I did not want art like this;  I asked for green things and frogs and butterflies….”

That’s what my friend and former neighbor Marcos said when I congratulated him on the new art on their garden wall.

The art was much better than what was previously there – a sterile concrete wall;  he explained that he wanted to bring the outdoors inside, and he was disappointed in the results.

I normally dodge a request to repaint what another artist painted, but after listening to his story, and witnessing his somber mood when critiquing the art, I agreed to help via compromise;  working with what was there, I’d take the art a few more steps forward.

As I worked, I shared with Marcos and Juanita that it’s often difficult for an artist to grasp what the other person wants.. it’s like stepping into a dream that belongs to someone else.   If the artist has never painted life-like images, and they specialize in another style, it’s difficult to do the work.  No longer is the art springing forth from the soul; it’s tempered by thinking about what the other person wants.  With one eye on the work, the other is tweaked toward the ‘client’ – so there’s already a problem to stay focused and dedicated to the best job.

It was well done – well painted, and the colors were pleasant;   the person who painted it was no longer in the country and he doubted if she’d be back.

P2040691 marcos mural the bird window during

While working on the frog, I noted that Marcos had other plans; he wanted the ‘window’ to be wider, and with a few swipes of paint, the old image vanished…  uh-oh, my tasks just doubled in size!  He seemed thrilled with the progress, I handed him brushes and paint, and slowly his entire spirit transformed.    Enjoy the slide show:

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I helped until time to leave with the final load of items from the apartment and make that seven-hour drive back to Poza Honda.    Unfortunately the trees had not magically grown back, and the  area had been somewhat cleared; every so often someone burned piles of debris, and each time I was lucky to be upwind from the burns.

P2030799 july 10 smoke before the fire

One burn went out of control and came very close to where I live. The image below was taken from the dam as I drove for an internet session. Want to find the house? Just follow the smoke. 😦
P2030815 smoke fire viewd from represa

When I returned, a young man stopped me at the dam gates. He showed me a video on his phone and explained that it was his mother’s property. He seemed quite remorseful about the fire that continued to burn – and creep closer to the house. Continue reading

Life in the Campo

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P1370056 july 22 melissa and flowers

One year ago – my closest neighbor Melissa

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador – One year ago I first visited this little coffee farm, inhabited by one family of five, one young married couple, the owner, three dogs, two cats, an always-changing number of free-range chickens, several squirrels, a micro-community of Howler monkeys – and thousands of birds.  Rosa, a single ‘older lady,’ lives in her authentic campo house on several acres which this property surrounds. These lovely inhabitants of this ultra-petite community graciously allowed one artist to wean into their neighborhood.

P1370060 july 22 melissa and flowers

July 22, one year ago – I booked for one night and stayed ‘forever!’

P1370928 rosa july 2017 y brother

Rosa

P1510126 mother daughter window

Birthdays are quiet events, shared with the immediate neighbors. Period. No aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends from nearby towns are present for these lovely and quiet gatherings.   Lovingly-prepared luncheons are served, and then the cake is presented to the person of honor. Conversations easily roll from random subject to random subject, and I always remark on how fast the pre-teens/teens are growing.  The first gathering was for Melissa’s birthday in October.

P1510064 shoes birthday shoes at melissas door october

Please leave your shoes at the bottom of the steps! Come inside!

Continue reading