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Hi from Mindo Proper (Ecuador)

We cleared one small problem while waiting on the road grader to clear beyond their home. 8

We cleared one small problem while waiting on the road grader to clear beyond their home.

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.

And down.

And down.

Most of the timeout for Art was written last week, so now here’s the rest of the post!


P1530424 EL MATAL trees beach y boats

June 2012 – Post Painting Competition at El Matal Ecuador, when trees and boat shelters lined El Matal’s ample beach.

“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

P1530422 skull

While I photographed the young artists at work, these skulls caught my attention in 2012. They patiently awaited in incubation…

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.

The skulls caught my attention again in July 2013,, and I tossed around ideas on paper while waiting on lunch.

The skulls caught my attention again in July 2013, and I tossed around ideas on paper while waiting on lunch.

Another nine or so months passed, and I sometimes glanced at the sketches and thought, “I really need to bring you to life!”

After finishing the Punta Ballena mural, I used a remnant of canvas that seemed to ask, ‘What about me?’

I drew the skull and floated the darks and lights in loose watercolor style; after the washes dried, carefully-painted stripes helped to create the illusion of depth, especially where they wrapped around the horns. Strong waves of background colors represent the movement of air on a hot sunny day.

P1970879 studio colors painting in progress

A white halo separated the skull from the colors. I wondered,“Should that band be tinted with color, or should it be left white?”

We reached a stalemate. For the next week I worked on a project in town (hand-painted floor) and glanced at the painting whenever I walked through the studio. With a fresh eye, I strengthened the background to add more energy and movement to the composition.

Too boring....

Too boring….

I wanted more detail in the skull but could not find the old reference photos. I continued to question how to marry the skull to the background; the white halo/band was too stark: “What am I going to do with you?”

A soft halo of yellow seemed wrong. Contrasting perpendicular lines thought the yellow choked the flow of energy. I strengthened the yellow and lost the contrast; I pushed the yellow toward orange then wondered if purple or blue might work better – (complimentary colors of the oranges and yellows.)

I pondered the mola effect and thought that the lines would detract from the flow of warm colors; I photographed the painting and experimented with lines on the computer image. I rejected the idea.
We stared at each other. I searched again and found the original photo from July of last year!

P1780077 COW SKULL

(Make note to self: always label your images for easy retrieval months or years later!)

I studied other photos of skulls then studied my original photo. I repainted almost the entire skull, strengthened and warmed the darks. The warmer colors in the skull took away its power. I painted it again with cooler shadows.

About that time I stopped fighting it, and the details landed where they belonged. The colors worked, the yellow band of color flowed with ripples of movement around the skull. The mola lines were mandatory – an obligation,
and I became absorbed in the flow of details until – POOF!- it was finished!

P5050096 ZENergy acrylic
Would anyone know of that inner struggle when looking at this painting? It makes me think of a song by Johnny Lang, Second Guessing.

Happy creating, everyone! Sometimes we have to stop second guessing, listen to our own unique voice and just let things flow!