“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.
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:
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.
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. 😦
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.
The wind was in our favor, and by ten that night, the fire seemed to be finished. (I’ve learned that the owner was fined, but yesterday the sound of a saw resumed. This time they were cutting higher on the property; with the now-vanished buffer of bamboo, trees and vines, sound seems to get dumped directly into the house!)
A bit fearful to view the burn site in person, I waited a few days until my friend Xiomara arrived from Quito. Xio’s lifelong work has been devoted to protecting the forests, writing environmental plans, educating students, employees, villages – for example, taking water samples and sharing with the locals why their water is pure – or explains why it is not. “Look up,” she will say, and either a natural forest guards the ridges – or pastures soil the water supply.
From the house we heard the sound of the chain saw, so we hurried to the site.
We had a nice visit with the workers who were just ‘doing their job,’ yet she also found ways to explain about the importance of the natural ecosystem. She shared my concern about the heavy and un-regulated use of 2,4-D pesticides for ‘Hojas Anchas/Broad leaves” in pasture; they really paid attention when she mentioned a connection with sterility in men. Just beyond where they are working, balsa trees are still curling from applications made in early May. (Global Big Day)…
For almost two months, the Variable Seedeaters have been absent from this seed-dense pasture area. I’ve been worried, but yesterday a few showed up. It was great to see them; hopefully the chemical residue dangers have passed.
Through all of this, I paint – sometimes it’s hard.
And a study in progress:
The Nomadas en Ecuador show will most likely open August 15. My solo show opens on November 15 and goes through January 15. More on the shows next time online.