P2530760 bamboo leaves

“Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in doing so you must let go of your subjective preoccupation with yourself… Your poetry arises by itself when you and your subject become one.” Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694)

Sunday, July 12 – Portoviejo Ecuador – After a check on the iguanas in one park and the gallinules in another, I returned home with a handful of bamboo leaves for reference in an 8″ x 8″ design. Drawn a few weeks ago in ink, this textile design was scanned to the computer then fine-tuned to make it ‘seamless’ on all four sides. Printed on card stock, it was ready for a second more-painterly option.

P2990128 beets beet leaves

The cutting garden includes beets purchased at the market then planted for their fast-growing leaves.

Each day I simmer a batch of ‘tea,’ made from dried guayusa and stevia leaves as well as fresh ginger, turmeric and ‘Cuban’ Oregano. (Spreng – Plectranthus amboinicus) Some days a jalapeno adds a fiery change, and other days various sprigs of just-clipped mint or basil add fragrance to the brew. This was a hurried batch, as the bamboo study awaited my attention.

Just beyond the kitchen I retreated to a light-filled work area, where the watercolors and bamboo leaves replaced a just-finished acrylic experiment on a scrap of ‘reject’ vinyl flooring. A not-too meticulous wash of Naples yellow and a brighter yellow would unify the bamboo design, then more layers of color would define each leaf while the center vein remained untouched. Watercolor usually works best when working from light to dark. This I know.

P2540046 Bananaquits y Bamboo cropped Acrylic

Bamboo leaves and Bananaquits – painted last year

“Learn the rules well, then forget them.” – Basho

The little 8 x 8 design had other plans and quickly seized control and demanded that I reach for the white acrylic (NOOOOO! No acrylic allowed on those brushes dedicated for watercolor!) um, I repeat: I reach for the white acrylic (no!!!) and float a wash across the entire still-wet design. I obeyed the design’s wishes, and since I was using a cheap purchased-nearby brush, it was a guilt-free choice.

When finished, I was directed to dip into the tropical blue latex house paint, which I knew would darken as it dried. Mixed with a very strong-willed Winsor & Newton Cadmium Yellow acrylic – and the still-wet white, the pigments floated and fuzzed into background imagery, painted directly across the once-distinct leaves in the foreground. What a mess, but a lovely mess which had a clear end-result in mind. So long watercolor and hello mixed media!


Sorry; I did not consider photographing these stages. The camera was at the other end of the apartment!

Switching between pure white to white with yellow to blue and yellow and back to white, the various layers of the design found more depth. When completely immersed in the painting process, I realize that time seems to vaporize as if I am in a dream-like trance. Every so often something might awaken me, like the sudden realization, ‘The tea!’

Making a hurried dash to the stove – perhaps ten or less steps away – I confirmed the disgusting evidence of a neglected (abandoned?) pot of tea! The just-beginning-to-burn aroma confirmed that nothing would salvage the sizzling/crackling but not-yet smoking mixture. Grabbing another pot, I started a second batch then warned myself, ‘Do not repeat this mistake!’

I painted until the new pot of herbs reached boiling. It then simmered another ten minutes as I brought the painting to an end-of-day closure. Still disgusted from ruining the first batch, I confirmed that the stove was turned off, the lid in place to infuse the flavors, then with computer in hand I left for the nearby restaurant.

P3060491 kite

Looking up, I often see new images over Portoviejo…

P3060492 kite

Many kites dot the sky these days!

Sometimes it takes time to emerge from an intense painting trance, and I needed distance from the warring projects. This is the third time in three weeks to have a culinary failure, thanks to trying to paint while something simmers in the kitchen. (The banana bread, cooked in an iron skillet on very-low flame, almost survived the abuse. The tainted flavor/aroma of that singed crust was not worth the effort!)

In my house, cooking and painting do not mix well!   I realize that it’s an overabundance of gifts that gets me in trouble. I have to remind myself to take them one at a time and to pace myself!  The Garfield Cartoon Cup reminds me to keep a sense of humor.

While online after the Tea-burning Bamboo-painting incident, I visited a few WP posts that some of you might enjoy. The first one comes from Ecuador:
“Large temperature changes are also a feature of temperate seasonality, and many plants synchronize their growth and flowering via those changes. In the equatorial tropics, however, day length and temperature do not change much. Tropical mass-flowering plants have to be much more sensitive to environmental cues than temperate zone plants if they are to flower synchronously.” – Lou Jost Melastomes 2: Mass flowerings and Climate Change ecoMingaFoundation (y Dracula Reserve)

I met some of the Dracula Reserve (named for a specific type of Orchid) partners at Hotel Andino last December in Quito. The Reserve is part of the EcoMinga group, a network best explained by visiting their site. Take a cyber trip and see what these folks are doing!

From Reserva Dracula’s website: “Dracula” means “little dragon” in Latin. Here, it refers to a genus of orchids whose flowers have some similarity with flying dragons. These orchids are rare otherwise, but especially rich in species in this region. “ … “The reserve has been founded on the initiative of the Botanic Garden of the University of Basel in the years 2013/14. It is owned by the Ecuadorian foundation EcoMinga, which has completed all land purchases and is responsible for securing the acquired areas through the use of park rangers. The funds are partly coming from the Botanic Garden and its community, partly from two US donors, Rainforest Trust and Orchid Conservation Alliance.” For more about the Reserva Dracula, start here: Reservadracula.org 

EcoMinga’s most-recent post shares observations about subtle changes of climate. The blog shares lessons in botany – or in helping our fellow man – and we learn about benevolent folks who gift land into the hands of highly-capable stewards of the earth. While the outside world continues to go a bit more insane, each new post confirms that our planet has hope as long as kind and sensitive people continue to dote on our planet and its often-forgotten people.

P2870749 yellow orchids

Quito’s Botanical Gardens – orchids ahead!

P1210686 xiomara water samples

Xiomara checking the water quality along Rio Mindo (Ecuador)

From Arizona, Garry Rogers writes about the environment and natural world.  A quick internet search took me to his site which lists 15 books!   GarryRogersBooks  Like many bloggers, he has been very quiet this year but sends a smoke signal every so often. His latest post is a short food-for-thought statement, one worthy of passing along to others and outliving us all. He states, “I heard someone ask ‘why do scientists lie so much.’ Thinking about how I would answer, and with my grandchildren in mind, I composed the following statement:”Garry Rogers “We are All Scientists” – 

P1210704 phil with darwin wallace poison frog

What could Phil be photographing?

P1210710 darwin wallace poison frog

A Darwin-Wallace Poison Frog! (Mindo Ecuador)

 ZeroLatitudeLiving’s weekly summary of links led to a YaleEnvironment360 story about silent places. As I type this while off line – at 2:02 in the morning – I confirm and testify to the importance of silence – and why I work best while the city is sleeping! Wouldn’t it be lovely to visit every one of these places featured in this article? Listening to Silence and Why We must Protect the World’s Quiet Places


7:30 a.m. – Cloud Forest Morning

Every so often a writer sweeps us into a story, and Emily recently did that to me. Enjoy her narrative about meeting the poet Will Inman. “Will”  (Emily has also published a bilingual children’s book – ” Luisa the Green Sea Turtle – Luisa la Tortuga Verde del Mar.”

P3060507 red slider turtle

Two new characters join the residents at nearby Parque Las Vegas! One (this one) does not have feathers, but it is certainly happy paddling around all day while inspecting the water lilies!

Rebecca Budd, who manages to juggle several blogs and juggle them well, showcases the world of art in ChasingART. Her latest post spotlights Mississippi’s Walter Anderson, a brilliant yet tormented artist whose story is best explored one layer at a time. Like Van Gogh, he did not achieve public recognition until after his death. When I ponder how to describe this man’s story to a friend, I often hand them my copy of ‘The Magic Hour,’ written by his wife Agness Anderson. She endured a turbulent life while supporting her husband’s brilliance. One friend here in Ecuador recently returned that book to me, and though we trade books often she said, “The story of that artist is still the best so far.”
About 30 years ago I was fortunate to view a museum exhibition of Anderson’s paintings of birds. Those images and the narratives still burn in my memory. His story is unique, and Rebecca’s post is a great place to start: Walter Anderson Museum of Art

On another blog, Rebecca recently shared a Sara Teasdale poem that brought me to tears.  Lovely post, Rebecca!  OntheRoadBookClub/ There Will Come Soft Rains. 

P2640701 wild heliconias rain drops

After the Rain

P2530427 between rains TWO PERUVIAN PYGMY OWLS

Between Rains (Peruvian Pygmy Owl)

P1210688 xiomara y noberto water samples

Xiomara Izurieta often works with small rural communities. When water samples are pure in one place yet show bacteria in another she asks, “Why?” Then she states, Look ‘arriba.’ Higher above a pond/stream was a cattle pasture. Upriver from this location, most likely another cattle pasture contributed to a higher bacteria. “Arriba..” Always the scientist, Xio is a natural teacher.


In a short post that opens with a stunning image of our planet, Linda shares: “Consider NPR reporter Steve Inskeep’s final question in an interview with Colonel Behnken, speaking from the International Space Station:
This is Where I Live – Rangewriter —

Linda has published a beautiful story about her intrepid mother, and she shared many of those chapters with us on her blog.  My Life with an Enigma 
The title of her post made me think of a Keb Mo song, This is Where I Belong, which serves well as a finale for today’s post.

Back to art;  how many of you get so absorbed in your work that time seems to stop – and things burn in the kitchen?  Or you forget that it’s time to go to work (that happened long ago when teaching art at a private school!)   I’d love to hear your stories!