“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.
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.
“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!
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.
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.
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” –
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 …
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.”
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.
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!
Margo Murdock said:
Love keb. Met him years and years ago. Saw him in Greenville, S.C. Then got a chance to talk with him a short time later when he as playing a festival in Birmingham,Al. What a nice guy! Thanks for sharing. Hope you Are well. Doing well down here in Vilcabamba.
Wow, Lisa! Thank you for the unexpected shout out. 😉 The book is out on a multitude of platforms now, so folks aren’t locked into using Amazon. books2read.com/LifeWithEnigma
It’s great to see that you and your habitat of critters are enjoying each other’s company in between paint strokes.
Thank you again for the introduction to Walter Anderson. I found the book, “Approaching The Magic Hour” by Agnes Anderson. I am not surprised to know that, like Van Gogh, Walter had a difficult journey. And those that loved him, joined him on his walk. The creative path is not for the faint of heart as Walter Anderson and Sara Teasdale’s life affirm. They saw the world through a different lens, more intuitive – and remind us to consider, to celebrate, to embrace whatever life has been given. In so doing, we are encouraged and able to create our personal masterpieces. Hugs coming from Vancouver with great speed. P.S. I really enjoyed visiting the other bloggers – thank you!
Jude Cowell said:
Reblogged this on Jude's Threshold and commented:
Yes, the practice of art is absorbing and soothing for the spirit!
Don Ostertag said:
thank you for lifting my day with yet another wonderful post. Stay safe, Miss Z
marina kanavaki said:
Ah, Lisa, how wonderful to be here! Have a beautiful week ahead! _/\_ xoxoxo
Alli Farkas said:
My favorite thing to burn in the kitchen is toasted sesame seeds. There’s one recipe I make often that calls for them, and they take such a short time to change color in the toaster oven that I get involved sorting out the rest of the recipe while the sesame seeds burn…Definitely need to find a workaround for this!
Alison and Don said:
I’m so looking forward to seeing the painting that ruined a brew of tea! And yes I know what you mean – it used to be painting for me, but these days it’s photo editing and I get lost for hours – in a good way. Fortunately the stove is very close and I have Don to keep an eye on things. Happy art making.
Thank you so much for the mention! And thank you also for Keb’ Mo’. I had to watch it twice. I surely understand about cooking while being involved in something. I have lost so much food in the past. Now I set an alarm on my phone. It’s the only way to make it work.
Island Traveler said:
Thanks for an inspiring, positive, refreshing escape. I needed it. We all needed it. Take care. 🙏
Lisa, I finally worked my way down through the hundreds of abandoned emails in my in box and found this! It is a beautiful post.
Though my work is not the same as yours, I often feel the same as you when I get lost for the day in my quilting. I start the day at the sewing machine and suddenly realize the afternoon has been going for several hours when the sun blasts in from my southwest window. I find myself surprised at how long I have been on task and totally unaware of the day’s passing.
Regarding quiet places. I have experienced this stunning quiet in the desserts of California. Once on the back of the mountain, when I took a *derelict trail (read took a wrong turn). And also when camping in Chaco Canyon on our honeymoon – you had to haul in wood, food and drinking water on a very long two rut track back then. It was beautiful and haunting in those ruins with only the wind and your footsteps to break the silence. Strangely enough, I’ve experienced it right here once, when the tornado storm of 2011 took out the power all across northern Alabama for a week – it is amazing how silent life can be with no power to the house or the local businesses when they have to shut down for a time. I think I could get used to that quiet house living if given a chance, and for the sake of everyone else, if it were my choice.
*On the derelict trail it was especially haunting because I never even saw or heard any living thing in that high chaparral. Nothing but my own foot treads in the decomposed granite of the trail. Amazing!
Thank you for sharing your beautiful world. ~ Lynda
I missed this post and am far behind with everyone, but anyway…it’s good to be reminded about Walter Anderson again. Fabulous work. The ecominga blog looks excellent but I am over-the-top with too many blogs. If I ever travel to the tropics it would be a good one to review, and oh, the Dracula Reserve, so beautiful. Ahh. Your story about mixing cooking with art is totally understandable. I’ve always had that problem. I’m working and the world falls away.
“We are all scientists” is another good reminder. Here on a birders’ listserv there’s been a discussion about hummingbirds visiting sapsucker wells, for fresh sap and the tiny insects the sap attracts. Who knew? One person saw it, asked the group, and a discussion involving five people ensued, with solid information. Cool, right? 🙂
On to my own post, which I need to finish! 😉
Playamart - Zeebra Designs said:
Yes, I understand about ‘over the top’ w/blogs. There are so many talented people with interesting material —
Very interesting about the hummingbirds/sapsucker wells. It makes sense, however. Here we have a ‘Hermit’ hummingbird species (Baroni) that I’ve observed closely for the past three years. It appears to be very intelligent and does not panic like many smaller species that fly inside the casa. The hermit has even flown to the skylight and helped another back ‘down’ and out. Even if most windows are closed, the hermit calmly flies to each window until finding an open one. It’s amazing to witness, and my friends and I discussed this last weekend. That little species can teach mankind a lesson – don’t panic…
Your just-published post is another winner.