Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A New Floral Lexicon

Watercolor by megan_n_smith_99
Watercolor, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to paint tropical flowers that is consistent with my style. It's a bit odd, actually, I feel like I am learning a new floral lexicon, because it's so different than what I am used to. I'll admit, there are some things I've painted that I probably won't be showing anyone -- but you can't really learn to paint other than ... by painting. Really, there is a limit to how much an instructor, a class, an article, or a book can do for you --those are wonderful valuable things, don't mistake my meaning! -- but at the end of the day you really only learn by painting, and painting, and painting. and sometimes making mistakes - watercolor, unlike oils and acrylics is pretty unforgiving of mistakes -- but you keep going, and you paint more and more, and eventually there is a moment where it all flows and it feels like flying, but those days do not come every day. I've learned to stop trying to reach so hard for them because they really just come when they come, and they come upon you when you are painting, not when you are reading about painting or even just thinking about painting.

so, just paint. if you mess up, turn your page over and try again. it's ok, you don't have to show anyone if you don't want to. just paint.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Watercolor in progress - Honeycreeper

I am not sure how it is that I have not managed a blog post in almost a week. I am not entirely sure what I did during that time - though I did work on a few watercolors and a cat commission and some other projects. And I read and listened to some books. And worked on some jig saw puzzles, which work well to get my frantic little brain to slow down a bit.

This is a Hawaiian honeycreeper -- the bird, that is. I did not actually see any of these while I was in Hawaii, but may have heard some -- because I am almost positive I saw some of the flowers they like to sip nectar from -- ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha). I wanted to paint one because they are so pretty. The birds we saw the most were Mynas and Red-crested Cardinal. We also saw a Pacific Golden Plover, and a Hawaiian Hawk. There were some shore birds too, though I did not manage to identify them -- some sort of sandpipers included.

And there were chickens and roosters all over. At first I thought everyone must raise free-range chickens, but then I read that they are feral. It's probably a great place to live for a feral chicken, so I guess that explains why there were so many of them just wandering about. I must admit they were more attractive than the Rhode Island Reds that we had on the farm I grew up on --- testament to the bounty
of the islands, I think.

Oh, and the plants seen in this painting include orchids, red ginger, pineapple, and some things from my imagination.

I hope to get some more painting done this weekend, though I am a bit under the weather, which I have been really for 2 months.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Star of the Sea

One of the things I enjoyed in Hawai'i was a visit to the Star of the Sea painted church. Almost every inch was painted, lit by the light falling through simple, yet beautiful panes of colored glass. It is also interesting that the church was moved to protect it from encroaching lava. I think it might inspire some paintings - we'll see.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Orchids -- in progress

Orchids by megan_n_smith_99
Orchids, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.
I have been home for a week now and am settling in. I actually had not done any watercolor in a couple of months - I have been doing pen & ink and beadwork. I've been wanting to get back to it. I actually felt pretty nervous going into it, but I am getting into the flow - so to speak. This painting is not done yet, some details are still to be refined, but I am happy with it so far.

For my own reference, this is a list of various places we visited in Hawai'i:

*Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, the temple built by Kamehameha.
From Wikipedia "Puʻukoholā Heiau meaning "Temple on the Hill of the Whale" was the result, probably on the site of an older temple from about 1580.[5] It was built entirely by hand with no mortar, in less than a year. The red stones were transported by a human chain about 14 miles long, from Pololū Valley to the East. Construction was supervised by Kamehameha's brother Keliʻimaikaʻi, involving thousands of people."

* Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, place of refuge. From Wikipedia: "the historical park preserves the site where, up until the early 19th century, Hawaiians who broke a kapu (one of the ancient laws) could avoid certain death by fleeing to this place of refuge or puʻuhonua."

It was easy to see why this was a place of refuge. It was one of the most beautiful places we visited --pristine white sand, beautiful trees, and just a feeling of peace.

* Punaluʻu Beach / Black Sand Beach
The sand at this beach is black - composed of broken down basalt from lava flows. It was exciting to see turtles on this beach. The ones we saw were honu - green turtles.

* Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park -- there is lots to see here, we visited the Kīlauea caldera and Thurston Lava Tube.

*Ahalanui Park, Pahoa - "This spring fed pool is part natural and part man-made. It is also volcanically heated to a balmy 90 degrees"
It was quite novel for me to swim in warm salt water with beautiful tropical fish.

*Banyan Drive, "the "Hilo Walk of Fame" for the banyan trees planted by celebrities. These trees have withstood several tsunamis that have devastated the town on the Big Island of Hawaii."  I loved the enormous and majestic trees.

*Rainbow Falls, Hilo --80' tall! I need to paint some waterfalls. "Known in the Hawaiian language as Waiānuenue (literally "rainbow water"),[1] the falls flows over a natural lava cave, the mythological home to Hina, an ancient Hawaiian goddess."

* Hawi, Hawai'i. We spent one night in Hawi, and drove up to the Pololu Valley Lookout in the morning. Absolutely beautiful!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I have returned with new inspiration!

Sorry to go silent there for a while! I was actually on vacation in Hawai'i. I feel very fortunate that I was able to go. My mother and I went to visit my aunt who lives there for half of the year. We were on the big island, mostly in the Hilo area.  It was such a treat for some warm and sunny weather after another grey Seattle winter. Especially this winter, since my building has been wrapped for repairs for the last few months and I really needed some light!

I am sure I will be posting a lot of new art soon -- inspired by Hawai'i! I am not quite settled in yet.  Most of my photos are still on the camera or on my phone.  I need to take care of that -- but first I really need to do some laundry!

Here are a few photos I took, more to come!
Happy creating!