I keep reminding myself that it’s ok not to have every little thing on the daily to-do list checked off. Things will still be waiting tomorrow. Guess the former teacher habits are ingrained and return time and time again.
I also have to remember that everyone needs to recharge the batteries, so that canvas will get painted even if it doesn’t happen when expected. The Muses, those crazy girls, get a big kick out of stirring up anxiety from unpredictability.
Of course, even trips to coastal areas for rest and relaxation offer sources of creative inspiration so I am always doing a balancing act between work and play when out of the studio.
This year there have been additional opportunities for visits to Key West and the BVI, in May, and again in November and December. One change that I noticed was the absence of the roosters and baby chicks at places like Blue Heaven. Where were they? I was told by our server that they were on hiatus, that they had temporarily moved to another part of the island, but would return.
So like my feathered friends, I will also, and the timing will be just fine when I do.
Hey! If you have a chance to recharge your batteries, where would be the first place you would go? Why is it your absolute favorite happy place? Add your comments below. Would love to hear about it.
An overview of what I have worked on this year:
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Catch ‘ya later!
I love the fact that the detours of this brief journey called life are filled with surprises. In mid to late February, when the South was blindsided with snow amounts unseen in the Mid-Atlantic area since the early eighties, I was fortunate enough to be able to escape the cold and head far west to French Polynesia, which oddly enough, had not been on the bucket list.
The excitement of months of planning the trip itinerary and the anticipation of the actual arrival of departure replaced the trepidation surrounding the thought of being squeezed into the claustrophobic seats in economy air travel. Even the thought of the length of flight time was assuaged with the serendipitous moments that were remedies for uncomfortable glitches such as hours of waiting for de-icing before take-off, and the change in a particular flight. Although we arrived intact at LAX, our luggage didn’t. It wasn’t until the next day that we could return to the baggage claim and retrieve it. It wasn’t upsetting, though. The time change was welcomed along with a more relaxing break before boarding the flight to Papeete, Tahiti.
Actually, I was amazed that the eight and a half hour flight seemed somehow much shorter. I can rarely sleep while going somewhere so before I knew it (and after watching four movies), Air Tahiti Nui was serving us our first Tahitian ( pronounced Ty-shun) meal along with the Tropical Juice, which became a favorite staple while on vacation in the Society Islands.
As an artist and former teacher of art history, I was thrilled to be walking in the footsteps of the French artist Paul Gauguin around Papeete, which turned out to be much larger a city than expected. After getting settled in at the Intercontinental Hotel, our residence for two days, our B2KD group toured the island with William Leeteg, whose artist father is renown on YouTube for his nudes on black velvet. A visit to the Vaipahi gardens revealed a lush fern grotto where Gauguin supposedly would swim daily for hours. On the way around the sights on our tour, we were informed that unfortunately The Paul Gauguin Museum, which housed both reproductions as well as some original paintings, had recently closed, which was disappointing news. A true highlight for me was being “christened by the Blowhole”, an experience I would compare to the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri in Italy. It actually emits a sound which could be described as similar to that of a native blowing a conch shell, and the accompanying geyser lends its own surprise while viewing.
The explorer James Cook was actually there three times. His fate was being cannibalized except for his head, which was wrapped in leaves and sent back with an apology of “we ate your captain.” I discovered that every French Polynesian island has a Cook’s Bay, which proved to be a challenge to our mission of locating the “one particular harbor“of Jimmy Buffett fame. I am glad to announce that the mission was successful, and its subject is the first painting completed within the Tahitian series, and is being revealed now here.
I highly recommend the Paul Gauguin Cruise line as a convenience for travel from Tahiti to The Society Islands. As a mid-size ship, they are able to access many of the locations while larger cruise ships cannot. The service is excellent due also to the staff of two hundred plus to, in our case, less than two hundred passengers onboard. (Full capacity is usually around 362 passengers.) You can find out more details about this cruise, the ship, and departures on the pg cruise website.
In Huahine, our first stop, our personal tour guide, Bruno, a local Frenchman, led us around the island with a population of 6,000. The Tahitians live in nondescript colored fare (houses). Most do not pay rent so the men use extra pay on cars. There is no cold or homeless because of a surplus of fruits. Older people still think young like teenagers only there aren’t many who live long due to high cholesterol. Burials are in yards rather than cemeteries, and there was one fatality in a tornado of 1988. Our group was introduced to the tamanu, uru, hotu, white basil (chewed for relieving tooth ache), the odorless orange pagoda, and the kapuk trees. One of the most unique visits was to the canal ditches where the local women were feeding sardines to enormous brownish gray blue-eyed eels with poor vision in shallow water.
The next destination was Taha’ A (TAH HA AH). Aro, our island guide there, was one of the happiest people I have ever met. One of the things I noticed most about the Tahitians was their smiles and friendliness.( I guess I would stay happy too if I was living in paradise on a daily basis.) Aro met us at the port and drove us around while introducing us to the taro root, like a sweet potato, only green, noni, from which a malodorous energy juice is extracted, hibiscus, used for cooking, toilet paper, cleaning snorkel masks, local rope, and the white colored skirt material worn by Tahitian dancers. He also made a flute using a sharp bladed machete, and demonstrated how to play it, then gave two as gifts. A trip to a vanilla farm followed in a local shop, where I drank out of the tasting jar, when I was supposed to take a spoon and sample it. Of course, the women thought it was funny that I was the first visitor to do that. Aro told us that there are ninety five farms on Taha’A, and vanilla was introduced to the Polynesians from Mexico and Madagascar. A compost of dried coconut shells creates moisture around the beans. When the pollination is completed, the color is brownish gold. The less burnt variety is more flavorful. A demonstration of pearl farming was informative and then followed up with time for pearl shopping. I did not know that there was such a variety of sizes and colors. Our visit to the island ended with information about the miro, cut into fruit, and good for relief from a mosquito bite itch, the faro tree, used for housing, and the hinano, which is the name of the female goddess that appears on the label of the islands’ beer and localized sportswear.
The visit to Motu Mahana, a private island owned by the cruise company, taught us a few lessons about French Polynesia: you don’t stand or sleep under a palm tree; coconuts weigh a lot more than you think, and fall quite often! Two, you must wear rash guards to protect yourself from the sun, sea urchins, and sharp coral. Also, while snorkeling , reef shoes are definitely necessary. Three, the intensity of the sun requires even those of us who are used to it to slather on a crazily large amount of fifty plus SPF.
I had heard about Bora Bora, and had seen the travel photographs within the magazines. Here is where you definitely experience those “OMG” moments. Our “three hour tour” with Piero was within an outrigger, with stabilizers on each side made of fiberglass to ensure smooth sailing through shallow azure and sea foam colored water. The highlight of the day was photographing the rest of our group snorkeling with manta rays and long black tipped sharks. Overwater bungalows were seen from resorts such as Intercontinental Bora Bora, St. Regis Resort, and Thalassos Spa and Resort, true honeymoon destinations. Our boat name, Keishi, we learned, is the gray color of pearls. The visit to the island of eight thousand eight hundred would have been incomplete without locating the famous Bloody Mary’s Bar, where a plethora of celebs such as Jimmy Buffett and Hollywood’s finest, have their names painted in white at its entrance. The awaited visit for us would come the next day since we found out that it was closed for a private party the first evening.
Our final tour was on the island of Moorea (MO OH RAY AH). Accompanied by our French tour guide, Francky Franck, we sat within the truck 4×4 and literally rode up the steepest mountain to an obscure farm where one pays admission after the ride on the “honor system”. (The panoramic views at the top are worth the scary, yet exhilarating climb getting there.) If you go between July and November, you are likely to see the whales. Although the roads are abysmal, the recycled water from the reefs around Opunohu and Cook’s Bay are better than other islands, and power cables are underground. Remember earlier: our mission was to locate Cook’s Bay, and we achieved it on this tour. Yes, that one particular harbor. Magnificent, with that neon sea foam color… Interestingly, Captain Cook was never here. He was cannibalized in the Sandwich Islands, and the descendants of the Pitcairn survivors of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty today have their own artisans’ website.
Look closely. Can you locate the two faces? One was intentional, and the other I discovered upon completion of the palms on the right. Seemed uniquely appropriate for the theme. I was told by Francky of Francky Franck Tours to be sure to include the “hole” within the first one. (No more clues.)
Want to see more? Visit my website to see more of my paintings and gifts online from the home page.
Return in a few months, and see more of the Tahitian series. Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free gift from me as a thank you.
Planning a trip to Tahiti? I strongly suggest Jan Prince’s book on the islands.
Would I leave you hanging without more pics? How would one describe them in one word?
Following the extended winter funk, I am excited that my goal of adding another
painting to the BVI series has been reached. My apologies to any reader of the
previous post… it wasn’t my intention to delay the completed “Virgin Gorda Baths”,
as I only gave a small detail preview there. Guess I can only be grateful that I have
been interrupted within the period since I last blogged by those muses.
I have tried to keep the distractions that lead me away from the easel at bay.
Limiting the time checking Facebook within a week, along with Twitter tweets, and
daytime TV has been exhilarating. I still would rather have a face to face conversation
with friends instead of texting, but it seems that even in business, that is the only way
to get a quicker reply.
The evening isn’t suitable for painting, and the television gremlins still come
out at night to entice, ensnare, entertain with a plethora of eye and mind
The recent finals of “The Voice” have captivated me, and as each birth of another
creation occurs, I find myself wondering about the search for my own artistic
I don’t have any celebs to coach me, only to accompany me with background music
as I wield the spontaneous brush. Yet, like the show, the final result will be up to the
public. Will they like the results enough to tweet and post about, vote for, or adopt my
“babies”? Would the name and “voice” be lost within obscurity?
As the artist, I already know the result. Any creative knows it. I must
continue. It is what I do, and have been called to do. It keeps me sane in an otherwise
insane world. The muses know that. They are smiling.
For those who haven’t yet seen ‘Virgin Gorda Baths’, scroll down to see the
entire completed version of the painting.
In the comments, whether you are a “creative” or not, what is your gift to the world?
Have you found your voice? How do the muses speak to you?
Final day. Coconut Spiked Rum French Toast. What a way to say goodbye to Tortola! The Cane Garden Bay exploration continued with a return visit to Greenvi Studio where we watched a glass blowing session in light rain. A local market offered the usual tourist wares, and as the showers subsided, the beachfront and Dust, a local young man selling rum-filled coconut shells, grabbed our undivided attention. Happy hour appetizers were coconut shrimp skewers and conversation with Lorita and Simone, our friendly servers at Sailor’s Rest, and Mrs. Bean, the owner. Later, the evening ended once again with the sounds of island music along the beachfront and goodbyes to new found friends.
Trip epilogue: Have you ever experienced a serendipitous moment? On the trip, I found out that the captain and his girlfriend were unknown collectors of one of my paintings. They had purchased it during an auction for the local chapter of the ASPCA, and I was invited to their home after our return to see it. During the past month, I have completed the first of the B.V.I. series, ‘Cane Garden Bay’ while listening to island music by Kenny Chesney and The Zac Brown Band. One of the things I love most about the life I live now is the freedom to spend hours of painting subjects that during the weekdays in the studio bring back the memories of good times with good friends.
Eggs, pancakes, bacon, and assorted fruit was the menu onboard the cat prior to heading out to Cane Garden Bay. Sails went up by 11:00, only there wasn’t enough wind for the entire trip. A stop along the way was made at the West End of Tortola at Soper’s Hole for supplies around 1:40, and we arrived at CGB around 3:30 p.m. Appropriately, lunch was cheeseburgers while listening to a background of Jimmy Buffett music.
A return visit was at Myett’s, where around the bar the crew had happy hour painkillers and attempted to watch the final round of the golf tournament on the TV. The bartender was disagreeable, and ignored our request for a change of channels, so we left to find another venue where we could watch the rest of the game. At The Big Banana, we were totally entertained with our bartender there who from time to time would stop what she was doing and in seeing our excitement, would remark, “Bubba out, Bubba back in” during the player’s advance to the eighteenth hole. The crew ended Happy Hour ecstatic when the underdog was finally declared the winner.
Before ending the evening, the decision was made to visit the beachside Elm Beach Bar, where there was a featured musician who allowed several guests to join him in the evening entertainment. One of our crew joined the band and received a round of applause from the guests who were either dancing or eating the local prepared barbecue. Plans were made for all to meet the next morning again at Sailor’s Rest, then sail on to Jost Van Dyke, which could barely be seen in the distance from the dinghy dock. Two of us would leave the rest and return to our Tortola home base where flushing the toilet did not require a pumping ritual, and the shower and bed was larger than a coffin.