I just love plumeria flowers. They are my absolute favorite tropical flower. I love the way their petals weave around each other in the center, how pristine they are. They are graceful and lovely and elegant. It doesn’t hurt that they have a wonderful fresh perfume to them either! Though I have a collection of hundreds of photos of them, whenever we go to Kauai I take more. I return to favorite trees and gather ever more images for paintings. This is the fifth such image I’ve painted.
It took the image that inspired this painting in the gardens around the parking lot (beauty is everywhere!) around the National Tropical Botanical Gardens on the south side of Kauai in May 2016. It was fairly early in the morning and the sun had come out after a pretty heavy rain. These were the exact conditions under which I took the image that became “Imagine” – my big, huge water lily painting – a winning formula. Raindrops are enchanting, but when they are combined with the bright light of the morning sun, the whole thing is transcendent.
The series of images didn’t have one that was painting ready, so I did little re-arranging of pieces of a couple of them to make up this composition. I have a few 20”x40” pieces of paper left over from making 40” squares – I was working to use one of them. It’s a great size to travel with as all rolled up it’s only 20” long – easy to carry on the plane.
I started painting it on Kauai in February. I disciplined myself to get the background and leaves done first, so it wasn’t until I was home that I got to dive into the rainbow colors of the petals. The water drops were a challenge – so much complex detail. I’ve painted plenty of them before, but on some petals the drops seemed to be on top of each other making these crazy patterns of blue, violet and white. I really had to focus and just paint what I saw in my reference image.
The finished painting seems like a combination of light and water splashed all over these pristine flowers. That transcendence I felt in the moment is here looking at it. Even after being finished a few days, its name hadn’t come to me. I asked my Thursday evening group what qualities they saw in it – I put the words they said into an online English-Hawaiian translator. I wanted a single word, one that was easy enough to pronounce, and that sounded Hawaiian. “Ho’omana” was the result of a translating “worship.” This was it. Further research tells me ho'omana the name for the Hawaiian matriarchal spirituality from the time before the ali’i and any contact with the Western world. I also found that it means: praise, worship, spiritual power and empowerment. “Ho’omana” may be a big name to give to these flowers, but in my belief system spirit is in everything, so why not?
“20x40” - Feburary-March 2017 - Original available - contact me for details
Another waterlily from the south side of Kauai, but not just another painting! When I took the photo that inspired this painting, I was drenched - out for a morning walk, it just poured rain. And then, as it does in the tropics, the clouds broke up, letting the sunlight make everything postively sparkle! A perfect time to be out with my camera! I was captivated by the water drops and small puddles all over this lily and the way its reflection is so clear - drops and all in the pond. I didn't really plan on making this one so large. But now that I've painted it, I cannot imagine painting it smaller - all the detail would have been impossible! I had torn a jumbo sheet to 40" square and had planned to paint cherry blossoms. But the arc passed on that idea. In July I was thinking it was time to dive into another large piece and went looking for images for this big square. I projected a few images really big on the wall in one of my Friday groups and they all agreed this was the one. In the middle of painting it, I was working on the shadow-y reflection of the lily and I had a contentious conversation with someone close to me. All stirred up from it, I sat back down and asked myself how I was to make art from that place. And it hit me - the shadow is part of this piece, it's part of relationship, of each of us, of life in this universe. This painting speaks to me of wholeness, of including it all, the bright, sun-lit part that's easy to embrace, as well as the dark stuff. In the process of painting, I was listening to Deepak Chopra talk about the shadow. He said just this. There is no defeating the shadow - only consciousness can allow us to be one step ahead of it so that we don't operate from it. I've been challenging myself to name these paintings with a single word. My iTunes playlist gave it to me again. John Lennon's Imagine played and I knew. I'm a dreamer and and an eternal optimist. One day we all will live as one - and it will be by ending our battles with the shadow in all its forms. "Imagine" really helped me hold my vision for this piece. There was still plenty to paint and I was anxious about getting it done in time for the Sausalito festival. All those water drops! All that detail! Would I ever get it done? I kept picturing it in my mind's eye all finished. And here it is, shadow and all.
40"x40" - August 2013 - Original sold
I'm a conservationist. I feel a strong need to make use of everything I can. This painting, at least painted in this shape and size, came to be because I had this piece of paper that was 20"x40." I've painted a few 40"x40" paintings out of Arches 60"x40" sheets of watercolor paper, leaving me leftover pieces. It's good paper, I must make use of it! I toyed with the idea of making two 20"x20" paintings of somethiing. But, I had this wide image... I've been contemplating painting this image for much longer than I've had the paper. It's yet another from the no-longer-there lily ponds on the southside of Kauai. And it's old enough that it was actually taken with a film camera. I was attracted to it because of the intense blue. It took some collaging in Photoshop - I'm so grateful to my former boss, Steve Kimball for teaching me these skills. They've become integral to my art-making and help me realize the artistic visions of the painters in my groups too. I started this piece on last year's trip to Kauai - which ended up being a trip when I really needed to rest and hardly painted. Once home last summer, I wasn't feeling it. I needed to move on to paint the hot colors of Jubilee. I brought it along on this year's trip, when I did have the energy to paint more. It was one that was a challenge to appreciate myself. Though there were moments when it was very fun to paint, it was coming through quite loose and imprecise - not how I usually paint and I wasn't sure about the result. But others appreciated it quite a bit, so I pressed on. I painted all the flowers last. This helped me. It took painting them in to see any dimension. I was in Light Rain scanning it for making prints with my friend Julia, who, (at the time of this writing) works there. Musing on what to call it, I thought about floating, and the primordial soup and somewhere in there I used the term "dancing." Julia kept saying "I like 'dancing.'" I had also been playing around with possible Hawaiian words. So, what is "dancing" in Hawaiian? "Hula" hit the right note. On top of it being easy to say and remember, I looked up the history and legend surrounding "hula." The legend goes that the gods created the world through sacred chant and dance - hula. Out of the primordial soup dances the world. 20"x40" - June 2015 - Original sold Sizes/Prices: 15"x30" - $395/$495* 10"x20" - $195/$275* 5"x10" - $60 * hand-torn and painted edges
Southside Lily Pond II
In October 2010 I did a new festival - the second one in La Jolla - where I met some wonderful people, Joan and Scott Brown. They really loved Southside Lily Pond, but the space in their home needed two pieces of art side by side. They asked me if I could paint a companion piece for it. I took on the challenge, not realizing that I was headed for a fall. I came home and searched through the images from the same day - these images were pre-digital, so I had to find the actual photos. I found this one and liked the idea of painting the same theme in a different scale. Same day, same pond, slightly different angle - the light is coming from another direction. It had a big ugly rock along one side which I replaced with more lily pads. When the Brown's said they liked the image, I started to paint - but not for long. By November I was dead in the water (so to speak!). It was scary but I was just burned out and there was nothing there when I sat to paint. It felt like the ability and inclination to paint had just vanished. No matter how much I tried to force myself, it just wasn't there. These first four years of making, showing and selling art have been at a fairly breakneck pace. It seems that the part of me that sources the creator needed a break. I'm incredibly grateful that it's back and for the moments of joy at putting color on paper again. And I'm also very grateful for the Brown's who were there in my heart and mind making sure I didn't stay away too long!
30"x22" - February-March 2011 - Original available - contact me for details
Southside Lily Pond IIOriginals, Tropical
The years that I’ve been showing this artwork have been sprinkled with moments of serendipity – moments when someone appears in my world and becomes part of it. This painting started with one of these moments. An email arrived in my inbox while we were on vacation in Tahoe in late July (2016) from someone named Charles, who lives with his wife Susan in Cambridge, MA. Their son and his family live a few minutes away from where I do. While they were out here for a visit, Charles saw my two paintings at the Marin County Fair. He took pictures of the art and of my name and then looked me up.
The initial request was for information about paintings I’d already painted, which soon turned into a request to paint the hibiscus flowers that grow in their garden as a birthday gift for Susan.These plants have been living – for 30 years (!) - in containers that are set into the spaces in the ground during the summer and brought inside for their cold, snowy winters. Sounds special enough to have their portraits painted! They wanted me to combine flowers from both varieties with plenty of leaves and some buds for interest. I gave him some pointers on how to take pictures to send me. As the photos came in via email I realized I was going to need to do some work collaging together something that would make a Life in Full Color painting. I jumped in to Photoshop after the Sausalito Art Festival. The composition was a puzzle to sort out. I landed on the main flower right away. It was taken at that lovely three-quarter perspective. But the red flower was a challenge and piecing together the background took some doing. After two versions that weren’t quite there, I started to get worried that I was going to be able to pull this off. But the next day I was greeted by an email from Charles with more pictures – including of the troublesome red one – taken in full sun. The missing link had arrived! And I went back to work to create an image that - I was told - had “nailed it.” Whew! Painting was uneventful (thankfully). Painting so many of these “fuzzy backgrounds” has paid off – they are becoming easier – and more fun to do. The leaves, as always, give me fits – so I get them done before the treat of painting the flower. I made a shift in the color of the flower, at their request - to match the actual flowers. In the full sun, digital cameras show things more yellow.
I listen to Pandora a lot as I paint. So many of the pieces on the “mood music” stations are pretty uninspiring, so when this lovely one, called “Tuesday’s Child” by a Canadian guitarist named Jesse Cook started playing, it caught my attention right away. I looked to see who the artist was and for the first time after just hearing something on Pandora I bought his album. It’s Nuevo Flamenco music – creative, emotive and I find myself bouncing in my seat as I listen to some of the songs. (if I painted standing, I’d be full-on dancing!). The music and these flying, swirling petals had me think of the dancers skirts and gave me an idea for it's name: Flamenco.
Charles and I exchanged emails starting in July and this was our only mode of communication until the morning in October when he called to say they were on their way over. This was first time we’d heard each other’s voices. It was nice to share our home and the room that is my studio with them. Most importantly, I was happy and relieved they were pleased with the painting! We talked about the name and I played for them Jesse Cook's vibrant, soulful music. They agreed the name fit.
I’ve come to see painting a commission like this as a journey of faith - both for those who I paint for, and for me. We all take a risk – especially when we have never even spoken to each other before. I am so grateful that there is a part of us that is willing to jump in with each other in this way. It brings a certain preciousness to our time together – when they came here to meet me, and the painting I did for them for the first time.
Thank you so much, Charles and Susan!
FlamencoSpecial Occasion, Tropical
The first trip that Joe and I took to Kauai we stayed in a place called "Manualoha," which translates from Hawaiian as either "lovebird" or "parrot." "Parrot," I read on one web site, because parrots can express love. So sweet. Our end unit had a private garden space in the back, making our two weeks there especially restful and beautiful. On another trip back we stayed in the same complex, in a different condo with a private garden. (I think this was the trip where I painted the first plumeria painting.) Over the back lanai was this plumeria tree. I love this variety - the range of color, the rounded shape - just so luscious! Like rainbow sherbet ice cream! In order to take the photos, I had to perch up on the patio table and chairs with my camera. I may have been risking my neck, but I was going to get close enough to get a good shot! This summer I've been in the mood to paint flowers with a vengeance. In reviewing my collections this one jumped out at me. In the midst of running after Bo, our new Labrador puppy, I managed to get this one finished. It's a happy painting and I found it easy to paint. It's nice to not be challenged ALL the time. It is summertime after all.
22"x22" - August 2010 - Original available - contact me for details
Birds in Paradise
These bird of paradise flowers were growing in the front yard of a home in the Marine Street-Wind-and-Sea part of La Jolla, CA. As a result of the La Jolla Festival of the Arts in June 2009, I was asked to submit three ideas for the poster art for the 2010 festival. What an opportunity! I flew down for the day to scout out ideas with my camera. It was mid-September and a gorgeous day. This is a small bit of the strip of flowers growing on the street-side of the fence enclosing an amazing-looking garden. I perched to get the view through the flowers towards the Pacific Ocean. I painted this one with the prospect that the festival organizers might choose it to be the poster. They decided to have me paint another one (stay tuned...), making this one available to another home! I've been wanting to paint bird of paradise flowers, and have not been inspired until this one; the fence along the left and the h1biscus and bougainvilla in the background softened the composition and rounded out the color palette. I really wanted to name this one simply "On the Way to the Beach" but I thought that we'd all refer to it by the flower name, so it's both.
22"x30" - November 2009 - Original available - contact me for details
Birds in ParadiseOriginals, Tropical
Southside Lily Pond
When Joe and I go to Kauai, I take walking trips around Poipu with my camera, hunting for painting subjects. These waterlilies are in a resort garden. This image intrigues me because of the various elements it represents -- below the water, above the water and reflections on the surface. The nature of this subject required me to be less literal, more interpretive. It was both fun and difficult. The fun part is watching it emerge. I had started this painting sometime last spring on a piece of paper half this size. I abandoned it about a third of the way through, knowing that it needed to be bigger. Now that it's done, I see that it would have been great on even larger paper. That'll be the next waterlilies.
30"x22" - June 2008 - Original Sold
Southside Lily PondTropical
These lilies are in a pond outside the Plantation Gardens restaurant in Kiahuna Plantation in Poipu on Kauai. When we go there, I often visit for painting ideas. In addition to the lily ponds they have the most extravagent collection of orchids I've ever seen! Though the same dimensions as the previous water lily panting - and the subjects are of similar scale - it still amazes me how different each painting ends up being. Paintings really do have a life of their own. A space of nearly two years between the painting of them and a whole other thing emerges. There's so much more going on in this one. The reflections of the lilies are the star of the show for me. In Southside Lily Pond, the light was such that the reflections had very little detail, nearly black. In this one, it was earlier in the morning, making the reflections the most full of color and richness. The reflections of the reedy succlulent plant growing at the back edge of the pond is also makes a big impact. There are differing opinions about the dark shadow in the center of the painting. I like that you cannot tell exactly what it is - it's mystery and murkiness. And it wasn't until I was really in close doing the drawing that I realized there was a little dragonfly or damselfly on the lily on left. So, I made it bigger and spread its wings in the tropical light.
30"x22" - March 2010 - Original available - contact me for details
Lily ReflectionsOriginals, Tropical
When Joe and I go to Kauai I often take morning walks down along the coast of Poipu with my camera. I have a particular love for the plumeria trees and their gorgeous, lightly perfumed flowers. I climb on rock walls to get up close to take a picture of a spot that has grabbed my eye. To take the photo that this painted from, I actually got up on the roof of the utility building of a condo complex. Climbing trees with my brothers growing up has made me part monkey! I started painting this piece two years ago. Other subjects called more loudly and I abandoned it. I took it along on a trip to Kauai in case the mood struck - and it did. I was drawn to this image largely because of the background - it was a challenge to paint the palms and the light and the diffused colors in the shadows. The original flowers are pink-pink but I was hesitant to paint them as they were. One morning I took a research-walk to survey the varieties of plumeria to see if there were white (or mostly-white) plumeria that had a similar rounded petal shape. There are! So I took some photos to give myself something to work from and I set about changing the color. It was something to find the colors of the shadows apart from the pink of the petal. I'm happy with how it came out - and really happy that made them mostly white flowers. They have a fresh airy-ness that suited my mood. Joe suggested I look up what "beautiful flower" is in Hawaiian. When I learned that the word for "plumeria" is "melia" I knew it was the name. Spelled the same, but pronounced differently, Melia is my mom's childhood nickname. Sunlit, fragrant flowers from paradise for you, Mama!
22"x30" - April 2013 - Original Sold
With all the trips to Kauai that we make, you might think these two hibiscus flowers were growing there, but they were in a pot on the patio outside our kitchen here in Fairfax (Northern California). They will not survive our winters without protection (we do get frost). In the summers, though, they are quite happy. Alas, this plant is not still with us. It lives on in this painting. Besides the yummy color, I liked this image because it has a sense of companionship - the two are aligned, facing the same direction. With all the work I'm doing with PAX and masculine and feminine and partnership, it really spoke to me. I had been scared of all the detail on the surface of the petals - there's a lot going on there. Recently I'm looking at why that is and realizing that it's the left brain that both is freaked out about the detail and makes mischief in the painting process. It so gets in the way of making good art. It's useful for standing back and analyzing why a particular part of the painting doesn't read. I find that listening to music while painting helps keep the spacial right brain engaged - and it soothes the overworked left brain too. My papa helped me name it in his reaction to seeing the finished painting.
22"x30" - July 2012 - Original Sold
We go regularly to Kauai to re-generate our energy and spirits. I took this photo on one trip and painted most of it on another. I spend lots of time painting when we are there; there are many more tropical paintings in me wanting to come out! Although initially drawn to the blossoms, it's the leaves on the left part of this painting that really excite me now. They say to me: "thrive!" They are growth and strength and certainty.
22"x30" - Spring 2005 - Wendy Viellenave
This painting was fun to paint and yet I could never find myself really satisfied with the outcome. It just looked like a overgrown tropical postcard. I had cut the photo as the background in the photo was just black. Introducing the leaves on the top section as I did, made it less than satisfying. I kept adding more shadows, and more colors in the leaves, changed the background. It still wasn't going to please me. My friend Brenda saw something in it, so she added it to her collection. We decided it worked better as a square painting, so I tore it and painted the edge. She framed it on chocolate colored suede and I'm amazed at how rich and beautiful it is.
22"x22" - Summer 2006 - Brenda and Jeff Hernandez