My September in Costa Rica continues to inspire and so far I like what’s happening with the resulting art. I’m also working on a Bay City snow scene, which I’m not liking very much so far, and a portrait, which so far I do, if I don’t ruin it. That’s one of my frequent mid-project fears: When I’m halfway through a book or a painting, I either love it so much I don’t dare try to finish it, lest I do something to spoil it, or I can’t stand it and want to give up. At times like this I invoke my artist’s mantra: PROFESSIONALS FINISH!
What fun. I wish I were more focused–I like the idea of doing twenty paintings on a theme, which makes for a cool show. I could easily do twenty paintings on Costa Rica, and I might, but meanwhile other ideas pop into my head–a full-length portrait of a beautiful friend whose radiance I find irresistible; or families on a traditional Bay City sledding hill after a pristine, Saturday snow. The colors don’t really go together, nor do the subjects.
I emailed a jpeg of this painting to a friend who’d done the trip with me and remembered this girl as one of the most beautiful children she’d ever seen. The child’s smile had hunger in it, I thought. She’d clearly posed for the tourists before.
Her home was one of many small thatched roof homes surrounded by flowering shrubs and located between the many banana plantations owned by companies like Delmonte and Dole.
I had found a great sale on polymer clay about six months ago, bought a lot of colors and then forgot about them until I thought I might make Christmas tree ornaments for the holiday season. But I didn’t really like what I came up with and began making beads just for fun.
I had taken the precaution of painting two of everything–one for him and one for me. I’ve discovered that often people don’t really value a little painting that comes naked and unceremoniously in the mail, so I always make one for myself.
The problem was a too-rough surface–my reds/yellows/pinks/oranges weren’t blending, and the shading just blobbed. I’d painted over the pleasant mountain scene originally contained by the frame so I could paint something I thought would go with the wonderful carving. But it was on plywood, very hard, very rough.
Dewey discovered Wesley, an older man who lived with his wife in a trailer east of Mount Pleasant. Dewey built Wesley a little studio at one end so Wesley could continue his work after he’d been ill and couldn’t get around quite like he used to. Wesley’s wife has since died, followed recently by Wesley himself. I met him a few months prior, just before Christmas, about a year ago, when he gave me a blackbird he’d carved. He was in a wheelchair by then, but cheerful and hospitable. I was moved by the modest circumstances in which Wesley created such prolific and impressive art.
I’ve decide to do a little watercolor of each thing I love and write the story of how I got it (or made it), and why I keep shlepping it from coast to coast, house to house, through my meandering life. This is a way for me to pass along my art with the merest of storage requirements.
I don’t do much but function as the photographer, artist, and general recorder of things, occasionally fishing out a beer bottle, plastic trash bag, or even rooting out a tire or two from the cattails. As last year, I was a passenger in Tom (known as Toad) Starkweather’s dingy, The Toadtanic, featuring a 2 horsepower motor that threw up at the slightest contact with the pervasive weeds.
I have some really large sheets of heavy, glossy paper that feels like cover stock or really heavy photo paper that a friend gave me but we don’t know what it’s made of. It handles paint in interesting and unexpected ways. Regular watercolors float on it and, unless they’re a staining variety, can be wiped away–almost completely erased–which is very un-watercolorlike. (A spray or two with fixative makes watercolor permanent.)