Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Visit with Mark Brown

I had to go to O'ahu to install the big triptych I finally finished, for the Heater family's beachfront home in Hawai'i Kai. I'd been wanting to connect with Mark Brown, who is Honolulu's most active, visible and productive plein air painter (as far as I can tell). I phoned him and he kindly invited me to join his Saturday class out at Kualoa Park, on the north shore near Mokoli'i Island (Chinaman's hat). Mark conducts the class, through the U of H adult ed extension, with great enthusiasm and good humor, and it's easy to understand why everyone adores him.

Mark teaches in a very limited palette, which contrasts with my indulgence in dozens of colors. I think at most he puts out big blobs of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Thalo Blue or Green, Alizarine Crimson (?) and Cadmium Red. With these few pigments he dashes on a wash sketch and eventually lathers on thick brushfuls of mixed colors.

On Tuesday we made a painting date, just the two of us, out on the H3 freeway near the Kaneohe Marine Base, where there is a scenic pull-out with a sweeping view of that magnificent bay and the Ko'olau mountains. Mark routinely paints gigantic canvases on site, and that day he had a 4' x 7' firmly anchored to two easels staked into the ground. It's very inspiring to watch him cover that entire white surface with paint, and in just a few hours create one of his signature landscapes.

My own version of the scene, on what would ordinarily have seemed a big enough canvas, felt small and awkward to me. It's really good to paint with other artists and be taken out of one's comfort zone. For one thing, the shadows of the clouds kept skimming up and down and over the complicated cliffs of the Ko'olaus, and were never the same from moment to moment. Perhaps in time one would learn how to capture that, the way I've learned over the years to paint the lights and shadows of the Red Road!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Painting Trip to Hana Maui

I have not mentioned on this blog that Cosette lost her companion Joel to a heart attack late last month. We are all sending her our love and support as she finds her way through the sorrow. Tuko, Cosette, Joel and I were all scheduled to join painters from Maui and Kaua'i on a plein-air excursion to Hana, Maui the first week of May. Tuko and I were sorry to go without her. We stayed at the funky but beautifully situated government cabins at Waianapanapa, just north of the Hana Airport. I had stayed there with my parents and relatives many years ago when my brother and I were young teenagers, so it was a little trip down memory lane. We got to visit and paint at some amazing spots, including Oprah Winfreys private little beach below a towering red cinder cone, and the estate of Carl and Ray Lindquist, near the Blue Pool, which fronts on the most spectacular tall cliffs riddled with lava tubes creating cavernous spaces where one can clamber down and see waves splashing in the cathedral-like gloom. I had my usual urge to swim, and made it over the boulders and through the surf to enjoy the crystal blue waters beyond. Unfortunately Tuko bravely attempted to follow me and was tumbled onto the rocks and had to nurse a very sore back for a day.

On Sunday we were assigned Hana Town as our location to paint, since Jan had organized an "artist hunt" for hotel guests to amuse themselves in seeking us out. Tuko and I drove down to the bay itself where colorful outriggers were lined up on the curving pinkish sand, and the sun was bathing the heights of Haleakala beyond the cozy village. An hour or so later we were treated to the visual feast of crews hoisting big many-colored sails and launching their flotilla as part of a circle-island race.

One of the memorable images of our trip occurred the last morning. We didn't have a great view of the sunrise, but we did have front-row seats to the spectacle of Jan Bushart scurrying around in the early morning hours getting set up to do a last Hana painting of the rising sun.

We were treated to a wonderful cocktail and dinner party at a gracious home in the Koki Beach/Hamoa area, by a very beautiful young art collector, Tamara. Happily for me she selected four of my paintings to purchase, which of course made me feel great, and helped pay for my trip! Here are the four paintings she bought (I'll post the others later)

On our way back to the airport we dropped by my good friend Persis's house where she is letting me stash my art supplies which is an enormous benefit. Especially in light of the airlines' not allowing us to travel with our oil-based paints and solvents. I left her a little painting of Hana bay which -- even though I hate to paint at such small dimensions -- does capture some of the charm of that place.