Inspiration Freshly Picked

Morning arrived gray, low clouds hung so heavy with moisture it felt like sitting in a bamboo steamer, minus the tasty dumplings. Thank goodness our trade winds linger, a little shy at times, but always welcomed with grateful sighs of relief.

Last night the rain, envoys from a storm to our south, paid us a visit. Our white plumeria tree must have played host, so many of its blossoms now carpet the ground at its base like abandoned party favors from the late night revelers.

Our summer seems to be winding down in its own subtle way, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a bag of these late bloomers, a gift from a friend’s yard, hanging on my kitchen door.

Freshly picked

Mangoes are the sweetness of summer sunshine wrapped in rainbow hues of blended colors. I carefully pull each rounded fruit from the bag, taking in their scent and turning them gently round and round in my hands, admiring the way the colors dance and blend. The sight of a ripening mango always sings to me of watercolors and it is a challenge not to drop everything, load up the brush, and start painting immediately. I want to memorize the way the colors mingle so subtly from cool greens to vibrant yellow. But these beauties are ripe and smell good enough to eat on the spot.

Playing around with set upThe solution is a few quick set ups taking photos for reference …

A loose sketcha couple of loose sketches, and then back to the kitchen.

As I peel and slice my way through memories of summers past, I cannot help but stare for a moment at my hands, now covered with mango juice…what is that color? Gamboge? Maybe a mix of Orange Lake and Hansa Yellow or even Aureolin? I sift through the discarded peels … Is that a hint of Quinacridone Gold next to Rose Lake? And what a lovely purple, maybe a mix of Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Magenta or even Alizarin Crimson? Alright, this is becoming distracting, time to paint.



My creative journeys are not always planned and unless there is some sort of deadline involved there is always room to indulge in my penchant for meandering. Case in point, I had been continuing my explorations of waterfalls and simple still-lifes with collage, but now with the arrival of freshly picked inspiration I am excited to wander off the paper trail, maybe explore different styles while playing in pools of color. I will probably linger here for a bit and enjoy the remains of summer, at least until I feel the urge to meander once again.

Remembering summer

Remembering summer


Collage: The journey across familiar landscapes

Our trades are back. Outside the coconut trees wave their leafy fronds as if greeting newly arrived friends, and the breeze in return brushes past with a cool embrace and whispers of storms far out to sea.

With the weight of the past week’s oppressive heat being lifted by the return of the trades, it feels good to get started on the next part of the journey across collage landscapes.

It has been a few years since I have traveled across these paths of collage, but like many journeys, if you walk a path long enough and far enough, you may begin to see familiar surroundings. Like the oddly shaped boulder at the curve in the road, or the cluster of trees that makes me think of a group of old friends telling secrets.

Painted map

Painted map

Similarly, with painting the collage landscape, some portions, those previously lain down by the original loose under painting are easily recognizable, but in the beginning, the rest of the terrain seems new and strange and requires time to just sit and stare. This part can be very meditative, while focusing only on the collage, the external worries and distractions of the day are ignored and allowed to drift away, and as they do the mind begins to see a landscape emerge from the torn paper shapes on the table.

Collaged underpainting

Collage under painting

After a while, once I have reminded myself for the umpteenth time to relax and not worry about the end result, I see my first ‘familiar’ shape. It is just a rock, a bit off to the side of the waterfall, but I like the shape and color, it becomes my starting point. From there I let my mind wander to the next connecting shape and then the next, like piecing together a puzzle, but only with my eyes and mind. Eventually I can ‘see’ the landscape, I have found the familiar shapes of the terrain, and am ready to begin painting and exploring.

Familiar shapes appear

Familiar shapes appear

The start might be slow at first, but with each step my confidence grows and the pace begins to quicken which is why I try to remember to stop periodically and take a step back. If I do not pause every now and then I might not notice that the path I seem to be following is a false trail and a better one is available. When that happens all I need to do is load my brush with water and lift the paint, much like sweeping away my footsteps from the pathway. I let the area dry and then begin again, only in a different direction. This back and forth business, sort of like a dialogue with the painting, will continue for the duration. Eventually I come to the end of the landscape but not the journey.

A landscape appears

A landscape explored

I will let the piece sit for a few days and come back to look at it again with fresh eyes to see if there will be any changes made or not. In the meantime another collage landscape is waiting to be discovered and the adventure continues.