Pepper Shrimp

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Oil on canvas, 8″ x 12″

I went on a cross- country journey last week, going the long way around from Kingston to Montego Bay, and so we passed through Middle Quarters, a junction deep in the heart of rural Jamaica. We pulled into the side of the road to decide which road to take, and were immediately flanked by a handful of women  who thrust bags of pepper shrimp in through the windows and demanded a sale. We happily complied, and they advised us on the best direction to take, and we parted ways, us with a bag of spicy river shrimp, a delicacy from that area alone, and they with a sale.

Delicious thought they are, they’re a bit messy to eat, especially in a car, so after enjoying one or two of them, my daughter put them in the igloo so their very pungent smell was contained, and so they would remain fresh enough for me to get them home…I had decided they’d make a great subject to study, and here is the result. This is one sitting, and the paint was wet and fluid so I had to stop. I think there are one or two little definitions to add and then they’re done. They are such lovely things, and their shells are so red, and their shapes so dramatic. And they taste amazing….

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“The Dance”

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“The Dance” Oil on canvas, 41″ x 37″

This piece is meditation on this journey of life. It’s therefore also about death. The word ‘death’ is collaged onto his chin, and it’s a reminder that death can happen at any time. Rather than something to be scared of, to shy from in fear and avoid, by accepting the reality of death we can embrace life as supremely precious and valuable.

I read something this morning that expresses a perspective so well: “Most humans believe that you come into these bodies and you live for a little while and you get it right or you don’t and then you leave, when really what is happening is you are eternal. You never really leave.”

When we are in a awareness of the transience of life, and accept that passing through death is just a passing, and nothing to be afraid of, we are in a state of grace. We can shed fear. Staying in that ‘posture’, that  connection, our trusting angelic self is expressed, and then Life’s journey can be a synchronistic dynamic dance of interaction, of joyful movement, of self-awareness.

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detail

This piece was begun a few years ago, and worked on again a fortnight ago, and perhaps it still will evolve a little more. Sometimes, often in fact, an oil takes years before I know how it’s to complete. Revisiting in this way brought me back internally to the place and time when I first started working on it. I was dancing at the time, with choreographer Tony Wilson, a very joyful learning experience! The model for this piece was one of his professional dancers, hence the piece is called “The Dance”.

Timelessness….

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36″ x 48″, oil on canvas

Spring brings the agapanthus, and in sketching them in watercolor and then in oil, the garden of my daughters’ childhood surfaced, appearing as if in a dream, being painted in an effortlessness that comes from an authentic place deep in my own soul….for this place was home for a decade, and if anything represents this special place, it is the agapanthus in Spring….

Two or three sessions with this piece so far, and hopefully not much more as I really don’t want to overwork what has emerged so easily….

Agapanthus Path

"Agapanthus Path", diptych 28"L x 20"W each oil on canvas

“Agapanthus Path”, diptych
28″L x 20″W each
oil on canvas

 

Having such a good time painting in oil…

For 10 years I lived in an old house in Mandeville, and like so many of those old houses in that misty hilly town, it was surrounded by a large lawn that had many borders and beds of agapanthus. Known as Mandeville lilies as they thrive in the cool damp climate there, there were thousands of them. They towered over my young daughters as they played amongst them like little fairies, and many a Springtime birthday party was festooned with these flamboyant flowers, adding to the festivities with flair and flounce! Hey, it’s my blog and I can alliterate all I like…

Easter Mantra: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again….

I must have done a dozen watercolors with Bouganvillea flowers as my subject since my last post, and still I haven’t reached the effect I want.

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The sketches are to help forge a direction for development in oils, but I would like them to be successful as watercolors in themselves, and that is becoming increasingly challenging.

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Trawling the internet for good examples of flowers in watercolor, paintings that understand the technique of the medium, and are fluid and spontaneous, exciting and look effortless, has been fruitless. Is it really that difficult that no one is doing it? It can’t be so…

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I think I need to minimize my palette. I also need to use a timer so I don’t keep working and working in a medium that is best when executed quickly. And maybe give it a break, leave the breezy veranda and go off to the studio to try these flowers in oils…

It’s not the flowers I want to portray but rather a feeling of femininity….

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More Pouie Tree Paintings

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Oli on canvas, 36” x 40″  (still being worked on)

This painting began a few months ago and I was happy enough with the initial strokes and composition to leave it, wondering if it was one of those rare paintings that practically had painted itself and so was done. I got on with other work and hadn’t really looked at in months. Then earlier this week something made me take it down off the wall (tucked away in a corner it was) and paint again, this time with more abandon than before… the freeness is EXACTLY what I want to achieve; to paint without being precious, and to allow the paint to lead the way. It is quite wet at the moment so I’ve left it for a few days, but I think its not needing much more before its done. I’m beginning to see more clearly, to paint with more lightness and enjoyment. Its feels good. Hope I can finish it without getting finicky….

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