“We Likke but we Tallawah”

FMG-SBM171008d

Collage and acrylic on hardboard panels, 20′ x 6′

Now that Starbucks has officially opened their first cafe in Montego Bay I no longer have to keep my work a secret! It all started towards the end of the summer with an email and then a phone call from the wonderful Starbucks designer Denise. Then some brainstorming, a few watercolor sketches, the submission and the approval process, and we were off, into the big time with 5 4’x6′ panels stretching the length of my veranda. Just feet away the deluge of passing hurricanes dumped never-ending rain as I pored through stacks of  my mother-in-laws recent Gleaners, which as Divine Guidance would have it were filled with the best photographs of Jamaican life, having just come through the London Olympics and the season of Emancipation and Independence. Slowly over the weeks the piece took shape, and when it was finished we hired a van to get it across the island to the beautiful space of the new cafe, where my super-talented husband Bruce installed it. I did some finishing touches, and we met another lovely Starbucks designer, Jeremiah, who lit the piece so perfectly – every artist’s dream – and we stayed with our lovely friends at The Wharf House, a slice of heaven. Every moment of the experience was wonderful, and I am so thankful for this opportunity to have grown as an artist. With Jamaican culture as my subject it was a heartfelt and enriching experience in every way. Below, after these shots of details, is a description of the work:

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Installation and finishing touches time…

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detail – The Doctor Bird, symbol of Jamaica

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detail – the sky a quilt of songsheets, the hills a host of musicians

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detail – the mane resplendent with athletes

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detail – Montegonians and local dress designers Sandra Kennedy and her mother

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detail – the Jamaican national anthem

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detail – Usain Bolt on top of the world!

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detail – the louvres a bank of artistes

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a cameo of Jamaican life culture

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detail – Bolt, Marcus Garvey, Peter Tosh and more…

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detail – Bolt in the coffee bushes

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During installation…

A description of the whole piece:

“This bright and colorful mural celebrates the best of Jamaica; from our musicians to our athletes to our world-famous coffee and our beautiful island landscape, it illustrates a common Jamaican expression, “Wi Likkle but wi Tallawah’, meaning that although we are small, our impact is massive!

Prominently featured in the center of the piece is the Lion of Judah, a symbol of strength and pride, an icon internationally associated with the Reggae music of Jamaica. Facing the lion is the Doctor bird, a hummingbird endemic to the island and the national bird of Jamaica. Known in Jamaican folklore as a messenger from the spirit world, it is a fitting homage to the lasting influence of those who have built our culture over time. The juxtaposition of the beauty, speed and agility of such a feisty little bird with the noble majesty and stature of the handsome lion represents the best of the Jamaican character; charisma, dignity, confidence, joy and winning speed.

On either end of the mural coffee branches grow, their berries glistening gold and red, representing what many connoisseurs consider to be the best coffee in the world. Behind them is the landscape of the Blue Mountains, where the famous coffee bushes grow, and above this view of the island’s interior a bank of louvers frames the composition. This tropical architectural element is also featured above the windows of the coffee shop, thereby connecting the mural with the space within which it is displayed.

 

The mural is created with layers of collaged paper taken from local newspapers, and from album covers spanning years of the island’s musical output. All the images feature the people of Jamaica, and these layers of collage are combined with glazes of paint. The overall effect is rich and resonant, allowing for much of Jamaican culture to be explored and enjoyed by the viewer. It is guaranteed to give rise to many conversations that center on an appreciation of just how much this little island has given the world.

To list just a few:

  • The lion’s mane is a mass of athletes, all wearing the yellow gear of our track teams, our footballers and our cricketers, and crowning the top of the mane (and indeed the world), a victorious Usain Bolt revels in glory. The Lion’s face features The Skatalites, Peter Tosh, and a young boxer, and emerging from the lion’s ear is the wonderful Jimmy Cliff, star of the film ‘The Harder They Come’.
  • The sky against which the Doctorbird hovers is a quilt of well-known songs and lyrics; Sitting in Limbo, My Boy Lollipop, No Woman No Cry and many, many more
  • The louvers filter light through a dancing couple, and beside them are album covers of the music of ska, Ernest Ranglin, Third World, Harry Belafonte, Shaggy, Sizzla and Damian Marley, to name just a few. On the other side of the Lion the louvers feature the National Anthem, a salutation to Jamaican farmers, and a headline mentioning the Jamaican Chess team.
  • The Blue Mountains undulate behind beachgoers enjoying their Beach Day, and emerging from the rich green hillsides are the faces of Grace Jones, Steel Pulse, Luciano, Buju Banton, Bob Marley, Millie Small and Miss Lou. James Bond, a character created in Jamaica by Ian Fleming, blends in with the mists and the Lion’s whiskers.
  • Amongst the coffee branches and flowers, Starbucks’ intention to support Jamaican farmers is featured, as are local fashion creators Sandra Kennedy and her mother, and on a coffee leaf on the far left side, Usain Bolt points his iconic pose to the Doctor bird in the sky.”
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Pepper Shrimp

SAM_1718

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….

Jade Vine

"jade Vine", oil on canvas, 4' x 3'

“jade Vine”, oil on canvas, 4.5′ x 3′

So very happy to have gotten the chance to revisit this painting from last year! It hangs on the entrance wall of a beautiful villa in Round Hill, in natural light, with an amazing panoramic view of garden leading to the sea, lots of sky and light and dappling sunshine: absolutely perfect for this large painting! So good to see it again, and to take a photo of it, which I hadn’t done in it’s finished state. And the best thing of all was that the very lovely lady who now has it in her home spoke to me of how it went straight to her heart, and thereby gave me the invaluable lesson to paint only from my heart. Feeling really excited to enter the studio this morning!

On the road again


In March of this year  Young at Art teamed with the fabulous Nikki Delicious of Montego Bay to offer a workshop on her veranda, introducing the fundamentals of painting a face to North Coasters. It was so successful we were asked to  repeat the workshop to a (mostly) new group, and so we returned this weekend to the lovely setting of her home and garden.

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Painting Studio by the Pool and Patio

Beginning on Saturday morning with how to mix colors and tones, and how to use brushes effectively to apply paint well, unique pieces were created with a limited palette. Below are the results:

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All Roads lead to the Centre

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The Colorist

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miss tammy

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The Flower and the Fiends

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Always Return to Source

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Sea Sand and Surf

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Meditation

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Zany Superhero Shield

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Coming Through

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Mexican Plate #2

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Mexican Plate #1

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World Cup Kicks Off!

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Cushion Collection

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Transforming

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Refreshment

Beautiful work emerged, and through these expressive pieces we got to know each other in surprising ways.

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Group discussion

Taking a break for lunch, we returned to learn the fundamentals of drawing a face  objectively, and seeing tonal values.

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Drawing on Nikki’s breezy veranda

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Focus and concentration

We finished up Day 1 with some lovely pencil studies of faces, for many students their first attempt at seeing the face as a series of shapes, and adapting to a new way of seeing. Tiring but satisfying work.

Sunday morning we began with a demonstration of painting a face, using the paint mixing and application lesson from the day before to render a face with smooth clean colors.

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Demonstration

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Is this work or play?

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Masterpieces emerging!

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Mace raising the bar

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Painting – a newfound passion

The work is all so beautiful!!

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Tammy’s Girlfriend

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J’shri

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Teacher’s Star Student

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Mind over Matter

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Surf Boy

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Alien Robot Saves the World

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Mirror Mirror

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Peacefulness

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Getting the Groove On!

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Football Fan

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Regal and Strong

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MoonBather

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A Quick Sketch

Mace's Masterpiece!

Mace’s Masterpiece!

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Bruce Bust Out

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Raw Talent….

Gathering at the end of the Weekend Workshop to view the work…

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The Gallery

…creating a gallery of our own in this home of fun and art, the most perfect environment in which to explore creativity and develop friendships. Give thanks!

 

‘GODDESS’

Been so long since I posted anything that I can hardly remember what to do…

8' x 3'

8′ x 3′ acrylic on canvas

Its also been a while since I’ve painted outside of my Young at Art program. I have been teaching since January, and all my creative energy has gone into the 40 students that come to the house every week. Although I paint for the classes, its different when one is painting alone, with no audience or lesson in mind. This is the first one of my own in a while, and only a ‘finishing’, as it was actually begun a few years ago, so a good way to reenter the solitary world of painting…

“Goddess” was begun at what’s called a ‘Goddess Retreat’, a weekend with two sisters, Caroline and Nikki Delisser in Montego Bay.  I cannot explain what happens there, other than there’s lots of magic and hocus-pocus, paint and wild women, laughter, tears, healing and incredulity.  We paint without instruction, and we discover aspects of the Self that we may not have otherwise. Its fun, and this is where this painting was born…I have attended a few over the years, and have always been surprised by what has emerged, and this one showed me that I have all that I need within, and that its by allowing our own energy to flow without restrictions that we enjoy life fully.

At 8′ tall, and having been painted on the floor, I didn’t realise that  the body’s proportions were not quite right until I hung the canvas upright. She needed more work, so today we reacquainted ourselves and maybe she’s now ready – I will live with her for a few days and see if anything else needs attention.

"GODDESS' close up