…And Dreams to Come

changing-season

Changing Seasons

Ocean winds sing while rain and thundering surf tell stories of memories and dreams to come.

To our wonderful WP blogging community, dear friends, and visitors, a heartfelt thank you for a year of kindness, encouragement, and friendships.  As we turn the page my wish for you is a year filled with wonder and creative works, days filled with peace, love, and every sort of kind and good thing, and nights filled with music for the soul and sweet dreams of inspiration.

Peace.

World Watercolor Month: Week Two

It is Aloha Friday in the islands and the second week of the World Watercolor Month challenge seems to have rushed by like ocean trade winds sweeping along the shore line.

This week was full of experimenting, playing with colors, going in all sorts of directions, and asking myself “How much is too much and how little is too little?” It will be fun to look back at the end of the challenge and see what studies can be developed for larger paintings, and what sorts of ideas or patterns emerged.  But until then there is fun to be had while paint brushes dance along the water’s edge across paper shores.

Draw a Bird Day: African Silverbill…maybe

Outside the room where I usually paint, there is a boisterous Tithonia Diversifolia, sometimes called a tree marigold, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower, or Nitobe chrysanthemum. Throughout the day the tall shaggy plant dances to passing breezes and seems to collect birds of all types.  Yesterday a small flock of petite sepia brown birds joined in the afternoon dance, hopping among the leaves and dried seedpods of the sunflower tree.  Yesterday, was also “Draw a Bird Day”, celebrated by our blogging community on the 8th of every month and currently being hosted by Laura at Create Art Every Day.  These little feathered visitors seemed to be volunteering as subject matter for a painting.

I am guessing, as they blended in so well with the dried leaves and managed to flit quickly from spot to stem, that they might be the African Silverbill, or Lonchura Cantans. Long known in the islands as the “Warbling Silverbill”, (which turns out to be a different species altogether and a whole different story), these tiny Silverbills are thought to have been released on the Big Island of Hawai’i in the mid 1960’s.  Since then they have managed to fly across island channels and established themselves throughout the island chain.   Considering they are roughly 3 inches in length, give or take, that they navigated over rough ocean waters just boggles my mind with admiration and amazement.

Always a welcome distraction to the day and a delight to watch, they often travel in little groups sitting on tall stalks of grass and plucking seeds or nesting material, or visiting the shaggy sunflower tree outside my window and making the most of what it has to offer.

A bit late in the posting, taking time from today’s painting to finish what was started yesterday. These small feathered charmers are a subject I would like to revisit again, maybe even figure out if they are Silverbills or some other bird like a Waxbill instead.  Any excuse for taking a time-out to sit and keep company with these tiny warbling little birds.

African Silverbills copy

African Silverbills…maybe?

World Watercolor Month: Week One

Like any new adventure, the first step on a journey is usually made with confidence and determination, and if you are me, the next few steps might be less graceful with a mixture of pirouettes and stumbles. No matter, where water is involved any landings will be light and refreshing, or so I keep telling myself.

I also keep telling myself to “Let go, loosen up, and have fun,” this month’s self-motivating mantra for the duration of the 31 day challenge.

Doing studies, nothing serious, seems to be an easy generalized direction to start off with, and it is fun to see things evolve, to experiment and sometimes just goof off.  Day #2 is a classic example of a painting going sideways very quickly, but it became a good opportunity to doodle and play with inks. So far so good, the first week of the World Watercolor Month has been relaxing and educational.

The days tumble one into the other, a few moments here and there, a swish of the brush, and water carries dreams of colors across doorways made of paper for a month long journey of fun and exploration.

The journey so far:

 

World Watercolor Month Begins

July has arrived and along with it the first annual World Watercolor Month celebration.  Charlie at Doodlewash, who initiated the World holiday, has proposed 31 days of painting with watercolors to celebrate, and along with artists from around the World, it seems like a fun thing to do.

It all begins with one step, or in this case…one painting. Happy World Watercolor Month!

Holding a white plumeria

July 01: Holding a white plumeria

White plumeria

Sweetens gentle ocean trades

Singing island songs

-hkmb

(With no theme for the month it is just play and have fun, make mistakes and splash around. Arches #140 CP; 11″x15″ using only a flat 1″ brush with transparent Daniel Smith and M. Graham watercolors…and plenty of coffee. lol.)

June Plumeria

It was the best intention, really, to take a few days, a few moments, to wander about the yard, painting and sketching, posting #NatureDoodlewash and joining in with Charlie, (from Doodlewash), and his fun plans for June. Then one thing led to another, a flower reminded me of a painting done last summer which included plumeria blossoms and mangos, it started me wondering if it might be fun to revisit the subject, which took me back inside to the easel, splashing in paint and water, visiting memories and shutting the door on my ‘hiking’ in the yard. Easily distracted it seems.

002 copy

A result of my distraction.

Now we are counting the days, minutes even, to July’s debut of National Watercolor Month. All one has to do is visit Facebook to get a sense of the excitement and energy that is building, on an international level, for the start of Charlie’s 31 day National Watercolor Month challenge and fundraising for the Zebra Foundation. To get a feel for it, visit here, watch the video, start getting your painting gear together and join the rest of us as we wait, excitedly and with eager anticipation for the start of July.

In the meantime, there is still June, where have all the days gone? So out the door I go, and with determination not to be distracted I am met again by white plumeria blossoms waving at me brightly under a summer sun. Feels like déjà vu.

003

Focus on the flowers…

The Singapore plumeria tree, our Grande Dame of the yard, despite the cat’s opinion, is wearing her summer frock of dark green glossy leaves.  A few months ago a single white flower bloomed on one of the lower branches and was promptly plucked by a howling northerly wind, our rainy season’s final stormy tantrum.

It seemed that the tree did not approve of losing the blossom so early, and as if overnight, with island magic, large bouquets of white plumeria began to flower all over the dark canopy.  The white flower petals easily reflecting the light of sun and moon had become a gleaming defiant crown of heavily scented blossoms for the tree.   Now as ocean trades slip by, the large clusters of flowers, nestled among the dark green leaves, nod and sway gracefully in the breezes, as if dancing to the song of summer.

Plumeria Sketching

Plumeria sketching

Draw a bird day: Kōlea

Kolea

Kōlea

Navigators fly

Return to cold distant shores

Voices on the wind

Last night I heard the passing warble of a Pacific Golden Plover, (Pluvialis fulva), or, as we call them, Kōlea.  The name is an onomatopoeia that copies the plover’s flight call.

A timely reminder that April 8th is Draw a Bird Day, a monthly event in our blogging community formerly hosted by Laura at Create Art Everyday, and now cared for by Nina and Kerfe at Method Two Madness.

The Kōlea, navigator, messenger from the gods, guardian spirit, a god incarnate, and a familiar island guest, have wintered here long before man stepped foot on these sandy shores. Many believe the birds helped to guide early Polynesian explorers here and elsewhere in the pacific so it is not surprising they are part of our earliest oral history and even down to today they remain part of our belief system.

These amazing and mighty long-distance flyers, not only find their way back to tiny little specks of lava rock in the middle of the ocean, but they also find the same specific wintering grounds in the islands each year, … such as someone’s backyard.  There is a record of a banded Kōlea returning to the same site for over 20 years. No wonder many island residents become attached to seeing their guests arrive year after year.

Most Kōlea have fattened up and their plumage has changed from the golden sandy colors they arrived with in the fall, to more striking breeding plumage complete with a white racer stripe.  By next week a few will start to leave, and near the end of the month, large groups will depart on their arduous non-stop journey to as far north as the Arctic tundra.

Though a very few will remain over the summer, by the end of April the absence of Kōlea will be noticeable and people will start marking calendars waiting for their return in the fall.  There is still so much to learn from these travelers, they are a link not only to past traditions, but possibly our future as environmental conditions change.  As we say in the islands, Aloha a hui hou! (Farewell until we meet again)

 

(Sketch in Stillman & Birn Zeta series using Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Brown Oxide (Daniel Smith) and Ultramarine Blue (M. Graham) watercolor.)

Memory Keepers

Tonight in Hilo, Hawaii, the music of hula can be heard.  Carried on the evening breeze, melodic voices raised in chant and song, the percussive rhythms of shark skinned drums and hollowed out gourds, the vibrating strings of ukulele and guitars. This week marks the 53rd Annual Merrie Monarch Festival with a week-long celebration that includes parades, arts and crafts, exhibits and fairs, and of course hula, performed in traditional and modern styles.

While every day unfolds pathways for creative journeys, events like this can offer inspiration at every turn and from so many different sources such as the melody of a song, the words of a chant, the strong and graceful movements of a dancer, or the sweet fragrance of blossoms and ferns woven into a lei.

Honoring our ancestors and our elders, being thankful for the traditions handed down while being firmly in the present and looking forward to the future, this is definitely a time for celebration and inspiration.

 

The Memory Keeper

The Memory Keeper

Stories old and new

Keepers of memory dance

Weaving lei with song

 

(Painting is watercolor and acrylic on Arches #140 cold pressed)

Lehua Rain

Playing with watercolors in a new sketchbook (Stillman & Birn Zeta series), working through ideas for a new painting…and, well… one thing led to another.

Lehua Rain

In a world of gray

Thoughts of love grow like ‘ōhi’a

‘I’iwi sing in lehua rain

A native tree in the Hawaiian islands, the ʻōhiʻa lehua is the first plant to grow on new areas of lava flow. The ‘I’iwi is a scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, a native bird with a unique bill shaped for drinking nectar.  The term “lehua rain” refers to the legend of the ‘ōhi’a tree where plucking a flower causes the heavens to weep at the separation of two lovers, ‘Ōhi’a and Lehua.

Draw a Bird Day: Corvus Hawaiiensis

Celebrating Laura’s (Create Art Everyday) Draw a Bird Day, (every 8th day of the month), with a poem and watercolor sketch of the Hawaiian Crow, (‘Alala or Corvus Hawaiiensis).  Working in a sketchbook not really meant for the use of water, the items used were pencil, Ultramarine blue (M. Graham) and Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel Smith) watercolor.

Hawaiian Crow

Before the last pair disappeared from the wilds, conservationists began a captive breeding program with the goal to prevent extinction and eventually reintroduce birds back into their former habitats.  The story is far from over, the program continues and there is growing hope that one day the distinctive call of the Hawaiian crow will again be heard in the forest wilds.