National Pet Day

National Pet Day

National Pet Day

Joining Charlie’s invitation to celebrate a National or International Day with a doodlewash and because it is hard to resist the idea of celebrating National Pet Day, (April 11th), here is a morning doodle. Peace and happiness to all companions great and small and the people who love and care for them.

Friends through the seasons

Faithful in good times and bad

Sharing lives and hearts

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.)

Flowers and Birdsong

Flowers and Birdsong

Just another pen and ink sketchbook doodle (in between projects), while thinking about friends, International Women’s Day and the monthly draw a bird day started by Laura at Create art everyday, and of course done while listening to birdsong.

Smiles of true friends lift

Hearts like flowers and birdsong

Clouds tickle the toes

Like A Phoenix

Like A Phoenix

It is a time of transition, in-between creative projects, a time to put aside paint brushes and reach for the pencil and pens. What better place to relax and ponder over new directions than doodling in the sketchbook. I suppose the arrival of a New Moon and Chinese New Year were on my mind, it seemed to be the direction for my drawings and scribbles.  Here in the islands local celebrations include brightly colored decorations, lions dancing in Chinatown streets, and sharing plenty of good food with family and friends. The festivities herald seasonal change while allowing moments of reflection and offering hopes for another new year.

It is a time of transition, … a good time to pause, take a breath, and recharge the batteries before continuing creative journeys, under a shining moon, like a phoenix reborn and filled with possibilities.

Lunar promises

Bloom like a phoenix reborn

Red fire monkey laughs

Sketchbook meditation

things on a table

Morning mayhem

When setting out on a journey, first things first, which direction to go in?  Because I usually have more than one project started, which direction becomes a daily question. The things I do, painting, writing, sewing, and gardening, are solitary pursuits, and unless I have company, am involved in a collaborative work, or facing a deadline, the choice of direction can sometimes be hard to make. To save time I like to plan the next day’s schedule before I go to bed, figure out the priorities, so that when I get started, I can run on automatic, at least for a short time, while waiting for my brain to wake up and catch up. That is the theory anyway. But sometimes there is just too much going on in my head to settle down and follow the previous night’s plan, too many “must” things demanding attention, too many “fun” things wanting to be done. So how do I decide? This is where my sketchbook comes in handy.

As far back as I can remember, growing up, pencil and paper were my ‘go to’ items, they helped me remember good times, offered escape in bad times, and afforded me a place in my mind that was quiet enough to let me focus and sort out whatever needed to be mulled over. Through the years, doodles, sketches, and creative marks, all helped to funnel the mental mayhem into something more manageable. But eventually my sketchbook went from every day use to only when ‘needed’, such as working out a problem composition, or as an emergency stand-in for a missing journal.

Recently, I have gone back to my old friend the sketchbook on a daily basis, the first thing in the morning and sometimes the last thing at night. It is not easy to rebuild an old habit, but it is very beneficial. To help the process, and keep it simple, I set aside time every morning and choose a subject matter per month. Nothing too complex but something of interest, for example, last month my subject was trees.

Support

Simple sketch

So every morning, while waiting for my tea or coffee to brew or with cup already in hand, I drew trees in pen and ink, uncomplicated, 30 minutes, and usually with enough time left on the clock to add some color if desired. After time is up I usually find that the exercise has helped to quiet the morning mayhem, to put my mind into a sort of meditative state making it easier to sort things out and settle on a direction for the day whether previously planned or not. Because the sketching is only for me, concern over presentation becomes a non-issue, and there is enough flexibility built in so that when life sometimes throws a monkey wrench, there is no stress if I miss a morning or two. Later when I make the time to ‘catch-up’ on any missing days, which is purely optional, my inner voice of accountability feels satisfied and whatever stresses I have collected from the day are dissolved in my 30 minutes, (up to an hour), of sketchbook meditation. More importantly though, the built in forgiveness allows this exercise to remain enjoyable and it does not take on the mantle of chore. A month’s worth of simple sketches in addition to those done outside the morning exercise adds up to a nice feeling of personal satisfaction and accomplishment.

An additional benefit to the morning sketching, I have noticed, is the emergence of themes, without conscious effort or design. By month’s end of just drawing trees, I had found inspiration for a new series of paintings which I am eager to get started on. Just more places I can explore on my creative travels.