Here's a little chaotic painting I did a while back.
I have some strange miswiring in my brain that drives me completely bonkers. I can't leave the house in one shot. More often than not, I forget some things along the way.
I don't try to forget stuff it just happens. I'm not sure if it's a function of getting older or if it's just something inherently wrong with the way my brain works.
Yesterday, I had an appointment at the dentist. I was determined to get there on time.
Sometimes, the more I want to be on time, the more my plans to fall apart. The universe introduces a little more chaos in my life than might usually be there. The more I want it to get into order; the more anarchy rules the roost.
I'm sure the second law of thermodynamics plays a critical role in my life (the second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system always increases - things go from order to disorder).
I was leaving the house yesterday. I was all ready to go. I got into the garage, almost to the car, and realized I'd forgot my sunglasses. It was a brightish day, so I stopped on the steps to be sure I wanted them. I thought, "Of course you need your sunglasses, you silly boy, go back and get 'em."
I went back and got my sunglasses. Mission accomplished.
Heading back out to the car, I sat in the driver's seat, and as I was getting ready to start the car I thought, "Just in case you get held up in the waiting room shouldn't you have your earbuds so you can listen to music or a podcast or something (rather than to despair, drills, and drooling) to pass the time waiting on the dentist (my buddy Super-Dan the Dentist)."
I went back in to get my earbuds. Mission accomplished.
Backing out of the driveway, brought another thought, "Don't you think you'd like to have your phone; since you have your headset, you may as well bring your phone." You see, when I went in to get my sunglasses, I put my phone down to look for them. So I had the headset and glasses, no phone.
I went back in to get my phone. Mission Accomplished.
I thought I'd remembered everything when I set off the first time. I thought I had my shit together, but just like every time I try to leave the house, something happens, I'll think, "Hey, I should go in and get a drink. It's going to be a longish drive." or, "wouldn't it be nice if you actually brought your wallet."
I've even tried using a checklist; albeit a mental checklist.
I am leaving the house.
Okay - make sure you have: Wallet, Keys, Passport, Money, Glasses.
Perhaps I need to come up with mnemonic like, "Will Mother Pass My Glass Kettle." or some other strange but similar thing.
Part of the problem is I am usually rushing, and rushing can cause a variety of vexing situations. I always think I have more time than I do. I still think I can get that one more thing done before rushing out the door.
I'm convinced I'll do better the next time. I'm confident I'll give myself more time, but it never happens.
Like when we were on holiday in Spain. It was a lovely little rental in The Alpujarra. The owner of the property said, "when you leave, leave the keys inside and when you close the door it will lock. My housekeeper has a key, and she will be by later to clean the house."
We were in a little bit of a rush because we wanted to stop on the coast to watch the ocean a little before heading to the airport.
Being the obedient tenants that we are, we left the key in the house and closed the door as instructed. As we were walking up to the car, it dawned on me; the car keys were also inside the house. My heart sunk and my shoulders dropped. I had to break the news to Andrea.
Slowly she turned. Step by step, inch by inch, I could see the disappointment growing. "God, Scott, not again!"
It's become an oh so familiar mantra, Andrea says, "No clean getaway again eh?" with that little disappointed sigh.
The landlord was thirty minutes away. There was no way for him to get to the house in time. Andrea dialed his number. I couldn't talk to the guy. He was a German who spoke more Spanish than he did English. I have difficulty with English at the best of the times. It's much better that Andrea called.
After a bit of hemming and hawing, she stared at the ground for several seconds. I don't know if she wanted me to have a heart attack or not. After a while, she lifted her head and said, "The cleaner only lives around the corner; she'll be here in just a couple of minutes."
Then, the "Scott ... we have to start keeping tabs on each other. We can't just let things keep happening to us!"
I know she meant me but it was very nice of her to include herself.
It's a cross I have to carry. I hope it improves over time but I don't think so. I just hope I can continue to bear the slings and arrows that come my way. It's liable to only get worse with age. I'll try to ease into it, make my peace with it.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I ran across this week's artist in Montreal this weekend at the Gallery Le Luxart. The gallery highlights the work of about thirty Québecois and Canadian professional artists. I found most of the art there engaging.
One artist that stood out to me was Hugo Landry. Hugo lives and works in Quebec City and uses a palette knife/spatula to create his paintings. They are colorful, and I could stare at some of them for hours.
I don't often go for completely abstract works, but the colors and rhythm of his paintings just made me feel good. His works are in your face saturated with color that brings you to life.
I think it's important to take in art that stretches your imagination. For me, Hugo's art accomplishes that mission. It is a little ray of sunshine that can brighten your day.
If you'd like to have your day brightened by this Quebec artist you can visit him at any one of these galleries or internet venues.
Le Luxart, Montreal
Gallery Perreault, Quebec
This is a pointillist drawing I did of St Ives a while back. I haven't done much drawing this week.
I'm a bit preoccupied with the weekend coming up.
We're going to a family gathering in memory of my dad this weekend. I've been consternating over what to say.
I could talk about the things I learned from him. I could talk about the things that he did. I could talk about the kind of man he was. But all I know is what he was to me.
To me, he was upbeat and encouraging. He was firm but always fair and most of all, he was there. No matter what happening I knew I could count on him.
He didn't wear his heart on his sleeve. He didn't talk about himself, although he did have some pretty funny stories about this and that.
I didn't find out until about a couple of years ago he was wounded in the Korean War. I think it was that proverbial shrapnel in the backside story. I never looked to make sure.
Everybody knows he loved to play golf. I'm sure his love bordered on obsession and he passed a bit of that love of the game on to us. Dad even figured out how to use golf as a babysitter. One summer, more than once, when Neale and I were teenagers, he'd drop us off at the Palo Alto golf course in the morning and pick us up there on the way home from work.
We had such good times playing catch in the schoolyard behind our house and not such fun times getting up at five o'clock in the morning for hockey practice. Dad was deeply involved in what we did. He was a coach and encourager who set an example to follow.
After dad passed away and we got to know many of the people in his Arizona neighborhood, every one of them readily said what a great guy he was. One day, John and Gayle came by from next door; they love to tell stories about dad. They said, "John and Peggy were the best neighbors we've ever had."
One last thing.
When we were little, dad sometimes let us stay up to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. I loved the little mouse puppet called Topo Gigio. At the end of his spot on the show, Topo would sidle up to Ed and say, "Eddie, Keesa me Goo'night!" Later, when it was time for bed, dad would come to tuck us in and imitate Topo, "Keesa me Goo'night!" We'd giggle, get our kiss, and settle in for the night. Dad, every time I came to see you, you had a smile on your face and an encouraging word. I'll always remember how your face lit up when I walked in the door.
You gave me more than I can ever say. I'll always love you.
Goodnight Dad, sleep tight.
I Keesa you Goo'night!
I wish you peace.
I occasionally get updates from something called "Informed Collector." They hold a competition called The Bold Brush Painting Competition. This week I was turned on to a Chinese artist born in 1959 in Jilin Province, called Fengshi Jin. He's exhibited all over the world.
The painting of Keith Richards below has beautiful free-flowing strokes; he seems to capture the essence and all the hard years put on the septuagenarian rocker.
I was captivated by his style. It is very raw and very alla prima which means at first attempt. Each stroke he puts down, he puts down with confidence, leaves it there, and moves on. I'm captivated by this style.
I love the result. For those of us who like to watch paint dry, you can visit Fengshi Jin's YouTube channel where you can watch him paint. Personally, I love it.
If you're interested in checking out more of his work you can visit him at his website or on YouTube. If you're feeling up to it, you can visit his page on Daily Paintworks.
I hope you take a chance to look at his work and I hope you get out this week and make your OWN art.
I've wondered what I was going to write about all week.
We finished our island adventure, and that's all I've been able to think about all week.
All I've been able to think about was what was behind me. I haven't been thinking about is what's ahead.
That's what it must be like for that cowpoke ridin' off into the sunset.
You know, where the good guy's killed the bad guy, everybody loves him, he tips his hat to the townsfolk, kisses the girl he'll never have, points his trusty steed into the setting sun and rides off.
What does that mean?
Is the story over?
Is his life over?
Are the good times all gone?
All it means is that bronco bustin', gun-slinging, whiskey-soaked badass is at the end of one adventure and fixin' to take on another. It may be the end of the movie. It may even be the end of that particular story, but it's not the end of life.
"The Island" was an adventure. There were good times and not so good times.
There are lots of things I loved about living on an island:
There were lots of things I won't miss:
It was a marvelous adventure, but now it's time to move on.
If you read here, you'll always be up on the next adventure. I won't be sitting on the couch watching life rocket past.
I'll be out there living it and maybe even telling you about it.
I look forward to continuing to see you every week. There's lots more to come.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Valérie Butters is a Canadian artist who is from Ottawa, Ontario and studied at the Ottawa School of Art graduating in 2005. She currently lives and works in Pemberton, British Columbia.
Her paintings are referred to as -
"Fearlessly feminine" (British Vogue) and "Interestingly gaudy and exuberantly messy" (Montreal Gazette).
I see a lot of freedom in her paintings. Her art has freedom in practice that I would like to adopt in my work. I love the feel of it.
She sometimes paints with the brush at the end of a bamboo pole to help her gain the freedom and expression she wants to achieve.
I enjoy watching the short videos she posts on Instagram. You can also find her at these excellent internet venues.
Silk Art Gallery
There's a great interview with Valérie at Create Magazine .
Life is supposed to be easy, isn't it? In reality, what happens is often completely the opposite of easy. And that makes all the difference.
Last weekend was going to be fantastic. We went over to St John on Saturday to get our island retail and chill fix. I visited the Bajo El Sol Art Gallery, bought a shirt at another shop at Mongoose Junction, then headed to the Sun Dog Cafe for a couple of beers and some lunch.
We polished off a pain killer or two, had a bit of lunch/dinner, and walked on down to Cruz Bay to watch the water pass drift by with the passing hours.
A great start.
Sunday, we planned another lazy day. That's what Sundays are for, aren't they? They are for me.
After an expected slow, easy start, we headed down the bumpy road in our jalopy for a bit of beach time. We love to walk on Magens Bay Beach. It's somewhere between about three-quarters and seven-eights of a mile long. You can stroll up and down the beach, watch people playing in the water, smell the grills, feel the thrills, and generally "smooth' off dem edges."
I usually make fun of Andrea for wearing her flip-flops walking on what has to be some of the softest sand in the world. She has a good reason though. A few years ago a bee got in the way of her foot and the dreamy soft sand and deposited its stinger in her foot. It morphed smiling, happy Andrea into frowning, grumpy Andrea in less than a second.
This particular Sunday, I noticed and commented that she decided to go barefoot for the first time in a very long time.
We were well into our second length on the beach. Andrea was keeping a proper lookout for bees, and I said I would keep an eye peeled too. We wouldn't want grumpy Andrea to show up again. It was such a beautiful day.
Things change so quickly.
I guess I was paying too much attention to the reggae music, or the sun on the water, or, maybe, I was just bouncing around in my own head. Our little walk was interrupted when I felt like I stepped on a piece of glass, or a needle, or something else sharp. We often find small chunks of this or that on the beach. We do our duty to keep the beach clean, but apparently, some people aren't as diligent.
This time it wasn't a misplaced pop-top, chard of glass, or sharp piece of coral. What I stepped on, was one a pesky little black and yellow buzzer. Those little beggars hurt. My only consolation was watching it writhe on the ground, unable to sting anybody else.
I managed to get the stinger out and hobbled down the beach. I'm pretty lucky. I'm not allergic to bees, and the sting wasn't all that bad. There was no swelling, and the pain went away relatively quickly. Before too long, I was skipping down the beach like a teenager. Well, perhaps not skipping but at least I was walking without a limp.
I kept my eye peeled as we walked up and down the beach four times and I did not see another bee in the sand. According to my Fitbit, I took 6,338 barefoot steps on Magens Bay, and I did not see one other bee on the ground. The one I stepped on just happened to be the only bee I saw on the beach that day and that unfortunate soul ended up under my foot.
I guess I just bee-lucky.
Having recovered quite well from the great bee-tastrophy, we continued our pleasant Sunday stroll. I waited three and a half miles for my post-walk relaxation libation. So, I was a bit giddy when we stopped at the beach bar for a couple of painkillers before meandering down the beach to set up shop with our chairs, cooler, snacks, limes, rum-n-mixers.
I was sauntering down the beach, painkiller in hand, I must have had my head down. I was probably looking for bees.
Out of nowhere, a football (American football not English football) ended up connecting with my left eye socket from about twenty or thirty yards away. SMACK!
The first thing I felt was a rocketing pain that reached from my left eye socket to the back right quadrant of my head. The synapses must have had a good jostle because the next thing I felt was a complete numbness starting at my knees and traveling back up my spine. The earth started spinning, and my legs nowhere to be found. I collapsed like 245 pounds of slightly set jello into, what turned out to be, a lump on not so soft sand.
When everything stopped spinning, and I was able to get off of that ride, people were gathering around my sprawled beach body. My sunglasses were askew and falling off my head. The only thing left, of my once near full painkiller were little cubelets of ice next to my phone in the sand dangerously close to the next wave coming in.
The guy who threw the football ran up and was very apologetic. He first asked if I was okay - which I thought I was. But the cobwebs must have still been clouding my thoughts because when he asked if he could buy me another drink, I can only plead that I had a concussion on this one, I said, "No, I'm alright." I must not have been very alright. Turn down a free drink! How sad is that! I must have been out of my head delirious!!!!
As it turns out, that was the last physical assault on my body for the day. God had stopped having fun at my expense. We sat down and watched a magnificent sunset from an idyllic spot on a beautiful beach.
Just in case you thought I'd escaped the insult after my day of injury, when we got home and sat down to relax and watch a movie, the power cut out, and we decided it was time to call it a day.
Fast forward several days to Tuesday, I woke up and couldn't move my head. My skull seemed to have situated itself on the top of a very painful stick. My neck was stiff, and I couldn't turn to the right or the left. I was just short of going to the pharmacy and buying a neck brace.
Luckily, I stockpile painkillers (of the pharmaceutical type this time). Okay - Ibuprophen, Tylenol/Paracetamol, and Voltarol. Although I wish I had had a bit stronger stuff, in the end, it wasn't necessary.
Wednesday, stiff neck and all, we went for a nice walk with Marty, Girly, and Bob. I really got attached to Marty when he was found on Martin Luther Kings Jr.'s birthday (thus the name) several years ago. Now that we're leaving the island, I'll miss that ole fella. He's such a sweet soul. Girly is another foundling of the canine variety and an excellent walker, as long as you don't mind a bit of tugging. Bob, is not a dog, but sometimes, just sometimes, we do catch him barking at the moon. - just kidding.
That evening, God must have been bored because he showed up and started poking again in the form of a set of stairs, a cactus, and a clumsy oaf (me). Andrea was walking up the stairs in front of me from The Shoreline Restaurant when I tripped over one of the steps. I claim that the earth jumped up just enough to tip me off balance.
Poor Andrea. Her backside ended up snuggling up to a very prickly cactus. I tried to help, so she didn't fall entirely, but as it turned out I just pushed her more into the weeds.
When the dust settled, her shorts were full of hundreds of tiny cactus spines. It was so irritating, the poor woman had to remove her shorts and travel home from the restaurant in her knickers.
Yes, you're right, that did not make me her favorite person that night. We even had to stop for gas at which point she put my hat in her lap to disguise her lack of clothing.
I know the great cactus fall was all my fault. I can only plead clumsiness in my part. As Andrea says, "Scott, you don't tread lightly on this earth." I guess she's right.
So, my friends, this week has shall we say, been eventful.
As I lick my wounds and pack for our final departure from St Thomas, I wish you happiness, health, and good fortune. But most of all, I wish you peace.
This week I bring you, Layne Johnson.
I first spotted this talented creator from Texas on Instagram. He's quite a prolific Instagrammer.
He believes art isn't something he "does" it's who he is. I like that.
He says on his website, "I want my art to be a break from all the chaos and negativity."
Absolutely! I agree wholeheartedly. We all need a respite from the vitriol that is so prevalent today. That's part of the reason I have this website.
Though Layne produces some great portraiture, I get the feeling his heart is really with the landscape, and it shows. He wants to take his medium and transport you to a beautiful place, and for me, he does.
His cloud paintings are phenomenal. His paintings give you a real sense of their overwhelming size and grandeur on the landscape.
Clouds are pretty much made from the same stuff, but they can be dramatically different. Some are wispy as a breath of air, and some have such heft you wonder how they stay aloft.
Clouds are constantly evolving. If you watch them long enough, you can see them changing before your eyes. They grow, evaporate, shade you from the sun, and pour down rain. They can morph from one shape to another before you know it.
I love how different parts of the cloud reflect and filter light differently. Layne captures the whole spectrum of color from nature on his canvas.
He is, like many artists, a teacher. It's no good to just hold on to your talents or techniques. It's much better to spread the wealth around. If you want to learn his techniques and make beautiful art as well, you can order his online course or attend one of his in-person workshops.
But, don't take my word for it. Check out Layne Johnson's work for yourself. Here's where you can find him on the interweb. I'm sure he would appreciate a visit and a like or two on social media.
Facebook Instagram Twitter Website
No go out and make some art!
I did this painting of Latitude 18 when it was up and running. Latitude was our local hangout when we lived in Red Hook, and it was a hopping place back then with live music every night.
I spent some time today gazing listlessly out the window. I was taking in the fabulous colors and watching people frolicking in the bay.
Every once in a while I'm overwhelmed with the beauty of the ocean around here. The waters run from deep blue to the most tantalizing turquoise and aquamarine. When the sun shines, and the breezes blow off the sea, it's bright, beautiful, and most of the time it's serenely peaceful.
Sure, there is the occasional hiccup, but I don't mind most of the time. Most of the time, I've been pretty content and grateful to be here.
As we're planning to leave the island in a couple of weeks, I'm getting a bit panicky because I want to redo some of my favorite things before we go.
We want to visit St John and our favorite little haunt there like The Sun Dog Cafe, where lots of people gather to tip a few and have some laughs. I want to have a Pain Killer at the Beach Bar on Cruz Bay. I've heard its open for business now, so we've got to check it out.
It's time for one last round of our favorite bays and beaches.
We want to dip our toes in Honeymoon Bay on Water Island and perhaps relax to the smooth vibes of a local band.
We can't leave out Hull Bay, Magens Bay, Lindquist Beach, and I can't forget Sunset Beach.
I'm looking forward to visiting some of the many restaurants we've come to love: The Coconut Cove at the Ritz, The Twisted Cork in Frenchtown, Gladys' Restaurant in Charlotte Amalie, and Fresh Bistro at Yacht Haven Grande.
Unfortunately, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devoured a couple of our favorite haunts.
We've had to bid a fond farewell to Latitude 18 (painting above) on Vessup Beach and Epernay in Frenchtown. They have shuttered their doors permanently or quasi-permanently because of storm damage.
Mahogany Run, a once picturesque golf course, was ruined by the hurricane. What was once a beautifully maintained track of land is now, well, not. Trees grow out of the bunkers and bushes are sprouting out of the greens.
Yes, it's time to say goodbye to all our favorite places. On April 30th we're off on new adventures.
I can't wait to see what's next.
I'll be writing my last post from St Thomas for quite some time next week. I hope I'm able to report success on our final days in paradise.
Until next week, I wish you peace!
Not many of the artists I recommend in this newsletter come with a warning.
David Goodsell is a scientist. He's a "structural biologist." He studies the structures of cells and in particular, viruses. From his studies of these cellular structures, he creates his artwork.
He makes up the colors in his painting because the proteins he's represents have no real color. So he makes up the colors to help distinguish between the different functions each of the proteins have.
I think the representations are fantastic.
The reason I think Goodsell should come with a warning is not that he represents things like HIV, the Zika Virus, and other extremely hazardous cells in his paintings. It's because the subject he's representing makes you want to dig. You can lose yourself for hours in his work.
His artwork makes some very complex functions a little more understandable and accessible.
If you want to find David on the internet, you can find him at Molecular Art | Molecular Science. You'll find out all about him there.
Now go out and make some art!