Friday, April 30, 2010

"Red Ball"

My sister and I were very close in age, and early on, she took it upon herself to become my personal tutor. She drilled me on my facts and figures, and was the person who, along with the aid of a paper turtle clock complete with hands, taught me how to tell time. Although I was a proficient reader early on, this particular skill eluded me well into elementary school! Long before she studied photography officially and became a photography teacher, my sister was skilled in composition and design and all things visual. I on the other hand, had no sense of design or composition, and my snapshots invariably turned out black! She has been giving me photography tips ever since. This snapshot she took peaked my interest, and she graciously allowed me to paint a picture from her photo. "Red Ball" is a large scale acrylic painting on paper, 38" x 50" completed in 1980.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Still Life with Shell"

One day when I was walking to a drawing class at the San Francisco Art Institute I spotted a unique seedpod. It was on the cobblestone sidewalk across the street from the school. I thought it must have fallen from a tree or a nearby bush, and looked around at the nearby foliage for the source of the strange seedpod. It looked to me like the head of an animal--an antelope or goat perhaps, and I imagined myself fashioning the rest of the creature from sticks and leaves. I thought it was quite benign, and I imagined an endearing creature trotting about in a playful manner. At least it was not sinister in any possible stretch of my imagination. It sat on my shelf for a time, and somehow it seemed to harmonize with two other objects that were visually appealing--a beautiful shell, which harbored secrets unfathomable, and a broken light bulb, which probably signified a bad idea! At worst, the seedpod was a vegan alternative to an O'Keeffe skull! At best, it represented my prancing creature! Only recently did I find out that the seedpod is native to the Southwest, and is known by sinister names--but I don't believe any of that! "Still Life with Shell" is a colored pencil drawing on paper, 14" x 35," drawn in 1979.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Cantaloupe and Croissants"

Take a brisk walk or leisurely jog to the pier in the early morning. Make sure to note lifeguard station number 25. The beach is fairly deserted except for the occasional gull . Walk down the pier and back, pass the empty volleyball courts and the playground equipment. No bicyclists or roller skaters are out yet.
Back home, slice the cantaloupe, heat the croissants, make coffee. Relax on the deck and enjoy the morning. "Cantaloupe and Croissants" is an acrylic and oil painting on canvas, 50" x 70," painted in 1982.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Sand Castle"

First, dig a large moat, piling the sand in a tall mountain. Make sure the moat is connected to a vast source of water. Next, mound buckets of wet sand strategically on the mountain. Shape towers and stairways, turrets and walls. Drizzle even wetter sand hither and yon for a Gaudi-esque effect.
Take a break. Go for a long walk to the point. Have a picnic. Check the castle hours later when the tide comes in. Watch closely as each wave makes its way up the sides of the castle, making its own architectural design as it recedes. "Sand Castle" is 38" x 50," a watercolor on paper painted in 1987.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Turtles and tortoises are primordial beings from another age. This usually languorous individual snaps disapproval for being roused from its meditation. Dragonflies and over-sized hummingbirds
hover above in the perfumed air. Nasturtiums and patterned greenery abound. Other creatures
emerge from the color bytes to offer companionship to the ancient one. A contemporary naiad
soothes the savage beast in the carapace, before lowering it gently into the pond. "Turtle" is an
acrylic painting on canvas, 40" x 47," completed in 1982.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Agave is a plant with many uses, none of which were familiar to me when I first encountered it
in a friend's backyard in Santa Cruz, California. The bright yellow and dark green leaves were
striking, and more reptilian than plant to me. Each leaf seemed like an individual snake, ready
to strike at any moment. Surely the thorns would scratch the unwary, but I was more worried
about fangs inside the serpent's mouth, and the venom within. Beautiful and deadly, and a bit
playful. Perhaps it plays with its food. A bit cannibalistic--maybe it would snap up the small
birds that inhabited the yard! Maybe an agave leaf would sink its fangs into me!
Buzzing bees, heedless small birds, pixels of sunshine, swirling octagons of warm colors, and
morsels of snake meat and feathers and pricking thorns! I was obviously drunk on sunshine! Not being a drinker, I was unaware that agave is the main ingredient in tequila. Danger and pleasure both! On a quieter note, agave nectar, a natural sweetener, offers an alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. "Agave" is an acrylic painting on canvas, 40" x 44," painted in 1981.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Red Shrub"

One of the treasures of Great Falls, Montana is the walking trail and bike path down by the
Missouri River. It stretches for miles along the river, and every inch has it's own story. Pelicans, geese, ducks, swallows and the occasional bald eagle share the river with beavers, rabbits and
deer. As twilight approaches, antelope make their way down the slopes on the far side of the river.
The seasonal changes are reflected in the foliage and shrubbery along the banks and overhanging cliffs bordering the river. On a typical fall day I was astonished by the coloring of a small shrub. Surely it couldn't possibly be that bright! And why were the trees in the distance so yellow? The sky itself was an unbelievable shade of blue. The fall colors seemed positively tropical. "Red Shrub." oil on canvas, 2004, 72" x 48" is a tribute to a small shrub with a tropical
tendencies near the River's Edge Trail by the Missouri River.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Bang Bang"

In the early 1950s my sister and I were very young, and spent a lot of time running errands with our mother. We sometimes played in our silvery mint green Oldsmobile, while mom dashed in to make her purchases at various grocery and department stores in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii. On one day in particular, we found ourselves in the parking lot of Sears Roebuck and Company, which at present is the Honolulu Police Department. We had settled in for a pleasant fifteen to thirty minute stint in the parking lot. It was quite safe in those days. We were parked somewhere in the middle of the rather spacious parking lot. It was a quiet and lovely day in paradise. There weren't any other people in the lot--just a lot of cars. We noticed some movement at the rear of the parking lot. Another car had parked. A figure exited the vehicle. He seemed familiar, but a little out of place, in his western attire complete with cowboy hat and boots. Instantly we recognized him as Hopalong Cassidy, our favorite hero from the television adventure show. We were beside ourselves with excitement, and couldn't help beaming with happiness! Why shouldn't Hopalong Cassidy be riding in a car in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii rather than galloping on a gallant steed on the Wild West! As he neared our car, he noticed the two adorable local girls and strode over to the car. Smiling and introducing himself, he reached into his pocket and presented us with two Hopalong Cassidy badges.
Thousands of miles away, Tiny Montany donned his cowboy hat and full Hopalong Cassidy
regalia, sharpshooters at the ready. "Bang bang! Bang bang!" He never tired of playing cowboy.
Tiny never encountered Hopalong Cassidy in real life, although he did meet the Cisco Kid thanks to his father and his advertising company. Only later did Tiny realize that Keoki Origami from
Honolulu, Hawaii was targeting him with some paper projectiles.
"Bang Bang" is an acrylic painting on canvas, 36" x 48," completed in 1982.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Aqua Rider"

"Aqua Rider" is a watercolor on paper, 24" x 18" that I started in 2009 and finished in 2010.
It is somewhat abstract and stylized, what I call an all-over painting, in which the space is filled
with various imagery and calligraphy relevant to an overall theme. I let the viewer figure out the
story. Usually my story is different from that of the viewer. It's more fun to let each person come
up with an individual version. There are chess pieces, architectural forms, animals, aerial views.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"The Source--Giant Springs" 2009

The Source--Giant Springs" is a large-scale oil painting on canvas. It measures 60" x 48." I
build all my stretcher bars--the wooden frame the canvas is stretched over--myself. No power
tools are used. It's all with hammer and hand saw and staple gun. If you're using power tools--
air hammer, power saw, power staple gun--how nice for you!
A variety of life forms, plant and animal, including a magical bird, a squirrel and a bighorn sheep
are nurtured by the spring. Bubbling thousands of feet to the surface, the Giant Spring is the source of all life's delights.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Pet House Mountain" 2009 oil on canvas 24" x 30"

In this 2009 painting, a purple polka dotted cat perches on a rooftop, while a squirrel contemplates his nut supply. Various small furry and feathered creatures inhabit the structure, the house that chirp built.
The painting is among the thirty paintings on display in downtown Great Falls, Montana. There are abstract, landscape, and portraiture included. Large-scale oils--the biggest is 55" x 88" and
mid-size oil paintings, mixed media paintings on paper are on display. Montana landscapes, some horses and riders, children, animals, and even an enormous monkey pod tree from my home state of Hawaii are some of the themes included in the show.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"Jamaican Children" graphite on canvas, 1980s 28" x 40"

So far I prefer this earlier version of "Jamaican Children." But I'll continue to work on the oil painting. Hopefully I can bring it up to snuff before too long!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Jamaican Children"

I recently decided to do a painting from a drawing I did from a photograph of five Jamaican
children in Montego Bay. Their expressions were joyous, pensive, playful. The preparatory drawing became a favorite of mine and I couldn't bear to paint over it. I really wasn't up to doing another preparatory drawing.
Somehow, living in a small town in Montana, the time seemed right to tackle the project again.
I feel comfortable enough to paint freely without a preparatory drawing. Maybe I can show it in
downtown Great Falls, which in itself will be worth the effort.
And if you're wondering what became of my previous work in progress, "Sienna Moon," it was
snatched off my easel and is presently on display in downtown Great Falls. I never got a chance to
finish it.
We hung thirty paintings for the downtown Art Walk, an effort to draw people to the deserted downtown area, which has become a bit of a ghost town. Perhaps "Jamaican Children" will liven things up a bit!