Since I’ve Been Gone

IMG_5697 The BIG ISLAND

I thank all of you who have recently discovered this Blog in my absence and you loyal followers who have continued to read, substituting my Archives for the regular Blog entries, since I have been gone…..it is very gratifying to know that the Blog lives and breathes without my assistance. It did not even need life support, almost having more views than when I was home and writing more often. Hmmm…that makes me wonder.

I have been in Hawaii, on the Big Island, specifically 1000 feet above Kona on the west coast, for about six weeks. I will not rub it in; simply put I had a spectacular time. As with any extended vacation, one’s life changes, adapts and settles down to a new routine even within just 6 short weeks, and soon you realize you do not care anymore what happens beyond your days and nights in the paradise that has become your temporary norm. You hear all the news back home – the political crap and every other ridiculous media report back where your people are, but you pay it little attention and it sort of slides off of your consciousness like jello off a plate.

The more profound issues stay with you however and you gain greater clarity about them, including a dearly beloved family member who is battling cancer. With the sunsets and sea you do gain a degree of calm…just a bit more enlightenment…and your faith renews. Then just as you nestle deeply into that faith, really deeply, and you are sleeping every night  like a well-fed baby, hoping and believing again that all is actually going to be well in the world it is time to fly home on the red-eye and you are rather miserable to be returning to reality. You attempt to carry the good vibes with you. You want to believe. You want your faith to stay strong, back where it is still winter.

I have so many stories to tell. Wish we could sit and have a glass of wine and talk. Some are X rated and hilarious and there were other happenings I will never ever forget, standing out from everything else and those will be flashing memories in my mind like bright lights at a dive bar at 1 am for years to come. Crazy funny stuff, a scary thing or two (like nearly tripping over the huge, black coarse-haired, sharp-tusked, bloody, totally severed head of a wild pig on my happy little mindless walk one morning) to important spiritual stuff and everything in between. I am in love with the island and in love with the important reason I go there.

We went to new beaches I had never before seen in my past five years, painting on a different one every Friday morning with the West Hawaii Plein Air Paintersorganized by http://Richard Rochkovsky.com  and then some afternoons from 3-6 pm with the sunset painters group of Peter and Lily Jefferson. Every beach has a personality; gorgeous & benevolent, rocky & dramatic, and the black sand beaches are especially startling next to Prussian Blue and emerald green water. Giant, cruise-ship sized waves (those beautiful burly thugs come roaring in this time every spring) once again crashed the coast on several of the islands including parts of the Kona coast and we were spectators to a Mother Nature show that never disappoints.

And now I am home again to the west Denver area, literally just at the base of the Rocky Mountains, only about 5 minutes from my favorite canyon and it is snowing cottonballs outside my windows and although it is magical, I long for sea breezes and salt air. I do have the perfect combo of a mountain and sea life. When I am here or there, I love the scenery I am sitting in, I soak it up, and either parting is bittersweet.

Thanks to all the new friends I met this trip! You were so hospitable and fun! See you again, same time next year. I am thankful for such a lovely visit!

Jo Ann Brown-Scott, Author and Artist

Books – New novel,  A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON available on Kindle, and THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY, both available on Amazon.com

Webhttp://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

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Arthttp://joann-brown-scott.fineartamerica.com

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My Big Island Favorites and “The Whistler”, 2015

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Photos taken on my recent month-long stay on the Big Island of Hawaii – my 4th annual trip in what has become a welcome rest from the Colorado snow, although I do love snow. As you probably know by now, in my paintings or my photos, I am all about pattern, texture and color…as you can see.

We painted plein air, we painted in studio, we took day trips both north to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Waimea and down south of the Captain Cook area to a black sand beach where we were told about one particular whale who has become a local favorite, and a legend I predict. This whale is a female (because they see her every year with her newest baby) whose blow-hole is damaged or deformed somewhat, so when she blows she whistles a loud haunting whistle that everyone on shore can here. Each year they look forward to the return of “The Whistler” and watch her playing just off shore of this black sand beach in the evening hours. I took the sunset pictures you see here at that very location. They also tell me that the whales breech here daily in February/March making loud smacking sounds when their tales hit the water – loud enough in the morning hours to wake you from a sound sleep. They are swimming north on their yearly migration, headed through the Maui Channel onward to Alaska, and this beach is a resting place to stop and play. We also saw whales in Kona harbor, purposely, I believe, putting on quite a show for everyone lined up on the pier one evening. Is it possible….can you imagine….that this human-being/whale connection is somehow bigger than we all imagine? They know that in certain areas of the planet we are appreciative and friendly, desperately wanting to know them better and wishing them no harm, while in other foreboding seas they might be cold bloodedly slaughtered.

All animals who migrate, including whales, sea turtles and sharks, migrate for just three simple reasons – mating and birthing, abundant feeding and a climate that is tolerable. Those three conditions rule their travels.

I do believe that the same three conditions rule the travels of human beings! Think about it.

The Creative Epiphany – Sitting Around at Sunset on the Big Island

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A selection of sunsets for your viewing pleasure, Kona HI

So during my recent stay on the Big Island, drinking sunset wine on the western deck at 1000 ft elevation, with the Specific Ocean spread out before us like glass, and well into the prime time viewing portion of a dazzling, colorful display in shades of pewter, silver, steel blue and iridescent gold underneath the warm colors of sister sun…we are feeling no pain and talking about birds.

Birds are plentiful there – squawking and screeching and calling to eachother for answers to the big bird questions. It begins about 4:30 or 5 am and continues with different groups and choruses all day long until dusk. Since lots of chickens roam the island in the epitome of the much sought after free-range chicken life, you are liable to have roosters nearby who of course signal the dawn in big COCKA DOODLE DAMN DOOOOO (I am awake now and so are you) announcements every single morning – the good news is the free-range part because eventually they move on to greener pastures and bigger bugs to eat.

And there are crows. Remember that all these birds first breezed into the island at some point in a very ancient time, either purposely or riding involuntarily on the prevailing winds or perhaps a storm that they could not get out of, like being in a giant washing machine headed somewhere. I am fascinated – glued – to James Michener’s thick, almost 1000 page classic book “Hawaii”. I got it when I came back to the mainland and can’t put it down. Well sometimes I have to put it down because it weighs too much to carry around all day. At the time of the Roman Empire and Christ the islands were still being formed by volcanic activity and did not yet exist as a habitable location….they were forming, becoming a potential paradise, but still without edible food and clear water. The Big Island of Hawaii and her smaller sisters had not even come close to being discovered or habituated by a human person. Think about that, and think about the first people arriving and how amazed they were….but I digress.

Birds are usually found in groups which are not always called flocks, and while sitting on the deck we googled bird info and the names of various bird groups. Here is what we found, and we could not stop reading, while opening another bottle of wine.

A bunch of Crows is actually called a MURDER. Then we also have : Teams of Ducks. A Mob of Emus. An Ostentation of Peacocks! A Pitying of Turtledoves…. A Cast of Hawks. A Wedge of Geese (while they are flying). A Siege of Cranes. A Herd od Swans. A Charm of Hummingbirds. A Company  of Parrots. A Conspiracy of Ravens. An Exaltation of Larks. A Parliament of Owls. A Tiding of Magpies. A Scold of Jays.

Well it got funnier and funnier. You had to be there ( we wish for you that you were…). We also made up some of our own – well of course we did. It was sunset in paradise and we had the time.

There are many more to be found if you follow this link to the Palomar Audubon Society page: http://palomaraudubon.org/collective.html

Open a bottle of wine and watch the sunset wherever you are.

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The Creative Epiphany – Your Fountain of Youth

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wave5 Watching the massive wave events on the west coast of the Big Island, Hawaii in late January, 2014

 

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is a matter of the will, quality of imagination, a VIGOR of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life”. – Samuel Ullman

I believe that if you can find a geographic place – a safe and enfolding place of  contentment, magic and wonder where you can go when you need renewal – you have found your version of the fountain of youth. Some people never manage to find that unique and stirring location, but others who are young at heart and keep an open mind to the gifts of the universe search for and find their particular GPS of choice and they use it time and time again to recharge the batteries of their souls. My daughter who has traveled the world says one of her favorite places of all she has seen is Yosemite Park, practically in our own backyard.

I have not traveled the world but still I know what brings me back to the places where my heart is fulfilled and brimming up with contentment and peace. For me there are several locations – Big Sur, the big island of Hawaii, Yellowstone and Yosemite Parks and the mountains of Colorado – and when I spend time in those locations I feel sure that I am a positive force in a greater universe. I am infused with such joy at every return trip, highly energized, feeling that my life is enhanced and perhaps even prolonged by the adrenaline rush I experience. The epiphany here is that what you want to happen will happen, and so if you believe in the power of a place, you will undoubtedly reap the rewards by using it to bring quality to your days and additional time to your life. You are what you think constantly about, as they say, and so whatever brings positivity and happiness in its purest form directly into your veins – to your very being  – can only be good. If it is in your power to find your place, do find it and hold it dear. If for some reason you are unable to go where you want to go, use your powers to picture it, find it, embrace it in your soul. Do not allow the boundaries of your physical world to confine you. Go beyond and get there.

The Creative Epiphany – I’m Back from the Big Island…reluctantly

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Thanks to those of you who hang with me even when I am missing in action, out to lunch, off the radar, in the witness protection program and out of communication! I appreciate that you sometimes read my archives during the void. I know who you are and I think it is incredible that you would take the time to do that.

I was away – really away – enjoying my third annual escape to Hawaii – the BIG ISLAND – and now the dye is cast. I am destined to be a chronic returnee. I have got it in my blood and it is written in the stars and my soul already longs to go back. I just got home late last night, and I am already missing it, so I’ve got it bad. Someone over there asked me if I was going to cry when I left and I said YES, of course. And I did. Apparently, the legend says, if you do not cry when you leave, you will not be back. So please do cry your heart out. If you do not “get” the island thing, you are not meant to return. The big island is funky, magical, mystical, spiritual, artsy, sensual, lazy, and more….everything stops for sunset…..people gather and watch….all the craziness of the mainland drifts away and seems irrelevant…..I turn golden and I sleep deeply….and the panorama of the Pacific Ocean, my specific ocean, keeps me constantly gazing west. I see it when I wake up, as I cook, as I paint, as I walk the garden. We describe it in paint tube colors; Prussian blue, cerulean, turquoise, teal, cobalt. Coke bottle green, silver-blue and pewter. Are we in heaven? A glimpse of heaven I am sure.

It snowed on the top of the two extinct volcano craters while I was there. That is not an unusual event since Mauna Loa at 13,796 ft. and Mauna Kea at 13,679 ft., are, yes indeedy, quite impressive mountains, with their own weather systems. Not just a dusting of snow – a day hiker got stranded up there in snow up over his knees and had to spend the night, barely making it out alive the next day. You realize, of course, that an active lava flow still exists on this island, hissing, squeaking and popping, devouring real estate as it pours and actually barrels along at times, falling into the sea in a thick molten pudding with grand pomp and circumstance accompanied by  a neon orange fireworks-like display. The prevailing breezes sometimes bring VOG to the heavily populated western and northern areas of the island, rolling dark from over the mountain tops like a thick fog that is sometimes laced with chemical volcanic aromas and also crop-dusting everything with a fine, black gritty residue. It is no big deal once you get used to it, just Mother Nature doing her thing, reminding you, lest you forget, that she is always and forever in charge. She is the orchestrator of this island’s multi-faceted personality. The big island is a lady of many moods – weather extremes and big waves. It is a study in contrasts with many climates in which to live.

We set out from Kona one day across the middle of the island on the new road traveling to the Hilo Harbor area on the east coast (the new road chops a lot of drive time off the old route of Saddle Road), then north of Hilo we visited the Botanical Gardens where I swear we found another  Garden of Eden. See photos included of that lovely isolated location on the edge of the Pacific. Farther on toward the Waimea and Hawi areas we saw the lush, green terrycloth-like hillsides of Hawaiian cattle country. Yes there are vast ranches and cowboys in Hawaii – the most prominent ranch being the legendary Parker Ranch. Waimea is also known for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival where the Japanese influence is strong and the crafts of the artisans are amazing. While in the quaint little town of Hawi, we stopped in to visit and deliver new art at the Living Arts Gallery on Main Street and chatted with Mary Sky Schoolcraft, the director. The art selection there is truly divine, varying from traditional land and seascape  to contemporary, and her enthusiasm for art is evident and enviable. Visit www.livingartsgallery.net In our drive heading south from there back to Kona, along the north western coast we watched the whale migration, heading north through the Maui Channel. I was overwhelmed with delight, able to see a whale’s tail or a breech every couple of minutes, babies sometimes discernible alongside their mothers. I am fortunate to stay with a dear friend on the island, and so I also experienced some day trips and excursions that are off the beaten path to most tourists.

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Living on the island is a unique experience, quirky, fun, at times challenging to find what you need just when you need it, and yet everyone is generous and more than willing to help. People there are busy building, adding on to their homes, trying to find nice furniture without having to pay shipping from the mainland. If you like estate sales and good deals, it is a mecca for that. Recycling is taken to the last possible degree. We eat fresh eggs from one neighbor, and we are brought cookies from some one else….we share earthly delights from the backyard with anyone who will help us eat them. We can’t eat fast enough to use them all ourselves – avocadoes as large as footballs dropping daily by the dozens like giant avocado bombs. You would not want to be under one when it decides to cut itself loose. Mangos, papayas, lemons, wild cherry tomato plants acting as if it is a ground cover, and of course all of the flowering bushes and trees from which to bring cuttings into the house for daily bouquets. The Plumeria tree was just blooming as I left – wafting a fragrance that is intoxicating.

I have only just begun to talk about the big island. I cannot say enough. I will dream about it and I will keep it in my heart until I go back. I invite you to come along with me and read more in the coming days. And do cry….

The Creative Epiphany – Gone

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I am gone – I left the island in the dead of night with a stiff breeze behind me, embarrassed almost to be leaving because who in their right mind would leave, and flew back to northern Cal. I didn’t really want to leave and my dread of the long night ahead of me on the plane was punctuated when the person next to me spilled a full glass of tomato juice all over my carry-on.  I took it as an omen that I was going to hate the trip home. I really didn’t want to leave, or did I already say that. The island life is alluring, delicious, sensual, colorful and it grows on you. You roll around in the ambience, like a dog on a good smell, wanting to get it permanently into your pores. It is sensory overload 24/7. I wanted to really be there – not just visiting. I met a lot of new people who I already believe will be friends, I painted, I wrote and I thought a lot. We took day trips, we went to street fairs and markets, we visited art galleries and many beaches.  I took about 7 million pictures and told myself I was absolutely allowed to stand there on my beach of choice for over an hour if I wanted to, attempting to capture the perfect wave in one magnificent photo.

But now, as the James Taylor song says, “Say nice things about me – cuz I’m gone.”

The seduction of color hits you at every turn in Hawaii. Those of us who are hooked on it, who must have our daily fix, who lap it up and eat it whole with juice dripping down our cheeks as we photograph it, who live and breathe it and cannot possibly get enough of our junkie habit, our COLOR drug of choice, well we are happy as hell on the islands.

The paintings I finished over there in lala land were like alien creations – colorful, wild and a little bit too free even for me. Like craft day in the loony bin. Kind of mindless and silly with metaphorical smiles. Abstract to be sure, and I know it was my hand that painted them because I watched it happen, but somewhere along the way they went all goofy and the color became almost the only thing. It was fun while it lasted, however. I worked fast while held in the zany clutches of some island gremlin and lost my common sense as I flung the paint around. I guess that would be called painting with abandon. A good thing, really, to be able to unleash that inner 3 year old and give her an afternoon purely for her enjoyment. She got her wiggles out.

But she grew up fast on the ride home when that tomato juice hit the fan. It seemed symbolically rude. Like a smack in the face that said, “Ha Ha, nanny nanny foo foo – you have to go home now.”

And so I did – I took my toys and went home.

Wow is it drab here at home in the middle of February. When I returned from the island, the barefoot confetti life gave way to the black frost bitten gerbera daisies in the pots around the patio. Spring is still a way off here.

But I have pictures to prove the validity of paradise and what it does to you. Wanna see some?

And don’t you know when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around.  55 degrees seems like freezing as I leave baggage claim and load my stuff into a friend’s car for the drive back to Lincoln.

Was that place a dream?

The Creative Epiphany – Painting Away

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There is a certain charm in painting away from home “on location” as they say – remotely – in a studio not your own. It is liberating – everything’s arranged differently and it forces you to leave your routine behind and get loose. Where’s the paper towels? Do you have a squeegee? How about some light blue violet? The light is best at this window except the ants are crawling across my canvas.

The locale offers you new colors to consider, new views, new sunsets and exotic fruit. That is all true and on steroids here in Hawaii. The visual display begins with breakfast and continues throughout the day – kinda makes you want to take notes, and you do – mental color notes. You wish you had more paint. You wish you had more time. You wish.
Purples with sunset orange, pineapple, lime, papaya, mango – all translatable into colors splashed on canvas. Juicey and delicious.

To have two paintings completed before lunch seems ridiculous. That just never happens at home. To be certain that they are truly finished by mid afternoon is crazy fun. To see colors flowing from some resource you had no idea you could use, as if channeling the island ambience just for yourself, is a delightful discovery. Being away is an epiphany.