Once On This Island

As most of you know, I live on the island of Oahu which is part of the island chain that makes up the state of Hawaii. Island living is amazing and even after a decade of living here, paradise never gets old. Traffic gets old but talk to anyone who commutes to work in a city of close to a million people and they will tell you rush hour is tough everywhere. There are so many beautiful tropical beaches and favorite hikes we have explored that there is never enough time on the weekends to go everywhere we wish we could go, because like everyone else there is yard work to do, homework to help with, and kids activities that fill the time. But even a glimpse of the sparkling turquoise ocean on the horizon, or the silhouette of Diamond Head Crater at sunrise when I am out for a morning run, makes me realize every day how very lucky I am to live in Hawaii. I will never get complacent or take it for granted. The Mana- the soul if you wish- of these islands becomes like a beloved family member in your life that enriches and permeates your every day existence.

Many of my paintings reflect my love of Hawaii through colorful tropical sunrise scenes or moonlight ocean waves or precious green sea turtles sunning themselves on the sand. Someone once asked me if I was going to run out of ideas of things to paint. I’m guessing you know the answer to that. Just as I never tire of my island home, I also never tire of painting her amazing places and my list of things I hope to paint are as abundant as the stars in the sky. Recently, I was commissioned by a loving husband to paint a special piece for his wife for a gift. This couple had lived on the islands for many years but due to a job transfer, recently moved to California. His wife had been the theatre teacher and director of CTAA, Central Theatre Arts Academy on Oahu. Over the years of her tenure, she trained many young actors in theater arts and directed incredible plays and musical performances that will live on in memory for everyone. Her sweet husband wanted to capture one of those most special memories of a play she had directed titled, “Once On This Island”, onto canvas to decorate their new home and remind his wife of her accomplishments and her island home. Serendipity for this artist, as I personally admire both of them, have been awed (as a performer myself) in the audience when her productions would take me away to another time and place and we would get to work together to plan this painting of a memory. The picture we chose to paint, while different than many pieces I have created in the past, resonates with the vibrancy of not only the play scene but also the magic of the islands. Here is the creation of Once On This Island….

1 .blocking in Once on this Island
Blocking in of the dancers and the set background. I tend to use just one base color to lay it all out. It was fun to share the progress photos with the future collector to make sure I was on track for his vision too.
2. Once on this Island
Defining the shapes and motion of the play scene. This was an actual scene in the play where the dancers in their colorful costumes leap onto the stage twirling ribbons. Toughest part as an artist is not jumping right to the fun details I wanted to play with and working to get the layout right before proceeding.
3. finished blocking once on this island
Adding in the color, shadows and highlights – at this point it was hard because I was not happy with the girl in the purple skirt but had to just keep going and know she would evolve as the rest of the painting continued to change
5. nearly finished once on this island
Now the girl in the purple skirt was looking more like I wanted her to look and the “sand” which was the theater floor, has come to life. I haven’t painted clothing and flowing fabric very often and found this a challenge but a lot of fun to do too!
4. in progress mid way once on this island
This was half way point. Nearly two months into work on this piece. Some days I would work for many hours straight forgetting to even make meals for myself until the keiki would remind me! Ha! Other times I would work on other paintings for several days and just let my mind wander with ideas for this one.
6. last steps once on this island
I finally got to work in the ribbons. This was fun! Instead of feeling pressure about getting them “just right” , I decided to just go for it and painted them in all at once. It felt great to see them flowing and tying the piece together in one coherent whole.
watermarked initials on painting
This photo was taken by my daughter ( hence her watermark in the bottom left corner and my watermark in the bottom right). She was able to capture all the details I put into the stage floor/beach area. The details on the clothing and the ribbons pop in this photo too. Once on the Island- complete!
Side shot of the painting showing details and texture
Other side photo that shows up close detail. Thank you to the Strouds for the honor of painting this for you. I hope it will make you smile every time you pass it and remember your time on this island, all your friends here and all the amazing times and memories from your time leading CTAA, Central Theatre Arts Academy.