How to Hang an Art Show at Ho`omaluhia Botanical Garden Gallery

If you are an artist on Oahu did you know that Ho`omaluhia has a rail hanging system that uses perlon/fish line to help hang heavy work over the acoustic tile walls?   You may have noticed that if you use a single nail for a heavy piece, the piece falls off the wall, sometimes damaging the wall or the artwork in the process.  I wanted to offer a printable reference for the artists who are planning to hang art shows at Ho`omaluhia because I have noticed and been told that a couple of art pieces have been falling from virtually every show lately because it’s humid and we forgot to use the rail system or didn’t know the walls were so brittle in certain places.   I am hoping this can fill in some gaps and help bring artists who are new to the islands or new to the venue get the information they need to plan a show that will stay on the wall.  It’s trickier than you might initially think! 

Here’s the guide:

How to install an art show at Ho`omaluhia

Most artists forgot that there is a rail system and since it blends in, it stopped being useful.  We need to revive its use and help each other avoid damage to our art. 

To use the guide, I suggest printing a copy to use as a checklist for supplies and then as reference at the gallery.  Before you go, use the first page to pack your supplies and you can even cross them out as you pack them.  Skim the rest.  At take-in, you can read it in detail if you need the info.  It’s an instruction manual, so it’s hard to sit and read without doing the actual hanging steps.

Disclaimer:  This is just a project to share information that I am doing independently of any guild or venue.  No one hired me nor is it officially endorsed.  This is not legally binding and won’t guarantee that your art is undamaged, it is simply meant to help increase your odds of a successful show.  I have a lot of experience hanging art in the past decade, and better yet, have been learning how to do so from many knowledgeable artists and venue owners, so I am sharing what I have learned over the years with a lot of help and input from other artists, gallerists, and and business owners.  Particularly I want to thank the following artists who helped write this document or taught me a lot about hanging a show most effectively:  Cynthia Schubert, Marti Rounds, Dawn Yoshimura, Suzanne Barnes, Cindy Livermore, and Liz Corbin.  Without their help this guide would not exist.

 

New Horizons

New Horizons by Wendy Roberts

New Horizons, Oil on Panel, 8 in X 10 in

“But I’m never gonna lose your precious gift
It will always be that way
Cause I know I’m going to find my own peace of mind
Someday

On the wind
Soaring free
Spread your wings
I’m beginning to see…”

– excepts of the lyrics from “New Horizons” by the Moody Blues

This song is the inspiration for this painting and has always been a favorite of mine.  My Dad listened to the Moody Blues a lot, so these songs shake loose childhood memories for me. I was missing my Dad when I came up with the idea for this painting and I wanted to spend some time with music that reminds me of him.  This song makes me feel grateful for him.  He gave me so many precious gifts – his time, his patient listening, sound advice, and love.  I chose a series of photos from the ridge of a mountain that I took on a hike a couple of years ago as my starting point.  The colors in photos like that are never right – it’s a ghost of what it really looked like.  That’s the amazing thing about a painting.  You can adjust the painting so that the colors are more like the human eye perceives them. I wanted to capture the feeling of standing on the mountain looking out toward the ocean, surrounded by beautiful rare plants and birds.

When I hear this song, it evokes a feeling similar to the way I feel on the summit of a mountain. To be in the upper elevations of the mountains is to gain a physical perspective that tends to inspire inner perspective. I wanted to work these emotions into my painting.  The soaring bird in the distance is a tropic bird, and when I watch them glide, it fills me with the same mix of emotions as this song.  When I first saw white-tailed tropic birds, they looked mythical with their long white tails almost glowing in the sun.  They fly with effortless grace, using the updrafts of the mountain to lift high into the air. Is it possible to watch them without daydreaming about what that would be like to travel on the wind?

Dad always used to say that one of his biggest wishes was that we could go together on hikes in the mountains he loved, but he was quadriplegic, and he couldn’t hike on little paths on the steep mountainsides.  Instead we would go on drives with his wonderful little electric wheelchair-type vehicle into the less developed roads of the time, up to the mouth of the canyon.  He showed me how to stay still and watch for animals like otters and muskrats at the edge of the rivers.  We used to watch squirrels and birds together and pick wild plums. We could not drive very far with the battery power he had on the chair at that time, but it was amazing the things he could find in such a small radius.

Now I wish we could go on hikes in the mountains of Hawaii together.  I want to show him the plants, flowers, birds and waterfalls. I want him to be able to see this view in person that I have painted because I know he would appreciate it fully.  He used to tell me about the caves and rocks he found during hikes when he was young and I would wish so much to find them, but of course it is impossible to give directions in the days before GPS in wild mountain range. His stories revealed to me that the mountains are magical.  Anything could be hidden in the valleys and boulders.  He taught me that the mountain was a place of beautiful secrets.  I was given the freedom to hike deep into the mountains, even though he wasn’t able to go with me.  As long as I told my parents which part of the range I was going to hike, I could walk up the street and onto the trails of the mountains within minutes.  He understood my need to wander, to find my own amazing places. I found many beautiful sites; the hillside with multicolored dragonflies, the patches of wildflowers, a small waterfall, a particularly secluded bend in the river where I loved to sit and think, the craggy little cave that always contained interesting animal bones, the valley where the deer would gather in huge herds and I could peek over the rise to see them without them noticing me. It all seems like a fairy tale now, but it remains a cornerstone of my deepest self.

Now I find new treasures in a new climate; the largest breadfruit tree I’ve ever seen growing in the wild with branches that look like mature trees,  the most lovely ridge view where the water is many shades of vivid blue, the best places to see certain kinds of birds, places where there are tiny frogs that fill the air with beautiful sounds, groves of ginger that have naturalized and grown tall as a forest, thickets where I can pick and eat wild guavas until I am full, a tiny stream with wild Hawaiian raspberries and a nearby spring, huge bird’s nest ferns as big as a person, and lava tubes covered with vines.  There are scenes worthy of a painting on every hike!  

If a hike has a summit, like this one did, I look out over the land below, and I still feel the same way I did as a teenager.  I am filled with a sense curiosity about the future, I think with gratitude about the past, and I am in a place of perfect contentment at the present, looking out over the miles below.  It is a timeless state of mind, fleeting yet infinite. 

Street Art Hawaii Kaimuki Beautification Project

On Saturday 22 and 23, a group of artists volunteered to beautify the traffic boxes in Kaimuki.  Though I was only able to participate for one day, I was able to finish a very large (6′ X 10′ in all) traffic box mural on the corner of Waialae Ave and 16th Street – right next to a bus stop. It was a great experience and the neighborhood was very supportive and appreciative!

The design process began with a sketch a couple of weeks prior.  It’s rough, but you can see I stuck fairly close to the plan, just adding a few more native and Polynesian-introduced plants when I found out that the extremely nice family living close to the box would know and enjoy having more plants on the traffic box.  It turned out the neighbor adjacent was an avid gardener and bird aficionado, and they will be looking at this box all the time, so I wanted to make a special adjustment as a thank you to them for their unusually kind hospitality.  They even brewed me a cup of tea using leaves from their own garden! 

If you look at the box in person, make sure to peek at the back.  I painted all the sides – the back was just as important as the front.  The back is inspired by the name of this neighborhood – Kaimuki.  Ka imu ki means “ti plant oven”.  It was an area famous for the many ti plant ovens on its hills.  The ti plant was a very important and useful plant to the Hawaiians.  It is still in heavy use today as the raw material for hula skirts, lei, and also as a leaf that can be used to cook. Hau, a plant used for medicine and for fiber for tough ropes is also on the back.  I painted a lot of taro on the front and sides which is a Hawaiian staple food that is often growing wild in wetland areas.  Finally, I painted pickleweed, pohuehue, a small fern that looks like a 4-leaf clover, and a wild pink hibiscus, all plants that preceded human settlement.

The finished piece was accomplished after a very touching Hawaiian blessing. I felt the power of the ceremony followed me throughout the day, inspiring an unusually productive painting pace.  I skipped lunch to race the sun, moving around the box as the shade moved.  I enjoyed talking to various visitors throughout the work day, especially meeting a lot of the neighbors.  This area really has strong community feeling.  Despite the major road, the neighbors know and care about one another.  Many have lived there a long time.  I was treated exceedingly kindly all day long – countless shakas, “mahalos!”, and nice comments from passing cars, and neighbors offering juice or chocolate milk, etc…  I cannot thank the community of Kaimuki enough for the aloha spirit they showed during this process.  It was very heart warming and made me really want to do this project justice!    

I am very grateful to Jennifer Noel (the organizer), Bill Brizee, and Tracy Brilhante for getting me involved with this project and helping to make it all work.  Thank you to the Kaimuki neighbors who were so supportive and grateful for the project.  They made all the artists feel like a million dollars!  Thank you to the following photographers who kindly posted photos of native birds and flowers online in creative commons like Flickr Commons and Wikimedia Commons to allow for accurate reference photos for this project:  Dan Clark, David Eickhoff, Forest and Kim Starr, John and Karen Hollingsworth, and Rick Obst.  Without the lovely photos I could not have made the various Hawaiian Moorhens and plants as believable. Mahalo nui loa to all.  I hope the traffic box will brighten the area and be something the neighbors enjoy seeing.

  

Ultra Exhibit II: Now on Display at Pauahi Tower

In August, I helped once again to organize and design the hanging schema for Windward Artists Guild’s new show at Pauahi Tower’s gorgeous second floor space. Covered in beautiful travertine stone and topped by soaring coffered ceilings, the spacious venue allows WAG artists to show their large works which offer a valuable interior design option for offices and homes and the chance to collect major works from talented local artists.

“Beach Sentinels”, my piece is at top right.

At the moment, I have one large piece in the show (above at top right), but may add a couple of smaller works later in the show. Speaking of small works, we have a lot of size range in this particular show to fit a wider range of budgets. I think it is a nice compromise between the larger works (more rare in most galleries here) and the smaller work, perfect for gifts as the Holiday season comes closer.  Some of our top plein air artists are in this show, so it’s a must-see for those who love small plein air pieces! The show also has a lot of diversity in 2D genres.  There are landscapes, abstracts, florals, portraits, stilllifes, and more.

What I am most excited about is the flow of the paintings together within the space. I hope as you view the show, you enjoy the juxtapositions and groupings that are designed to let each piece shine while adding harmonious or interesting collaborative elements to the wall as a whole. Grouping works to maximize the beauty and individuality of each piece, and not letting one piece dominate the wall is a difficult but highly satisfying goal. I often go in with a plan and then invite others to help refine the plan – they never disappoint – the final show is the result of the guild’s refinement of my initial ideas, and together we made the show arrangement work very well within this great venue!

All works are for sale and 15% of those sales are donated to Windward Artists Guild whose mission since 1960 has been to stimulate the visual arts on Oahu.  We will use the proceeds to fund our education grants, workshops, and to help sponsor art events that are beneficial to the community.

The Ultra Exhibit is on the second floor (up the escalators or elevators).

Show Dates: August 4, 2018 – End date to be announced later (Likely early 2019)
Pauahi Tower is open from 6 am – 6 pm on weekdays, Saturdays 8 am – 2 pm; Closed Sunday
Location: 1003 Bishop St, Honolulu, HI 96813
Parking entrance is on the left at approximately 1080 Alakea Street (Bishop Square Parking), or you may park in public parking at Alii Place across the street if you prefer a more affordable option with a small walk.

Summer Studio Report part 1: Small Floral Works

Florals have been on my mind over the time since I last blogged.  I have been splitting time between small pieces and large works.  All my small works lately have been either indigenous florals like these:

Dreamy Hawaiian Floral, Oil on Panel, 9 X 12

Yellow Hawaiian Floral, Oil on Panel, 9 X 12

Or orchids:  

Golden Orchids, Acrylic on Gessobord, 5 X 7

Yes, Gessobord is spelled strangely to protect copyright.  I always feel like a kindergarten kid typing it out, but I swear it is the company’s trademarked name, not my poor spelling skills. 

I have been working away on a large portrait and a massive landscape as well.  They should be done before the end of the year. Here’s a sneak peek of the portrait:

I wrote to my email subscribers that this would likely be the completed eye, but the very next day I proceeded to paint another coat and covered some of it to blend it in with the new flesh surrounding it and now I am even happier with the way the face is shaping up – It goes to show I never know which pieces will actually be retained because a painting is a sensitive balance of relationships between the various pieces. This is still kind of fun to share as an in-progress tidbit.  The landscape I will wait to show until it is done.  It shouldn’t be too long of a wait at this point. I hope to unveil it at my upcoming solo show at Kalapawai Cafe in Kailua in October.

 

A New Leaf

From March 2015:

“I am turning over a new “leaf” with a new series.  I am working on adding precious metals to my work.  I’ve been reading up exhaustively on the age-old methods of gilding and painting on copper.  I have always loved the old elaborate works from Italy in the 1500s, from artists such as Fra Angelico, and likewise, the beauty of impressionist landscape.  I have wondered in the past what it would look like if the old illuminated manuscripts were made in a tropical location, and it has spurred me to make a new series, tropical illumination.  I plan to paint the beautiful landscapes of Hawaii with the beautiful metals of an earlier time.”

I found this little paragraph in my drafts from 2015 and thought it was a good tidbit of “thought-history” to share.  I have since acted on this idea and learned to use metal leaf. 

What I had in mind was an array of results. I’m going to do the exact opposite of what I probably should do and reverse the countdown to share my favorite one first.  This realistic landscape, Sacred Space, with just a touch of subtle leafing in the water and leaves (my favorite use of leafing to date) really catches the eye with movement as it shifts and reflects the lighting.  At night it softly reflects any lights in the vicinity, remaining interesting to look at when other paintings have ceased to be visible.  

 

 

The whimsical metal leafing celtic-type manuscript bird painting below with an apapane and ohia woven into the image is probably the closest to the source of what inspired me to start using metal leaf.  The Secret of Kells – a gorgeous animation featuring the beautiful illuminated manuscripts of Kells was the spark for me that led to learning how to leaf.  The story within the animation is fictional, and full of fairy folk and charm, but the book is real and so is the heart of the message within the movie.  It’s gentle in spirit and stunningly beautiful!  I highly recommend it.  This animation made me think of the beauty of the illuminated manuscripts, and I began to wonder what monks from Ireland would have painted they would have seen Hawaii. This is a visual combination between the Celtic style and realism. The monks would have translated the bird and the ohia into their imaginative style, but I wanted to have a play between the two worlds.  Busy and intricate celtic knotwork featuring birds is leafed on top of adaptations from a page from a celtic manuscript that weaves around the realistically painted apapane and ohia that intertwines decoratively with the realistic bird and flower. This endangered bird and the iconic flower of Hawaii that provides its habitat, are more rare than jewels (and just as colorful).  Here they are treated like precious treasures  – illuminated like the most important words of an ancient world.

Sometimes it’s nice to paint a bird in front of a simple background of metal leaf like this copper/zinc leafing surrounding the red crested cardinal. The leafing is allowed to show off the interesting ripples that run through this particular type of leaf. Here I have shown the piece in two drastically different lighting schemes.  I love the life that metal gives to the piece – constantly affected by the surroundings.  Sometimes it is hard to do it justice in a photo.

In this last painting below, I was looking to Jesse Arms Botke, an amazing decorative painter during the turn of the century, as my inspiration.  Here, I am using the copper leafing as a  major feature of the surroundings.  The copper leaf in this painting took on a patina before sealing.  I utilized the natural variations in tone from green to coppery orange to create the effect of a shallow pond (actually a loi – a Hawaiian taro garden flooded with water)

I am continuing to explore the realm of metal leafing both in oil and in water-based works.  With different sizing and sealants, I can work with metal in either media.  It is very exciting to see what it can add to artistic creativity. It can go under or over paint, and multiple metals can be used in the same piece.  It produces a piece that cannot be replicated by a camera, which is a major bonus in my opinion, I love the light and movement it imbues into artwork. I use it judiciously in some but not all of my pieces.

Beach Sentinels

Beach Sentinels by Wendy Roberts

There is a type of weather that happens right before a small summer squall that is fleeting but beautiful.  The sun glistens on low, choppy waves that glitter like sequins under a spotlight.  Offshore islands fall into dark purple shadow.  This contrast makes the ocean look particularly surreal.  It emphasizes the green tones in the waves and creates a creamy turquoise color as the waters are churned with oxygen.    This will be a short refreshing storm that will make the hot sand smell damp.   It will finish in a sun shower as rain and sun combine in diamond drops on every leaf. Perhaps there will be a rainbow arcing across the sky.  The forecast is in front of your eyes if you know the beach well. 

How many summer squalls have these trees seen?  How many waves have they heard rushing ashore?  When I see weathered trees along a coastline, I think of them as sentinels – guards for the approaching wind, waves, and storms from the sea.  The boughs of these trees at Kalama beach are sculpted by wind, the flow of air made solid.  Their roots are protecting the shore, holding on to grains of sand although it seems an impossible task.  It is a marvel to me that anything can grow in the sand and the heat of the beach.  Despite the sparse nutrients and the blazing afternoon sun, they provide shade and protect against wind and erosion.

This oil panting will be at the elegant and refreshing Lion Coffee Cafe (1555 Kalani St, Honolulu, HI 96817) which has been newly remodeled.  If you are on Oahu, you can have a cup of coffee and a cookie or pastry and enjoy the show anytime Monday – Saturday from 6 AM to 5 PM between now and June 30, 2018.

Hawaiian Floral for Lei Day

Happy Lei Day & May Day! I just finished a painting celebrating Hawaiian Flowers.  These are all flowers that were here long before humans found the remote beauty of Hawaii.

On the left is the vivid magenta flower stalk of the rare and gorgeous Lobelia gaudichaudii plant which grows only in high in the mountains of Oahu. In the center, peach-colored  ‘ie’ie (freycinetia arbora), is the focal point.  It is a high elevation vine that climbs the massive trees and cliffsides spreading bursts of long, thin leaves along a robust woody vine. Below that, the delicate yellow flowers of ilima, (Sida fallax) are the official flower  of Oahu (every island has a special flower as a symbol on lei day).  Ilima grows from the beaches up to the mountains and makes a wonderful landscape plant!  Speaking of official flowers, Hawaii Island’s official flower, ohia, the tree which is among the first to grow forth from the barren lava, is just to the right of the ie ie.  I chose the rare orange ohia blossom to continue the orange tones.  Ohai (Sesbania tomentosa) is in the bottom right corner and would be wonderful to plant in your yard if you live in the drier parts of the island.  If you are on Oahu, check with the specialty native plant nursery, Hui O Ka Maoli Ola – they will have it (and ilima) or will know where to get it and will probably be able to advise whether it is a good choice for your yard.  Finally, rare endangered Hawaiian tree-thistle (Hesperomannia arbuscula) incorporates all three major floral colors to complete the composition.

Thank you to Nate Yuen for his excellent blog http://hawaiianforest.com/ where I have learned so much about these gorgeous plants!  If you want to have a more beautiful Facebook feed, follow him and enjoy the gorgeous photos he takes.

This painting is currently on the wall of the newly renovated Lion Coffee Cafe in Kalihi (1555 Kalani St, Honolulu, HI 96817).  They have generously provided space on their large wall with special lighting and hanging systems specifically for artists to show and sell work. It’s a new venue for artists on Oahu, which is very exciting.  I helped them design the hanging system and have become the first artist in the space to “break it in”.  It’s been a fantastic experience!  It’s a wonderful place to get a cup of coffee and a delicious bite to eat as you see the art on the wall. I will have my work there for two months, ending on June 30, 2018.

Ultra Exhibit I

Ultra Exhibit I at Pauahi Tower Lobby
(lobby is the second floor – up the escalators)
Dates: March 3 – August 3, 2018
Open from 6 am – 6 pm on weekdays, Saturdays 8 am – 2 pm; Closed Sunday
Location: 1003 Bishop St, Honolulu, HI 96813
Parking entrance is on the left at approximately 1080 Alakea Street (Bishop Square Parking), or you may park in public parking at Alii Place across the street if you prefer a slightly cheaper option with a small walk.
Artists Reception: Thursday, May 17, 4 pm – 6 pm

Peaceful Sanctuary

Three of my art pieces are in the Ultra Exhibit at Pauahi Tower.  The Ultra Exhibit is named for the large pieces and the unusually long time period in this “ultra” venue – Pauahi Tower, which has a gorgeous travertine marble lobby with soaring ceilings somewhere greater than 20 feet high. We are so thankful to Douglas Emmett and the Pauahi Security team for their permission and support for this show, and to Katherine Love, our curator who ranked and juried the pieces so that we had an impartial decision of which pieces were on display first.
 

Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

I serve as show chair for this very long show – it will be 5 months for stage I and at least 5 months for stage II (which will be entitled Ultra Exhibit II).  It’s been an experience that has cemented my confidence in organizing and running a large show, and it continues to take time and ingenuity to readjust the way the art is hung with every sale (because of frequent sales which is absolutely wonderful!)  I don’t put the new art in the same place as the one that just sold.  An show is about the way pieces interact with the neighboring images.  Every piece deserves a chance to be seen, so the paintings must be carefully arranged and re-arranged to give a harmonious grouping where every piece draws your eye in turn. I find on average that I can usually find a way to move three or four pieces to ensure the best look to the show, but it’s very tricky to know which pieces will look good together. I decided to use Photoshop to aid me in my quest for the best hanging scheme.   I have scale models of each wall and all 60+ pieces in the show.  I use them like digital paper dolls to arrange the work.  It saves me hours – especially since I am unable to see every wall at the same time.  This is a vast display space! 

Sacred Space

The public is invited to come to our reception. There are 27 artists in the show. I am not sure if they will all be able to come, but I hope so! If you would like to come but you don’t know what an art show is like, don’t let it intimidate you. You can read my handy guide to attending a reception here: How to Attend an Artists Reception  Below I have posted a handy postcard with all the info you need to join us. We will hope to see you there!

Easy Paint Party: Waterlilies

I am teaching an easy, fun, paint party themed around an interpretation of one of Monet’s recurring color schemes.

Brilhante Custom Framing and Art
1247 Kailua Rd #2a in Kailua
May 12, 2018 starting at 5:00 pm
Call to reserve a spot:  (808) 263-1096  

Pricing is $45 (plus or minus $5 – Brilhante can confirm the exact price).  This time we will be replicating a color harmony present in one of Monet’s waterlily paintings.  We will work on color mixing and painting wet in wet.  That is extra challenging in acrylic with its quick dry time. Acrylic is versatile and can act like watercolor or oil paint depending on how you handle it.  I will be sharing tips and tricks to get your paint to behave a little more like oil paint for the majority of this painting.  Most of all, we will aim to be joyful and expressive with our strokes, perfect for a fun and easy night.

Monet painted around 250 waterlily paintings.  They usually feature a large view of his exquisite garden.  Someone said he was a “gardener who could also paint”.  I found that quite a delightful description of his massive skill with the garden.  Because we are making this easy, we are going to “zoom in” and focus on two flowers and some lily pads with just a hint of peachy clouds at the top. 

There are a myriad of sophisticated color combos in Monet’s gorgeous paintings, but I chose a pinks/greens/blues scheme, focusing especially on the bottom of this painting:

These similar blues, greens and pinks appear in other works as well, so I think he was rather fond of this bright and lovely color relationship. The top of this next painting is nearly identical in color.

Image credit: Google Arts and Culture  https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/water-lilies/1QFVEEzvlmrVzg

Here is a softer, lighter version that is still a similar relationship of colors, especially near the bottom right corner: Image Credit:  Painting “Nympheas” by Claude Monet – Neue Pinakothek, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3334951