I have been quiet. This is a sure sign that I have been working on something very large. I am happy to unveil my latest piece: “Sacred Space” measuring 30″ x 48″ and what makes it such a large project is the level of detail. Murals are larger, but they also get painted with large brushes.
Sacred Space complete with a frame from Brilhante Framing of Kailua
The idea for this piece hit me like a bolt of lightning 4 years ago when I had just watched “Secret of Kells” for the third time. “The Secret of Kells” is a cartoon so beautiful it should be thought of as a moving piece of art rather than what you would typically think of with animation. It is about Celtic illuminated manuscripts and if you haven’t seen it, you should set aside a movie night to take a look. It is a beautiful story with amazing animation. After viewing the amazing animated manuscripts once again, I wondered what tropical illuminated manuscripts would look like, and then after a few odd sketches of extremely stylized Hawaii scenery with a Celtic knotwork spin, the thought pushed into its final form: “What if I used metal leaf like paint to add movement to the water and the leaves – the sunlight dappling, changing, shifting like the light on the leafing?” I knew this had a potential to add another element to the painting, allowing me to more fully express the sense of awe felt while secluded next to a stunning waterfall. I had to learn how to use metal leaf and get good enough to apply it smoothly. That took about 2 years. Then it took a lot of time and care to work my way through the details on the canvas. I set it aside a few times to work on other things and allow my brain time to solve some quandries by passively working on them in the background. I always returned with a fresh point of view. This will certainly not be the last “tropical leaf” painting! I am really interested in using the dynamic shimmer of metals in my work. I had to adjust for the variability of the silver leaf’s changing values, but the final effect adds motion and life that is impossible to show in a photo but I’ll try anyway by posting a detail from different angles.
Here is the ie ie vine in the painting, a woody endemic Hawaiian flower in the pandanus family, shown from two angles so you can see how the silver picks up and reflects light dynamically. You can also see a small portion of the waterfall’s silver leaf.
Giclees (durable canvas prints) of this piece will be available soon. It won’t have the leafing unfortunately since it has to be painted and blended into the rest of the piece, but when I get the final scan, I will be posting it on my “Giclees Available” page.
This piece will debut at the Punahou Carnival Art Show along with two of my little birds:
Akepa with Orange Ohia
Saffron Finch In A Cannonball Tree
A carnival? You might find that odd. Let me explain. Hawaii has a handful of schools that function more like colleges. They are rigorous, demand excellent grades, and inspire the kids who attend to really strive for their best potential. Punahou is one of the largest of these. They have a great scholarship program so that the school can admit kids who can benefit from the challenging education at a rate of payment their family can afford. Every year, Punahou holds a carnival to bridge the gap between what the kids are able to pay and what the school demands to keep the facilities top notch. Oddly enough, they have developed one of the largest, most prestigious art shows in the islands. I am pleased to be participating. If these pieces are sold at the carnival, half the proceeds will go to the Punahou scholarship fund.
You probably heard the news about our false ballistic missile warning here in Hawaii. There was a lot of panic, but also a lot of cool heads too. You don’t hear about the cool heads on the news. It’s not very exciting compared to reporting about the very real panic a lot of people felt, but most of the people I know were concerned rather than panicked. Nonetheless, for those of us in the “concerned” category, it was still a very strange morning.
I woke up to the sound of my cell phone and my husband’s cell phone chirping in unison. The first thing I did was to wake up a touch annoyed. We get flash flood alerts like that with the same alarm, so I thought they were going to tell us it was a flash flood. I was preparing to roll over and go back to sleep, but then I saw the screen. The missile alert was on the screen like the graphic below (this image is thanks to Tulsi Gabbard, who you will hear about later on):
Like a dope, I got up out of bed and went to look at the sky because I am not a good morning person and it took about 20 seconds for me to realize that of course I wasn’t going to see the missiles – they take 15 minutes to arrive. All I could think of was “bzzzzzzz” (the brain equivalent of TV static) and then after another minute of squinting into the sky and trying to be sentient, I thought “How do I prepare for this? Hmmm….” I realized you can’t prepare for something like that past what you would do for a hurricane, and I was already passable with my emergency kit, so no need to worry about that aspect. I remember being relieved and a bit embarrassed that I couldn’t think of any unfinished business or last desperate wishes that could be fulfilled in 15 minutes other than filling the bathtub with water. It made me feel uncreative. Some people have the wackiest ideas of what to do with their last few moments of life, but I, who make my living being creative, drew a blank. I also thought it was weird that North Korea would actually send a missile. I know they are always threatening, but they have lots of reasons NOT to actually go through with it – in fact it’s highly unlikely if you sift through the pros and cons. Then I realized no sirens were blaring. “Let’s check it out on Twitter to see if it’s false!” The lack of sirens was fishy.
If there is one thing I have learned from being a night owl, it is that if you have a weird earthquake at 3 am, Twitter is the best place to figure out if other people know what is happening. I don’t know what kind of magical server is running over there, but the second something bizarre happens, you can start searching for information, and usually you will have your answer in under 5 minutes from a reliable source – technology is wonderful! I ran to Twitter to figure out what was going on with this alarm, and immediately got the word it was false from our local hero of the day, Tulsi Gabbard, who immediately confirmed the status of the alarm and sent out a very quick Tweet.
Many of us had moments after it was all over where we realized our lives were the everyday humdrum and we were so grateful! It’s NICE to be stuck in traffic (sort of). It’s nice to fold laundry and have a list of errands. It is a luxury to have routine everyday life unfolding. It is nice to know you have kissed your kids and given your family notification on a regular basis that you love them. I felt squared away and spared and happy to be sweeping the floor. And I am also grateful to be able to take all the everyday stuff for granted too. It’s nice to be able to relax into it rather than having to be acutely aware of all the beauty and all the multitudes of blessings we have in our lives every moment of the day. I am grateful for the ability to take it all for granted. That’s part of the charm of the “everyday” too.
This October an November I have been honing my skills, I took an amazing workshop at Zwick Academy of Fine Art (ZAFA) entitled “Master Copy Workshop”. We worked on a master painting copy of a work by John Singer Sargent – I chose “Lady Agnew” I am mostly done copying the detail, and ready to show the results. First we worked on the value study. This turned out to be quite enlightening for understanding the overall tones of the piece. It was years since I had worked with charcoal, and I found out I really love it for a drawing medium.
Then we worked on color studies (not pictured), before launching into the real deal. We used a nice color print out in lieu of being able to spend a month in front of the actual paintings. Every time I mixed a skin tone, I found myself saying “Needs more purple!” Sargent is a surprisingly saturated colorist. I look forward to the changes this will bring to future pieces as I incorporate the lessons learned by studying Sargent’s careful yet expressive painting style which I would classify as “effort-filled effortlessness”. I can highly recommend William Zwick’s classes. He’s an excellent teacher! I learned more in less time by doing this master copy under his mentorship than I would have if I had picked up a brush and done it without guidance. Maybe I will end up doing more copies in the future, and I would even dare to do them solo now, but I think the process of being guided through this copy helps me know how I would go about it in the future if left to my own devices. It takes a lot of research if you plan to replicate the painting down to the technique and palette. I was grateful to have that footwork in place already for this piece.
There is a little glare on the photo, but I think it is not hampering the viewing of my copy too much. Also, the piece is not varnished yet. I will post again when I have the necklace done and the varnish done (which will deepen the colors), but you can see that the detail is almost complete. I am planning to frame this and hang it in my studio to remind me how to soften my edges. What a great way to spend October of 2017!
I returned to ZAFA in November to work on my master copy-earned skills with some life painting sessions, and painted a portrait of the absolutely gorgeous model posing at ZAFA for the week.
Here she is with her painting. Posing for hours like that is not easy. She did a great job of standing still for the 9 hours (!) it took us all to paint her likeness.
I worked hard to soften the edges and was pleased with the results, as was the model who bought the piece – I always love it when a painting finds its home. ZAFA is one of the few places you can go on Oahu for a multi-session life painting experience, which I highly recommend if you are looking to hone skills and learn to paint beyond the confines of a a photo. As of 2017, it is on Fridays and you can sign up with ZAFA to get notice of the status of the sessions. We are lucky to have high quality art resources like this close at hand. Maybe I will see you there, fellow Oahu artists!
This November and December, I am getting a chance to show my works from September’s miniature work frenzy. I had 4 pieces accepted into the AHA Miniature Show which ran throughout November, and 3 were juried in are still on display at the Koa Gallery. Details are here for the Koa Gallery Show which is still on display: http://www.wendyrobertsfineart.com/event/mixed-media-miniature-show/
At the AHA Miniature show:
Akepa with Orange Ohia
Mynah Bird in a Coral Tree
Violet Vanda Orchids
Mixed Media Miniature Show 20th Anniversary:
Java Sparrows in an Avocado Tree
Iiwi on Blue Lobeliads
Saffron Finch in a Cannonball Tree
It’s time for another fun painting party class at Brilhante! This painting is “Sunset Hibiscus” I will teach everyone how to paint an Pua Aloalo yellow hibiscus (the state flower) in front of a sunset sky and water.
November 4, 2017 (Saturday) 5:30 – 8 pm
Brilhante Custom Framing & Fine Art
1247 Kailua Rd #2a, Kailua, HI 96734
$40 (we supply all the materials)
Please bring an appetizer or drink to share
Although painting will begin at 6 pm, it’s best to come at 5:30 so you can meet everyone, eat a snack, and get relaxed before we start painting. The cost per person is $40 which includes all painting materials. You need only bring a snack of some sort to share, and the rest is set up! We are going to have a good time!
We always have a cap of 12 people when I teach at Brilhante, so I can really customize and scale the painting to be appropriate for a wide range of artists from the beginner that hasn’t touched a brush since grade school, to the intermediate painter. We always have the full range of skill levels present in our parties, so don’t be afraid to come no matter how much or little you have painted. I design these paintings for a wide range of skills and assure that everyone will have good time and hopefully learn a few skills by the end of the night. I am able to give a lot of guidance and help you respond to spontaneous changes you make to the painting. It is fun and relaxing to be creative in a group! We each bring something to share like a bottle of wine or a party food, and we relax and let the paint flow. I truly enjoy teaching in this laid back party setting!
This class will be about value and getting the most vibrant color from your paints on the petals. Along the way we will learn a nice wet-in-wet technique to get a smooth sunset, some glazing, and a bit about color and what makes this painting work as an image.
If you want to join in, please call Tracy at Brilhante Custom Framing and Gallery at (808) 263-1096 to reserve a spot. It almost always sells out (as of 10/26/2017, two days after we really started announcing it, there are 6 spots left). It’s best to call soon if you want to come.
I am participating in the upcoming fundraiser for the Lymphoma Leukemia Society at the McKellar Residence: 148 Kaimoani Way, Kailua, Hawaii, 96734, this weekend, Sunday October 29, 2017 from 2 – 5 pm. I will personally be late since I am also taking a workshop but I do plan to come from 4 – 5. There will be art for sale with a minimum of 50% of all proceeds going to the Leukemia Society. Many accomplished artists are donating work to the event, and Greg and Junko (an award-winning steel drum band) will play live music for us at this lovely beachside home! Please see this flyer for more information:
I would also urge anyone who feels altruistic to get signed up as a possible marrow donor. Someone amazing did this for my uncle. I was thinking of testing for compatibility when a kind stranger matched him before I could even find out how to sign up. Later, I signed up in the hopes to pay it forward someday. Maybe I will be the stranger with the right marrow to help make extra years possible for someone as wonderful as my uncle. He was seriously ill, but was fortunate to recover well after the bone marrow transplant. He has been granted precious years of life to nuture his grandkids and spend time with friends and family.
Please click here to learn the basics of what it means to sign up in the database and what it would require to be a donor:
If you are between the ages of 18 and 44, you are the right age to be the match. With a simple cheek swab, you can be in the database, and if a match comes up, you can make the decision of whether you are able to donate marrow. Please visit this link to learn how to take the first step to being in the database (a DNA swab to determine compatibility with future patients):
With Hawaii, there are many unique racial combinations, and so it’s important especially here in Hawaii to register since the need for marrow often follows racial/hereditary lines. and it is harder for multiracial patients to be able to match. Someone on the island with wonderful diverse heritage could be the key to help a Filipino/Hawaiian/Japanese/Native American/Irish mixed ancestry patient that would otherwise be unable to find a match.
I wanted to at least do one day of Inktober, the seemingly ubiquitous challenge that has a list of prompts and is an great reason to hone skills with ink drawing. Today I had time to create something, so I looked at the official prompt. “Teeming” – what a fitting prompt for me lately. My mind has been swimming with thoughts that flit like fish, unpredictable emotions, and a feeling of drifting like a school of fish. It’s been a tough couple of weeks. I decided to use this as a therapeutic exercise as well as a technical one to express that dreamy, lost quality. Utilizing memories and a photo from my latest scuba dive, I delved into a inner self-portrait of sorts. There is an odd photo after scuba where my hair was tangled and wavy, and I started with that as inspiration, knowing I was going to weave fish between the locks like tessellations. From there, I let myself wander.
If you want to draw for part or all of Inktober, here is the site and the prompts and “rules” (follow them if you want, or just be joyful and don’t worry about it) are below.
As the official 30 in 30 wraps up on Leslie Saeta’s site, I have gathered a set of 16 paintings to make a collage of my highlights to show for her conclusion posting. Having most of the challenge complete, my daily painting habit is strong. An artist can only improve with time spent at the easel, so it’s good to hone habits and make an effort to paint as often as I can. I will end up with a little less than 30 paintings because some are taking more than one day, but it won’t be far off. I am feeling very productive and definitely took the challenge seriously. I spent significant time at the easel every day. I opted not to show some pieces that need more work, but I have them behind the scenes waiting to emerge after finishing touches.
With so many shows coming up, these little paintings are coming into existence at the perfect time. I have already sold 6 paintings from this series, so the rewards for my work with the brush have started to flow. I am very grateful! My teenage daughter called dibs on the scuba dive painting from memory (“Black Coral Cave” – which I was not planning to sell). Since she was with me when we went into the beautiful caves, it seems fitting to give that piece to her. Seeing her fist pump the air when I told her she could have it was the best sort of payment!
This wraps up the official Saeta Blog timeline of the 30 in 30, but of course I will continue for a few more days to account for starting 5 days later than everyone else. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog – it’s more fun to write if someone actually reads it!
Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree day 2 progress. I put in the base colors today, modelling some details, but mostly blocking in color and firming the locations and shapes of everything. Lots of work got done today!
Today’s bird is one of my favorites that I paint more than any other bird, the iiwi. I love the bright red-orange color of its feathers. I keep finding new color schemes I want to try with this vibrant red color. This time the tiny honeycreeper is nestled on a vivid blue-purple lobeliad plant in bloom, using its curved beak to feed on nectar within the flowers. Thanks to Kim and Forest Starr for a wonderful series of photos that served as inspiration.