30 in 30: Day 1 of Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree

Day 1 of “Shama Thrush in a Mountain Apple Tree” Yesterday’s work was rushed and didn’t turn out well, but you will see it later on once it’s had time to be sorted out. In the meantime, I started a new painting that I will show the daily progress on. I don’t always do an underpainting, but this is a complex scene and I felt a brown undertone would be great for this one.

This painting is part of the 30 in 30 challenge.  You can see the completed paintings to date here: 30 in 30 gallery

30 in 30: Mynah Bird in a Coral Tree

Mynah Bird in a Coral Tree
Acrylic on Gessobord
5″ X 7″

Mynah birds can be trained to talk, and they do not sound like parrots.  If you want to see one that was rescued and taught to talk, I highly recommend this link:  

I love listening to this bird’s voice.  Their usual chatter includes an amazing range of sounds: the soft peep of surprise that sounds like the mew of a cat, loud squawks, shrill dual-tone screams meant to defend territory, and even clicks. I have placed it in the boughs of a lovely coral tree.  They are both introduced species from India that thrive in the mild climate of the islands, mynah birds particularly are one of the most common birds in the low elevations.

30 in 30 Black Coral Cave

Black Coral Cave by Wendy Roberts

Black Coral Cave
Oil on Wood Panel
9″ X 12″

This painting was a joy to paint, though I don’t think it is 100% done.  It is another alla prima oil painting experiment.  I felt slightly more at ease painting the entire painting in one sitting this time, though I still have many hours to log before I will claim expertise in this direct wet-in-wet painting technique.

This summer, my family went scuba diving.  It was the first set of dives for my daughters who are finally certified in scuba.  I used to have an underwater camera a long time ago, but the photos are only as good as your equipment allow them to be.  My cheap camera never did a good job with underwater photos, so I ditched the camera and got in the habit of taking detailed notes of my dives, including as many fish names as I could figure out, but I missed the visual aspect a camera can offer, even if it is subpar.  This time, rather than taking a camera, I took inspiration from a friend and talented artist, Cynthia Schubert-Richmond, who has spent a lot more time underwater than I have in a lot more locations.  She solved the issue of sharing what she saw underwater by making paintings from memory, and what a wonderful memory she has!  It’s quite a brilliant idea really, because it had never occurred to me to paint from life after the fact without a reference, let alone trying to record the underwater world with all its unfamiliar sights, which always feels so surreal to me.  Her paintings of her dive trips were gorgeous!  They are not online, but you can at least see her other amazing works.  

Her underwater scenes inspired me to sketch when I got back to the hotel in the hopes that I might be able to reconstruct the feeling of diving – painting is more accurate for me emotionally than a photo ever could be because even with the best equipment, it is challenging to take a good panoramic photo in the water, and you can’t always catch your favorite fish sightings within your favorite ocean landscape scenery.  You have to choose macro or micro when using photography underwater generally speaking.  Thus, how nice it is to be able to paint it!  This painting is like a shadow of how it felt to me when we went on our last scuba dive.  It’s not accurate physically.  I couldn’t draw a map of the location.  I was too dazzled to pay attention to how the cave was shaped.  I remember the rays of the sun shining through the multiple openings, the feeling of mystery within the system, wondering what would be around the next pillar, seeing a few spectacular and unique fish, and swimming up over the coral beds.  Most of all, I was struck by the beauty of the amazing black coral  dangling down overhead from the top of the cave like a chandelier, complete with three little cowry shells in its boughs like monkeys in a jungle tree.  Because it is a painting, I get to capture many of the aspects of this dive all in one image, albeit, you could never really do it full justice compared to seeing it in person, but this is much better than my photos ever were.  When I look at my painting, it does evoke the memory of gliding through this mysterious underwater cave for me.

30 in 30: Ripening Bananas

Ripening Bananas
Acrylic on wood panel
11″ X 14″

Today I finished my revamp on the Ripening Bananas.  Above is the revamp.  Here is the original before revamp:

Ripening Bananas

Ripening Bananas – before revamp

Everything is more defined now, and the composition changed.  I feel like I understand the banana plant more fully than I did 3 years ago since I am now the proud and hassled owner of a small banana grove that requires a lot of pruning and removal of suckers. Just a tip for any of you who have bananas, they grow better fruit, and more of it if you limit the number of suckers.  What was 2 “trees” 3 years ago has necessitated more than a dozen “trees” to be removed. I am learning to get the unwanted suckers chopped down early.  It’s very cathartic to go out into the back yard with my favorite horihori knife (a gardening knife that is my favorite tool of all time – Here’s a link to it – I highly recommend it for you or for a gift that anyone with a yard or a talent for gardening can use – it’s well made and hands down the best weeding/hacking/sawing tool you could ask for in the garden).  I can use it to chop down even the big “trees”.  Bananas are not a woody plant, hence why even though people call them a tree, they are actually a giant herb!  The “trunk” is actually a stem, but it is as thick and tall as a tree, so the source of the confusion is obvious. Individual bananas are called “fingers”, and the whole stalk is called a “hand”.  I have had three harvests to date, with my largest 2 hands of bananas weighing in at more than 60 pounds each!  It’s a plant that inspires generosity since it’s too much fruit for one family to use.

This is part of the 30 in 30 challenge, day 16, but two of the painting took 2 days, so It’s painting number 14 in 16 days so far – I am hoping to eventually catch up, but I am freely following my inspiration in my daily painting regimen – if I feel like making a larger piece, I have been spending the extra time to do it. This may mean a catch up session eventually, but my gallery for the 30 in 30 continues to grow!.

30 in 30: Day 1 Ripening Bananas Revamp

Ripening Bananas
In Progress, Day 1
Acrylic on Wood Panel
11″ X 14″

Sometimes I end up repainting things if I discover that they need a little revision.  Today I got halfway through changing a painting that needed another session to perfect some of the values and balance.  Its title is “Ripening Bananas” I realized the composition would be better if I complimented the far left banana flower with a second, closer banana flower on the right. The bananas could combine with the flowers to lead the eye in a triangle instead of the arching motion of the eye in the prior version.  I am so tired tonight I can’t finish the painting with fresh eyes.  I have logged a few hours of painting (and done a lot of necessary domestic tasks), so I am hanging up the apron for the night after a long day’s work.  I will pick up the revision tomorrow, so today is just a blog post.  I am learning that the larger paintings really do need two days, even if they are just a revamp like this.  Last time around I never tried anything larger than 5 X 7, so this is a new lesson of the painting challenge for me.

30 in 30: Akepa with Orange Ohia

Akepa With Orange OhiaAkepa with Orange Ohia
acrylic on canvas
5″ X 7″

Today’s bird is a small orange honeycreeper with some of the brightest orange plumage in the world.  The akepa is an endemic Hawaiian bird and a rare sight currently.  It lives in the branches of the beautiful ohia tree, an endemic Hawaiian tree with beautiful flowers of red orange or yellow which provide nectar for the small birds.  Lately I have felt drawn to the orange ohia blossoms.  They are a fun challenge to paint and have a peachy color as opposed to the vivid orange of the akepa.

This is day 10 for me in the 30 in 30.  If you would like to see the other pieces I have created for this daily painting challenge, please look at my 30 in 30 Gallery.

This painting is available for online purchase. If you are buying more than one, or need to arrange shipping to an International destination, please contact me and I can send a custom invoice that will account for accurate shipping costs.



30 in 30: Kamehameha Butterflies with Red Ohia

Kamehameha Butterflies With Red Ohia by Wendy Roberts

Kamehameha Butterflies With Red Ohia
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″

After I had painted the butterflies on orange ohia in the prior painting, I decided I wanted to paint them with Red Ohia too. The name of this butterfly in Hawaiian is pulelehua, which roughly means “to float from flower to flower”, but it could be thought of as “floating flower” or “floating color” because it’s derived from the word pulelo which is “to float” or “to undulate in the air” combined with the word lehua, “reddish,” or “rainbow colored” which is also used in the Hawaiian name for the flowers of ohia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), iconic flowers of Hawaii that are endemic and sacred to Pele, the Goddess of Volcanoes. In my imagination I think of the butterflies landing gently on the ohia tree, only to transform into a flower, and then later, changing from a flower back into a butterfly.

This is day 6 of the 30 in 30 painting challenge. You can learn more and see the other pieces as they are revealed here:

30 in 30 Gallery

30 in 30: Kamehameha Butterflies with Orange Ohia

Kamehameha Butterflies with Orange Ohia
Acrylic on Wood Panel
8″ X 10″

Kamehameha butterflies are one of Hawaii’s two endemic butterflies. Its Hawaiian name is pulelehua, which roughly means “to float from one flower to the next”. The name also includes the idea of reddish coloring (the lehua flower is a very similar color, especially the red ones when the sun is shining through its wings). In my imagination, when I hear the term, I see a vision of an ohia flower that has come to life, floating and shimmering in the sun in the form of a butterfly as it glides from flower to flower through the forest. Perhaps it is another step in an imaginative metamorphosis for these beautiful butterflies. Here I have placed the small kamehameha butterflies with the ohia lehua mentioned in their name, but I wanted to see them alight on the orange variant which is a more rare color of ohia.

Special thank you to Kim and Forrest Starr for their generous sharing of photos in the public domain that allowed me to render the orange lehua. They are photographers who seek out many native and endemic plants and animals and post them online to educate and share their vast knowledge and talents with others. I do not know them personally yet, but I imagine we may meet someday (it’s a small island!). I have found their photo collection useful several times over the course of painting Hawaiian plant life and birds, and appreciate how long it takes to hike into areas with these rare endemic Hawaiian plants. It is very kind of them to share so freely with the online community!

This is day 5 for me of the 30 in 30 challenge. I took a quick detour from birds for a couple of days, but I know I will return at least a few times to painting them. I really enjoy birds! Tomorrow I will post my red ohia variant of kamehameha butterflies, however. I couldn’t just paint one! Not with all the pretty colors of ohia that we have in the islands!

If you want to see the entire series of paintings, you can see it here:

View the other 20 in 20 paintings in this gallery >>

30 in 30: Mejiro with Jade Vine

Mejiro with Jade Vine
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″

As I have been painting birds, I find myself returning to certain birds that are extra enjoyable. The mejiro, also known as Japanese white eye, is one of my favorite birds to paint. Here, I have jade vine, the only flower I know that is naturally a gorgeous turquoise combined with the green of the mejiro, the blue gray of the distant mountains, and a warm summer blue sky to create a palette of fresh, breezy blues and greens.

This is the fourth entry in my 30 in 30 painting challenge. You can see the entire series here:

30 Paintings in 30 Days 2017

30 in 30: Amakihi in a Mamane Tree

Amakihi in a Mamane Tree by Wendy Roberts

Amakihi in a Mamane Tree

Amakihi in a Mamane Tree
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″

Recently our family took a summer vacation to Maui. The largest volcano, Haleakala (Meaning House of the Sun in Hawaiian), rises up above the clouds in a cone so massive and so perpetually obscured in clouds and mists that it is impossible to understand the scale of the massive volcano. On the road to the summit, there are several biomes, and one of the most exciting landscapes was right around the visitor center where the endemic Hawaiian plants are healthy and plentiful. Mamane trees flourish there, their yellow flowers gracefully curving in bunches among the lace-like leaves. The moon was rising in the sky, and out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a small green honeycreeper bird gliding from tree to tree, rapidly hopping through the branches. Most of the honeycreepers are gone from the forests of Oahu, so it’s a wonderful treat to see them on the neighbor islands in preserved wilderness and parks. I wanted to capture the moon, the mamane flowers, and the beautiful little bird all in one image.

This painting is available for online purchase. If you are buying more than one, or need to arrange shipping to an International destination, please contact me and I can send a custom invoice that will account for accurate shipping costs.