Monday, October 26, 2009

Children of the Rainbow

In one of my earlier blogs I wrote on the hula and its place and importance to the Hawaiian people and their culture. In this blog, I would like to make you aware of what it was like to be brought up in this rich, proud, but defeated culture. "Defeated" may seem like a strange word to use here, but history tells us that the Hawaiian government was overthrown by greedy business men and Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned in her home...Iolani Palace. A story for another time.

I like to call the children of Hawai’i…Children of the Rainbow…because of the diversity of the races and the children that resulted from the inter-racial unions. They are beautiful in features and possess skin tones of varying degrees. I and my siblings are counted among these children. We were like free spirits; running barefoot and half-dressed, going home only when hungry or hurt. I remember my days as a child of the rainbow. No real responsibilities and life was filled with sunlight, beaches, and play. And through that time…Mama and Tutu Rose were always close by. I'm sure each of you can recall those days of the 40's and 50's when life seemed simpler. But those days passed quickly into another phase. As it says in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.”

It was time to grow up. Go to school to learn the Western ways and learn to do the hula as most young Hawaiian ladies were expected to do during that time. Most people are not aware of it, but Hawaiian parents were forbidden to teach or speak the language to their children, not even in the privacy of their own homes. So, unfortunately, we – my siblings and I – did not learn the language to any extent. We knew words and phrases, but could not string it together enough to carry on a conversation. This was a fact that continued into the 50’s when there was some relenting. Also, the history of Hawai’i, geographically or politically, was not taught in the schools…nothing at all regarding the Hawaiian peoples was made available to its young people.

Hmmm…this is taking off in a direction I’m not intending to for this post. I just want to show you a couple of great pictures that I received from my niece and want to share with you.

Children of the Rainbow

That’s me, front row, second from left, my brother James Kaiwa is to my left. All of the young people of our church (and some not) danced to raise money for the church. We had a lot of fun being together.

My sister Charlene (second from left) and sis Leinaala (far right). The other two girls are my cousins. They’re dressed in costume for a dance called “Sophisticated Hula.”

Aloha for now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Self Portraits

It has been a little over a week since I last posted…my goodness how time flies.

I’m told that in the process of learning how to paint, especially if one decides to delve into portraiture, one should practice by doing a self portrait. Before really getting into painting I often wondered why would someone do a self portrait…is it ego? I have discovered that it is a great way to practice. Your model is always handy and there is no charge for the sitting. Where can you find a better deal? I’ve gone onto artists websites and found that some of them have done several…one artist mentioned doing a self portrait at least once a month. Even the Masters have done self portraits, many of them more than one. So, if the Masters have done it, then why not me? I'm sure it can only help me hone my portraiture skills.

Sometime back I decided to give it a go and this is what I came up with…

This is my first attempt. Not very good, but my family did recognize it as me.

This one I call “Melancholia.” I did it for a challenge with the painting website. The challenge was to do an expressive self portrait. I decided on this composition because I find myself in this position many times, especially when I’m studying a piece that I’m working on. Also, with the hands being such a large part of the overall composition, it gave me an opportunity to work on hands…something I’ve always had problems with. I was surprised that I did get some pretty decent feedback on it. I think its time to do another one. I could paint from photos, which I have done on many occasions and I do have some fantastic photos of people from foreign countries in their cultural dress in great poses, but I want to be able to paint from life; therefore, the self portrait.

These are both done in oil on 9x14 canvas board.

Until next time, mahalo for visiting.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Local Festival

Last weekend I participated in a local festival that turned out to be more of a learning experience than anything else. I did go into it knowing that sales would probably be nil, but I had not done anything like this before and did want to get a feel of what it would be like to show in one of these outdoor events.

This photo was taken while I was still setting up.

The weather was ideal that day…mild temperatures, clear skies and a slight breeze to start the day. My son set up the canopy for me. Arrangements had been made with the promoter to have a display rack available for me to hang paintings. That was the first disappointment. Although the rack was made to my width and height measurements, I expected more than 2x4 pieces randomly placed between the panels…what I did expect was solid panels where the paintings could be hung solidly. There were pieces I didn’t even take out of my car because I knew I would not be able to hang them. The wind would come up every so often so the paintings you see hanging on the left kept being blown off the rack so ended up being propped up under the table…and they were still blown over.

Further disappointing was the fact that I was the only artist there and my art was not conducive to the theme of the festival. I didn’t realize that it was to be a festival honoring Jesse James and his exploits, which included re-enactments of gunfights and bank robberies. Not all was negative; however, I did get a lot of positive feedback from those who stopped by to take a look. One very classy-looking lady said that the setting did not do my artwork justice. I was glad she mentioned that.

On the upside, I learned quite a bit…like what was needed in this kind of exhibition. I became comfortable talking with people who had questions, something that makes me nervous…that is talking about my art. So, all in all, even though I was glad when the day ended I learned a lot from this venture. Will I do it again? That would depend on a few factors…most importantly, that the event is also geared toward original artwork.

That's it for now...see you again soon.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kai - A Boy and His Ball...Pau (finished)

16x20 oil on stretched canvas

With the help of friends/fellow artists on the Forum I have finally finished this portrait of my grandson Kai. Needless to say it was truly a joy to work on this piece.

Let me tell you a little bit about Kai. His name means Sea Water or Ocean. He is eight years old, home schooled, a new cub scout, a Lego builder, a Star Wars fan, knows everything an eight-year old boy could know about sharks, and loves the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ. He is a gentle person, slow to anger and still loves to be hugged. He is not an angel but I cannot recall a time when he was belligerent, mean, or disrespectful to anyone and I spend a lot of time with him and his sister.

His name brings to mind the ocean and how it was so essential to my life as a child and continues into adulthood. The ocean takes on many “moods”: calm and as smooth and reflective as glass; white capping and a little disturbed; or black, violent and turbulent with waves mounting high and with a roar crashing on the beaches. I remember the ocean in the back of our house in Kihei, Maui on so many mornings when we, as children, went to the beach. In my mind’s eye I see the ocean as we walked over that last crest of sand dunes…laid out like glittering crystal…not a ripple to be seen. Then there were the times when the wind was blowing so hard, and the sand was whipping across the beach stinging our legs bringing howls and tears of pain. Those were the times we ran as fast as we could straight into the water. For me the ocean was not only my playground, but a place to go to when I needed solitude time, reflective time, a time to be close to God – even when I didn’t know Him very well. Then there is the sweet aroma of the ocean…nothing in the world can replace that special scent that only comes when you are in close proximity to the ocean.

So much of my childhood was spent on the beach and because we were always barefoot, our treks to the beach were a journey in itself. The sand was always so hot that we had to run; hopefully finding little clumps of plant life where we would stand long enough to cool our tootsies, and then dash onto the next clump of green.

Remembrances of beach time were gathering shells with Tutu Rose to make shell leis (some of which I still own and use), gathering limu (sea weed), a’ama crabs and other Hawaiian edibles, again with Tutu Rose, all which we helped to prepare and eat. I must admit…a few of those edibles I could not eat.

Photo of a shell lei Tutu Rose made with shells I had gathered with her when I was a child. She's been gone 50 years now, so imagine how old this is.

Many times my uncle would take all of us to the beach at night to catch sand crabs. Armed with buckets and flashlights, we would be so excited. The buckets were buried in the sand up to the rim and the flashlights were used to either lure the crabs into the buckets, or it would lure the crabs toward you so that you could catch them…yes, barehanded! Me?…I was petrified. When they came toward me I would throw either the flashlight or limu at them. My uncle and siblings would get on my case because I would literally smash them little suckers. By the time we got home Tutu Rose would’ve already started the water boiling. Crabs were washed, dumped into the pot, and in no time at all, we all shared in a great Crab Fest. My love for the ocean has never waned even though I’ve been totally removed from it for so many years.

Aloha…Y’all till next time.

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