Today is Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday to some) and the last day of our
five day Mardi Gras carnival. Since Friday the town has been packed
with visitors from near and far. Our town is the only one in the province
staging a carnival and the ferries to the island have been full to the
The carnival "marchers."
By yesterday the restaurants were running short of food and more had
to be brought in from the mainland. The tour boat operators are happy
with their best business ever and anyone with a room to spare has been
able to make an extra buck renting it out to those who do not want to
sleep on the beach.
The tour boats were filled to the last seat.
The music plays continually from mid morning until sometime close to
the next dawn. The main street has been closed to traffic and each evening
there has been a parade. Behind the floats come the marchers, except
they do not march but dance their way forward to the beat of music.
Some dance elegantly with seemingly effortless steps while others are
more frenzied in their show of exuberance. Malcolm and I watch from
the sidelines and then retire long before midnight and go to sleep to
the beat of the bass drum.
Saturday we had the monthly Garden Club meeting. The subject was Ikabana
flower arrangement. We each took to the meeting an unusual flower container
and then decorated one other than our own. I took a conch shell and
Betsy Boeve added to its beauty with an arrangement that included a
Pat admiring Betsy's arrangement in the conch shell.
The Garden Club meets on the third Saturday of each month and starts
with a buy and sell of plants. This week Malcolm and I bought geraniums
and petunias to give color to the raised flower beds we have had built
on either side of the front steps to the house. We still have to do
the planting. In my next letter, I will show you a photo of how it turns
I am showing you a photo of the view from the verandah of my studio.
It is not a pretty view in comparison with the other end of the house.
From that side we have a wide vista of the bay and the island of Carenero,
where we first lived. I took this photo to remind me in future years
of how our corner of town looked in 2004.
The view from Pat's studio.
When we came to Bocas in 1997, it had changed little since the 1920's
when it was the headquarters of The United Fruit company and its banana
operation. In 1993, an earthquake tipped many of the houses bordering
the sea into the water. Some of the locals were so traumatized that
they left to live on the mainland and it is only in the past six years
that the town has been experiencing a rebirth.
Now to this past weeks paintings:
Again, I am illustrating the Lancaster carousel painting. This may
seem repetitive of me but I am doing so because it shows how the progress
of an unusual painting such as this comes about. The challenge has been
to incorporate as many of the animals as possible while remaining true
to the integrity of the subject.
If I were to show all forty animals, I would have to use a linear composition
and that would not represent the circle of a carousel. It would become
a documentation piece and be devoid of the cohesive movement and the
joy of the animals.
The chosen animals are my favorites. I have them so that while they
are still part of the carousel and its movement, they are interacting
with you the viewer. With the dog I took a liberty in having him face
back and observe the others. This allowed me to bring weight to the
bottom right and balance the painting. You will notice I have strengthened
the image of each animal; this came about as I grew more confident that
I had found the answer to the challenge. I have also added strength
to the blue circle and darkened the outer limits emphasizing the togetherness
of the animals. I am now very close to completion of a painting that
has taken two years in the making.
Progress on Pat's carousel painting.
This brings me to a point. I am often asked how long it takes me to
paint a painting. If you take this carousel as an example you might
think the answer is as much as two years. The true answer is seventy
years, or however old I am at the time of the asking. A painting represents
my life's experience. It contains thoughts and experiences that were
not made in an instant or in two years but come from all that I have
seen and felt in my lifetime. I am sure a musician would feel the same
or any artist for that matter.
Three paintings of Brownies and their leader.
I am also showing you two paintings of Brownies and
one of Brownies and their leader. I have often told you of the depth
of my admiration for the scouting movement. It is natural for me to
want to express that admiration in my art. On March 26-27, a troop
of Brownies are having a "lock in" at our museum. They will
start with a guided tour of the exhibition, do other art related activities
and then sleep on the floor in sleeping bags.
The last painting I am showing you is a gentle painting of a Day Lily
inspired by a week of floral activities.
Pat's Day Lily painting.
Well that is enough for this week. In two weeks' time we will be headed
back home. I have been talking with grandson Sean and he is impatient
for us to get together again and I feel the same way.