Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Giant Ship, Giant Crane, Frankenstein Audition And A Sunset

Post-breakfast entertainment this morning was all in the harbor.  An empty Greek-flagged tanker, Filikon was heading to sea and we got to watch the effort it takes to send a 899-foot long vessel on her way.  Not far from Pier-11, a construction team from...you guessed it...New York City, was busy expanding a nearby pier, using a giant barge-borne crane to lift huge concrete posts into place.  I'm no engineer, but those "posts" could more properly be referred to as "piers".  I just didn't want to use the word two times in one sentence. :)

Here's what the action looked like:

Two of three tugs have arrived on-station and tow lines are being attached.  I realize tankers come much bigger than this, but it's impressive to me.  The biggest super tankers were up to 1,503-feet long!  Not many of those remain in service today.  Click on any of the photos for a closer view.

Crew personnel from the Filikon working hard to haul the hawser aboard.  I wasn't able to tell if any of this group were women. 

An "extreme" photo.  Dock workers are being observed by two crew personnel far out on a bridge wing.

A hawser is being taken in at the bow of the 899-foot long vessel.  It's clearly evident here, how high she's riding in the water.  Tankers are normally off-loaded at off-port anchorages.

The tugs are doing their job, slowly moving the behemoth away from the pier. 

Three tugs push-pulling the Filikon into the harbor channel.

Almost mission accomplished.

Heading out.  The daily shipping schedule didn't say where the Filikon is heading, but we now bid her Aloha and fair winds and following seas.

This pier-building work was going on as the Filikon was being tugged.  The company doing this heavy lifting is Weeks Marine, Inc.  Here you can see the giant crane lifting a concrete pier into position for entering the water.  I recommend clicking on this image to see those tiny workers and the crane operator.  It's the definition of heavy equipment.

For those of you who only look at the photos and never click on the images, I've taken all the work out of this blog for you. :)

And here's a close-up of the crane operator.  Ain't I nice. :)

Yikes!  Not to worry.  I was just auditioning for the main role in a Hawaiian version of Frankenstein.  Actually, this was two days after a small basal cell cancer lesion was excised.  The lesion was smaller than a pencil eraser, but the doctor wanted to make certain he got it all.  He did.

The day after the stitches were removed.  The dermatologist was a former Navy Flight Surgeon, so I knew I was in good hands.  What scar?  Needless to say, I wasn't chosen for that starring role. :(

Nice change of pace, eh!  Today's sunset was pretty nice and the sun's path has now moved south far enough that we'll be looking for the "Green Flash" again...for about six months, at least. :)

Hope everyone out there had a good day. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Man!  Where does the time go?  It's as if the weatherman threw the "autumn switch" to the "on" position.  Brisk trade winds have been bringing beautifully cool days and nights lately and to say we're enjoying them would be a gigantic understatement.

Many hurricanes and tropical storms passed our way throughout the summer and hurricane season doesn't end here until the end of November.  And with one of the strongest El Ninos on record, we're not out of the woods yet.

None of that could diminish our enjoyment of today.  Upper seventies made breakfast on the lanai perfect.  Our morning entertainment was watching the Grand Princess ease into her berth at Pier-11.  White fairy terns performed their aerobatics for us and seven canoe paddling teams raced by just outside the harbor.  We watched an unmarked B-747 takeoff to parts unknown, along with the scheduled airliners.  The air was fresh and the sky bluer than blue.  It's why we moved here.

I spent most of it in the studio, working on the Halen portrait and beginning a new one of our good friend and landlady, Mimi.  She has repeatedly refused to be a subject, but Thursday evening, I managed to get a couple workable reference photos.  We took her out to dinner to celebrate her 76th-birthday and she had no idea the seemingly innocent birthday photos would serve another purpose.

Here are some photos taken the past couple of days:

The MS Volendam departing Honolulu October 1st.  Seems like every passenger was positioned on the stern to watch the sunset.  Click on any of the photos for a close-up.

You can see why they were so eager to view the sunset.

Here's that "mystery" B-747 lifting off of the reef runway.

Aloha 'Oe.

A passenger aboard the Grand Princess strolls the Promenade Deck this morning?  She took the parking place vacated on Thursday, by the Volendam.

Something we don't see every time a cruise ship visits.  Our guess is that more passengers joined the ship this morning and perhaps there is a law requiring them to undergo an abandon ship drill.  Any cruise ship veterans viewing this post, please feel free to let me know if we guessed correctly.

Life boats have come a long way since the Titanic tragedy.

This is Halen's portrait today, taken with my old camera and a room full of warm light.  Still need to work on his neck and a shirt and maybe even some shoulders.  If you're at all curious about how he looks in the reference photo, check back a few posts.  I'm well-pleased with the likeness.

Halen again, this time taken with my phone camera.  These colors are much closer to the real painting.

This is Mimi, on a 14 x 11-inch canvas board.  Like the Halen portrait, a couple of quick studies will be done prior to beginning the final painting.  I worked on this for about two hours today, so the many errors will be eliminated going forward...

Here's Mimi at her 76th-birthday dinner Thursday evening.  Please, disregard everything but her.  I cropped this to isolate her lovely face.  Not the best lighting, but my plan is to change the light for the painting.  Gotta do, what'cha gotta do for your art. :)

Another isolation of Mimi.  She told us the jacket she wore was hand-painted.  Hard to tell here, but it was black.

Okay, this should be enough. 

Hope you're all having a beautiful weekend. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mixed Bag

Finally began the final, what I hope will be a "keeper" portrait of Halen yesterday.  It started with a  grisaille, using burnt umber and transparent oxide red.  At the end of two-and-a-half hours, I added some white and green for contrast.  His reaction was positive and in a day or two, I'll add colors and refine the drawing.  Please...Stand By.

This morning, the Volendam joined the Star Princess in port.  I took some photos as she maneuvered into Pier-11, which is in our "backyard", so-to-speak.  The decks were crowded with passengers eager to watch the approach and have their first close-up look at Honolulu.

And how about a rainbow seen from the other side of our building!  The elevator lobby looks out at the Ko'olau Range to our northeast, where most of O'ahu's rain falls.  Late in the afternoon, usually when I'm heading out for a jog, it's fairly common to see spectacular rainbows and low clouds hovering over the mountains.  On this day, I took the time to fetch a camera for a few photos.  Hope it makes your day.

This is a grisaille sketch of Halen on a 20 x 16-inch canvas (50.8 x 40.6-cm).  To make this took   burnt umber, transparent oxide red, Liquin, lots of small pieces of paper towel and about 2.5-hours.  Using the wipe out method, I don't make any marks on the canvas.  Rather, I simply schmear the loose mixture of paint wherever I think his face will be, then take it off until Halen appears.  The beauty of it is the ease with which corrections can be made.  Just slap on more paint, or take it away as required.  The Liquin keeps the paint sloppy and I use a brush to add paint where needed and the handle to measure proportions compared to the photo.

This is how it looked when I showed Halen.  Much tweaking still to go and adding color, but it's a good start for what will be the portrait he receives.

The "Big Picture" as MS Volendam enters Honolulu Harbor this morning.  Nice day for the passengers!

It's nice to see so many passengers out on deck, eager to see our fair city and get ashore to enjoy it.  With every cruise ship or plane arrival, the island is blessed with visitor's happiness.  Click on the image and you just might see someone you know! :)

And finally today, a rainbow! 

Have a great tomorrow!  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Artistic Challenges...Okay...Whining.

Fellow blogger, Rhonda Carpenter, commented the other day, that my studio view painting, "needed something."  I couldn't agree more, and in response, I did a lot of explaining (whining) about the monumental challenge of painting some semblance of the Chinatown rooftops which make up all of the foreground.

We all know there are a multitude of ways one can paint a very busy urban scene.  I often visit Terry Miura's blog, both to marvel at the beauty of his cityscapes, and learn about his thought process and working method.  I also look to the work of Richard Diebenkorn, a master of simplifying and interpreting, rather than detailing.  I need all the help and inspiration I can get to turn that foreground into something...anything!

As I wrote to Rhonda, some level of detail needs to be included, since all those rooftops are the closest things in my view.  Just what level of detail and how best to paint it is so daunting, it's been easy to just let the canvas "rest" for the last few days.  Seeing the highly-detailed work of early masters haunts me, too.

So, in order to complete this whine, I've included some photos of those Chinatown rooftops to help you understand the challenge ahead:

The "big picture".  I may have bitten off more than I can either chew--or paint! :)

See what I mean about "architecturally challenged".  Wow!  The city does a pretty good job of keeping Chinatown as it was, save for allowing solar panels and other modern systems.

Nothing is simple here.

What was I thinking?  Would a rational artist (mutually exclusive terms?) have attempted this?

This amazing condo building must be done correctly, since it juts into the harbor view and will almost be a focal point.  Maybe this isn't whining, just really hard. :)

Couldn't end this post without a rainbow.  Saw this, along with the gigantic X-band mobile radar, a day or two ago.  Click on any of the images here for a closer view.

I've posted about this before, but here's a shot from the other day.

Hope your weekend is a good one!  And, Happy Autumn, (whatever that is) everybody!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


A few posts back, I included a photo of a couple of Army--yes, ARMY divers, working to rid the harbor of a derelict commercial fishing boat.  The owner of the vessel passed away and apparently government officials have been unable to reach anyone with the authority (or money) to remove the sunken hulk.  It's been there for about eight months because officials thought the bids to remove it were too high.  Finally, the U.S. Army offered the services of their dive team to remove the vessel, using it as a training exercise.

We've been able to see a bit of their work and a couple of days ago, noticed bright orange airbags on the surface and a portion of the aft main deck.  Wednesday, we watched as it slowly moved into view, supported by the airbags.

Have a look at what a re-floated commercial fishing boat looks like:

Unfortunately, that pinkish condo tower blocks most of our view, but despite that, you can see the bright orange airbags and a portion of the vessel coming into view.  Click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Four Army dive team members at work.  I was thinking the boat might break apart during the lift, but she must still have some life in her.  Who knows?  Maybe she can be salvaged and once again return to the fishing grounds.  Maybe you're wondering why wasn't the navy involved with this.  So are we.

A closer look at the dive team and the re-floated vessel.  Is Halloween coming?

Here she is!  This image was taken from the local NBC news. 

Members of the army dive team and their diving gear.  They did a great job.  Image courtesy of KHNL, our local NBC affiliate.

Congratulations to the Army Dive Team and thanks for taking care of this problem.  Image courtesy of KHNL.

It's great that this challenging task has finally been accomplished.  What an embarrassment to harbor officials and the city and state for leaving the sunken hulk for so long. 

Have a good day!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Couple Of Not-So-New Paintings

Actually, I've been working on them, on-and-off, for three or four months.  It's about time they saw the light, so-to-speak, of this blog.

The non-objective piece has grown on me enough to finally show you.  Making a painting of shapes and colors, trying desperately to avoid seeing anything in it, has long been a goal and I may have finally achieved it.  I can honestly admit I've never seen anything quite like it.  There may be a reason for this, but I'll leave that up to the critics. :)  If you look really hard, there might be a hint of Richard Diebenkorn present, but only a very small one.  Wouldn't want to offend his family.

It's been hanging on a living room wall for about a week now, and I frequently study it from across the room.  So far, no matter how hard we've tried, neither Michele or I have seen Mickey Mouse ears or any other recognizable creature or object.  On the other hand, the colors, lines, circles and other shapes keep us quite busy.  It's a carnival on canvas;  Happy, colorful, noisy and energetic.  If there is one thing which might bother some viewers, it may be the lack of a place for the eyes to rest.  It's still too soon to say if it will remain as is.  As of this post, however, no "Eureka" moment has caused me to rush it back to the studio.

The other work is based on the view from my studio (our second bedroom) windows.  It's been a supreme effort to make it an interpretation rather than a super-realistic rendering.  The landscape paintings of Richard Diebenkorn and Randall David Tipton have been a significant source of  inspiration for this one.  It's been a monumental battle to avoid details, while including enough to make it, at least somewhat recognizable as a landscape.  I have no doubt the obsession with details comes from working from photographs for too many years.  Caring if people recognize a location is something I'm struggling to overcome.  Maybe the title should fill the bill and that might free me to simply make a beautiful painting.  This issue remains unresolved.

So far, it's untitled, oil on canvas, 24 x 30-inches (61 x 76-cm).  A flimsy paper plate was used to make the large circles, so imperfections are evident, but don't concern me--must be the Diebenkorn influence! :)  Click on either of the images for a closer view.

"Studio View", oil on canvas, 22 x 28-inches (55.8 x 71.1-cm).  Michele thought I should lose the bar across the lower part of the window, but I'm still okay with it--so far.  I'm wrestling, also, on how vibrant to make the colors.  On the day I was inspired to paint this view, it was rainy, with gray being the dominant color.  Yeah, I know.  Such days never happen here. :)  Being free, I can exaggerate or eliminate anything--right?  Many great expressive (or interpretive) landscapes exhibit not a hint of  atmospheric perspective, much less linear.  So, why all the fuss?  After all, this is just a work-in-progress. :)  One last thing:  If you've seen any of our photos of Chinatown, you know it's a  jumble of irregularly-shaped lots, with buildings which may best be described as being...shall we say, "architecturally challenged".  The entire foreground of this view is one hundred percent Chinatown.  To attempt to paint it realistically would take a very long time and require immense attention to detail and patience, neither of which are my strong suit.  I could not have chosen a more challenging view to put on canvas.  I'm going to stop whining now and get back to imagining how to simplify and interpret what I see. 

Hope you had a good day!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Paradise Helicopter Airshow

This spectacularly beautiful morning came with an unexpected airshow.  Around ten-thirty we heard unusually loud rotor noise.  Tourist helicopters occasionally fly over our building on their return to the airport, but this was different.  We were in different rooms, but both jumped up to see what was going on.

A small Paradise Helicopter was hovering above the building across the street!  We could also see workers on the roof of the twenty-two story building and figured it must mean something large and mechanical was about to be lifted to the them.

Sure enough.  The helo made several lifts of equipment to the roof, while taking away the old components.  We both took lots of photos and I also shot a couple of videos which are now posted on YouTube, if you're interested in seeing the live action, too.  They can be found by putting my name in the YouTube search box, then, after the search comes up with all the "Garys", click on my smiling face to get to my channel.  Or...just use this link. 

When the work was done, they waved at Michele, then zoomed out of sight.  It was great fun to see their precision flying from such a wonderful vantage point.  Hope you enjoy the photos and the videos.

This was taken as they were leaving, but let's pretend they're just arriving!  Makes a better story. :)

Too much white!  Hopefully, you can see the helo turning into the building where workers are ready to attach the lifting lines.  Click on any of the photos for a closer view.

Must be exciting being underneath a hovering helo!  Do you think he gets "hazardous duty" pay?

Working their way into position to have one of the units hooked-up.  That smallish cruise ship is called the l'Austral.  She's what called a "mega yacht" and has a mere 132-cabins for those who prefer a more intimate at-sea experience...I guess. :)  She just arrived this morning taking the berth Pacific Princess was at yesterday.  But, I digress.  Back to the airshow!

Gee, I wonder what he's looking down at?  I REALLY love the zoom on my camera!!

This must be the object of his intense focus.  We saw some very delicate maneuvering to get that machinery exactly where it needed to be.

He may be lowering one of the old pieces of equipment in this shot.  That building in the background is Harbor Court.  By the way, the Tsunami advisory was cancelled this morning and no damage was recorded.  Hope the folks in Chile are doing okay.

Another close-up of the crew at work. 

Can't get much closer to the action than this.  I plan on calling the company and sending along the photos if they're interested.

Almost free, then it's time to head for home.

Have a nice day, fellas, and thanks for the great show!

Hope you all had an exciting day, too!