Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Made It!

Michele, somewhere over the Central Pacific, aboard our flight to Honolulu, January 30th, 2012.

After a short night and a four AM wake-up, Michele knocked it out of the park (again!) and we got aboard the Alaska Airlines 7:30 AM flight to Honolulu.  If you've ever flown "space available", you understand the stress of not knowing if you'll get a seat and the joy when your name is finally called for one.  Michele has a nearly perfect record of carefully selecting flights which give us the best chance of getting seats.  This morning was no exception.  We not only got seats, but to our delight they were in an over-wing exit row.  So, we had an exquisite amount of leg room and no one in the middle seat!  Short of riding first class, it's as good as it gets.
Our cab driver from the airport to the hotel.  His name is Vito and I believe there may be a painting in his future.  His "Aloha Spirit" made the trip quick and enjoyable.  Thanks, Vito!

The headwinds were not as strong as forecast, so our flight was shorter than expected--just a little over five hours and we were landing in Honolulu.  We caught a cab for the ride to our hotel, the Ilikai, arriving long before check-in time of 3PM.  We changed into appropriate Hawaiian attire, left our bags with the hotel and caught a bus for Pearl Harbor.
Ala Wai Yacht Harbor is directly beneath our balcony...well...almost.

Once we arrived at the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange and Commissary, we cruised the two stores, checking not only the merchandise available, but prices, too.  This benefit of career military service will really help keep our living expenses within reasonable expectations.  Riding the bus back to the Ilikai, we realized how lucky we were to arrive in Honolulu so early and get this "chore" accomplished so quickly. 
View from the deck on the ocean side of the Ilikai Hotel looking west.

We made it back to the hotel at about 4:30 PM, collected our bags and hopped an elevator for the 25th-floor.  We were really starting to fade now, but managed to change clothes and head out to see the sunset from the Halekulani Hotel lanai.  As we hurried along, it became clear that the sun had other places to be and wasn't going to wait on us.  We made a quick change of plans, turned right toward Fort DeRussy Beach and found an empty park bench to rest our weary bones and enjoy one of Mother Nature's greatest shows.
Even a cruise ship slowed to almost a standstill to watch the show, and maybe see the elusive "Green Flash".

Of course, we were hoping to see the "Green Flash" as we had in 2009, but it was not to be.  A couple seated next to us was trying to convince themselves that they'd seen, "...a little of it", but we knew better and remained silent.  If they're ever lucky enough to see this naturally occurring, but rare atmospheric phenomenon, then they'll REALLY know.  With the show over, we continued on to the beautiful lanai of the spectacular Halekulani Hotel to have our favorite "umbrella" drinks and enjoy the wonderful live classic Hawaiian music and hula show.  Kanoe Miller, a former Miss Hawaii and much-beloved entertainer was the star tonight.  Michele forgives me my thirty-five year crush on her.  I first saw her perform here WAY BACK in 1977 and this lovely lady still makes every person in the audience feel that she's performing just for them.  She's that good!  Gentlemen, even older than me, still have their photos taken along side her between sets.  They're probably old sailors, too.
This Waikiki beachcomber, armed with his trusty metal detector, threatened to block our view as he swept the sand for treasures lost by tourists.

On our walk back to the Ilikai, we just had to stop and see if Henry's Fruit Stand was open and to our complete surprise, it was!  Henry, who is quite elderly now, was stretched-out on a chaise lounge placed just outside his small shop, wrapped in a blanket, watching TV.  I'm only guessing, but I believe the younger members of his family tend the business for him these days.  We bought a gorgeously ripe papaya and another which had already been peeled, seeded and cut into beautiful huge chunks.  What a great breakfast we'll enjoy tomorrow after my jog!  Okay, okay...I did eat a fair amount of the filleted one already, but can you blame me?!  I'm only...human.
Waiting for the "Green Flash", you could feel the excitement amongst the gathered multitude.

So, it's going on 2 Am body clock time and I'm gonna call it a night.  I apologize for not answering those of you who commented on my last post.  It might take me a day or two to catch up.  I have a feeling you'll understand.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Charles Today, Hawaii Tomorrow!

This will be the last post of Charles Daniels--at least for a week or so.  This pasty-white, rain-soaked, proverbially chilled old man is heading to Hawaii tomorrow.  I expect you can sense that I'm writing this with a very large smile on my face--and you would be correct!  Like last year, we'll look at more buildings in the on-going effort to whittle down our choices, as well as, stopping by the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange and Commissary to see what the prices are like and what's available in the line of furniture and other housewares.

I imagine we'll also make time for swimming, sun-bathing, Mai-Tais, Lava Flows and a Halekulani Sunset or four.  I shall do my very best to post as much of the good stuff as possible.

Today, my last painting session for a week, went very well.  In fact, it went so well that I can see Charles' "Mona Lisa" smile--even on the computer!  Finally!  What a struggle, too.  I just hope when I take a look at the preview of this post, it's still there and recognizable. 

I know this may sound disingenuous, but I mean it when I say I hope you all have a great week ahead.  Stop by for vacation photos if it isn't too painful.  Aloha! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Charles Saw His Portrait Today.

A knock on the studio door interrupted work on the Charles Daniels portrait today (Monday).  I called, "Come in", but whoever it was didn't hear me.  With brush in hand I walked across the room to open the door and to my complete surprise, there stood Charles!

He maneuvered his walker through the door with a big grin on his face and he could see how surprised and pleased I was to see him.  Immediately, I had him sit down in my chair used to study the painting, then took it off the easel and placed it for him to see.

Another large grin spread across his kind face and as he repeatedly remarked, "That's good, that's really good!"  As you might imagine, I was thrilled by his reaction to his portrait.  We chatted for about half an hour about where he now lives and what he's been up to.  Among other things, he told me one of his sons (also called Charles Daniels) is an artist, too.  I'm eager to "Google" him to learn more about him and see his work. 

Before he departed, Charles allowed me to take a few photos of him with the portrait.  His hair is quite a bit longer than it was when the photo was taken, but other than that, he looks pretty-much the same.  I have the distinct impression that he'll be back and sit for me in the near future!  I did tell him there would be additional work done on the painting as it isn't quite "there" yet.  It didn't bother Charles a bit.  Needless to say, it was a good day for me!  I hope yours was even better!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Charles Daniels, 11 January 2012.

Work continues on the Charles Daniels portrait and, at the risk of boring you all to death, here he is again.  The last several days I've been trying to get the photo printout out of my head and achieve a reasonable facsimile of the real person.  This quest has been a struggle as I've bracketed his skin tones, all the way from Caucasian-esq to burnt toast.

After many hours of studying the painting, I may be zeroing-in on what I saw in the man himself.  There remain more-than-a-few areas which need additional work, but tomorrow is another day.  If I'm lucky enough to wake-up alive tomorrow, I shall endeavor to make the most of the opportunity.  May your tomorrows be plentiful and productive--how ever you choose to spend them.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award

A couple of days ago, Lisa Graham included this blog as one of her five blogs (with less than 200 followers) worthy of receiving this award.  I am deeply touched that Lisa would pick my blog for this award and now it's my turn to pick my favorite five blogs to pass on the award.

I'm not completely certain I got that correct, but I do know I'm supposed to add links to the five blogs I would choose and some other computer stuff I'm far from proficient at.  I told Lisa I really didn't want to offend any of the bloggers I follow by not choosing them.  All the blogs I follow are special in their own way, whether they have a thousand followers or a dozen.

So, to Lisa and whoever began this award, forgive me for not wanting to play favorites.  It may be just a tad bit too touchy-feely for this gruff, old curmudgeon.  I'm all for connecting with other artists, but I'll keep doing it the old fashioned way.  Each and every blog I follow is a "liebster" blog to me.    

You'll Never Guess Who I Saw Tonight! (Thursday, 5 January 2012)

Nope!  No way!  Not in a million years!  Actually, a lot of you will probably get it.  So, without further suspense, TA-DA-A-A.... Charlie Daniels!  See, that wasn't so hard after all.

I was jogging along SW 4th Avenue, heading south toward home when I noticed him.  He was sitting at an outside table in front of the Rialto, a pool hall/bar/restaurant/poker room.  I saw him out of the corner of my eye, recognized him and immediately stopped.

He didn't quite remember me, which isn't difficult to understand as it was way back in July when we met.  I re-introduced myself and his memory slowly came around.  I told him all about the painting, specifically, how I did it from one of the photos I'd taken of him during our original meeting.  I invited him to come by the studio to have a look and to bring his son the next time he visits Charles.  I don't think he really expects much and I can hardly wait for him to see the painting.

I had a really great session today and am finally beginning to see the look I'm after.  It has been a see-saw battle, getting close, then losing it and honing-in again and again.  For some unknown reason, perhaps magic or the help of a spirit, things went very well.  I'm eager to have the attendees at my weekly OGGF (Old Guys Gab Fest) see the progress.  For the last several Fridays, Charlie's portrait has been hanging around the studio, so they all know it almost as well as me.

So, I hope to get it photo-worthy tomorrow and snap some images.  I have my fingers crossed that you will all be able to recognize the Mona Lisa smile I've been working so hard to achieve.  Until then, I wish you all the best of days tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Charles Daniels In The New Year.

Thought perhaps it was time to get back to painting and leave the pulpit for a while.  Charles' portrait has continued to be the focus of my painting efforts throughout the holidays, though most sessions seem to result in only little changes, corrections and adjustments.  The line between a "Mona Lisa" smile and a plain old serious expression is extremely thin and I'm having a heck of a time achieving the look I'm after.  Sitting in the studio, I've often thought, "That's it!", only to see the photos later and be disappointed.  The expression I seek must be the complete package.  By that I mean, when I put my hand up and block out Charles' eyes, the lower portion of his face should convincingly tell me he's got  the slightest grin.  Blocking off his mouth and cheeks, I should still see something in his eyes conveying that same idea.

And there, my friends, is the proverbial rub.  I'm not totally convinced even Da Vinci got it right.  You can perform the same "test" on the Mona Lisa and decide for yourselves.  Anyway, that's been the major area of concern for the last week or so.  Maybe tomorrow will be the day! 

For those of you who prefer warm colors, here he is again, but this time I told the camera the lighting was "hot tungsten".  One last thing;  I re-worked the background, first covering the general mess it was, with yellow ochre and white.  After this beige color dried, I over-painted it with a very light lavender.  Hard to tell any of this by looking at what now appears in photos as a white background.  My thinking was the cool lavender might be a nice contrast to all the warm colors in his face.  It might need additional adjustment, but, "in person", I'm okay with it...so far. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012


So, it's still over three hours until the magic moment of midnight here in Portland, Oregon, USA.  I know many of you are now in bed, sleeping soundly after your own New Year's Eve celebrations.  I hope everyone enjoyed kicking 2011 to the curb.  It wasn't a year filled with much joy across the planet, though I dislike appearing to be purely pessimistic.  Let's just say the New Year can only be better, but now I may be sounding overly optimistic.  Time will tell, I guess.

As I've said before, I'm one of the lucky ones and daily count my blessings.  I have a roof over my head, adequate food and sufficient funds to have a small studio and the materials to paint every day.  No, it could be considered disingenuous for me to complain.  The threat of criticism, however, will never stop me from sounding-off about our national, as well as, global injustices;  mindless, endless wars--usually waged over economics, power and/or religion, hunger, lack of clean water, lack of schools, lack of basic human rights for women, abuse of the planet's resources...just to name a few.

I proudly accept the labels "liberal" and "progressive" and hope my voice will join those of the countless millions across the world who yearn for a little fairness and a reasonable opportunity to feed their families and live their lives with a bit of dignity.  Having seen a fair amount of this planet and met a good number of it's people, I've come to the conclusion that the time has come to end thinking as "nations".  The planet keeps telling us we desperately need to start thinking as one people inhabiting a fragile home.  Just imagine what could be accomplished globally if we stopped arming ourselves against each other.  If we stopped going to war.  If we can imagine it, it can come to pass.  That's my most important and challenging goal;  Changing people's minds;  How they look at the world;  To see possibilities;  To imagine. 

Happy New Year to each and every one of you.  Let's all try to make it a better world in which to live.  It's now midnight in Portland and I can hear the fireworks and the celebrating people cheering in the hope of better days to come.