Saturday, December 27, 2014

Photos From The Past Week.

We've been blessed with some exceptional sunsets lately and they beg to be shared.  Click on any of the images for a closer view.

December 23rd.  Quite a show indeed!

December 24th.  I call this, "Wags the puppy and his pal, the monster, "Scred" , watching the sunset".  Full credit goes to Muppets creator, Jim Henson.  Wags looks even more realistic if you click on the image to blow it up.  What do you see in this cloud formation?

Christmas Day, December 25th.  Glorious.

December 26th.  The airliner heading to parts unknown added a nice touch. :)

Today, December 27th.  It was spectacular.  But wait!  There's more...

Also 27 December.  We're always amazed at just how fast the sun disappears once it gets close.

The final shot from December 27th.  No Green Flash tonight, but we'll keep watching.

That's all folks!  Have a fabulous New Year's Eve celebration and I wish each and every one of you All The Best in 2015!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Ah-h Christmas.  Around here, it's a pretty low-key day, with minimum gifts, but a great dinner.  It will also include a workout and jog.  That will allow me to enjoy the dinner guilt-free. :)  You may have seen on your TV weather segment, that Hawaii's Big Island had a bit of a blizzard and a white Christmas.  The summit of the extinct volcano, Mauna Kea didn't get enough snow for skiers and snowboarders, but even a dusting counts!

I will share a special gift received from Michele.  She bought a photo taken by one of the many professional photographers at the Honolulu Marathon, blew it up a bit and put it in a beautiful card.  I'm sharing this image not out of vanity, (though many probably won't believe it) but as a way of proving to skeptics that I actually finished the race.  We-e-l-l...maybe a little pride, too. :)) 

I hope everyone out there who celebrates Christmas, had a great day.  Though shopping and the economy seem to trump the original meaning of the day, let us never give up on the hope that someday, we'll learn to be kind to each other.  That someday, all nations will realize what a small planet we live on, how precious it is and how desperately it needs protecting.  That to work together to solve our many problems is the only way to save our home.  This is what Christmas means to me.

Yours truly, just after finishing.  My time was 7-hours, 13-minutes, 37-seconds and I was the 16,986th person to cross the finish line.  The fact that I'm still upright and have the strength to smile is as good as it gets. :)

Have a good day, everybody!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Moving Forward...

The self-portrait at 65 keeps changing, but what else is new! :))  I'd like to say I'm moving forward on it, but who knows how it will appear tomorrow.  Here it is today, 23 December 2014.

 One thing about photographing paintings that puzzles me is the seeming impossibility of getting it straight.  No doubt most canvases are warped to some degree and my easel ledge/tray desperately needs to be scraped-down and sanded to remove all those dried globs of paint.  Doing battle with these factors is a losing proposition, so I'll surrender for today and hope you can focus on the painting and not the crooked, non-parallel edges.  The three canvases in the background are actually level and perpendicular in "real life".

Detail.  Click on the images for a closer view.  I mixed a bit warmer flesh color today, trying to compensate for the almost stark white highlights of the past two days.  Your computer monitor, or tablet or cell phone screen may make the color too orange or yellow.  Again, in person, I'm pleased with it.  A huge mistake for me is using too much titanium white in highlights.  As one famous artist said, "When you use pure white, you've got no where else to go."  And there's the chalky factor, too.  So, I've trying to get some color back in the highlights and give myself some wiggle room color-wise.

That's it for today.  Happy painting, out there! :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sunsets And Self-Portrait Progress.

A couple of great sunsets to share with you today, along with the latest work on the self-portrait at 65.  Yup.  It's official.  I'm into my sixty-fifth year on this planet (not sure how old I am on the planet I was born on...in earth years) :).  All recovered from the effects of the marathon, which is nice.  Did my normal jogging route Wednesday, wondering if it would feel any different.  Sadly, it didn't.  I was expecting to cover the course in a breeze, but it didn't happen.  Just as much work as always.  Darn!

Soon, I'll begin training for the Waikiki Roughwater Swim.  It appears to be a worthy follow-on challenge after completing a marathon.  The September race does have a time limit, so I'll need to spend a whole lot more time swimming in the ocean to avoid the embarrassment of race officials "inviting" me to leave the water for being too slow.  Swimming the freestyle for an hour three times a week in a heated pool using a current generator doesn't prepare one for the rigors of swimming in the open sea.  That being said, you'll never hear me complain about training for this event! :)

Certain people have suggested I try skydiving next, but as I told them, jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft just seems wrong.  Also, since I don't want to spend a ton of money building up to a solo jump, a dual dive would probably be the alternative.  Jumping hooked to another jumper just doesn't seem sporting.  I'll never say, "never", however. :)) 

This was on December 15th, and what a glorious sunset it was.  Click for a close-up.

December 16th was also spectacular.  No "Green Flash", however. :(

Also, December 16th.  It was nice of this airliner to add a bit more interest to the photo.  To those nearly three hundred passengers heading home..."Aloha Oe!".

As of 19 December, cropped slightly.

Seriously cropped.  It's on a 20 x 16-inch canvas.

The self-portrait at 65, as of 19 December 2014.  If you feel courageous, click on the images to zoom-in. I'm fairly satisfied with the progress and may have it finished before turning 66! :)

Hope you all had a good day wherever on this planet you live!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Sunday To Remember.

Indeed!  For most of my adult life, I've bad-mouthed marathon running.  And, being true to my belief, I've never even considered entering one...That is, until last Thursday.

That morning, I began seriously considering the possibility of entering the 42nd running of the Honolulu Marathon.  Would I stand even a prayer of completing the 26.2-mile, (42.195-kilometer) course without any training?   Would knees, leg muscles, feet, or other body parts be injured attempting such a drastic increase over my normal jogging routine?  Do I really need to prove anything?  Have I gone completely insane?

By that afternoon, I told Michele I was committed.  The marathon organizers made it WAY too easy, allowing late registration until the Saturday afternoon prior to the race.  Another very attractive feature of this event is there is no maximum time on the course.  Finally, as one about to reach the ripe old age of 65, opportunities to participate in such demanding physical trials are dwindling.  This "perfect storm" of reasons, along with the weather, provided more-than-sufficient motivation.  So, on Friday, I jogged to the Honolulu Convention Center and signed-up for the race!

My runner's "bib" told me I was entrant number 26,380.  Marathon organizers said they were expecting upwards of thirty-thousand entrants!  Saturday, I did nothing physical, instead, resting for Sunday.  I scoured the Internet for information for first time marathon runners and that was one of the recommendations.  Unfortunately, most of the advice dealt with how to properly train for an event--an impossibility at this point.   

The marathon begins at 5 AM, so I went to bed early in a futile attempt to be well-rested when the alarm rang at 3:30 AM.  Despite the no time limit and low expectations, it was still impossible to relax and get the needed sleep.  I was up long before the alarm was to sound, making sure everything was in order for the day to come.

Due to street closures for the race, Michele was only able to get me a little over a mile from the starting point.  I jogged the distance in the early morning darkness, which proved to be the perfect warm-up.  The crowd of runners packed together on Ala Moana Boulevard was amazing to see and be part of.  The national anthem and Hawaiian state song were played and a Hawaiian blessing was spoken.  Soon after the starting gun sounded, fireworks sent us off on our Sunday to remember.  C'mon along!

When I took this photo at 7:07 AM, we'd all been running for just over two-hours.  The weather was dark and rainy, both of which contributed to reduced fatigue, no sunburn and no hydration problems.  At times, when my feet and legs were feeling pretty bad, to see thousands of runners stretched far into the distance was rather depressing.

Distance signs, in both miles and kilometers, were posted at various points along the route.  I remember how seeing this one made me feel that I would be able to complete the race.  Since I had nothing to prove time-wise, I stopped at times to take photos.  Several of these signs had elapsed time displayed.  At the halfway point, I was almost feeling smug about my time.  Such feelings would vanish as the distance increased along with the pain.

The course wound through some very nice neighborhoods, including this home with a pair of lions to scare salesmen away, but welcome Santa Claus! :))

These are sponges, offered to runners to wipe their faces.  The rain made them mostly unnecessary, though many runners took them anyway.  Water and Gatorade stations were plentiful, as you can see from all the discarded paper cups.

This poor attempt at a selfie at the 20-mile sign was another joyous moment for me today.

Along the back side of Diamond Head, a few miles from the finish, drummers from the Taiko Center of the Pacific entertained us.  Other groups and some folks with portable music systems were strategically-stationed along the route.  Lots of other people lined the route to cheer-on their friends and family members in the race.

Looking down from the back of Diamond Head, I stopped for a quick shot of this beautiful scene.

Only two-tenths of a mile to go!!!!!  I was walking at this point, and had been for a few miles.  I was saving my last bit of energy to run across the finish line.  As you might expect, I looked more like I had terminal arthritis and my "run" was little more than a glorified walk.

Yes, you're reading that time correctly, but I still had a few yards to travel.  I was the 16,981st person across the finish line and the exact time was 7-hours, 13-minutes and 37-seconds.  If you're wondering how my time could be less than what you see, allow me to explain:  The time shown above the finish line is the elapsed time since the start of the race.  The clock didn't start for me until I crossed the start line sensor which "reads" a chip in each runner's bib.  Since I crossed the start line exactly 9-seconds after the start, my actual time was 7-hr, 13-min., 37-secs.  Ain't technology grand!  Translated into the time of day, it was just past noon when my ordeal was complete. :)) 

Back home with my Finisher's Medal.  I really hoped we'd each be crowned with a laurel wreath. :)  Michele, amazing as it may seem, found me among the thousands of runners and others and led me to the car--very slowly.  They had bagels, bananas and malasadas for runners to enjoy after the race and I thoroughly enjoyed the re-fueling.  I'm doing my best in this photo, to disguise the pain.  Click on any of the photos for a closer look.

A closer look at the medal each finisher receives.  I plan on being cremated wearing this!

It was quite an experience, but once is enough!  As I type this, most of the soreness and pain has subsided, but I wonder if I'll be able to get out of bed tomorrow.  I've already asked Michele to have me committed if I mention doing this again next year. :)

Hope you had a great day!

Friday, December 12, 2014

And So It Goes...

The title reminds me of a Billy Joel song...Anyway, here's the painting as of Friday, 12 December.

Still need to refine some colors and values and redo the shirt and those pesky wrinkles created by the raised eyebrow.  The neck needs work, too.  It always amazes me how four rather unremarkable paints can be used to create such a rainbow of colors.  I'm pleased with the sunburn, tan, freckles, blotches and what not on my well-weathered face.  The effect was easy to achieve, contrary to what I expected.  I simply dabbed a variety of colors and values about, then used my little finger to push them around.  The blue eyes are simply ivory black and titanium white.  How can this be?  Magic?  Click on the image to enlarge.

Changing the subject...Michele spotted our first whale on Wednesday morning and what a sight it was.  The critter must have been in a good mood, because it did a couple of fin slaps and one spectacular breach.  Maybe it was just expressing the joy of being in Hawaiian waters again.  We saw more whales on Thursday and Friday morning, too.  Perhaps the waters off Maui are getting crowded and recent arrivals are visiting other islands.  Whatever the reason, we feel incredibly lucky to be able to see these truly fascinating creatures while having breakfast.

As they say in Hawaiian...Mele Kalikimaka everyone!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Today

Worked on the latest self-portrait all day, then had a nice late afternoon run, half the time looking at a beautiful rainbow.  Hope you had a good day, too. :))

A long way to go, but it's coming along nicely and who can complain about that!  After the initial session, I switched to the Zorn palette and I'm much happier with the colors.  Of course, that doesn't mean there won't be many more adjustments!  

Monday, December 8, 2014

On The Easel.

I may have admitted to painting over the self-portrait at 64.  It wasn't working and I'm so tired of painting like a robot, using measuring devices and math instead of hand and eye, that it had to go.

Currently on the easel, however, is a new self-portrait.  I'm very pleased to tell you that this one is being done the old-fashioned way.  It will no doubt have many more imperfections than my "measure and math" works and that's okay.  More than okay, it's wonderful!  The pose is based on that used for a self-portrait I painted at age 55.  In that painting, I did my best to mimic Rembrandt, using heavy, very warm darks to accent the face.  The Maestro used to refer to Rembrandt's darks as  "brown gravy". :) 

Flash forward to today.  This painting will be much higher key and and have much less hair!  Time has taken something of a toll, most notably in an increased amount of forehead.  On the plus side, I weigh a fair amount less, so what I now lack in hirsute adornment is more than made up for by a thinner face.  That, and of course, looking not old, but "distinguished".  At least, in my humble opinion.:))

Here's a howgoesit:

Today, 12:14 PM.  It's on a 20 x 16-inch (50.8 x 40.64-cm) canvas.  Those are paintings hanging in the studio, so I thought I'd use them for the darks instead of simulating a very dark room with a single light source on me, ala Rembrandt.  I'm doing my best to work on it for awhile, then stop and let it dry overnight.  I hope I can have this one completed by the end of my soon-to-begin 65th-year on the planet.  My track record isn't too great when working under any kind of deadline.

Also today, taken an hour earlier than the shot above.

The beginning, December 7th, 2014.


The pose.

Ten years ago, this was the pose used for my first serious attempt at a self-portrait.  Hey!  My goatee isn't as gray, either!  How did I ever get so old?!

"Self-Portrait At 55", 2004, oil on canvas, 24 x 20-inches, (60.9 x 50.8 cm).  Definitely heavy and "serious".  This belongs to our dear friend in Portland, Oregon, Pat Demartini.

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season this year!

The Holidays In Hawaii.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Honolulu, mainly due to the 30th-annual City Lights Christmas Parade Saturday night.  Thousands of people, including EVERY child on O'ahu, lined King Street and surrounded Honolulu Hale (City Hall) to watch the lighting of the giant Christmas tree and enjoy the many marching bands, floats and a variety of city vehicles decked out in holiday fare and colored lights.

The night was perfectly comfortable and clear and could not have been better for the event.  After, we walked to a favorite Chinese restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.  I'll apologize in advance for the poor quality of the photos, but you know how challenging taking pictures at night can be.  Also this Sunday, Hawaii, as well as, the rest of our nation, honored the survivors, as well as, those killed in the Pearl Harbor attack seventy-three years ago today.  A parade was held in Waikiki to commemorate the event, as well as, ceremonies on Ford Island and the Arizona Memorial.

The Honolulu Christmas Tree.  The lights change color every few seconds, too.  We were standing across King Street to view the lighting.

A dusk view of Honolulu City Hall with huge figures of Santa and Mrs. Claus and the tree.  The palms add a nice touch, don't you think! :)

Another shot of the tree as the lights changed color.

Traditional fire dancers in early Hawaiian dress thrilled the parade viewers--especially the children.

Looking toward the harbor on Bishop Street, downtown, the tall palm trees are adorned with Christmas lights.

Sunset, December 2nd.

Sunset, December 5th. 

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Inauguration Day, December 1st, 2014.

Hawaii elected a new governor last month and today was Governor-elect David Ige's inauguration ceremony.  Though we've lived in many states, we've never attended a single inauguration event until today.  Living just a short walk from the state capitol, combined with a civilized start time of 11:15 AM, it was an opportunity too great to miss.  Join us for the ceremony:

Looking up from the capitol rotunda floor, the blue skies promised it would be a great day in Paradise.

From an earlier post, this shows the floor of the rotunda on a normal day.  Today, however, this area was covered with 2,000-chairs, two bands, a choir, color guard, Ceremonial Royal Guard and lots of TV cameras and technicians.  Outside, several cannon were assembled to provide a nineteen-cannon salute to the new governor.

See what I mean?  This TV camera was like a GoPro on steroids. :)

Showtime!  That's the state seal behind the podium, and assembled on the stage are the governor-elect, his wife, the Lieutenant Governor-elect, his wife and children, the Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, a reverend, sign language provider and master of ceremonies.

This is Ms Raiatea Helm.  Not only did she sing the National Anthem, she also entertained us when the program was ahead of schedule.  Her unscripted performance of three additional Hawaiian songs, self-accompanied with her own ukulele, finished with just enough time to have the new governor take the oath precisely at twelve o'clock noon.  She's the consummate professional and has a truly beautiful voice.  That's Lieutenant Governor-elect, Shan Tsutsui seated behind her.

Governor-elect, David Ige, taking the oath of office.  That's his wife, now First Lady, Dawn Amano-Ige holding the Bible.  He is Hawaii's eighth governor and the second of Japanese ancestry.  His father served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , made-up of Japanese-American citizens.  It is the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history.

This is our re-elected Lieutenant Governor, Shan Tsutsui taking the oath of office for his second term.  His wife, Lyndelle Lee, observes.

The Governor's mansion, Washington Place, was open to visitors following the inauguration ceremony, so we decided to have a look.  It's located across the street from the capitol building.

The first thing which caught my eye was the use of giant clam shells to disperse water run-off from the downspouts.  Clever!

Queen Lili'uokalani used to live here long before it became the Governor's Mansion, and played this piano.  All the rich history of this place can be found by clicking on the link above.  The two kahili standing in the corners are royal standards made of feathers.

A partial view of the dining room, featuring a portrait of Queen Lili'uokalani.

The state tableware.  Click on the photos for a closer view.

That's a docent on the left.  The house was full of visitors and knowledgeable docents today.

A very talented pianist entertained visitors today on another grand piano.  The mansion was decorated for the Christmas season with at least two beautifully decorated Christmas trees in this expansive room.

Michele enjoys hibiscus tea and tiny Christmas cookies provided for guests today.

A shot of the capitol building from the mansion grounds.

Just down Beretania Street from the Governor's Mansion is Saint Andrew's Cathedral, an Episcopal Church.  As you can read on the plaque, it's a very historic structure.  We've walked by many times, but today was our first look inside.

A view of the front from Beretania Street.  On the left and right of the fountain are olive trees.

 A better view of the architectural features.

A look inside.

The hand-blown stained glass windows.

Okay, history tour complete.  You may now return to whatever you were doing.  It was a no-kidding historic day for us.  Our first inauguration ceremony, our first visit inside the Governor's mansion and our first look inside Saint Andrew's Cathedral.  We were home by about two PM and didn't need a car or bus.  Perhaps best of all...I wasn't struck by a lightning bolt upon entering the church! :)))))  I hope you all made your own history today.