Timeout for Art: A Species of Writing


This week’s Timeout for Art asks us to reflect on art as a form of therapy, as well as a stress reducer. As a former counselor and special education teacher, I often used art therapy with my students.

“Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist.”
― Eileen Miller, The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures: Autism Through Art

I was drawing tortugas (turtles) on my curtains for the Turtle cabin (Las Tortugas Casita), when my ten-year old friend, Lauren, stopped by our house on her bicycle. Ron was taking his Spanish lessons on the side porch. As I waited for my turn, Lauren and I tried to talk, but she spoke so rapidly that I had a difficult time understanding what she was saying. So, I asked her to draw it.
IMG_3253One thing I’ve learned about children in Nicaragua, is that they can’t quite figure out why we don’t understand them. I often wonder if our two and three-year old neighbors think we are just plain stupid. I think Lauren understands that Spanish is our second language, but she gets frustrated and rolls her eyes when I ask her to repeat the sentence just one more time…y mas despacio por favor (slower, please).

Lauren rolled her eyes, and tried to describe a sparkly thing that sits on top of a King or Queen’s head. “You know…YOU KNOW,” she said, “Una corona. UNA CORONA.” After I looked at her picture, the puzzling Spanish pieces fell into place.
IMG_3264“You are my best friend among all my friends,” Lauren said. “That’s why I gave you a crown.” Ahhh..how sweet, I thought. “Now, can we make cookies?” she asked. Hmmm, I knew there was an ulterior motive. “Lo siento, mi amor,” I responded. It’s almost time for my Spanish lesson and I need to buy more chocolate chips.  Art can be used where no words exist…too bad I ran out of chocolate chips, though. :-)

“Talking about Art is like trying to French kiss over the telephone”. ~Terry Allen

I had just started my Spanish lesson, and Lauren and Ron were blissfully drawing in my place, when Carlos, the local artist arrived. “Patricia said you wanted to see some of my paintings,” he said. I was thinking about starting an art class at my house and interested in looking for a good instructor.
IMG_3258Carlos has over 30 years of experience as an artist.
IMG_3255IMG_3260Attempting to talk about art was like trying to French kiss over the phone. I needed to see it, feel it, and touch it. I’m still not sure that Carlos and I will be a good match. Communication will be difficult, but his art revealed his love for Nicaragua. He’s very talented and his personality shined through his paintings.

“Art is communication.”~Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

IMG_3261 Living in Nicaragua with Spanish as my second language has convinced me that art is communication. Art reveals personalities, reduces stress, and sometimes even persuades me to make chocolate chip cookies for my favorite ten-year old.

Timeout for Art: Good Bones


Design in art, is a recognition of the relation between various things, various elements in the creative flux. You can’t invent a design. You recognize it, in the fourth dimension. That is, with your blood and your bones, as well as with your eyes.
David Herbert Lawrence

Southern hospitality is the backbone of the Southern United States. For the past two weeks, I accompanied my talented mother to her weekly painting class where I was greeted by an enthusiastic instructor who has a third eye and a creative spirit. As my mother prepared her palette, the instructor invited me to sketch the architecture of the “Old South”, which the class was painting in oils.

IMG_3147Mom reflected on the good bones of the shotgun house, painting the foundation first, before adding the lighter details. The shotgun house was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the Civil War to the 1920′s.

IMG_3150Good bones! I think this is a camel-back shotgun house because it has a second story.

IMG_3148I settled into an architectural frame of mind as I attempted to make the shotgun house seem old and well used. Of course, that meant adding lots of winding ivy. After all, you can’t invent a design. It’s just a matter of adding a creative twist with your blood, your bones, and your eyes.

IMG_3170Checkout Lisa’s Timeout for Art: Bones for many creative artists.

 

Timeout for Art: This Little Piggy Went to Market


“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

A good friend of mine in Nicaragua is a pig farmer. Her two sows recently had two litters of 19 piglets in all. When the piglets are six to eight weeks old, she sells them. She invited me to visit her two farrows of piglets the other day. Scrambling on top of one another, bouncing, jumping, playing, napping…I enjoyed every second watching piglet antics.

This quote seemed very appropriate because there are two giant mama pigs, who take turns nursing the 19 piglets. The piglets sidle up, snuggle close, and I think they just want to be sure of each other.

IMG_3135During this video, there was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Nicaragua. There was plenty of rockin’ and rollin’ going on, but the sweet little piglets didn’t seem to mind one bit. And if you are rooting for the runt (who walks away unable to find a teat), don’t worry. He sidled up with the other mama pig a few minutes later…just to be sure.

Timeout for Art: Death Supports New Life


It’s Timeout for Art from Zebra Designs and Destinations. Every Thursday, we submit our drawings and Lisa tenderly and lovingly supports us in our attempts at pencil sketches and shading.

My goal this week was to improve my shading and highlight the lighter boundaries with a darker background. Every week, I feel like I am improving. But, I still like the feeling I get when sketching, more than the sketch itself. It is a tiny Zen moment in my daily life because there is no past, no future…only the now. My perceptions are keener, and my life is richer when I sketch. Thank you for this, Lisa. You are a great inspiration to me.

This week, I walked the beach and found the skull of the Gar that Julio hit over the head with two rocks. Growing out of its eyeball socket was the sprout of a Jacote tree.

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” ~Edgar Allan Poe

 

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Timeout for Art: Waiting for Mangoes


This week’s Timeout for Art challenge is brought to you by Zeebra Designs and Destinations.  Lisa, I anxiously await your challenge every Thursday. Thank you for the inspiration. I think my waiting for mangoes has come to an end.

Princesa and I share mangoes every morning over the barbed wire fence. She bellows…I respond. She slobbers, then bellows for more. Sometimes she lets me pet her while she’s munching on mangoes.

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While drawing today’s challenge, I was in a contemplative mood, thinking about the cattle and other animals barely surviving on Ometepe Island at the beginning of the rainy season. For six dry months we all endure the heat, dust, and brittle grass. Then…mango season arrives..glorious juicy mangoes enrich all of our lives once again. They nourish our bodies and our souls giving us hope for a prosperous harvest. Princesa and I are both happy….the wait for mangoes has ended.

A Pre-Columbian Pottery Shard Turtle


I know I’ve said this before, but Marvin is so talented. He is an artist and a perfectionist, with an eye for design. He made most of the furniture in my house. All I had to do was show him a picture of what I wanted.  See Marvin’s masterpieces  here  and  here  and  here.

Since Marvin is building an addition to our guest house and I have mounds of Pre-Columbian pottery shards piled on my porch, I asked Marvin if he could help me design a turtle mosaic to put above our new door. “No problemo,” he said. In a matter of minutes, we collected the shards scattered in bowls around my porch and fit them, like a puzzle, into the shape of a turtle.

“Look!” Marvin laughed. “These little round shards can be the turtle eggs.”  Marvin reminded me that this month the turtles are laying their eggs on our beaches. “In honor of the female turtle, I will design her laying her eggs,” he said with a kind of reverence because he loves turtles.

Pure joy radiated from Marvin’s face as he laughed and whistled while he plastered the shards together to make one of his beloved turtles. Today, the turtle is waiting patiently to be cleaned, polished, and then a layer of transparent varnish applied for protection.

This was so much fun that we decided to make a crocodile for the side wall. I finally found a use for my collection of pottery shards. I’m thinking of naming our guest house “La Tortuga” in honor of Marvin’s love for turtles. Enjoy the slideshow.

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The Front Line of Activity


fisherman and ferry

We have the best seats in the house and the front line of activity on Ometepe Island. At six in the morning, while sipping my coffee, I watch the ferry chug by our front gates and the fisherman haul in the morning catch. Do you see the palm frond obstructing my view to the left of the photo? It’s coming down today and I’m going to make a palm frond basket. The secret to creativity is knowing how to recycle the things that block and hide one’s view. Once the blinders are removed, life is full of surprises.

How do you remove your blinders? We all have them. Are they worth removing? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Stop Leaning Against the Wall…It’s Wet!


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We have returned from our first trip to Northern Nicaragua where we slept snuggled under two heavy blankets, visited coffee farms and cigar factories, hiked through the Black Jungle (Selva Negra), and talked with a lot of cowboys…real cowboys!

I am overflowing with stories of the wild North. Until I compose my tales, enjoy the slideshow of the city of murals in Esteli, Nicaragua. I think Banksy was writing about Esteli in his quote below.

Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw wherever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colors and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall- it’s wet.

~Banksy