Have commission, will travel

23 08 2015

He didn’t actually say “yes.” The client, about a painting I did on spec. But as my father’s caregiver used to say, “Artur,”—his name was Arthur, and she was a Filipina—”silence means yes.”

My high school classmate Wil, renovating his childhood home in Waialua, saw my art work and said he really liked the view of Mount Kaala from the war memorial at Haleiwa Beach Park and thought a painting of it would be nice. I knew almost exactly what he was referring to because I was reared in Wahiawa, situated on a plateau in the middle of Oahu, and “the beach” meant Haleiwa Beach on the North Shore. When my parents and I rode down through the sugar cane fields toward the ocean, we could see Waialua and Haleiwa in the distance. There were many a family picnic at Haleiwa, and my dad, a dump truck driver, often took me on his last run to Mokuleia to pick up a load of sand or rock , driving through Waialua.

One day I drove from my studio to Haleiwa, made some photos of Mount Kaala that is the highest peak on the island, and emailed them to Wil. We started talking about the details of what he liked about the panorama. He was very specific about the ridge line, not so much about whether he liked morning or afternoon light. We were in the middle of the discussion, and I said, “I have an idea. Let me try it in a new medium I’m working in, hand-dyed tissue-paper collage, and maybe you’ll like it. And if not, that’s okay.”

A few days ago I felt the piece was finished. DH thought it was my best. Really? It’s hard to critique my own work. It’s tempting to keep fussing, but an artist needs to know when to stop. Less is more. Especially when working with abstract shapes, tissue paper, glue, and a knife blade.

I emailed a photo of it to Wil for his consideration, immediately regretting it, because the photo was not like the original where the ocean shimmers in the light. He emailed back, “That looks great! Let me think about it, but it is exactly what I was looking for!” and then 20 minutes later, “Your collage is now my backdrop on my computer! It looks great!” (Uh-oh.) I replied, “Yes, but you should see the original.”

And then, silence.

Usually, I like to give the client the option of selecting a frame if I know they will be acquiring a painting. Anxious to apply the final varnish coat to “Mount Kaala from Haleiwa”, meaning no more changes or additions, and to take it to my framer, I phoned Wil.

“I sent you a photo. Do you have any questions?”

Mount Kaala from Haleiwa Beach

© 2015 Rebekah Luke / All rights reserved

“Yeah. It looks great. It’s exactly what I want. You read my mind. Why don’t you get it framed.

“You want me to pick the frame? Okay, I’ll have it framed and bring it to your party next Saturday.”

“That’s great.”

Perfect. Oh, Wil, what color are your walls?”





Mango season not pau

6 07 2014
Mango Collage. 22.25" x 22.25" hand-dyed tissue paper on canvas

Mango Collage, 22.25″ x 22.25″ hand-dyed tissue paper on canvas

Mangos and more mangos! I am experimenting with a different art medium — collage with hand-dyed tissue papers. Here is my third piece finished yesterday, a diptych composed of two panels. I plan to put both into one frame for the square shape shown.

The big mango tree in the corner of the studio garden cooperated this year by bearing luscious fruit that we are enjoying. We are able to pick the mangos before the cherry headed conures get to them. That and the color palette of tissue papers that I had on hand inspired the work.

Managing the thin, flimsy papers with glue, water, and X-ACTO knife is tedious work and messy. At times it is carving paper, either wet or dry, being careful not to poke a hole in the canvas! In the end, I love the effect of layering and the jewel toned quality of the finished collage.

My colleague Susan Rogers-Aregger taught me how to create with this medium. She learned it from Gloria Foss, our late oil painting instructor and mentor. Together they wrote Paper Dyeing for Collage & Crafts (Honolulu: Belknap Publishing & Design, 2004; ISBN 0-9723420-3-6).

Susan has scheduled her next paper-dyeing and collage workshops for February 2015 in Kaneohe, Oahu.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke







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