"Little Wing" is inspired by the song of the same name by Jimi Hendrix. In classic Hendrix fashion, "Little Wing" (the song) has that melodic rise and fall that I imagine this butterfly's flight mimics.
The baby bird in the painting is a Yellow Headed Blackbird. Juvenile males have rusty orange head patches that change to yellow markings as they get older. I wanted the bird to match the butterfly in color to connect them in that simple way. Just like the song, "Little Wing" (the painting) represents hopes, dreams and the desire to absorb everything beautiful in life that crosses your path.
As I have said before, I love hummingbirds and I miss them here in Hawaii. They are so tiny yet have so much energy and personality! This pair looks like the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, but they are actually Broadtailed Hummingbirds. A big difference is obviously the tails and also the female has bronze-green spots running down her throat and rust-colored belly feathers.
When my mom was in town, we were talking about the hummingbirds that play outside my childhood home. She reminded me of the Fuschia flowers that dangle from pots hooked to the overhang. Mom said something like, "Those hummingbirds love the Fuschia. You know which plants I'm talking about? The ones that I have in the hanging pots outside?" And immediately I forgot about the hummingbirds and remembered how I used to go out there with my twin brother and pop the buds before they bloomed. Now I look back and feel bad for the poor plants that we unknowingly tortured. For me, it was like popping nature's bubblewrap and that kind of simple pleasure never gets old!
Big THANKS! to Johanna for commissioning "Lucky Boy" :) He's drying a bit until I can varnish and then we will be sending him home for your birthday!
I see this Vermillion Flycatcher as a bit of a rockstar. He's flaming red and rocking his fohawk, standing center stage without a hint of nerves. So it is no wonder that Jim Morrison's haunting low tone started rolling through my head, "C'mon baby light my fire". Amazing how my Vermillion Flycatcher can look so cute and so tough at the same time!
I have always been in awe of people that can perform in front of a crowd. I play piano and I remember participating in recitals with shaking hands and my throat clogged by my hyper-erratic heart. I remember counting the names on the recital program and mentally checking them off as they completed their chosen songs with ever-growing nervousness. When I finally stepped up to the piano to play my song that I had practiced and labored over for so many weeks, I would be so wound up that I couldn't wait for the song to be over. It was at those moments I would be reminded that Hollywood would not be pounding down my door...
The White Sparrow is an unusual sight to see. This bird is actually a House Sparrow with leucism which is not the same as albinism. Albinism affects the production of melanin. Leucism affects all pigment entirely or in patches. Another difference between leucism and albinism is that the leucistic animal will still have dark eyes because the color production is created from a separate source than the skin/fur/feathers. But enough about biology!
Isn't she precious?! Don't be fooled by her shy, tilting glance. She's really a cute girl with a wild side;) Reminds me of my calico cat Crackers (click to see a pic)... Crackers is a beautiful kitty, but she can be a true devil. If I bring something home that I love, she will seek out and destroy it. When I get out of the shower (TMI?), she comes in and licks my legs like a sweet angel until I try to move and then she bites my toes! So I'm not fooled by this White Sparrow's gentle come-hither gaze... but I can't help but love her all the same!
Today is the last day that I have my mom with me in Hawaii. It's been great having her here while I recover from my surgery. The post for today will be short and sweet, quite the opposite of these White Rumped Shamas' tails!
The White Rumped Shama originates from Asia, and was introduced to Hawaii in the 1930's and 1940's. We don't have them on Big Island as far as I know, but they have made homes on Kauai and Oahu.
I don't know if you can tell from my paintings, but I am a big fan of snuggles. My husband calls it smothering, and my cat cries constantly when I force cuddlings on her, but I can't help it! I love to snuggle, so I enjoy painting cute little birds giving and getting eternal snuggs. The last few bird pairs that I painted featured the female snuggling up to the male and the male looking out to us. "Hopelessly Devoted", "All You Need Is Love" and "Two Hoots" are three examples. My husband made the same comment for each of these paintings. It went a little like, "She's saying 'oooh I like snuggles!' and he's saying 'too hot to snuggle!' ."
So, I had to change it up a bit and make the male shmoozing in with the female and the female looking at us as if to say, "yeah, I've got this guy wrapped around my little birdie toe."
For today's painting, I decided to bring the Mamo back to life! The Mamo was an endemic Hawaiian bird that sadly became extinct over 100 years ago. In Hawaii, a lot of the endemic birds have become extinct or are critically endangered due to urban development, habitat destruction and invasive species.
I was just watching a birder documentary on HBO, and similar to all nature documentaries, there's always a final message about humanity's destruction of nature and the innocent animal victims that we leave in our wake. I don't really want to dwell on that aspect so much, but it is happening every day.
put to death. By the late 1800's, only a few remained, regardless of attempts to conserve the population and by 1899, the Mamo was considered extinct. Unfortunately, the Mamo did not survive but I like to imagine that this Mamo is enjoying a daytime snack of lehua blossom nectar, without a care in the world. He is surrounded by bright colors and fresh foliage. I can see him doing a little mambo dip (in his case, the "b" is silent) :)
At a dinner party a few weeks ago, my Tahitian friend Maeva suggested I paint a Tiare flower, the Tahitian gardenia. They are beautiful, with long petals and a delicate sweet smell. Tiare shrubs grow all over Hawaii and you can see birds bouncing around on the hardy leaves.
In "Always On My Mind", I painted a male 'Akepa perched on the stem of the Tiare flower. 'Akepas are native to Hawaii and one of the smallest endemic birds. Females are green with hints of yellow or orange on their chests. The males, however, maintain an electric orange plumage that takes four years to fill out. 'Akepa (meaning "agile" in Hawaiian) was rightly named by Hawaiians for its ability to dance on the tips of flowers and edges of leaves.
For the moment, this neon little cheese puff is in zen mode... gazing out and thinking of his love with the perfume of Tiares wafting in the air:)
The Big Island is known for its volcanoes and lots of lava. One simple (slightly guilty) pleasure for me is the experience of flying home to the Big Island. As we prepare to land, I like to watch the newcomers as they anxiously huddle around the tiny plane window, expecting to see lush palm tree laden paradise unveil itself below them. When the plane approaches Big Island and the landscape reveals hard, black lava slathered across the entire coastline, there is always at least one panicked newcomer that says what the rest are thinking: "Are we in Hawaii or are we landing on Mars?"
Not all of the Big Island is lava, but there's a lot. That being said, there are beautiful oases here, you just have to work harder to find them.
The Big Island is also known for Kona coffee. As you drive the southern Kona coast, little coffee farms signs start popping up left and right. If you stop to check out the farms, they all have tasting shacks and field tours. Big Island is very proud of its coffee:)
Coffee beans grow in clusters on thin branches. The beans that we turn into coffee are actually the fruit's seeds and the coffee fruit is called a coffee berry or cherry. When the cherry is red, it's ripe to pick.
In this painting, "Kona Brew", I wanted to show off the coffee plant and one of the endemic birds of Hawaii, the Po'ouli. Now possibly extinct, the Po'ouli was not discovered as a species until the 1970's. Scientists tried to capture and breed few the remaining in the wild, but with no success.
One bright side of painting is that I can create these birds and make scenes where they are having fun. I imagine these two Po'oulis woke up early in the morning to get their favorite bar stools at the coffee branch. Po'ouli on the right had an extra-strength triple shot, so he's highly caffeinated and ready for the day. Po'ouli on the left always take her coffee on the riper side for that added sweetness. It's going to be a great day!
In Hawaii, there are over 70 endemic bird species but only 48 species/subspecies still exist and 30 of these species are endangered. Everyone wants to live in paradise, but as we build to live, we take over spaces that were these animals' habitat. I'm not going to go all environ-mental about it because I am a culprit in the matter, but it saddens me that we cause so much destruction. Especially when the victims include these adorable creatures!
"Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" is a baby Pueo (Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl). The Pueo is endangered but not extinct. They are owls, thus nocturnal, but you can see them flying stealthily at sunset. Their ear canals are strategically placed high over the left side eye and low below the right side eye. This allows them to have four lines of "sight" including their two eyes and imbalanced ear canals. Also, their face feathers are tightly woven to absorb the most sound possible and funnel the vibrations into the Pueo's ears.
Their wing feathers are rough, almost tattered looking, to cut through the night air without making a sound. And their big amber eyes are masked with dark feathers giving them a very Liza Minnelli "Cabaret" look. How could you not love these guys?
Hi Everyone! I'm back and feeling pretty good after surgery to remove a benign ovarian cyst... Since I had to undergo a little surgery, I figured I'd do the same for one of my paintings:
This is my version of an Extreme Makeover!
I like routine (when I choose it) and with painting, my routine is: imagine a concept -> draw out that concept -> underpaint the canvas (basically draw the composition with a color of paint that I'll use in the design) -> paint the actual painting.
When I paint, the painting part usually goes rather quickly. It's the preparatory work that takes the longest. Before I get to the paint-to-canvas stage there's a lot of drawing, composing, imagining... My husband says, "Oh no, she's in Artist Mode." He is a very understanding man ;)
"Big Red" is one of the first bird paintings I created and everything was going well. I thought up the concept, drew out the composition, chose my colors and started painting. It all worked out seamlessly, or so it seemed...
You know that feeling you get when something just isn't right? For example, there was this great surf swell that came in and I went out and broke one of my boards. It happens, move on, right? So the next day it was pumping again and my friend convinced me to go again (with a different board obviously). And I got this little tingle in the back of my brain and up my neck, but I brushed it off and went out. Well, I broke the second board while on my first wave that day and I came in thinking, "Man! I had that feeling. I should have listened to my spidey senses!"
That's kind of what was going on in my head with this painting. Everything seemed fine and the resulting painting looked good, but I got that tingly feeling like something wasn't right. Of course, I ignored my senses and let it go. I brought it to the gallery, but no one really hit on it, and finally someone piped up and said, "this one doesn't quite have the color and personality that you usually put into your birds." And that was it!
So I took "Big Red" home with me and thought, "maybe just change the background color." And I did. Then I thought, "maybe he needs a little punch of color and the tree needs a pop," so I punched up the color. Then it bothered me that his head almost gets cut off at the top, so I sat and looked and thought and examined the canvas. Finally, I took a big swipe of blue and painted over my cardinal from his head down to his chest and repainted him completely. I also shortened his tail and I had to fattened him up a bit. Only in an Extreme Makeover kto ART Edition does the subject get chubbier!
So now my Spidey Senses have subsided and I feel all warm and fuzzy about "Big Red". He's a keeper:)
Karen Obuhanych (kto ART) is a Hawaii-based artist who relishes in the simple, happy moments of everyday life.