At the beginning of the year I met Brooks, long time supporter of the conservation efforts for the native Hawaiian birds and a new fan of my work:) We started this commission from an idea he came up with a while back as he was helping to restore Mauna Kea's habitat for the Palila, a critically endangered indigenous bird.
His idea was to have an upside down Palila reaching for Mamane flowers or pods and collecting snow on his backside in the process. With Mamane shrubs scattered about, Pu'us (cinder cones) set behind the action and an edge of the mountain in the distance.
I was a little worried that not everything would it on our 9"x12" canvas, but made it all fit with lots of snow to cap it off. Our Palila pair look so very happy in the snow, with still enough to eat and a fantastic view.
Thanks Brooks! Enjoy your painting:)
Last year, I met Barbara and Ross. They have since found a very good home for many of my kto paintings and we became quick friends.
This year, we decided to do a few commissions. One specific and one left up to me.
"Cascading Love" is the mystery piece. I was going to send out an initial sketch, but it didn't read clear and so I just started painting. Barbara, Ross and I discussed having birds represent the family in this one. I had the option of painting five birds (immediate family) or nine birds (including daughters' families). I did five birds because nine would have been too many for this size canvas and I used Gold Finches because they are known to flock in big groups, plus they have great color!
At my parents' house, my mom loves to garden and she has a step trellis with cascading flowers. I thought that would give us the flowing flower feel that we discussed in the gallery. The two birds at the top I see as Barbara and Ross, all snuggled together, with the girls doing their own silly thing below. Good Fun!
Esta is a bulldog mix and she's adorable! As a birthday present, I made this portrait for Anita and she suggested having the surf and black sand of Pololu in the background. With Esta, I wanted to make sure all of her spots were accounted for and I almost missed the cutest spot: the freckle under her eye. Once I added her eye freckle, it all came together! I imagine she's taking a breather on the beach, a perfect moment to take a picture, and then she will be off and running! Oh what fun to be a dog!
This little white-eye is the second commission for Michele. What he lacks in physical size, he makes up for in eyes:)
The white-eye, or mejiro, are so fun to paint because they have white rings around their dark eyes and it makes them look perpetually intrigued. If it was still Halloween, I would've had to paint a cape and fangs on this guy so he could say, "look into my eyes- ah ah ah"... But he's not very scary, in fact he may be just the opposite: eternally super-cute!
These Saffron Finches look so happy in the sun with their sweet smelling plumeria:)
Sometimes you meet people that you immediately connect with and like kismet, it was meant for you both to meet. That was the situation when I first met Michele in Genesis Gallery. She adopted a few of my paintings then and now we worked together on a few commissions to add to her flock.
It all came together so effortlessly. We discussed birds, flowers and background color and then -poof!- it magically appeared on canvas!
I wish all paintings played as fair as this one did!
Clients and new friends Kathleen and Stephen proposed a new commission for Kathleen last month. I created a sunflower/'Apapane painting for Kathleen as a hush-hush Christmas gift from Stephen this past year and they came to Big Island to say Hi!
The story of Smokey and Lil Blue is a lot of wonderful and a little bit of sad.
Smokey was Kathleen's baby lovebird. One day, Lil Blue popped out of the blue and decided he wanted to live with Kathleen and Smokey. He was welcomed in with open arms (and wings).
Smokey and Lil Blue were best of friends, and life was good. They would share snuggles and watch wild birds out the window together. But life has a way of ending too soon in some cases, and Smokey passed away leaving Lil Blue behind. Kathleen said that she could tell Lil Blue was grieving and then the most amazing thing happened. The wild birds that Smokey and Lil Blue would watch together started visiting Lil Blue. They sat on the window sill to pay respects and this happened all day long for quite some time. Kathleen said it was as though they knew Smokey was gone and Lil Blue needed some support.
People always joke about being a "bird brain". After hearing this story, I'd say being a "bird heart" would be quite the complement!
Karen Obuhanych (kto ART) is a Hawaii-based artist who relishes in the simple, happy moments of everyday life.