Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Spirit of the Gulf, and Shadow Shot Sunday

5-1/4" x 13" watercolor on yupo.


Needle-billed, needle-legged,
Companions all.

Race with the tide,
With the pendulum
Sway of the moon's baton
In the glorious sun.

Or one-legged, stand
In the shallows between
Beach and sea,
Earth and sun.

Glorious blue.
Glorious sun.
Needle-billed, needle-legged,
Together stand.
Together run.
Companions all.

My contribution to the Spirit of the Gulf Challenge is a painting of the small birds found at the edge of the gulf (and of all of our beaches), and a poem.

Suzanne McDermott challenged "every artist who receives this invitation to make one drawing, painting, collage — or to use whatever medium you work in — to create a piece of beauty with love and gratitude to honor some scene or living being in the Gulf."

Thank you to Barbara Weeks, who was kind enough to invite me to participate in this challenge.

Lately I have found it hard to think of the Gulf without grief, anger, or a feeling of helplessness. I am sad for the potential loss to the birds and habitat that I have grown to love and feel so bad for Louisiana and Mississippi who have had more than their share of misfortune. I am angry that man would be so arrogant as to build a well that he could not control and to lie all the while to the rest of us about how safe it all is. And I feel helpless .. as we all feel helpless.

I have been very concerned about my State, and especially about what happens if (or when) the oil attacks the pristine Keys or defaces my beloved South Florida. I worry about a hurricane lifting the oil from the Gulf, and raining it across my State.

So I am grateful to have been invited to depict "some living aspect of the Gulf of Mexico before the oil disaster." It has been cathartic, in a way, to think of the Gulf beaches as I know them, without the looming threat.

I decided to be loose with this one. I have been wanting to try Yupo (an extremely smooth paper with a feel like posterboard) for ages, and decided this was to be the project. And to completely throw caution to the wind, I taped the Yupo to a board on an easel, so that it was almost completely upright when I painted.

The first thing I noticed was that wash would not go on smooth, but was uneven. This made it interesting. And since the paper had no teeth it would drip and run, as I had hoped. Then I found that you can actually wipe chosen portions of the paper clean of paint, also as I had hoped. In fact you had to be careful. Sometimes it was too easy to wipe too much (or all!) I also found that if I used drybrush, I could target areas for more accurate rendering, but mostly I was too impatient yesterday to continue using drybrush. I made liberal use of wiping and blotting with some interesting results.

In short, I loved the experience. The loose, runny watercolor on Yupo was like running through a waterfall with hands raised, whooping and hollering! So, thanks again, Barbara.

It is my pleasure to invite the following artists to participate in the challenge, if you'd like. For the rules, go to Suzanne McDermott's blog here.

(1) Janey of Janey's Journey, another proud South Florida resident,

(2) Alex of Rainbowbox, who is a fairly new resident of Louisiana,

(3) Diahn Ott of Art by Diahn, who paints beautiful birds (I am proud to own one), and recently visited her sister-in-law, Melinda of Lunar Epilogues, in Louisiana,

(4) Raena of Raena's Sketch Journal, who lives not far from the Gulf on the Texas-side, and

(5) All of you. You don't need to be connected to the Gulf in any way to feel the impact of this man-made disaster, or to love nature and feel the pain of this violation. I am cordially inviting every reader of this blog to participate, if you care to.

Finally, for Shadow Shot Sunday, I contribute a sea turtle:


  1. I don't know if I knew before now that you are in Florida...(?) I was born in Florida and it is in my heart. My heart breaks with what Florida has been through and what more disaster is ahead. Truly heart wrenching. I love your painting--it has "soul". Great poem too. Thoughtful.

  2. Your painting and poem are truly wonderful!! I've been following the Gulf disaster on TV and my heart sinks when I see the coastal devastation. The impact will last for decades. Like you, I feel helpless. There are no words ...

  3. Well, Dan: you and yupo are a wonderful match! Lovely painting and poem!

  4. This is a gorgeous piece, Dan, and one that had me double checking whose blog I was visiting. I am going to go check out those rules and am hoping that these are all to be auctioned with proceeds going to support the cleanup, especially rescue efforts for the indigenous life...You've also reinforced my desire to try out Yupo. I've liked every piece I've seen done on it, even when the artist themselves haven't cared for it.

  5. It sounds like a good project, your painting and poem go very well.

  6. Dan, first of all, what a great experiment with Yupo paper. And in changing your style a bit to paint looser along with the qualities of the paper, your painting came out phenomenal!

    The oil well. Sigh. I really feel for everyone down there, man or beast, much the way you do. It has to be heartbreaking to go through and also to watch it happen to others.

  7. Dan- Your painting is so TERRIFIC and WONDERFUL and FABULOUS!!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!!! It's a style I haven't seen from you before- it totally works. I can't say enough about how much I LOVE it! Your poem is beautiful.
    The oil spill is sickening. I'm devastated by it- and like you feel completely helpless. I'm so sorry it looks as if Florida is now on the victim list.
    Wind power, wind power, wind power... I have to do something other than think about the truth.

  8. Terrific painting! You should do more, looser ones like this:-)

    The oil industry's generally cavalier attitude to the environment absolutely appalls me. In some respects I shall be glad when the oil does run out, though no doubt we humans will find other ways to destroy the beauty of this planet. as Pamo says we need sustainable sources of energy. Any way i feel for ev ery creature cuaght up in this appalling carelessness.

  9. This is a spectacular painting! I love it!
    I will look into that challenge too. The situation in the gulf breaks my heart.

  10. I love your painting on Yupo - it is such a perfect surface for what is a transient beauty...

    Thank you for inviting me to participate. I'll do my best to honor one of my favorite places on earth, and for much of my youth, the only beach that existed.

  11. Another great post. I may try the Yupo as you and so many others are doing such interesting work. Appreciated the links. You do find beauty in all around you.

  12. they are such big, lovely creatures...great shot.

  13. Beautiful and touching painting and photo. The fact that this painting can be easily wiped out reminds us of the fragility of our wildlife. Sad.

  14. Beautiful,Dan. I love the poem, too. Thank you.

  15. Dan thats wonderful, love the painting with the poem.

  16. Message received Dan. I'm working on it.
    I'd been busy the passed couple of weeks and been missing the posts by everyone, and I just came back from Atlanta spending 4 days with wife there, and coincidentally one of the places we went to was the Georgia Aquarium.
    Your post is beautiful Dan.

  17. I love your photo of the sea turtle. And your painting is truly beautiful!

    The images I've seen of Gulf Coast disaster brings tears to my eyes...

  18. Great shadow shot! Beautiful painting and poem also!

  19. Dan -- I am so glad I came to see your blog. We are new to Florida and we have RVd in Louisiana -- our hearts are breaking also. (I hope they would be even if we'd never been here, but it is a different sorrow when you know and love the places.) It was good to read what you said -- and your pictures are beautiful.
    It sometimes seems superficial to share the beauty of our world at a time like this. But the challenge you mention makes me realize that we need to celebrate our area as we hope for a solution.

  20. Love the painting--a very successful and "painterly" painting. And the poem is very good too. As for the gulf, I literally get sick to my stomach thinking about it. I am so ANGRY! Yes, I'll accept your invitation, and thanks. It may take me awhile, but I'd love to do it.

  21. I can't believe the difference in your style with Yupo. It is a wonderful painting and post.

    As for the spill, well, I don't even have words to describe what I feel. It is just awful. I am also worried sick about hurricanes and raindrops made of oil.

  22. Beautiful painting, beautiful words. Anger and frustration have to be turned into something positive, thanks for reminding us of that. It's time to find some hope, as Mark puts it so beautifully. Thanks for the kind mention, I'm working on my contribution to The Spirit of the Gulf.

  23. I love the Gulf and the damage just breaks my heart. I lived in St. Pete for several years and just listening to the surf saved my sanity more than once.

    Lovely picture - the peeps are wonderful. It reminds me of high noon at the beach - the heat coming up and making everything look like a mirage.

  24. What a touching post. I have only heard snippets here and there about the oil and all the chaos and disaster it has created, but to read what you have written has really touched my heart! I am in Canada so I haven't experienced the effects of it like you. Your art is beautiful. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me.
    I am greatful you added your link to the artist blog hop so that I could be forwarded to your blog and this post today. Hugs.

  25. Dear Dan,

    I am very sorry it has been so long that I have visited your blog.

    Seeing your creation and tribute to the sadness of the crises in the gulf and reading your beautiful poem. Thank you.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

  26. Love your painting. It has a wonderful effect, exactly like at the shore, when the light plays with the water and sand, and you get this dreamy, beautiful light effect. Beautiful work!
    Nice poem, too - works greatly with the painting, there's the same mix of humor, beauty and light in the two of them.

  27. I am so pleased that you all liked the painting and the poem. Both were a bit of a stretch for me. I am only sorry for the reason I had to do them.

    It's been a while since this post - I have been working on my 2'nFro page. I've approached as though it were the Sistine chapel. I am determined to finish, and the next post will be that page. ..just about done. Welcome back Egmont and Roadchick! Er, you weren't away together, were you?

  28. Wonderful post expressing feelings about the Gulf. I'm with you 100%. Yupo is difficult to master, and your painting is awesome!