The funny thing about making art is that you never know exactly what a piece is going to be before you finish it, and you don’t know when it will be done until it suddenly is. The artistic process, if you let it, causes you to make choices about ‘what comes next’ that are surprising.
My ‘ Islands’ are a case in point. They started with watercolor splodges, and evolved into painted, intentional pieces. “Tim’s Island” , for my fishing-loving brother, was one of these.
Then, because of a misunderstood suggestion from Elaine, I painted Hawaii’s Big Island on fabric. I liked it, but needed a little something more, so I embroidered a bit. I liked it even more.
My next island, Tom Sawyer’s, also got painted on fabric, but in a more abstract, topographical style. Besides the stitches to show trees and peaks, it also needed something extra, so I added waves.
I think my next island will be bigger, so I can show more detail. I am hoping to paint Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, complete with Billy Bones’s hideout.
Well, I finally got the Big Island of Hawaii the way I liked it. Using paint, embroidery and quilting, I found the texture and shapes I wanted to remember.
Yes, I know I didn’t give enough room to the emergent volcano in the south east corner, and little red sparkly beads, to denote flowing lava, have been suggested. But for now, I am happy with it.
And now my mind has wandered to another island. This one is located inside a certain theme park in Southern California, and is named after title character in Mark Twain’s most popular book.
I started with sketches from my memory, then went on websites to see the lovely hand drawn maps from 1955. I realized the three-quarter view that showed the buildings skewed things a bit.
So I cheated. I went to Google maps, found Anaheim, and zoomed in. The satellite setting shows right where everything is, and it isn’t as I remember it. The cove we crossed on the pontoon and suspension bridges are tiny compared to my memories.
The “fort” that sold pickles from a barrel felt and as though it was at the end of the world, alas, was not. But my memories of joy and adventures are intact. The feeling of rocks under my sneakers and dust in my nose is there, waiting to be called up.
My version of this island will be a compromise between my childhood adventures and the actual place they happened, between the illusion and the reality. And that’s okay, too. Off to paint now!