Successful Art & Nature Painting Retreat 2022

The 2022 Hawaii Painting Retreat was a huge success!!
A creative, FUN, inspiring time was had by all participants at this year’s 2022 Tropical Painting Retreat here on the Big Island of Hawaii.
We had sold-out retreat with 8 artists/students who traveled from across the US.
They came to Hawaii to join for this year’s winter getaway art retreat that included daily painting instruction, morning yoga classes, healthy catered meals, exotic excursions, and transformational healing.
Blessed with sunny, perfect Hawaiian weather, students painted pleinair landscapes outdoors, observing the lush, tropical landscape and black lava coasts to inspire their paintings.
Several students who had previously studied abstract painting with me chose to continue with their abstract expressions, inspired by the energy of the island.
Next year in 2023 I plan to offer two separate painting retreats in Hawaii, a pleinair painting retreat and an abstract, intuition-based painting retreat. 
The Big Island is literally a hot-bed of inspiration with exotic tropical vegetation, seascapes, lavascapes, and an active volcano.
Please sign up on my email list to get updates on the dates for my upcoming transformational art retreats.

Painting in a Series: Student work

Just weeks ago my students and I completed Part 3: Painting in a Series. This was the third module, a series of 8-week online courses in Abstract Expressionism. The focus of this class was on creating paintings in a series. Throughout the workshop, students created paintings that were based on the painting exercises I provided each week. The exercises were developed to provide a platform for self-inquiry. The students had completed the two previous courses with me, so it was extremely rewarding to see them further extend their vision and develop their artistic voices.

AbEx Student Gallery #2

The following student painting gallery represents the artwork from five artists/students who participated in my Online Abstract Expressionism Painting course. Their work is shown chronologically and is based on the various visual parameters that I assigned each week over a 16-week period. It’s been my joy to facilitate a creative experience and witness each student develop their unique abstract voice during this time period.
If you are interested in participating in an art workshop or retreat, please join my email list so I can inform you of upcoming classes.

Amy Zone

Inika Spence

Steven Whaley

Miriam Dretler

Kathleen Dragoon

Beyond My Wisdom

Beyond My Wisdom
Prompt from my weekly writing group.

Watercolor painting showing freshness.

Dusk along the Puna coast. Watercolor, 2017

What is beyond my wisdom?

If something is beyond our wisdom, can we actually comprehend it? Certainly beyond my knowledge I can understand. But wisdom?

What is wisdom after all?

Does wisdom equal the sum of our knowledge? No, not really but I think wisdom encompasses that.

Wisdom is one’s intuition, at least in part. We intuit things often, yet we don’t always act on our intuition.

Wisdom is more like… knowing when a painting is done.

Knowing when a painting is done is a learned skill based on ample experience, plus a big dose of inner knowing.

Kids know when their paintings are done. They finish and shout out in glee, “Look at what I did!”

Adults artists rarely know when to stop. How often do we ask another’s advice “Do you think it’s finished yet?”

How can we, the creator not know?

We paint and the love of painting exceeds the time when the painting is actually complete. When we overwork a painting we lose the initial freshness. We arrive at the point of “Ugh!”, long after the initial “Ahh!”

Sadly it is only in hindsight when we know the artwork has been pushed too far. Though with insight, this experience adds to the sum of our wisdom.

My wish is to conjure the state of Beyond my Wisdom. Go one step further than knowledge and three steps back into childhood innocence.
Abbie Rabinowitz ~ May, 2021.

Ohia and Lehua

Ohia and Lehua painting

Ohia and Lehua, acrylic on canvas, 8”x10”

Ohia and Lehua

This week my Plein air painting group and I tromped over an old, crumbly lava field to our destination along the Red Road… a small ohia tree in full bloom with lehua blossoms. These ohia trees are the first trees that grow in the cooled lava fields. The ohia trees are native to the Hawaiian islands, and because they grow directly from the lava rocks and cracks, they have a strong association with the volcano goddess herself, Pele.

I decided to study this beloved island tree up close, and really examine how this gnarly, twisted tree grows, how the leaves are formed, and where the fire red blossoms perch on the limbs.

There is also a magnificent Hawaiian legend of how Ohia and Lehua first came to be:

“The legend says that one day Pele met a handsome warrior named Ohia and she asked him to marry her. Ohia, however, had already pledged his love to Lehua. Pele was furious when Ohia turned down her marriage proposal, so she turned Ohia into a twisted tree.
Lehua was heartbroken, of course. The gods took pity on Lehua and decided it was an injustice to have Ohia and Lehua separated. They thus turned Lehua into a flower on the Ohia tree so that the two lovers would be forever joined together.
Hawaiian folklore says that if you pluck this flower you are separating the lovers, and that day it will rain.”

 

Pleinair painting group around the ohia

Richard, Lynn, and myself painting around the Ohia tree.

Wedding ‘Live-Painting’

Abbie live weddiing painting

Live painting at a wedding in Kona

Over a year ago, a bride-to-be asked if I did “live painitng” at weddings. I was familiar with live painting, which is basically another term for painting in person on location at an event. She had searched the internet and found me, and enjoyed the loose painterly style of my landscape paintings. Naturally, I said yes! After all, I’ve been painting people and places ‘live’ my whole life. However, painting as large a painting as the bride requested would be more of a challenge to paint on location. I decided to use acrylics since they dry fast and I would be able to ship the painting sooner after it was completed.

Then the pandemic happened. I thought I would get a call telling me the wedding was canceled, However, since the wedding was being held outdoors and guests would be wearing masks, the event remained scheduled as planned. The weekend finally arrived and so did I, with my easel, paints, brushes, and large prepared canvas.

It was a glorious location for a wedding at a private estate on the Kona side of the island. I arrived early to set up and paint the setting from a distance. I wanted to include the tall palms, the coastline, and the distant Kohala hills. Working quickly to capture the whole scene, I painted during the ceremony and reception, and finally packed up and left when it began to get dark. Later in my studio, I added details as well as the bride and groom in the foreground.

Fortunately, the bride and the groom LOVED the painting. It captured the location and setting and most importantly, memories of the day.

 

 

Student Gallery

Student Gallery

Student Art Gallery: Abstract Expressionism Self-Directed, Online Painting Workshop
Five artists/students participated in two consecutive, 8-week abstract painting courses that I facilitated online.
Students worked independently on each new exercise, and we then met weekly online to show and share feedback on the new artwork. Scroll down to view each student’s set of paintings.

Abstract Expressionism Student Work

I’m thrilled!
Yesterday we held our first online critique for the 8-week Abstract Expressionism painting class that I’m facilitating.

Each student sent in several paintings that they had created using the first exercise of the course.

The exercise was to use primarily black and white on a large surface of paper or canvas. They could use thick or thin brushes, charcoal, or other drawing media. The process was to try not to think, but intuitively make a mark or stroke, and then step back several feet away to pause and look. Then when they felt the impulse, they could respond to their mark by approaching the canvas and adding another mark or stroke. I asked them to continue this process until they felt done.

Additionally, they could use white as a way to cover or delete marks they had made.
Using colors was optional as long as they used a limited palette,

It’s exciting to see the unique response and style of each student. Fortunately, everyone in the group is already comfortable using paint, and some are accomplished artists already.

The students work independently during the week, using new exercises that I introduce weekly.
We meet once a week to share our experience and share feedback on one another’s work.

I look forward to the next 7 weeks of co-creating this workshop with this passionate and expressive group of painters.

Rhythm and Blues

Rhythm in art refers to the arrangement of shapes in a way which creates an underlying beat. It is similar to the rhythm of music, but instead of notes and sounds, we use colors, shapes and lines.

A friend recently asked me what my newest landscape painting was about. Immediately the title “Rhythm and Blues” popped in my head. I hadn’t previously thought of a title but the words seemed so apropos.

I had been gifted a lovely, prepared arch-shaped canvas a few years ago but was saving it for the right moment. Apparently the right moment finally arrived, as I placed the canvas in my car before I drove off to paint in the morning. This was the first time I painted on a semi-circle shaped format and it won’t be my last. I love it!

I appreciate the flow created by the semi-circle format; the eyes move easily around the top curve and to the sides of the canvas.

The subject I chose to paint was a view just down the road along the coast. There were a few large trees with long limbs in the foreground, and ocean with crashing waves along the lava coastline in the background.

The spacing of the trees trunks creates a rhythm that moves laterally across the canvas. This then creates an alternative pattern of ‘negative shapes’, the spaces between the trees. The depiction of the lava coastline moving back in space is interspersed between the trees. This allows the eyes to shift back and forth, alternating between background and foreground.

Another visual flow is created by the various hues of blues to depict air, water, and the cool of the shadows. A pattern of shifting colors and brushmarks skims across the surface of the painting.

Painting is a visual language and like music, the use of patterns, rhythm, and beats within a work of art engages the viewer that much more.

Rhythm and Blues painting

Rhythm and Blues, oil on canvas, 17″ x 34″

Is it finished?

Who is to say when a painting is finished?

The first twenty minutes of a painting are usually the most exciting moments of a painting. The lines are fresh, the colors are bold, and the image is clear.  A painting can be considered finished within the first twenty minutes, yet rarely does an artist stop that soon.

In my experience, I often seek a return to the original freshness of the first twenty minutes when the initial strokes express mystery and magic, when the painting reflects a direct response between painter and paint.

The looming question that nearly every artist ponders is: When is a painting finished?

It is a very tough question to answer and for that reason, many artists work far longer on a painting than is needed.

In my practice, I need to discipline myself to pause and step back. I paint quickly and my painting changes shape rapidly. It takes a lot of courage to call a painting done at an early phase. When I paint in group, my artist friends often tell me I need to stop, since they can see my painting is still fresh and most likely finished.

Several years ago I visited a show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City called “Unfinished”. The show displayed numerous paintings from the Renaissance to contemporary. What all these paintings shared in common was a freshness and a peek at artistic process.

In some paintings one could still see bare, untouched canvas where much of the surface was not completed. In some artworks only a small part of the image was fully defined, leaving the rest of the image barely suggested. Each work of art seemed to pose the question: Is it finished? Yet every piece felt alive and fully expressed.

So often as artists we have in mind what a finished piece of art should look like. We aspire to complete a painting, but often we overlook the beauty and expression in an ‘unfinished’ state. That amazing state of becoming is what breathes life into the painting. Looking back at the development thus far in my painting, I can see that I want to reintegrate the energy of the first twenty minutes.