Archive for May, 2009

Sorting Cukes- New Painting

May 31, 2009

Every Saturday since January, I’ve been volunteering at the newly formed Virgin Island Farmers Cooperative.

It’s a stellar combination: sustainably grown local produce, appreciative customers, banter among the crew, and a day outside. Oh, and inspiring subjects for photos and paintings.

sortingcukesblog” Sorting Cukes ” 6X8 oil on panel

St Croix was long known as the breadbasket of the Caribbean. After years of a downturn in recognizing the importance of locally grown food ( 90% of our food is shipped in- old and nutritionally deficient by the time it arrives here ), the VIFC is revitalizing food production as a vital and greatly appreciated necessity to the residents of St. Croix.

Lettuce, mustard greens, peppers, cucumbers, local fruits, real eggs with orange yolks, free range chickens, goat, lamb, pork, all hormone free.

It’s one of my favorite days of the week, tiring, hot, fun, and a refrigerator stocked with real food.

Taste being one of our senses, smell is definitely another. It’s humid, hot, things get moldy and mildewed faster than you can launder or bleach them.

So I laughed when I saw this sign for a new ” fragrance ” shop that opened here-


( Thanks Ted, for the photo )

I have personally forsaken Chanel No. 5, and Angel, my two previously favorite perfumes for the only fragrances that have any useful purpose here:




and the new fave,


Some days, turp smells great by comparison.

New Painting- Southgate Plantation Sugar Mill

May 20, 2009

It was a  grey day, no sun, flat atmosphere. I started this piece plein air during a workshop I took here a short while ago and finished it in the studio.

southgateplantationmillblog“Southgate Plantation”  10X12 oil on panel

There was a moment or two of brighter light coming from the right as the weather front lifted a bit. Not having sharp contrast from strong sun, makes for a flat scene which it was for most of the day.

I’m pretty pleased with the mill and the tree on the right.

These impressive structures, some 150 remaining ones on St.Croix, are reminders of the history of sugar cane. Going back over 300 years to the early Dutch settlers, it’s hard not to feel ambivelance at the conditions under which slaves were deployed to keep production at peak levels, while recognizing how hot it was. As stories are passed along, it was noted that as the crushers inside these mills squeezed every drop of cane juice out of the stalks, there was on site, a person whose job was to release by use of machete, any unfortunate workers arm that did not release from the grinding wheels in a timely manner.

Some interesting reading about the full history of St Croix when ” sugar was King ” courtesy of the Landmark Society here:

And a photo and short story of a mill from todays’ time here:

And a P.S.- fellow St. Croix resident, blogger friend, and creative digital photographer Don Diddams,  coincidentally posted a strong image and similar sentiments on his blog today. Have a look here and at the body of his work.

Nothing was plein about the air this morning- a rainbow popped into an otherwise dark, looming, overcast sky. Just enough of a snippet of light from somewhere to form a fleeting prism in the sky.


Art Demons……

May 10, 2009

…….trations. Help!

Yes, it’s supposed to read “Art Demonstrations “. In my Bookmark section, I’ve noted a site that only  had enough room in the side margin for the words ” Art Demons…..”

Was not lost on me. The demons are hovering and influencing the dulling of paint on my canvas.


“Strong ” 10X12 oil/panel

I’m following strict instructions not to use turps while painting, and still my finish here looks dull. I’ve been using paint out of the tube, no mediums, no turps but still find a lack of the sheen that is the trademark of oils.

I don’t know if painting on a toned, linen panel makes a more absorbent surface and does require some medium in the mix.

I’d really appreciate some suggestions. I had high hopes for this stoic, hardworking farmer. He deserved more than a lackluster representation.

Chili Pepper is working towards the same goal of getting Strong.


He’s a circuit trainer, working his way up from 3 lbs. He does NOT suffer a lackluster existence.