Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bermuda Journal: Living life in reverse

“Most have two lives. The life we live, and the un-lived life within.
Between the two stands Resistance." ~ WH Murray

Bermuda Surf
This is a story about living life in reverse. After 35 years, countless adventures and living everywhere from Cannes to California, I’ve come full circle and find myself back on “de rock”. I’m speaking metaphorically about Bermuda. The island captured my heart the moment I flew over its azure waters and has held me in a magical embrace ever since. Fresh out of college, my first experience here was working in advertising. The tools of my trade were an e-xacto knife and a slide ruler rather than a paintbrush and palette. The opportunity to revisit Bermuda, to spend unfettered time exploring, painting and sharing what I’ve learned with others, has been a dream for some time. 

Firefly Cottage Devonshire
You are the traveler, you are the path, and you are the destination. Be careful never to lose the way to yourself. 
~ Shihab al-Din Yahya Suhrawardi

Sunrise North Shore Road, Bermuda
It’s been said that fear is the thief of dreams. Our weakness forms us even more than our strength. So my return is evidence that when you act from passion and commitment to an idea, then providence steps in. 

I owe a huge debt to my benefactor, Tom Butterfield, the founder of Masterworks Museum of Art. Mr. Butterfield had the vision to amass a collection of work from artists who for centuries found inspiration on this little gem in the Atlantic. The collection includes such luminaries as Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley and Charles Demuth to name a few.

I have a mermaid soul…
The skies are ominous as I head out for an early morning of painting. Coming from Boston, I’m not very good at predicting the weather patterns here. Just as I set up, a massive front barrels through Hamilton Harbor. I think, “ok I can deal with this” and find cover under some palm trees. It all seems like an adventure until 30 minutes pass and my restless spirit gets the better of me. I climb onto my moped and ride through torrents of rain, sprays from passing cars add insult to injury and the water has managed to find places on my body that I didn’t know existed. 

My portable studio... painting at Devonshire Bay

Bermuda Plein Air Festival, Coral Beach
But it doesn’t matter because in spite of minor vexations, I keep having these serendipitous moments. The joy of getting lost on purpose is rewarded with spectacular views. I follow an unknown path and discover a jewel of scene. 

A big part of the experience is the people I meet while on location; an ex-marine shares with me his memories of Vietnam, the fishermen at Devonshire Dock with their strong Bermudian accents, good-natured banter and slang only a local can appreciate, bring a smile to my face. All are character studies, sketches for future paintings perhaps. 

"Snapper" cleaning fish at Devonshire Dock
The art of teaching…
Apart from my participation in the Plein Air Bermuda Festival, (thrilled to win an award for Best in Oils!) much of my time in Bermuda was spent teaching others the fundamentals of painting. I had the honor to work with truly gifted and giving people. Teaching ain’t easy and teaching art is even harder. First of all, talent is a myth. We aren’t born with talent, we develop skills over time through learning and practice.

My painting Coral Beach Club won Best in Oils
With Michael Harding, his wife and officials at City Hall Gallery
Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, 
and the architect of accomplishment.  
Zig Ziglar

Granaway Cottage

Genius is one percent inspiration and 
ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Many who’ve achieved greatness were failures in their youth. Einstein did so poorly in school that he nearly decided to drop out and sell life insurance. Steve Jobs was a college drop out. Deliberate practice produces a natural tendency. Love what you do and even on the worst days, try to remember that you gotta be able to stand being bad to paint anything good.

The Old Rectory, St. George's

Plein Air painters at Astwood Cove
The world of art is the place of the spirit’s freedom.

Hans Hofmann said “to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. The artists eye sees simply; making patterns of light and shadow, forming motifs. 

As the sun creeps over the horizon illuminating all, I find inspiration in the simple things I see along my morning walk. I prefer the grittiness of my North Shore neighborhood to the pristine beaches of the south shore. The patina of time-worn surfaces, tired and crumbling homes giving up and settling back to the earth. There is no end to the adventures we can have if we keep our eyes open.

Early Morning North Shore
The urge to capture and hold onto a memory of light is always present. I ride through the night and feel an exhilaration of being close to the earth. The smell of the sea, perfumed wind in my hair, tree frogs singing. I cherish my time here - knowing that sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

Classes & Workshops at Masterworks Museum of Art
I’ll be teaching weekly classes as well as a two-day landscape and figure workshop on island in 2018. To learn more about the program click the link below or visit my website:

Painting at Pink Beach

The Bermuda Plein Air Festival on ZBM News: