Digg'in Dia'mon

Volcanoe in the distance
Beaches over flow
Teal and Pink reflections
in the Island undertow

Promise me a sunset
colors that surprise
and lull me in a hammock
and feed me full of lies

I want to hear I'm beautiful
I want to hear I'm sweet
I want to drink the coconut
with slippers on my feet




Take initial photos after finding a tree that has lots of light shining through
Study the tree and stay to draw it outdoors with 4 thumbnail sketches
In addition a trial run fast painting will help you get familar with the tree.
Below is a large initial painting using watercolor pencils and adding acrylics.
It is very loose and very fast. The goal is not a finished wonderful painting but instead
a simple rough draft that allows you to adjust your ideas and revisit those areas you realize
might be difficult. I suggest that it helps to just paint everything in the background cool
and everything in the foreground warm so that you can be sure how to approach the final painting
(This initial photo was supplied by Dani, thank you)

Paper copies to trace shapes
I usually get 5 or 6 paper copies of my photo.
Use the paper copies to trace shapes. I suggest one copy to trace large light
shapes, one to trace large dark shapes and then go over top of those using a different color
marker to trace around small light or dark shapes. This exercise will get you familar with
the organic shapes supplied by the shade of the tree and shadows in the tree crevices.
It is important to note that the ground shapes are oblong obliks that go all to one direction.
This direction will make it clear as to where the sun's position was in the sky.

Canvas size
Purchase a canvas that is suitable for the subject. It is a mammoth tree and works well on a big canvas.
It can be painted small but you won't get the opportunity to get to know every inch of the tree.
This is your chance to fall in love with a Banyan so please do so. I am using a 24x30 gallery wrap.

Now the paint.
It is important to provide this amazing tree with the dignity of all it's speckled light. I use lots of white, lemon yellow, pinks and light cadmium yellow to cover my canvas in very bold stokes. I try very hard to show the brush strokes and leave large stokes of full pigment. This means there are strokes of pure cad. yellow
beside pure white , beside pure pink in some spots. It makes for more excitement. It is a painting so be paintery. Do not try to duplicate the photo, that job is for photographers.

Initial Layout

I use masking tape applied directly to the canvas to lay out the options of placement for the major subjects.
Then I just STARTED painting them in rough in burnt oranges ( brighter than the tree would appear to the eye so that you get some POP as an underpainting)

Divide Horizonally
(in thirds or fifths)
Now that a look at where you want your horizonal perspective.
I take masking tape and apply it to the canvas to show where I want the darkest part
of my land mass to stop, then the lightest part, then the sky then the underneath of the tree ..etc.
In other words, there is a light/dark change going bottom to top horizonally.
You want to determine that and stay very focused on keeping with that
value so you get a strong composition.


I am still just playing with the placement of the trunks and endless  knarly parts. It will mess with your eyes to try to figure out each tiny detail. This is why it is so smart to draw on location a LOT first. The more familar you are with the way a banyan grows the better able you wil be to attack the painting with confidence.
Here I had to stop and really assess the values I was laying in . The foreground trunks needed to be darker than the photo and the background needed to be lighter than the intial wash I laid in ...so I am still adjusting.
To get depth I want to give strong light and dark contrast. I am not there yet, but that is where I am going.

Dark Values and Grey

When you start with vibrant color you will need to get grey in your painting.
Most art teachers will refer to this as local color which is the color that you see
unmodified. It is the most obvious color that abounds on your subject.
In the case of the Banyan, the trunk initially appears just grey,
and more grey with dark grey. If you were to just paint with only
local color for your banyan you would find it very boring.
If you are trying to find your OWN PERSONAL view of a banyan
I suggest seeing a banyan at different times of day and also through
great sunglasses! If you take away the glare of the sun on your Banyan
you will see lots of colors dancing.
If you don't see it, then imagine the dark of the tree having all darkest values of
all the colors and the light parts of the tree having all the colors of the color wheel in their
lightest or brightest value.
Then let  yourself paint.
The most boring grey is black and white mixed together.
The best greys are mixed from many colors on your palette then adding some white or black.
Getting MANY greys from your palette would be the most
exciting way to paint a Banyan. It is a tree that has seen a lot of years, let it reflect
all of that with color...regal colors, bright colors, warm colors..etc.
The more excitement you can lend it with color, the more likely it will
come alive.

Here I have put in the dark shadow under the tree (may be a little too dark but will lighten with some blue
and keep some warm burnt sienna and oranges on the ground as well .
The Greens were added today. I am always intimidated by the leaves.
Here is my advice. Leave a good amount of organic (irregular) shapes of light or "see thru" for the sky to peek through. Use a light glaze of interesting mixes of purples and blues and crimson.
A light wash will allow it to appear as though the leaves fade in to the sky around the edges.
After the wash dries, add the darker greens. I load my brush with a speak of other color once in a while to
just add interest.
Do not be afraid of random colors popping in to your painting.
You will start to notice the full prism of colors in everything you see.
Light plays on all flat solid colors during the day.
A flat green leaf is never just GREEN.


Magic Island in Honolulu

Shade Tree

to good to be true

At Ala Moana
Beach Park

with a view
of the

Ewa Side
the island
of O'ahu.

little yacht club on the Ala Wai

Hawaii Yacht Club
across the Ala Wai from Magic Island


acrylic on mahogany board

A painting of a tree trunk with a small confident palm upstart sneaking in to make a home at it's  roots.

I painted this "start" at Manoa Chinese Cemetery high above Honolulu.
This large tree stands at the top of the space they call the Dragon's Pulse.
I had to giggle at the little palm that decided to grow in the root system
of this old split tree. The large tree provides great amounts of shade
and I have seen many artists at their easels  fit under the cool umbrella of leaves to paint.
It would be difficult to get a great camera shot of this tree and the massive shade. BUT, the trunk itself is split in two and the light streaming through in the early morning lit the palm leaves to chartreuse. It looks like the entrance to Nirvana.


Halona Blowhole

Sandy Beach and Halona Blowhole

Action packed Sandy Beach where the Halona Blowhole makes a scene
There is only one way to paint this
Quick, with movement
Anything less vibrant would do it an injustice

If you stand where I parked my wobbley easel
and look towards this cliffline jetty
you will sway from the wind and be pulled in to the sea
This is not home to mermaids and fantasies
This is home to locals who know these waves like their own heartbeat

it's as real as it gets
plenty of boogie boarders that thought they could, failed
no mercy here,
but plenty of joy on the faces of those that are one with this current



Wahiawa Botanical Gardens- Heliconia or Caledonia

please note, this is a HELICONIA not a Caledonia but the lyrics work either way


I don't know if you can see

The changes that have come over me

In these last few days I've been afraid

That I might drift away

I've been telling old stories, singing songs

That make me think about where I've come from

That's the reason why I seem

So far away today


Let me tell you that I love you

That I think about you all the time

Caledonia, you're calling me, now I'm going home

But if I should become a stranger

Know that it would make me more than sad

Caledonia's been everything I've ever had

Now I have moved and I've kept on moving

Proved the points that I needed proving

Lost the friends that I needed losing

Found others on the way

I have kissed the fellas and left them crying

Stolen dreams, yes, there's no denying

I have traveled hard, sometimes with conscience flying

Somewhere with the wind



(or Pomelo)

Sound asleep as I was, the thud of the Jabong fruit woke me immediately.
The fruit is said to symbolize abundance. It is a very large-ish grapefruit
and can get bigger than a basketball! I call it a "KABONG" and when you
hear it you will understand why.

The abundance is evident in the Jabong.
It is surprisingly large with a sound on the roof like thunder's first crack.
It takes effort to peel and tons of endless seeds that initially
look like lots of crooked teeth lined up in the mouth of
a soul unable to afford braces.
It is a surprise, a big fat, unusual surprise.

The neighbors around say the tree in the side yard is yielding a smaller fruit that usual, due to the drought.
AHHHH, if that is the case, then the larger fruit falling on the roof could wake up a whole neighborhood.


sunbathers in red

watercolor and gouache

by Rebecca Snow

it ain't easy being beautiful

the find


by Rebecca Snow

There have been great "finds"
on Oahu
too bad you can't keep everything you find
somethings are just for admiring
and leaving on the shore

Mary Philpotts McGrath and the Milestones

Mary Philpotts painted today.
She painted with the others that came to Ho'omalahia with the Hawaii Watercolor Society.

She painted all day and I joined the group late. She painted after everyone left.

Before I left I talked to Mary about her successes.
She told me she won the Hawaiin Graphic award
at the Annual Watercolor Society Show.

Then without hesitation she began to encourage me.
She asked if I'd entered any shows. She urged me
to enter the Japanese Chamber of Commerce show.
Then she explained something that I needed to hear.

She said that artists need milestones. Points in their creative
life where they can pinpoint success even if it is merely in
the effort of submitting work. The process of filling out the submission form and framing the art work and delivering the
pieces to the location and meeting the other artists is essential to creating that much needed milestone.

Below are 4 watercolors that Mary painted in Tahiti recently (wow)!

Take it from Mary, you have to get there early, and stay late and paint. You have to
submit your work and create the milestones. You have to get your work out there to be seen.
The MILESTONES are important.

Thank you Mary Philpotts for being around today when I needed to hear just those words.


'A Rockin' Shaka to You from Patrice Federspiel, Art of Aloha'

'A Rockin' Shaka to You from Patrice Federspiel, Art of Aloha'

I promised to give you all a little education on the SHAKA and here it is.
The free postcard is a cool offer from Patrice. It is a sweet piece of framable art.
Gotta love the sentiment behind a SHAKA.


Jack Sparrow is in Town

                                                     11x14 Acrylic on Mahogany Board

                                                               Queen Anne's Revenge

The ship's wicked Aft Lantern is an omen of doom.
The film crew is off on Saturdays evidently.

I was a pirate for a while. It gets old fast. There is never enough
booty for everyone. I had issues with the Dental care aboard
the ship and Grog is not all it's cracked up to be.

I was a pretty hot pirate despite the obvious obstacles.

perfect day
July 31, 2010  no more a pirate am I, arrrgh


Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach Park
It was brimming with activity but I did not see it
 I had a  big empty hole in my tummy
and I am not talking about my belly button

It is always good to paint when you are happy if you want a happy painting.
If, however, you want a still , serene landscape void of feeling
then paint when you are practicing those thoughts.
The energy in your soul will flow down your arm into the paint brush.
Hard to paint a smiley face when you are pouting.

by the time we left the beach there were 16 kite boarders in that little area
it was like a huge ballet or cirque de soleil of bright kites and flying people

if you go to Kailua on the windward side of Oahu you will be thrilled with the water sport activity

Naish (store front Kailua) is the place to go for windsurfing and kite boarding instruction and equipment


Up a Tree in Makapuu


There was a wedding right below this sandy area. It was a traditional Hawaii wedding
and the bride was stunningly beautiful and the groom was sure and handsome.
Red aloha shirts were worn by the groom's men and the bride held red flowers against
her pure white dress. The ocean was dancing with new morning sunlight, it was perfect.
I was in the tree watching two people make a life time commitment to one another.
I would say they were going out on a limb, but better than being up a tree. Even if you like
being up a tree, you need to "GET DOWN" once in a while.


 11x14 still in the process


Soar with Eagles at Makapuu

Early morning at Makapu'u

Saturday Plein Air Class with Mark Brown
There is still homework to be finished on the piece above.
1. add warm to mountains in the background
2. add warm and light to rocks
3. make the rocks less perfectly shaped, vary them
4. dance more white on the lilac water spray
(and more)

Mark painted his Demo and primarily spoke about Energy.
Watching him makes the notion CLEAR.
He dances when he paints and stands at his easel as though he is taking off for a race.
He painted extremely fast with loose oil , ALLA PRIMA.
It is a site to see and leaves everyone watching dizzy and giggling.
 He concentrates on composition then value (light to dark),
but ENERGY is key.

One key point to painting with energy is to be rested (or intoxicated , just joking)
Mark told me he was in bed by 9pm the night before. He was up with the birds
and on the beach with the new morning sun... usually 6am.
He mentioned that students that go OUT the night before do not understand
that you can't " Hoot with the owls if you want to soar with the eagles".

If he was not so terribly serious when he said that I would have smiled.
Best not to giggle at the teacher.
me at midnight ,
 tired out from working all day
I have no make up on and
a wrinkled silk dress.
I have no idea what I had in my mouth (hair clip probably)
Spent the late night before I painted with Mark
 eating AMAZING salmon in miso sauce at Indigo with my friends.
I think Mark knew I had Hooted with the Owls.
I painted Makapu'u
on a beautiful July morning
with the EAGLES.
It was a blast (hoot hoot)


Indigo in Downtown Honolulu


Andy is giving the dessert at Indigo it's well
deserved shaka.

what the heck is a shaka anyway??

I got a recent education on the subject.
I'll give the lowdown soon.


Haleiwa Art Festival 2010

T-Shirt and Poster Artist Pick for the
Haleiwa Art Festival
Patrice Federspiel

The Haleiwa Art Festival is a blast
Patrice was the 2010 Poster and Shirt Artist at the Festival this year.
I am lucky to call myself her Assistant and we had a great time for the two day event.
The booth stayed crazy busy all day as she signed all the posters and t-shirts on request.
The signature original, "Spirit of the Dance" is hanging to the left in the picture above.
The piece was sold to a gentleman and his wife from Kaneohe.
I am thrilled that it is staying in Oahu and will be in a room looking out over Kaneohe Bay.

Patrice was hugged and kissed and loved all day by those who have known her and watched her become an important artist on Oahu. 

Everything about the day was special. It started with the traditional bagpipe music and all day long all kinds of GREAT music was provided on stage under a tent. There was food along the side wall including crepes and Thai , but of course shave ice! The view in the Park at Haleiwa makes the location perfect for an art festival. The trade winds whipped around us to keep us cool and the mist came down for a light sprinkle to remind us to stay under the tent. It was a perfect day and a perfect mix of Artists.

bagpipes to START the festival
Oh and I almost forgot to mention that Patrice's boyfriend, Keanu was there.
At the end of that perfect day these two fixed the best meal with steak on the grill,
a champagne toast to Patrice and yummy Choy Sum.

Thank you Keanu and Patrice for all the fun at Haleiwa!!

Haole Girl I Met

You are just gonna love this blogspot
Haole Girl In Hawaii.blogspot.com.
this is a very SMART blog!


Coveted Shade

Acrylic on Mahogany Board 11x14

There is a little cluster of palms near 1B life saving station. On busy days it is coveted for it's shade.
There will be Moms and babies sprawled out with all their gear, and paddle boarders taking a much needed break from the elements. It is just a little patch of grass and 4 palms but always a perfect hiding place from the gloriously persistent sun.



1. you need a place to paint
2. you need to be able to make a mess
3. you need to be close to a teapot, friends and great views
4. you need a place to get wine and pasta within walking distance
5. you need a hot boyfriend as a muse
6. you need paint and canvas and rent money
(provided from selling art or from not so hot boyfriend cross town)
7. you must have a mentor or two that is willing to encourage and critique
8. you must never, never, never say never
9. you must have a vision of yourself as an artist, if you can't see it no one else can



Not really a dorm room but it feels like it.
It is the room I rent in Makiki.
I rent from the coolest chick in town
and the rest of the house is her studio.
It is small and just enough.
Everything right now is just enough.

just enough so I can paint

if you ever purchase a painting
what ever you pay will be just enough.

rent is due on July 23rd :)

 Yes that is an inflatable mattress
and the curtains and sheets and desk and bed
are borrowed.
life is sweet

FALLEN ANGEL OF HAWAII Plumeria losing her bloom

all over the road
all over the sidewalks
upside down and sideways
plumeria blossoms

acrylic on paper
Rebecca Snow


acrylic on canvas by Rebecca Snow Cleghorn

I painted plein air at THREE TABLES with Mark and Joe. It was an awesomely beautiful day and the 4th of July weekend so the road to North Shore and all the beaches were FULL.

                                           peek at halfway point

 We had a primo spot. Mark was painting a door board and he took out a huge easel and a mallot and proceeded to drive stakes into the ground for the easel to hold the door board. It was a site and folks were
stopping to watch the show.
Joe and I were positioned with easels behind Mark so we could watch him go to town on that big painting.
Joe painted with oil and his version of Three Tables was worth sharing...BUT
I did the stupidest thing ever and did not take photos. So I have to go BACK to Three Tables to complete this painting that I was working on that day.




In Hawaii there are plants galore. I am from Virginia and we are proud of our azaleas and tall pines but here in Oahu the flowering trees drop color on every landscape and the variety of palm is mind boggling.

I had the privilege to eat lunch at Nancy Brown's house on July 4th weekend. I requested a tour of the garden and once I had on the "slippers" close at hand (some one Else's flip flops) I was escorted through with commentary.

I was introduced to the Surinam Cherry and got to take a bite of the fruit and the jelly she made from it.
We toured the aisle with the lovely yellow flower tree that had thorns and delicate lacy flowers. She had
a Neem tree that she cuts leaves from and puts at her door to keep any flies away. The Neem is from India but is known in Asia for it's many medicinal qualities. In the side garden there was a little Citronella plant
with it's strong lemonish scent that I recognized from candles of the same name. In the front garden there were variations of Heladonias and orchids and Nancy popped a couple tiny orchids off just for me.

The picture is of my "TAKE" which I am grateful. Thank you Nancy for the personal tour of your little planted paradise. Oh and thank you for lunch!


Sand Bar at 1B Life Guard Station

Life Guard Station 1B near the Sand Bar

This life saving station is near my favorite spot on Ala Moana Beach.
This is where the Sand Bar forms through the coral so the surfers
can appear to "walk on water" to the breaks. I finally got to swim out
to it with my friend Andy who would not take NO for an answer.
About half way into the "over my head" swim we passed a man and
I expressed my concern about swimming so far out.
 I mentioned that he should just carry me out there on his shoulders.
He laughed and offered other advice. Andy's plan had been to allow me
to hold on to his foot and he'd drag me out. HMMMMMM.

I want to mention that the life guards are there in case of emergency,
but creating an emergency seemed a little unfair.

I suggest that you swim out to the Sand Bar, it is a beautiful feeling.
I also suggest that you meet nice people along the way and laugh
and be silly and take it all in. I also suggest that you meet nice Italian
men with flippers on but offering to RIDE them is probably 
not very lady like. Oh, and one more thing...learn how to swim
before getting over your head , the life guards really appreciate it.



                                                                  Aina Haina

Aina is land but Haina...not so sure. This view of Koko Head taken at 7am shows the glow of Aina Haina.
I suspect that there is no glottal stop in Haina ,and if so, this means sacrifice or offering. So I think that Aina Haina means Land Offering.

  I painted a small complementary color study of this "land offering". The morning sunrise was so bright we could hardly see the landscape. It was a perfect plein air day waiting to embrace us. I was on site early with only Mark and the gentleman that keeps the park looking beautiful. Mark knew this man and I was introduced.  Forgive me for not remembering his name, I'll add it later. He was hard at work keeping the park perfect for all of us. He had put a son thru the best art school, and he had been a graphic artist himself.  Now he was maintaining the park as a city worker.

It is not uncommon to get to shake hands with the locals while they work hard. The presumptions are almost always incorrect. It is not the poor lowly sad worker bee that keeps O'ahu beautiful. It is the best servants of this land who have their masters degrees in Physics or men and women that  have raised a strong family and managed to get second and third jobs while they pay off college loans. Always they have a smile while working. They are constant reminders that giving is the "getting". There is never toil showing in their faces.

I am taken aback every time I get the opportunity to talk to the men and women that have raised their families here on this island. They work as if they are blessed to do so here. They work for the money, yes,
but as an offering
for being allowed to live here.