Jungle Elephant is a new painting in my jungle animal series for my Heni’s Happy Paintings Etsy shop. He is a royal white elephant walking up through the bamboo forest in Northern Thailand. The white elephant is considered sacred and a symbol for royal power there.
Years ago when my husband and I were hiking in Northern Thailand we kept noticing large round holes on the trail, after a while it dawned on us these holes were elephant tracks. The sun filtered lush bamboo forests are lovely and it was quite an adventure even though we never saw the elephants. I put in a full moon in this painting, as a fun memory of an experience we had in Chaing Mai. One evening we were eating at an outdoor cafe when I looked up and noticed the full moon that was being eclipsed, a large shadow was crossing it. I tried to motion to our server to let her know and she smiled and said “moon” probably thinking that I was pointing out the full moon, not realizing that a lunar eclipse was happening. The area was filled with people eating and strolling and it seemed we were the only ones aware of the eclipse. It was such a magical evening.
I painted this royal white elephant for my sister who has a collection of white elephants. She was the one that inspired us to travel to Southeast Asia. She had traveled through Thailand after her stint with the Peace Corps in the Solomon Islands. I’m so glad she gave us the idea. The year we spent traveling was such an enriching experience. It helped me view life and art in a more holistic way. Thanks Melissa!
Here is my most recent painting, Young Gibbonfor my Heni’s Happy Paintings Etsy shop. It completes the rainforest series which also include the tiger and crocodile paintings. I chose to paint a gibbon after a special memory I had from our travels similar to the Sumatran tiger painting.
On our Southeastern Asia trip, my husband and I spent a couple of weeks trekking in the rainforest mountains of Northern Thailand. We hiked all day through the gorgeous rainforest scenery and then spent the nights in small villages with the native peoples. We continued hiking higher in the mountains until we reached the Burma (Myanmar) border and could go no further, it surprised us that we had trekked that far north. That evening we turned off on a side path and happened upon a guest house, another surprise as we had not seen any guest houses for days. It was owned by a French woman and there was only one other traveler staying there, an young Israeli. We spent a great evening sharing stories about our travels. The woman had a baby gibbon that she had rescued from poachers, he was adorable. He was not allowed much human contact as she eventually wanted to release him back to wild but in the morning she let me play with him just after his feeding.
Although gibbons look like monkeys, they are actually small apes. We saw several on our trek and loved watching them travel through the tree branches and vines with ease. Young Gibbon is painted in honor of that baby gibbon who I hope was eventually set free to soar.
Dolphin Playing with the Sun is another painting I did last summer after our Hawaiian trip. One morning while on our trip we got up very early to rent kayaks at Kealakekua Bay where we paddled over to a spot that had the best snorkeling reef on the Big Island. As we were crossing the bay a large pod of spinner dolphins joined us. They are named spinner dolphins because they love to jump up out of the water and spin. It was quite a thrill to see them do this.
With this painting I wanted to show a dolphin playfully jumping out of the water with the big sun in the background. Lately I have become fascinated with the close up images of our sun with the solar flares dancing up. There is so much movement; it is mesmerizing to watch. Scientists think these solar flares effect our planet with magnetic waves in some way. I tried to paint the sun showing lots energy and radiating movement with the dolphin leaping out of the water happily in tune with this energetic connection.
Last April we were in Hawaii for my nephew’s wedding. His wife is from the Big Island and they had a lovely outdoor ceremony on a bluff overlooking the water right before sunset. The spot was called Turtle Point. Just below was a cove where we actually snorkeled and saw sea turtles swimming. That was very exciting for me because I had done this painting for their wedding gift and had also painted another sea turtle earlier but had never seen one swimming in the water before. They were very gentle creatures moving about peacefully.
I had fun painting these turtles, I wanted my nephew and his wife to have a nice memory of their amazing wedding and also have it be something their future children might look at and think about their parent’s wedding. My parents had a hand-painted plate of pretty delicate love birds with the date of their wedding that they had received as a wedding gift. It always hung above the kitchen door. I loved that plate and it helped me to remember their wedding anniversary date.
Honu is the Hawaii word for the sea turtle and on the Big Island, there are images of sea turtles everywhere. The honu is revered as a sacred symbol of life force. Hawaii is a such a unique and beautiful place. They say the South is friendly but in my opinion Hawaiians top Southerners. They were so open hearted, kind and relaxed. The spectacular natural beauty of the Big Island was breath taking. I hope to return one day.
Here is my new painting of a tiger in the night, it’s another child friendly painting for my shop. I chose the tiger for a couple of reasons. When our girl was ready to enter prekindergarten, two local public schools were just starting Montessori programs. We were very fortunate to get our girl into one of those programs, a wonderful elementary school where she received a solid Montessori foundation. The school mascot was the tiger. Large blue tiger paw prints were painted on the walk to the school entrance. Tiger murals went up, the children wore tiger t shirts on special tiger spirit days. They really tried to make the school a fun and happy place to learn. We still live just a block from the school and I want to donate some of these tiger prints to the PTA for the yearly silent auction.
My husband and I also have a special tiger memory from our travels in Southeast Asia. We were in northern Sumatra staying in a small guest house on the edge of their National Rainforest Park. It was late in the night when suddenly we heard an animal squeal and then dogs madly barking. It was quite unsettling and took us a while to fall back to sleep. In the morning at breakfast we were trying to ask our host who didn’t speak English what happened, he motioned for us to come with him. A short walk later he showed us a humongous paw print of a Sumatran tiger in a muddy spot next to a spring. The tiger had killed one of their goats in the night. That day we hiked up into the lush rainforest vegetation where we saw monkeys and large fruit bats. The highlights of our day were watching a mom and baby orangutan as they foraged for fruits and taking a dip in some hot water springs. But I must say we made sure to get back to our guest house by night fall.