I’ve been challenging myself to do a weekly painting and this week decided to do a portrait of my Mom. Mom at the Point is inspired from a photo taken by my boyfriend at the time during our family vacation at St. Simon’s Island years ago. I’ve always loved this photo because it captured a side of my Mom that I loved. She took pride in her skill at canoeing which she had learned as a Campfire girl. She had been a tomboy growing up and it showed whenever we were out in nature.
In this picture she was about the age I am now, she let her hair turn grey; she was never vain or overly obsessed with her looks. In that way she was a good role model for her daughters. Mom grew up in Staten Island, New York and compared to my friends’ moms, she didn’t have a lot of the fears or dependence that the southern women of her class had at that time. As an adult looking back at her example, I see that she helped me have a spirit of adventure when I traveled with a similar faith that she had.
In the painting above, Mom has a crab net and is canoeing over to the Point which was a spot where we went to crab at low tide. When I painted this crab below I wrote about our yearly summer beach trip where we had such fun crabbing, clamming and fishing. Here is there is the link to the earlier post: Into the Sea
I’ve painted Brooklyn Bridge View in honor of my daughter who is graduating from New York University in just a few weeks. These four years have zipped by quickly and I wanted this painting to serve as a memory. It is loosely based on a photo of our girl taken when we were visiting New York City the summer after her fourth grade year. We did a lot of fun tourist things that included taking a ferry tour around Manhattan.
Our girl loved New York City and on her “back to school” report in 5th grade, she wrote about her “Favorite Place.” Here is the first line from her essay, “People are moving, some rushing to get to a place, others strolling along, not in a big hurry. It’s really crowded, each person is different in NYC. New York City is my favorite place, it’s famous for so many different things…”
At that point in time I realized what a good little writer she was and that her Montessori education had been perfect for her. How lucky she was to have had such amazing and dedicated teachers. Her public education all the way through high school served her very well.
Back on that ferry, we never suspected she would attend college in NYC; but, she made it happen and has loved every minute of being there. She discovered linguistics and luckily, New York University has an excellent program where she is about to receive her degree. After a year break she plans to continue with graduate school This summer she landed a very competitive internship at Harvard where she’ll be assisting a PhD student on a research project in their linguistics lab.
We leave for NYC next week, my three sisters and her uncle and cousin are joining us to celebrate her graduation. We are all excited and happy for this major milestone. It will be fun to see her walk the stage at Radio City Music Hall and later to stand up at Yankee Stadium. My husband and I are so very proud of her and her accomplishments and are happy for this next stage in her life!
The Jaguar is a new painting for my rainforest series. Jaguars are the largest cats native to the Americas and third largest cats in the world behind lions and tigers. The jaguar once roamed from Argentina all the way up to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Today, jaguars have been almost completely eliminated from the United States. This endangered cat hangs on in remote regions of Central America and South America. My niece spent time in Costa Rica on a college research trip and was fortunate to see a black jaguar in the dead of night.
Jaguar is a Native American word meaning, “he who kills with one blow.” In pre-Columbian America the jaguar was seen as a god in Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala. The Mayans saw him as the god of the underworld.
The idea for this painting came to me a couple weeks ago. My daughter is spending a semester abroad in Prague, and has taken advantage of her free time traveling to many exciting places, She’s been to Paris, Rome, Naples and now, Vienna and is having a great time on her adventures. We are excited for her because she’s broadening her horizons by learning about and experiencing other cultures. It’s brought back to mind wonderful memories of my travels. One of those memories was a trip with my husband down to the Oaxaca, Mexico region. In a small arts village, I bought him a bright hand painted and carved, wooden jaguar that he keeps in his office for good luck. This jaguar painting is also for my husband and a reminder of our happy memories of Mexico.
Crab and Tide Pools – acrylic painting by Heni Sandoval
Here are two paintings I’ve done for my sister’s upcoming birthday. She and her family live in Seattle and she wanted a couple of prints for her bathroom. She was looking through all my fish prints and trying to decide what to use. The thought came to me to do a new painting for her with sea life from the Pacific Northwest. Her shower curtain had oranges and blues and tans so I worked with those colors.
Years ago we lived in Oakland California where I worked as an outdoor program specialist for the San Francisco Bay Girl Scouts. I drove a van throughout the bay area leading special programs for girl scout troops. Every so often I would meet a troop out on the coast where we would explore the tide pools. The Northwest coast can be pretty gray, chilly and overcast; but the tide pools are just bursting with color of the various sea creatures. The stark contrast made it exciting, like finding a treasure. I loved teaching about how the sea creatures had adapted to their stark environment, opening and closing with the tide changes.
It was a fun and challenging painting the tide pools, and it helped that I did them both at the same time. The paintings brought back happy memories that I had not thought about in years. I feel they turned out pretty well and hope my sister will like them and that they will work in her space.
I’m back to painting again, here is a new still life I did in honor of my Mom. Her birthday was last Friday. I discovered this small megellica pitcher of hers hiding in the back on top of my kitchen cabinet last month. I just love it, the sunflower with the bee and the handle made to look like a branch.
Tulips in Mom’s Pitcher is a companion to the other majolica stoneware pitcher painting I did last year. I chose bright colorful tulips and pears to lift my spirits as the news has been very discouarging lately, it felt good to get absorbed in painting.
It’s been a busy season, we’ve had a guy redoing our hallway bathroom for the past four months. We have a 60’s split level and the bathroom shower was leaking and the floor cracked so we bit the bullet deciding to update it. He said he’d have it done before our girl got home from school in late December, she went back to school in late January with the bathroom still unusable. Now finally it is almost done. Though it’s taken him a long time, he’s quite an artist himself and has done a good job. It’s looking great and we’re thrilled.
I’m going to start a new painting this weekend, it’s a good distraction. Here in Atlanta everyone is very excited about the Super Bowl as our home team, the Falcons are hopefully going to “rise up,”as they say. Enjoy the weekend!
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!
Lately with the US Presidential election season heating up, I’ve been thinking about the collective shadow. Psychologist Carl Jung termed the shadow as the unowned negative parts of ourselves that we tend to project on others. Here are a few quotes on the shadow:
Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with darkness in other people. – Carl Jung
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung
Both light and shadow are the dance of love.- Rumi
These past few weeks I’ve been trying to look at my own shadow. It has been painful but I’m feeling stronger now, more centered. I wanted to do a painting about the shadow and the light that comes from releasing our fears. There Goes My Shadow is the result.
I’ve just completed Mom’s Majolica Pitcher with Tuxie in honor of Mom’s birthday which is today. For years now I’ve been painting a yearly still life for Mom. This one features her lovely majolica pitcher. Mom collected all kinds of antiques and she had a beautiful collection of majolica earthenware pottery which she kept on shelves in her kitchen. They were colorful and distinctively decorated with natural motifs. I think it was the natural motifs that attracted Mom to the pieces as she loved the natural world herself.
When I set the pitcher up in my studio to begin the painting, Tuxie, our cat, jumped up on the table and made himself at home around the pitcher. This tickled me so I called my daughter, a good photographer, over and she quickly took some photos which I used to sketch him in. Tuxie is not the most handsome of cats but he has a wonderfully quirky personality and we love him dearly. I tried to capture his funny look.
I wanted this year’s painting to be a happy one full of color and chose a cobalt blue table cover to include Mom’s favorite color. If Mom were here, I think she would be pleased because all of her daughters and their families are in happy, contented places now. This makes me very happy also. I hope everyone is having a great start to this year!
Jack Rabbit at Dusk is my most recent painting, I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now. Jack rabbits are well adapted to their dry grassland habitat with their large ears, long lanky front legs and big powerful rear legs. I find their looks strange and striking.
Years ago, my twin sister and I bicycled across the country. We left in early June just after my sister’s college graduation, it took us two months to bike from Georgia to crossing over the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco. Until this adventure we had never been west of Alabama. I have been thinking about that trip lately. I love biking, the slow pace and being out in the elements. I remember traveling through the country roads, enjoying the feel of the sun, the wind, the sounds, smells and sights of the places we traveled through. On our journey as the days went on, we began to realize that dusk and dawn were magical times when all of nature came alive with the birds and insects beginning their serenades against the backdrop of the orange sun low in the sky making long shadows that stretched across the landscapes.
One late afternoon having made it into the Idaho countryside we began to set up camp in a potato field. As dusk approached suddenly out of nowhere several jack rabbits started appearing in the fields around us. They came from all directions. We had never seen a jack rabbit before, they didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence. They were huge compared to the eastern cottontail rabbits we were used to seeing. It was such a surreal moment, and so beautiful with the low sun and shadows dancing on the jack rabbits. I will never forget that experience. This painting doesn’t really do it justice but I wanted to try. I am fairly pleased the him and hope you are also.
Philodendron in the Window is one of my earlier paintings. I’ve always loved it for the colors and because it reminds me of Mom. With spring in full force here in Atlanta I’ve been doing a lot of gardening. My wonderful neighbor helped me by tilling up a 30 foot long patch of grass along our picket fence. I’ve planted flowers and lots of veggies and am mulching heavily since they say it’s going to be a dry summer. Unlike my Mom I was I never into gardening even though my degree is in landscape architecture. Since we’ve been settled in our home for a while the little gardening I’ve done each spring is starting to add up. So here I am after eight years here with a vegetable garden in our front yard.
When my twin sister and I went off to separate colleges, we had different school breaks. On a break early in my freshmen year, Mom showed me how to make cuttings of house plants for potting later to take to my dorm room. That’s when I noticed she had lots of glass jars with various shaped leaves gracing the window sills in the kitchen and sun room. Mom said she enjoyed the years my twin and I came home at different times because she got to know us as individuals better. Now that I have a teen daughter I understand my mom’s comments. Teenagers are very much into their own world as it should be. It’s later they begin to notice more about their home experience. Wherever I’ve lived I always have plant cuttings in jars on the window sills, such as the one in this panting. Happy Mother’s day to all mothers and the gifts they pass down.