Filling the well

Flowing water: fast and slow. Transparent watercolor. Dawn Yoshimura 2020.

Water is flow. It always finds a way forward, it can be still and collected in an eddy or a pool but it will always find its way out and forward and sometimes it can rush forward in a mighty river or it can cascade down a small set of steps or a high plateau.

The COVD19 stay at home order is lifting and we can go out to parks and beaches but still many activities I do are prohibited such as painting in Foster Gardens (so much for my $25 family pass) and sitting out on the West side to work on my wahi pana series. The shows planned at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale to highlight precious landscapes with not well known mo’olelo are threatened with cancellation. I believe in divine timing, so if 2020 is not the right time or place we will find it later but what is frustating is being told I can’t go out alone and sit in the sunshine for a few hours while I see hundreds of surfers on the evening news each night.

So the challenge of being an artist during such a time is to keep filling the well, to keep my artistic process healthy and functioning and flowing well. I’ve made dozens of masks and explored all the different styles. I’ve gone online for my church services and study groups. I’ve moved my students successfully online and we continue to paint. My new mantra to them and myself is: Keep on painting.

Forced with not getting to sit and soak up the space, I have to paint more and more from my dreams and memories. This piece is such a painting, I couldn’t go to the waterfall, only feel it behind closed eyelids. I could feel the coolness of the spray, the sound of the water, the smell of the greenery, feel the chill of the water at my ankles. Then, with all my senses engaged, I could look around and see the space and paint it. These paintings come out faster than when I am sitting in the spot because I like to savor all the senses while out there, feel the sun on my jacket warming the air between the space of the fabric of the jacket and the fabric of my shirt against my shoulder blades.

Who knows how long this will go, but even as I refuse to normalize COVD, I adapt and continue to find ways to fill the well.