What I Did On My Winter Vacation

FEBRUARY 1, 2012
Terri and I have been on a couple cruises in the past.  The one to Alaska in '06, on Holland America, was great fun.  The other one to the Carribean, on Norwegian, so so. Terri was attending a seminar/workshop event that was starting out of Sydney, on a Holland America again, and winding its way around the Fiji Islands.  I found myself coming along for the ride but not looking forward to leaving work behind and scrambling on return (didn't matter because the scrambling happened anyway).  It was going to be warm, so my packing was going to be light as far as clothing was concerned.  So my other suitcase was a chunk of my studio.  Brought along work that needed to be done for a book of Presidential anecdotes and also brought along a lot of paints- watercolors and acrylics- and brushes, the usual ammo of pencils, and my moleskin drawing and watercolor pads. The pads I kept to no larger than 9"x12".   Still.it was enough to put us into overweight category and pay extra.  I could only imagine what the overweight fee would have been if I hadn't edited my supplies. 
The illustrations were fine distractions from the rituals of cruise entertainment- namely food and more food, which held the potential for great abuse.  Daily workouts in the gym and on the decks and pools didn't save us completely from adding a few pounds.  But as I had no interest in shopping, sun bathing, or the casino while Terri was attending her lectures, making time each day to finish my work for the book was a no brainer and very productive in terms of concentration.  But what I really looked forward to as often as possible was to grab the paints and exercise those skills on the truly magnificent skyscapes, seascapes and landscapes encountered on the journey.  My goals were modest- painting, with a capital P, is not what I do all the time- and I had no desire to go for grand statements.  I just wanted to have some fun and play and screw up but try to capture in some small way the glorious light and colors and movement of the elements if possible.  It was difficult at times not to think of fellow Drawger and friend, Robert Hunt, and imagine how he'd be blowing my attempts away if he had an easel next to me. 
The colors of the ocean and beaches and foliage were of a variety and intensity I've not experienced before.  They almost seemed unreal.  On many occasions, by comparison, they made the colors of the Carribean, with all due respect to the Atlantic, seem anemic.  I could have spent my entire time just trying to come up with the right mixture of paints to replicate what was before me.  As it stood, it was obvious to myself that I was failing.  But it didn't bum me out, it just made me want to keep trying.  Interestingly, I soon abandoned the watercolors preferring instead the plasticity and potential for impastoing that the acrylics afforded. 
Since returning home, there's been very little time to scan and prepare something for a posting, what with work and deadlines being what they are.  I'm starting slow here and will more than likely keep adding to the posting as time permits. Hopefully I will find a sketchbook or two that seem to have been missplaced since the unppacking and add some relevant material from them as well.  Enjoy.  It was great fun.

The most consistent frustration, whether moving along on the high seas or sitting stationary in the harbors, was the rapidity with which the landscape and lighting changed. Before a color could be successfully mixed it was rendered irrelevant as opposed to what I was seeing in front of me.