I’m always inspired by beautiful creations that come from something that is otherwise everyday, and in this case, considered mundane, growing with abundance in Nature in Panama. The indigenous Indian tribes got smart and decided that they could use the nut for carvings as a “elephant safe ivory” and no longer cut down this tree because it has become so resourceful for their economy. The reason the nut is often left as the base is not only to show a single carving; although some do use two nuts, but to let custom officials know that this carving is not from elephant tusk.
These tagua treasures that I discovered on our Panama trip exemplify this concept of exceptional mini sculptures from the everyday nut that take quite an artistic talent to carve and even paint. We saw all of these animals while there, btw. Including three coatimundi (a raccoon type animal) that reminded us more of lemurs as they went bounding across our path on our way to the jungle to see the howler monkeys.
Taqua is an egg size nut that grows nearly everywhere in South America. We saw the tree whenever we were walking in the rainforest. There is no shortage of supply for creating these beautiful creatures. There is also tagua jewlery that can be carved. The hand dyed and woven basket above is another one of the treasures that I purchased from the Embera. I love the colors and keep all the taguas inside — truly a basket of treasures.
We learned about them at the Embera Indian village where we visited. Each family had tagua figurines and wares for sale. I purchased something from each family but ran out of funds to get an all white armadillo that caught my eye. Consequently, I’m on a search and hope to find one to finalize my collection. These are the closest I’ve found to the one I saw with combinations of both figurines — small nut base with this top armadillo style and the ribbed armadillo tail of the second one. This site seems to give credit to the Embera Artisans and has carvings more in keeping with their intricate style. Whatever I find, it won’t be the same unless it comes from the village.
White carved tagua armadillo via Where on Earth $40
Armadillo tagua from Where on Earth $30
I like how One World Projects supports the Indians from which these figurines were created because as you can the price can otherwise get awfully inflated. If only they had an armadillo like the one I’m looking for…Excuse for another trip?
Where does one find love this Valentine’s Day or any day for that matter, in the heart of Panama. Evidently, the producers of show The Bachelor think so too.
My husband and I celebrated his milestone birthday recently by going back to “his glorious roots,” Panama City, Panama, where he was born. He was only a newborn when his father was stationed in the Panama Canal zone so he doesn’t have memories from this time but we had fun visiting where he and his family had connections and created some new reflections on a modernized Panama.
We started our trip in the heart of the Gamboa Rainforest at the Gamboa Resort – pretty nice and really the only place to stay on the Chagres River right at the point where it cuts into the Panama Canal. From our observatory perch from the jungle tram, we were able to see many cruise liners, tankers and various other sea-faring vessels pass through the Panama Canal. We learned what a major engineering feat it was to build and how thousands of lives were lost in the process. Panama is currently widening the canal to further increase traffic and commerce.
We passed Noriega’s new home on the way there. He was our neighbor, just down the road from where we were staying.
We had to go over the railway which had been converted into a one-way bridge by covering the tracks with tar. Gamboa is a birder haven and they were everywhere, including in the jeep in front of us, going very slowly, scouting for rare birds.
Then there are the leaf cutting, worker ants that we came upon while walking on a forbidden trail — without a guide, “because it can be peligroso – dangerous.” Well, oops…good thing we didn’t venture too far on another path at night. We actually got scared to go further on that one after we saw bats and thought we hear growling. There are jaguars in the jungle here.
We did however, wander upon a two-toed sloth which was very close to us near the ground. He saw us and then he started slowly but faster than you think a sloth could go right back up the to the top of the tree. We later found out that two-toed sloths can be very dangerous and they only come down from the tree about once a week to do their business….Poor guy. I’m sure we left him in a bad fix.
Tarzan goes jungle vine climbing
I could go on and on about this trip but I just want to give you a few more highlights with pictures and suggest that the secrets that we discovered in Panama may no longer be secrets now that The Bachelor was filmed right where we were for last week’s episode. They stayed at the Trump tower (see the last couple of posts). It was uncanny seeing on TV the same indigenous Embera tribal village that we visited in the jungle and even the same Las Clementinas restaurant that I thought would be lovely to return to, for it reminds me of New Orleans and is also a B&B. We had the best food of our trip there and the most friendly service. Our waiter even knew Peter’s godfather in Panama. Here’s the nutshell of our remaining Panama trip (without even cracking the full nut) in pictures.
Embarking on a trip to Embera Village
Swimming hole on the way to the Embera Village
Being served lunch at the Embera village - baked fish in home-made hibiscus/ leaf cups
Getting Tattoos -- not only an art form but the dye helps to keep the mosquitoes away.
Las Clementinas Restaurant in Panama. They had their own custom wallpaper of family and historical portraits. Very cool!
On our tour back in the city we got to see where Peter was baptized as well as a day in the life of living in the San Felipe or Casco Viejo, old city of Panama.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church
Path to San Felipe - the Old City in Panama
A parrot fish is a proud catch at the fish market in Panama, where we had the best ceviche.
Panamanian Indian with beaded socks
Colorful building in the area where Operation Just Cause took place
Just one of the many lovely homes we saw in San Felipe, with a water view
It was hot while we were there — about 87 – 90+ degrees and humid in the rainforest. We were forced to cool off — many times and Balboa was our refreshment of choice.
Balboa beer is our favorite pick in Panama
You can’t beat the sunsets in Panama, particularly poolside.
Panamanian sunset, pool side at the Intercontenintal Hotel
I’ll leave off where I began with a look at Panama City — our final view before leaving — until we return for it’s a romantic spot to leave your heart in Panama.
Ahh, its’s now a work week again and I’m still thinking of memories of the beach, wishing we could have that relaxed pace all year long. But alas, we’ll just have to reflect on these times that help make vacations all the more appreciated. Meanwhile, here are some stunning beach photos that will leave a lasting impression.
Light painting on Britain’s beaches by Jamie Wardley from the UK’s Daily Mail.
Better be careful where you step when viewing Motoi Yamamoto’s sculptural artwork. He is the Japanese artist who creates elaborate and incredibly large detailed mazes made of salt.
Motoi Yamamoto salt maze via fastcodesign
This sculpture below uses 2,200 pounds of salt that is carefully distributed from the back corner moving forward as to not disturb the groundwork. I was touched by his personal reason for using salt in his creations. His sister died of a brain tumor and he uses salt to honor her memory, as salt in Japan is symbolic for purification and mourning. It must take a meditative state to have patience over 50 hours and 5 days to create such artistic labors of love.
Once the exhibit is finished, Yamamoto encourages viewers to take the sand and redistribute it elsewhere like the sea or the soil or where it will aid in nutrients for new life.
Motoi Yamamoto Salt Maze via fastcodesign
Motoi Yamamoto Salt Maze via fastcodesign
Yamamoto’s work brings a whole other level to Japanese style rake work, which is what his work reminds me of, in Zen gardens.
Japanese Zen garden via gaia landscape design
Perhaps a painted crab shell, a salty creature that probably could adeptly meander through this maze and ties in Monday’s aquatic sea-life murals to salt, might be a worthy prize for such an accomplishment.
Tom Matarazzo's painted crab shell via Baltimore Sun
I have collected some crab shells, but for their natural beauty. Who knew they could become an artist’s canvas. Strangely interesting.
I have forgotten about how much I like Pure Cult’s song when I came across She Sells Sanctuary in my search for music to Kick Start the Weekend. The title reminded me of children’s rhyme She Sells Seashells….
Serge Toussaint Water Mural via Miami New Times blog
Side note: You can take Miami’s graffiti murals tour on vespas if you like.
Miami-graffiti-mural-vespa-tour via Seatle PI
While your touring around in Capitola-Soquel, CA, take notice of the traffic signal boxes. They are painted by Bruce Harman in underwater sea life themes.
Bruce Harmon's painted traffic signals via Capitola-Soquel Patch. Photos Maria Grusauskas
Oregon may not be known for its murals but this underwater ocean view is quite nice.
ICM Seafood Restaurant mural web via Suislaw News in Florence, Oregon
This ocean mural landscape was painted for the lobby of Lowry Pediatrics in Denver by Kamala and friends Alan Klemm and Whitney. What a great fantastical surrounding this makes for kids coming into the doctor’s office. I would think it would help distract them from why they are there.
Underwater-mural-Douglas Rouse via Colorado Springs Indy blog
Murals in Port Orchard, Washington are a public treasure trove.
Port Orchard Murals via Ronb(o)log
This group of orcas by the late Jack Champayne in Bandon, Oregon, makes me think of Wyland and how he may have had some competition.
Orca Whales painted by Jack Champayne via Bandon Western World
These sea turtles in the surf murals painted by Michelle Obregon make you think of Hawaii, maybe because they are in Kailua-Kona-Honu, Hawaii.
Hawaii-Kailua-Kona-Honu mural by Michelle Obregon via Roadtrip America
I really like these realistically painted murals in the Muskegon’s Wesley School by Dorv MacLaren, who painted the school’s 40-foot ocean themed mural. The students can get a biology lesson without leaving the building. These are beautifully painted and Dorv has is own website where you can see the entire mural by clicking on the last Under the Ocean photo link below.
Under the Ocean Mural by Dorv MacLaren via Paint Arranger
“June for All Seasons” is the title of an art exhibit at Artist’s Undertaking in Occoquan, VA.
When I saw Steve Myles’ painting, Carolina Sea Oats of the beach dunes in the newspaper, I was immediately drawn in by his realistic style and ability to really capture truly serene settings in Nature. His paintings give me that quite contemplation one has when they ponder their existence and reflect on what is important. I really like his work and hope to see it in person before June is over.
Casart coverings Katherine Collection - Quickie on the Beach
This one, Quickie on the Beach was painted by my Aunt Katherine Jackson. Yes, that is the actual title, but I’m sure my Aunt was only thinking of painting the scene quickly on the beach….:) Click the link to learn more about her and her prolific work.
Aunt Katherine montage - the funny and eccentric painter and person she was
I just learned about a new band, Junior Boys, that although is electric pop, reminds me a bit of Radiohead and I just learned that Lloyd Cole is coming to the Birchmere, but unfortunately he’s solo without the Commotions these days to sing Perfect Skin.
I am so pleased that Karen Winters agreed to let me post some of her prolific paintings here to show how beautiful daily artwork can be. Thank you, Karen.
Karen creates a miniature oil painting a day, similar Daily Creative concept mentioned in my previous post, as can be seen on her Creative Journey blog. Her works below range in size but are roughly 6 x 6″ to 11 x 14″. Hope you enjoy these daily treasures as much as I do. She lives in a gorgeous, sunny California location and fortunately for us she has the talent for capturing its beauty on canvas.
Gaviota Springtime by Karen Winters. Presently in an historic centennial museum show at the Pasadena Museum of California Art with the California Art Club
When Sunrise Fills the Sky
Malibu Pink Clouds
Back Bay Sunset
Big Sur Beauty Seascape
Heaven at Devils Gate Dam
Here’s a sense of her easel set up, all the gear an artist needs to have on hand, not making it easy to paint outside — especially when an unexpected breeze might pick up and scatter you wares to the wind.
Karen Winter's au plein air easel set up
Karen Winter's Easel set up at Burtt Ranch
Karen’s depiction of white cactus flowers below in Come Hither is just stunning. Their sense of glowing light just beckons you to come closer.
Come Hither (white cactus flowers). 16 x 20 oil by Karen Winters
I find it intriguing that prior to her art career, she was involved in the very corporate world of media/ entertainment as and Emmy award winning producer, writer for ABC’s 20/20, as well as sales and marketing programs for businesses and advertising agencies. Just goes to show you that your second career can be just as successful and rewarding and maybe even more so than the first.
Speaking of second comings and starting over, Happy Easter everyone!
I’ve never seen this video before and I’m not quite sure what to make of Sting’s humoristic (?) portrayal as the Messiah, which I think it is supposed to be but since I like the song Brand New Day and his video theme works in a timely way for Easter, here it goes for Kick Starting the Weekend:
The cherry blossoms just burst into bloom on my street. They are gorgeous! They are just in time for DC’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. This year, there is a special tribute to Japan in light of their recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power situation. It’s so overwhelming the amount of damage and help needed; it’s hard to know where to start. There are plenty of charitable giving opportunities out there but recent events in Japan makes this year’s cherry blossoms all the more celebrated. *
I have so many mural sites collected but a cherry blossom mural was hard to come by except by searching. Only then, did I come across Sculpture SenCe’s site and Santi Vipaka’s wonderful artwork. You’ll have to go to his site to see more but here’s his Cherry Blossom Mural.
Cherry Blossom Mural by Sculpture SenCe and Santi Vipaka
I seem to get inspired every time I see the cherry blossoms bloom and these are my many postings regarding this time of year. The blooms are fleeting and only last 12 – 14 days and that is weather conditional. This weekend, we had a dusting of snow. Hopefully this will help them last longer.
* When I posted this mural from Osaka on March 7th, the Japanese tsunami was just about ready to happen on March 12th. Call it coincidental but I find it a little uncanny.
If you’re stuck inside, with all this winter snow, this step-by-step process of how to paint snow in the winter woods is a great instructional exercise to pass the time using pastel painting with watercolors. I’ve never used the two together and this was highly informative — particularly for achieving that translucent hue of snow. How do you paint white with color? It’s perplexing but Christine Kane on Art Instruction Blog makes it look easy. See how she goes from this reference photo to her final painting.
Christine Kane Reference Photos via Art Blog Instruction
Here’s something to start off your new year — an announcement from the Colorado Creative Industries for artists to submit ideas for a public art project for the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver, Colorado. The budget is 1.6 million and the deadline is January 20, 2011. Click this link to get more info and to get started brainstorming.