Paradise Found

Paradise Found

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

excerpt from Little Gidding, T.S. Eliot

I went away for two years, to marvel at vine-hung jungles up muddy rivers, at tepuys rising like wizards fortresses out of a sea of greenery, at waterfalls so high that half the water had blown away on the wind before a drop reached the ground where I stood. I clung to mules as we descended near-vertical mountain paths in the Andes. I bedded down for the night in bus stations, in traveller’s inns that felt like army barracks, in 18th century mansions filled with antiques, and in a crash pad in New York—eight Latin Americans in one room, of whom one spoke English.

I stayed with locals in disparate settings of 18th century charm, or 18th century poverty…in a clapboard house sinking into the squishy mud on the edge of a filthy canal, in a house in the old slave quarters of a medieval city, where the young prostitutes drank and argued on the old cobblestones, and  I spent one night in a communist-style block of Cuban apartments where the water and electricity came on for a few hours each day, but every resident owned an instrument and the building twitched its hips to salsa music, morning till midnight.

Naturally, when the time came to return home, I was a little worried that life in Darwin, Australia, would seem poorer for all the places I’d been.

I needn’t have worried.

As the old cliché goes, “There’s no place like home.” Back up the creek on our houseboat, SonOfAGun, the mangroves swayed in the sea wind, and morning sunlight lay slick on green-gold water like fine olive oil. For many months I was utterly spellbound.

When Kris and I moved our boat to this spot, I loved it right off the bat: the solitude, the natural surroundings, the quality of the light, the chi of living surrounded by water. I didn’t think it was possible to love this place any more, until I came back from my wandering and found that I did.
paradise found 2

“Paradise Found” was made for the exhibition “Gypsies, Vagabonds, and Wild Mad Women”. I priced it to discourage anyone from buying it and, luckily, no one did. I’m glad, because I want to live with this one for a while. It’s the beginning of what I suspect may be a bunch of love letters to my home and my life.
paradise found 3
It’s composed of watercolours, acrylics, collaged papers (linocut, textured or painted beforehand) and a bit of colored pencil. I’ve just uploaded the image to my Society6 shop, so it’s now available as a fine art print on acid-free rag paper.

16 thoughts on “Paradise Found

  1. I loved your artwork, then I began reading and your writing captivated me. Water like olive oil. You are truly multi-talented. Thank you for making the world a more beautiful place, and for showing us the beauty all around us.


  2. I’ve enjoyed your stories and images of your travels so much, and I love that you are home and appreciating home. I feel the same way–in fact I have that Eliot quote on a fridge magnet.

    I hope you will put together an illustrated book of your travels, particularly the Cuba part. Your writing and art are so beautiful and work together so well. I would buy that book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jill! I would love to, am saving for a new computer to do it on, this one overheats in 30 minutes and has to be turned off to cool down. It’s a very old laptop, and photo editing/book layout takes a lot of juice. Until then, just a most unsatisfactory promise that “one day I will”… 😉


  3. I am so glad you are returned to your soul home, Nat…and those mangrove reflections like oil slicks…I remember those… And I love your quote. I have thought that many times since my return to Seattle. I just breath easier here. Your entries, both visual and in text, always give me pleasure, and often amazement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darwin is good to me, and it’s the only place I can live the way I do right now. Things change, of course, and someday we may not want to live here anymore…I also don’t want to spend the rest of my life in one spot, if I can help it. But for now, this is home. That it floats and can be moved says a lot about Kris and me…we have a horror of getting tied down. There always has to be an “escape route” 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s a little magic in this beautiful picture, it feels alive and full of soul. It sang out to so many people from the gallery wall, captivating all those who gazed upon it. Thank god for the ‘short arms, long pockets’ syndrome or I don’t think you would be fortunate enough to still have this treasure!! You must teach me your voodoo witchy ways of making such spellbinding artwork 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fabulous Sonia, you don’t need any lessons from me, I love your work, you are far more exciting an artist!
      Witchy ways? My process involves opening a vein and bleeding for a week or so, so I can’t recommend it. I am the master of an agonising, self-flagellating method of art making. It sucks.
      I did take a risk with the illustration, glad I wasn’t made to regret it.

      Liked by 1 person

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