Memorial Day Sale

memorial day sale

A big two day sale, over on Society6

Get a whopping 20% off all items PLUS Free Shipping to anywhere in the world. Now’s your chance to fill up on art and good looking stuff for your home, or stockpile a heap of pressies for the next few months’ flurry of birthdays and occasions.

Sale starts Sunday, May 28 @ 12am PT (that’s +16:30 hours—or 4:30 pm on a Monday—for my peeps in Darwin) and ends on Monday, May 29 @ 11:59pm PT (or 4:29 pm, Tuesday). You can head to the sale by clocking Here.

Ballast Grounds Hill

Ballast Grounds

There’s a small hill at the entrance to the port, called Port St. Louis, next to our open anchorage. We climbed it last Saturday, and I took a few snaps. There are a couple of lookout points, and the place is also known, in our old maps, as “Ballast Grounds”.

Gorgeous weather, for a change (it rains every day, but lately just in the afternoons).

Ballast Grounds

Our boat (top, right) on anchor below the hill. The photo doesn’t do the water justice…it’s the most amazing, limpid aquamarine colour, coral reefs and turtles perfectly visible through the crystal clear water.
Ballast GroundsBallast Grounds
Ballast GroundsBallast Grounds

This huge tree at the bottom of the hill caught our eye…Kris loves massive trees. He’s completely dwarfed in this photo…I feel a mischievous urge to give him a pair of fairy wings in this photo. 😉
A giant tree at Port Louis

The (former) Botanical Gardens of Grenada

Grenada Botanical GardensOur 1970s guide books to Grenada show the location of St. George’s Botanical Gardens, though no mention is made of these gardens on the current tourist maps of the town.

Grenada Botanical GardensWondering how much of the gardens had survived the 2004 hurricane that knocked 90% of Grenada flat, Kris and I went looking for them using the old maps. We found their remains inside of the recently built Ministerial Complex…demoted to a “Visitor’s Park”, probably a third of its original size (damaged by the storm, or leveled to make space for the government buildings within the complex).

Grenada Botanical GardensWhat remained was unmistakeable, though: Single specimens of large and spectacular trees, palms, and shrubs bearing strange flowers or fruit.Grenada Botanical Gardens

We also came across a frangipani tree that was being devoured as we watched by two dozen of the biggest caterpillars we have ever seen in our lives. Seriously, these things were 7 inches long, 3/4 of an inch thick, and conspicuously marked. A mango vendor saw us marveling, came over, and explained to us that local people treat these caterpillars like pets (as he said this, he stroked the smooth, silky back of one caterpillar, and it happily let him do it) and that they become beautiful butterflies. I wonder if they’re big butterflies…

Grenada Botanical GardensWe only found one clue that these grounds were, indeed, the once-fabled botanical gardens of Grenada…the petrol station across the road was called “Botanical Gardens Service Station”.

Grenada Botanical GardensOne of the things we’d hoped to find was a Manchineel tree…in Spanish the tree is known as manzanilla de la muerte (little apples of death), an extremely poisonous tree that used to grow everywhere on the beaches around here, but is now endangered (systematically destroyed by people, because its bark, leaves, and fruit are all extremely poisonous. Of course, in a country that gets plenty of blasé and benighted tourists, it’s not surprising that the trees have been eradicated to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs. 😉

Botany, Baby

It’s impossible to sketch in Guyana, and leave out the greenery. One is surrounded by riverine forests, and on our walks around the surrounding islands we come across interesting plants all the time, so my sketchbook is starting to look a bit like a botanist’s records of the New World.

This flower belongs to the same tree that Kris brought his weird jungle fruit home from. I painted the fruits on postcards, blogged about them here. Found this specimen growing in Gabriel’s Creek.
I also painted a Cecropia leaf. Cecropias are apparently yummy, as we have found both howler monkeys and sloths in their branches. The Amerindians use the leaves medicinally.

These pretty flowers smell like jasmine, though it is a small tree and not a shrub at all. A single pink petal encloses the others in the bud…the other petals are white. Grows on Baganara Island, hanging over the water, on the resort grounds.
flowering branch

Note: Most of my blog content these days is from two or three weeks back, because of how difficult it is to get onto the internet; so while my posts may be about terrible, rainy days and so forth, the rain had actually eased by the time I could post about the experience, and we are enjoying a mix of rainy nights and sunny days, at the moment. Since then I have been to Georgetown, even! But I am still working on my posts for that part, and most likely won’t post about them until we get to our next destination. Incidentally, we are hoping to leave Essequibo River on Friday, the 19th, and Guyana itself by the 25th or so. We are headed for Granada, it may take another 10 days or so, so my next posts will start to show up in the first or second week of July.

A new design for Society6 (at last!)

Casa das Flores

I think my craving for old colonial buildings in Brazil is finally mellowing. I am spending less time running around trying to draw them all, and more time being inspired by my own sketches, using them as a springboard for more imaginative works.
Casa das Flores (detail)
In this one I imagined a three-storey building as a vase for giant flowers and foliage.
Casa das Flores (detail)The original painting was made with watercolours, gouache, and a sepia drawing pen on Arches HP paper. At first I really meant to colour the house as brightly as the flowers, using this sketch of Theatro Santa Roza as my guide, but after drawing the building in pen, saw that an almost black-and-white house provided better contrast.
Theatro Santa Roza

I can always try again: the ideas that I didn’t use in this painting will probably turn up in the next, and in the ones after that…
studies and thumbnails (Casa das Flores)This is available as an Art Print on paper and canvas in my SOCIETY6 shop. I will try to have the design available as bags, throw pillows, phone cases, and other products, before the end of the week.

Casa das Flores art print on Society6

A vintage cosmetic travel case, tarted up.

Jacobean case
There’s been a lot of interest in the fabric. It’s P. kaufmann’s “Brissac”…also available in the colourway ‘sea glass’. GORGEOUS stuff.

So here’s what I did with my time yesterday: I have been meaning to tackle this project ever since Kris found this vintage cosmetic travel case at the dump a few years ago.

It was very dirty and discolored, but structurally still perfect, and it took hardly any time at all to wipe the leather down with methylated spirits, give the case 3 or 4 coats of matte pastel green acrylic primer, and then paint some crazy Jacobean flowers on the lid. I lifted the flower designs from a gorgeous piece of upholstery fabric in my stash, thinking I would line the inside of the case with it, and the lid would match. Not so sure about that plan, now…at $70 a metre, it’s the most expensive fabric I own, and  I’m reluctant to use it on just anything. We’ll see.

I finally fixed the case up because I need something to hold my greeting cards at craft markets, and after toying with various DIY card rack and display stand ideas, thought it would be simpler (and cuter) to just stand all the cards in this little lockable case.

Jacobean case

Jacobean case