A few years later I returned to the Ina legend and did this version of the painting.
The straight version of the tale is that ' halfway to the Sacred Isle Ina's thirst caused her to open a coconut on the sharks fin. When the shark raised its head Ina gave it such a nasty crack with her coconut that she raised a lump which has ever since been called 'Ina's bump'.
Hina was quite a gal- she showed up in so many of the myths and legends of Polynesia. Here she rejected the tongue of the monster Moko whose offer of a bridge she saw as dangerous. From hitching a ride on a shark to dealing with an eel to triping off to the moon she got around.
Over the years have come to realize that different mediums present different possibilities. Watercolor is sort of a 'one shot' deal in that once it dries changes are difficult. I evolved a way of using it that worked for me.. Pencil in a indication of where the important 'parts' need to be -eyes, mouth, jawline etc.. then loose as possible wet into wet to let the colors flow into each other- then a fine ink pen to define where needed. I found approaching it in this way worked for me - I very much enjoyed the process. In thinking back on it the watercolor classes I had while at Art Center probably had a lot to do with a positive feeling about the medium. Paul Sousa was the teacher who gave us a understanding of ways to use watercolor - and as always a good teacher is a very important part of any process.
Years ago I wandered by inter-island ship in the Northern Group of the Cook Islands. In the process of visiting nine islands I was able to experience much of what would be called old Polynesia - people living much as they had done for in some cases centuries. This painting was the result of a couple of photos I shot while on the island of Manihiki. Years later when sustainable community became one of my primary interests I came to realize that those people had worked out sustainability a long time ago - that their way of life which to many from the outside world was romantic - was actually the result of finding a way to exist while living on a small dot of land in the middle of lots of ocean. In sitting down to eat fresh fish from that ocean along with taro in coconut cream and the green leaves of that taro boiled in more coconut cream- spiced by hot little chilis- it was not only romantic sitting on woven matts looking out to the lagoon and the sea beyond the reef -it was delicious healthy food and a beautifully balanced diet- far better than the more civilized islands to the South with their white sugar, white flour & tinned meat.
Over the years many times I would be struck by the regal beauty of the 'old ones' who had lived close to nature and maintained their connection with the beautiful spirit of the 'island way,' a lifestyle that seemed to find balance between the physical and the spiritual world which often to me resulted in a mellow stoic acceptance of the 'Now'.
The island of Pukapuka was a beautiful place to visit. Having read Robert Frisbees books lent the journey there a special magic, as his time spent living on Pukapuka was a glorious adventure that many men dream of. As an artist the beauty of the women made me 'itch' to capture them in any way possible, but this time around only my camera was available.
A early morning walk along the lagoons edge was almost always rewarded with wonderful painting material. This watercolor of a single fishermans canoe with one of the best of fishermen on board was typical of the beauty to be seen along the beach.
I had the pleasure to live on the edge of this lagoon for almost 30 years. With its ever-changing moods it was a wonderful 'front yard'. Just for the record the young boy standing beside his canoe was on a coral head- the lagoon there was around 6-8' deep. This painting was done from a photo taken by my friend George Kauraka, a very good photographer.
Since the tradewinds blow in off the lagoon much of the days activities take place near the water. This scene on Manihiki Island was typical of a hot afternoon which lent itself well to
my favorite chisel brush with watercolor.
Often over the years I tried to capture something of the beauty of the Polynesian voyaging canoes - capable of sailing circles around the slow moving european ships of that time. It always seemed to me those left behind were also brave - it must have been difficult to see
your children sail off over the horrizon usually never to be seen again.