Carambola Still Life

Carambola - 2009

Carambola - 2009

The carambola, better known as “starfruit” in the continental US (and sometimes called “five-fingers” in Trinidad and other southern Caribbbean islands), is tart and juicy, and ranges in color from a greenish yellow to bright orange. You can pick them fresh from the tree here in St. Croix, and we have a beach resort and a golf course named for the carambola.

The color, distinctive shapes and shiny, almost leathery texture of three ripe orange fruits sitting on a dark marble slab caught my eye.

Abstracts and Imaginary Landscapes

There is always a distinct tension for me between accessible realism, and the more abstract. By moving too far toward the abstract, there is a danger that the connection points for viewers get lost. The images in this post are part of a series of abstractions inspired by the brilliant color fields of Sandy Point and illustrate this tension.

Breaking Wave (Sandy Point - 2009)

Breaking Wave (Sandy Point - 2009)

I have read that there is a trend toward realism right now. Perhaps that is a response to economic factors, and what sells. Or perhaps it is something deeper, reflecting shorter attention spans, less time for reflection and contemplation, or a need for the familiar in a changing world — and a corresponding desire for art that is comfortable and accessible. If communication is the goal, perhaps a trend toward realism is a good thing. Any thoughts?

Lines in the Sand (Sandy Point - 2009)

Lines in the Sand (Sandy Point - 2009)

Guard Dog at Boiler Bay

I was working on a beach scene, when this little doggie popped into view. Well, I just couldn’t shoo him away, so I let him be the star!

Guard Dog at Boiler Bay - 2009

Guard Dog at Boiler Bay - 2009

Sometimes the unexpected can add a smile to the day.

Digital Art Goes Back to the Beach

Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is located at the southwest corner of St. Croix. It is a spectacular sweep of sand beach and Caribbean-blue water, and an important nesting site for the ancient-looking and endnagered leatherback turtle.

Sandy Point Peel - 2009

Sandy Point Peel - 2009

The leatherbacks come ashore well after dark to lay their eggs, and the baby turtles emerge from the sand just after dusk about 60 days later. Whether in the brilliant mid-day light, at dusk or on a moonlit night, the stark shapes and brilliant color fields of Sandy point are stunning.

(Contact the St. Croix Environmental Association for information on guided turtle-watch tours.)

Fort Christiansvaern, Take 2

Here’s a slightly different perspective on our old fort, all planes, shapes and colors. Just the picture for today. That’s all. Time to get back to the shoreline…

Fort Christiansvaern, take 2

Fort Christiansvaern, take 2

An Old Danish Fort

Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted, St. Croix, is a relic of the long Caribbean history of plantations, sugar and slavery. One version of a part of that history is told in Buddhoe by Patricia Gill.

Fort Christiansvaern, Christiansted - 2009

Fort Christiansvaern, Christiansted - 2009

With its many planes, curves and layers, the fort is a photogenic landmark that lends itself to multiple interpretations. This is one of several new images that I am adding to my series on the old fort. See the earlier interpretations on my portfolio website. I’ll be adding this and other new images there soon.

In this view the American flag flies high and prominently over the reminder of the past. Perhaps we are proud of the fort’s history, or perhaps proud that we have risen above it. Or perhaps the flag just marks the fort as a symbol and claim of our nation’s “ownership” of the island. What do you think?

Mystery at the Water’s Edge

There is a story about zen master Shunryu Suzuki-roshi who was asked to summarize Buddhism in a single sentence. His answer was, “everything changes.” Where the sea brushes the shore is a place of constant change, and sometimes mystery – almost a metaphor for life.

Mystery at the Water's Edge - 2009

Mystery at the Water's Edge - 2009

This image was inspired by a spot along Davis Bay on St. Croix where the water had carved the sand into soft curves and mounds. That glowing green object held in the shadowed curve of sand emerged as I worked on this image. It had to be coaxed out into the open.

Haiti-haiti flower (Thespesia populnea)

This is the beautiful flower of a common beachside bush (Thespesia populnea) called the haiti-haiti tree here on St. Croix, also known as seaside mahoe, portia tree, and often mistakenly called beach hibiscus. *

Haiti-haiti flower - 2009

Haiti-haiti flower - 2009

Despite the common name sometimes used, the beach hibiscus is actually a different plant (Hibiscus tiliaceus). Still, the flower does look hibiscus-like. I was attracted by the filmy, creamy translucence of the off-white petals when the flower is fully opened.

While the short-lived flowers are beautiful, the tree itself is scrubby with multiple woody stems. Invasive and salt-tolerant, it can quickly dominate a shoreline. The fruits or seedpods are a favorite of the local bright red love bugs, one of which is featured in my gravatar. More on those guys later!

*Thanks to Carol Cramer-Burke at the St. Croix Environmental Association for pointing me in the right direction on the facts here.

Beach Barstool and Pot of Gold

Beach Barstool

Beach Barstool

This rusty barstool has been down at the beach the last few months. It was joined a few days ago by a white plastic garbage bag.

The salt has eaten away at the chair’s metal frame, almost the same way termites eat away at deadwood, returning it to the soil. This scene of decay told of good times past, evidence of someone passing through this way.

There was a hint of a rainbow in the eastern sky. I wonder now, was that white bag the pot of gold?

The Dark Side

Despite the best clean-up efforts of groups like the St. Croix Environmental Association, the shorelines here on St. Croix are sometimes littered with debris – mostly plastic. Some is left behind by careless beachgoers, but far more is deposited from the ocean itself.

Shield - 2009

Shield - 2009

That beautiful blue Caribbean Sea, an apparently limitless resource, is in fact full of garbage that drifts ashore. I think that sad fact was on my mind as I began this image.

This rocky shore had interest, but needed a spark to bring it to life. After some work, the rusty metal parts in another photo became the green shield tucked under the most interesting of the rocks.

As the image developed, it became darker and almost macabre — not something I had intended in the beginning. In fact, looking at it now, the feelings evoked are almost a surprise. Strange.

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