Janet Meinke-Lau
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Art and Surf Blog

Conversations around the process of creating and being an artist and surfer.

Molokai landscapes

At the beginning of January, with a group of 5 other women, I sketched and painted for three days under the instruction of Robert Regis Dvorak. I’ve been eyeing Robert’s one-week Molokai workshop since I attended a class of his at Linekona in 2016. Fast forward to the end of November 2018, a thought came to mind – how about now instead of later? How do I turn it from a daydream to reality, considering my work schedule and budget? The answer was to go for half the week instead of the full week. And I am so happy I did.

We stayed on the west side of Molokai, at the Kaluakoi Villas fronting Kepuhi Beach. We did ink drawings and watercolor paintings of each other, of the ocean and palm trees and Croton leaves, and the cliffs overlooking Kalaupapa (a community where people were isolated because they had leprosy). While we were more or less looking at the same view, all of our artwork turned out so differently from each other. (A reminder that all our work is unique, one of a kind.)

My main objective for the workshop was to leave with a more confident ability to draw and paint landscapes. Landscapes sometimes feel overwhelming because the scenery can feel so vast, so full of life – how to simply capture it without getting stuck in the details? I think my answer, is, to practice drawing and painting… but also, maybe more importantly, to practice seeing. I’m learning to see – to discern and differentiate lines and shapes and tones, to see the darks and lights. I am also learning to make decisions about what to unsee – what to leave out, to leave alone. “Save your white space,” says Robert. Leave the white alone because you can’t bring it back with watercolor. (I still have to keep reminding myself this.)

Molokai is one of the least developed major islands of Hawaii. There’s nothing to do there but to enjoy and experience the beauty of nature. And to do our best trying to capture that with a brush. I can’t wait to return.

My 30-minute flight from Molokai back to Oahu on the last evening was the most magical flight I’ve ever been on. In a Mokulele Airlines 9-passenger Cessna, we flew above and below and through the clouds at sunset. It was as if Molokai was saying “bye, see you next time” through the fading pastel colors before Oahu welcomed me home with its bright lights. I was captivated by the colors and the clouds, and was filled with an immense sense of gratitude.

Where do dreams live? Up in the clouds of course. It was a gentle reminder that dreaming is profoundly important, and that, with intention, we can get up there.

Our room had a view of a grassy knoll with palm trees and roaming turkeys, and the ocean.

The group sketching at Big Beach.

Robert demonstrates how to do an ink painting of the view from Big Beach.

The group sketching at Kepuhi Beach.

The cutest USPS branch ever, built in Hawaiian plantation style.

Bring the following when sketching en plein air: foldable chair, wide brimmed hat, sunscreen, basic art supplies, and a smile!

Janet Meinke-Lau