Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Pan Finals and Carnival: Trini Style

We were excited to have our daughter Ella and her husband Ken and our grandson Liam come for five days over Carnival. Carnival in Trinidad is Over the Top! Many of the citizens devote days and dollars in preparation. If they are in a Steel Pan Orchestra they are rehearsing nightly sometimes until as late as two or three am. If they are in a group (called a band) in the parade, they are either making their costumes, working to pay for their costumes (some of the more elaborate costumes run as much as $2000 USD),or possibly working out to get in shape (the parade route goes from early am until late pm, and is in scorching heat). Or it they are 'playing Jouvert' as Ken and Ella did, they are trying to get a little extra sleep for the parade that starts about 4am and goes until about 9am, marching the streets of downtown Port of Spain in a band whose members are slathered in either cocoa, paint, mud or possibly chocolate; following a music truck blaring soca music at a volume that literally makes your chest pound, while drinking 'lubricants'. It's a scene. The cost includes security guards, thankfully. Ken and Ella enjoyed it, and Ken having grown up in the Caribbean, was really excited to sort of 'go back home'. We took care of Liam that am and then we picked them up after the parade and went to Maracas Beach to cool off and have Bake and Shark, a great fast food, made famous at Maracas.

The next day we went in mid afternoon to the Pretty Mas as it's called. This is the major parade in the Rio style with all the bikinis and beads and feathers and music trucks. This was interesting...! Lots of whining going on but not the kind we know...I'll leave it at that.

Sadie, ~13 x 20 acrylic 
They flew out that evening. I (Jean ) have been missing my grandkids so much that I've started doing paintings of them. Actually, I had taken a photo of some sweet little schoolgirls in La Fillette, a small village on the north coast of Trinidad. They were about eight years old and in uniforms with bright red bows in both their carefully braided or curled hair. It was a real challenge. First I started out with random color just trying to 'sculpt' the face with accurate values. But after reworking them at least four times, I've become more refined. It's interesting how such minor details really make or break a portrait in terms of capturing a person's likeness. The next portrait I did was from a photo of Liam
Liam, 16 x 20 acrylic
when he was one year old, a profile. And since them I did a full figure portrait of our son's daughter Sadie when she was one, from a photo. In the last two days I've been working on a self portrait.

Two days ago we visited the Asa Wright Nature Center, a great bird sanctuary in the northern mountains. My artist friend from Minnesota, Dodie Logue, was there so after we did a bird watching hike we met Dodie for lunch and then sat on the veranda where they keep many birdfeeders filled to attract the birds. We saw nine different varieties of hummingbirds including the Tufted Coquette, the most charming tiny bird (it's the second smallest bird in the world).

Last night we had dinner at the vegetarian Hindu restaurant
Lakshmi Narayan temle at Night, watercolor, 3 x 9"
which is about a mile away from us but which we've been able to see from our back deck everyday and night as we look out over the hills behind us. The food was Indian style, a buffet and was excellent. We've been learning more everyday, meeting more interesting people and starting to think more about home which we see has been nasty cold.

White necked Jacobin and Bird of Paradise, 3'x3' acrylic
Oh and our bands, Phase II took second place in the Pan Finals after the All Stars.  Fonclaire took always controversy swarms around the results.

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