September 23rd, 2016 / posted by paularath
Our painting group gathered together.  Photo by Michael Shepard

Our painting group gathered together. Teacher Crystal Beshara is the beauty on the left in black.  The only other Americans, Anita and Rob Miller of Denver, are on the right.                    Photo by Michael Shepard

Two of our weeks in Ireland were spent with a watercolor painting group. The teacher, Crystal Beshara, and the majority of students, are from Ottawa, Canada. I continue to believe that Canadians are among the nicest people on earth. Our group was exemplary in its cohesiveness, camaraderie and compassion for one another. We felt so fortunate to be among such a great group

The trip was called “30 Shades of Green” and the goal was to paint a variety of scenes en plein air (outdoors). Ireland’s weather being what it is, we weren’t always able to do exactly what was planned, but it didn’t matter. There was beauty inside and out and in every corner of Ireland.

About half of our days as a group were spent painting, with the rest touring and gathering inspiration from such places as The Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher.

 

Crystal and Paula painting in a setting featuring rocks, terraced fields and sheep. Photo by Debbie Blum

Crystal and Paula painting in The Burren, a national park with a fascinating natural environment and an adundance of cultural remains. We were looking at terraced hills with rock walls and sheep.                                   Photo by Debbie Blum

Crystal gave a demo during each plein air session, and it included some valuable lessons on such aspects of watercolor as perspective, how to mix interesting greens and how to make a rock look like a rock.

Crystal and the trip organizer, Michael Shepard, selected spots that would be characteristic of Ireland but not boring or cliched. We sat on rocks across from the outside of Cashel Rock while the geese screeched around us; leaned on a bridge in Cahir overlooking a dam with a cathedral spire in the background; perched on walls in Muckross Abbey and got overwhelmed by a view of the Dingle Peninsula (“Oh, how to edit this magnificent scene – I want to get it all in!”).

Crystal's painting of the scene in The Burren. Photo by Crystal Beshara

Crystal’s painting of the scene in The Burren. Photo by Crystal Beshara

The day we had hoped to paint a town, Killarney, we were totally rained out, but Jerry and I found the most local of local pubs (which was actually more of a bookie joint, we figured out) and he spent much of the day sketching the faces of the characters we met. But that’s for another blog.

In Cahir, we stood on  a bridge and painted the water and a church spire. Photo by Michael Shepard

In Cahir, we stood on a bridge and painted the water and a church spire.    Photo by Michael Shepard

Jerry with Helen sharing his sketchbook. Photo by Michael Shepard

Jerry with Helen at Hore Abbey sharing his sketchbook. Photo by Michael Shepard

Jerry and I seldom return home with all our paintings. If someone likes it, we give it away. Helen Golding loved all of Jerry’s work and he was happy to share it with her. She bought him a pint of Guinness as a thank-you. I will share some of our work in a future blog.

Jerry paitning in the ancient Muckross Abbey.  Photo by Carole Pinard

Jerry painting in the ancient Muckross Abbey.            Photo by Carole Pinard

Our group painting the back of Cashel Rock.  Photo by Michael Shepard

Our group painting the back of Cashel Rock. Photo by Michael Shepard

Some days you just have to paint regardless of the rain. At Muckross Abbey we could duck inside the Abbey for some beautiful rock walls and arches, but I had my heart set on a little vine-covered wall outdoors. I tried holding an umbrella, but painting one-handed when you’re balancing a paper block on your lap and a palette and water cup beside you – well, let’s just say I was grateful for my hood!

Paula at Muckross Abbey. Photo by Carole Pinard

Paula en plein air at Muckross Abbey.                                                      Photo by Michael Shepard

A page from Crustal's sketch book.  Photo by  Crystal Beshara

A page from Crystal’s sketch book at The Burren.                     Photo by
Crystal Beshara

Our last paitning day we were at Dingle wiht a magnificent view across the water to an area where they recently filmed the upcoming "Star Wars" film.

Our last painting day we were at Dingle Peninsula with a magnificent view across the water to an area where they recently filmed scenes for  the upcoming “Star Wars” film.  Photo by Debbie Blum

Crystal's painting of that overwhelmingly beautiful  view.  Photo by Crystal Beshara

Crystal’s painting of that overwhelmingly beautiful view. Photo by Crystal Beshara

For the record, I identified 38 shades of green in just one view of a typical Irish farm scene.

It’s interesting that my original painting teacher, George Woollard, encouraged us never to use green paint – because Hawaii is so vibrantly tropical that green can look trite and a bit too fantasy-like. Well, there’s a good reason that Ireland is called “The Emerald Isle.” Crystal didn’t ask us to forego using green, just to mix some interesting and original shades of green.

More coming soon….don’t want to bore you with too much at a time!

-Paula Rath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 21st, 2016 / posted by paularath
The Cliffs of Moher in the mist. Photo by Jerry Mayfield

The Cliffs of Moher in the mist.          Photo by Jerry Mayfield

One of our most memorable days in Ireland was the day we took a ferry from the little town of Doolin (known for its traditional Irish music) to the smallest of the Aran Islands, Inis Oirr.

Doolin is also known as the surf epicenter of Ireland, as the waves that crash back from the Cliffs of Moher can create some knarly surf. The surfers are towed out and they have to know exactly when to pull out.

It was pouring when we took the one-hour ferry ride and the seas were quite rough, which made it all the more exciting.

The best way to see Inis Oirr is with a jaunting, or cart pulled by a horse. Of course I made a beeline for the handsome Ronan and his trusty steed, Jack.

Ronan, Jack and me.  Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Ronan, Jack and me.                         Photo by Jerry Mayfield

The Aran Islands are on the western fringes of the Atlantic Ocean. Inis Oirr is the smallest, with a population of 225. Ronan’s family has lived on the island for six generations. There was no electricity on the island until the ’60s.

The hilly terrain meant that, from time to time, we had to get out and walk to give poor Jack a break. I picked wild blackberries along the roadside during those walks.

Photo by Jerry Mayfield

That’s the entire town behind me, and some kids in the playground.                         Photo by Jerry Mayfield

There is a fascinating shipwreck called the Plussey on Inis Oirr.

Photo by Paula Rath

Photo by Paula Rath

I have a fantasy of doing an art installation inspired by this shipwreck. You may remember that I use rust as a dye for some of my fabrics. I envision myself spending about a month stretching fabric all over this wreck and getting the dye to transfer onto Irish linen and wool. Then Jerry would build a structure inspired by the Plussey and I would drape it in the rust-dyed fabric. When I found out the island has a monthly artist in residence program, I started to think…..hmmmmm……

A traditional hut on Inis Oirr. Photo by Jerry Mayfield

A traditional abandoned thatch-roofed  hut on Inis Oirr.                Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Like traditional Hawaiian rock walls, the walls on Inis Oirr require no mortar, just strategic stacking. They are an art form unto themselves.

Photo by Paula Rath

Photo by Paula Rath

An abandoned house on Inis Oirr.  Photo by Jerry Mayfield

An abandoned house on Inis Oirr.      Photo by Helen Golding

A Stone Age fort on Inis Oirr. Photo by Jarry Mayfield

A Stone Age fort on Inis Oirr.                       Photo by Jarry Mayfield

We popped into a pub for a pint of Guinness and met the most interesting young man, who was the temporary publican but will soon return to Dublin as his “real self,” a stage director. We had a great discussion on the plays of William Butler Yeats, which he said are “Impossible and implausible and, well, awful.” As much as I love Yeats’ poetry, I have to agree with him – the Yeats plays are unreadable.

The ferry back to Doolin was calmer in the afternoon and one of our fellow artists, Debbie Blum, kindly took a photo of Jerry and me just before the Cliffs came into view.

Photo by Debbie Blum

Photo by Debbie Blum

As we returned to Doolin on the ferry, the mists rose from the Cliffs of Moher and we saw this amazing view:

Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Photo by Jerry Mayfield

These cliffs rise up to 214 meters high and they are home to Ireland’s largest sea bird colony, including the charming puffins. They are simply magical in the mist.

That evening, in Doolin, we experienced a true Irish-style kanikapila. Jerry made friends with a couple of guys who were part of a group of about 20 folks from all over Ireland who meet once a year to enjoy traditional Irish music together. There was a constant stream of men and women (mostly women) who stood up to sing with the musicians, and they all had beautiful voices. It was a day and night to remember.

- Paula Rath

September 20th, 2016 / posted by paularath
This lovely emerald velvet patchwork is a classic Irish scene, viewed all over this gorgeous country.

This lovely emerald velvet patchwork is a classic Irish scene, viewed all over this gorgeous country.

When I was 20 years old, I attended the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, Ireland. I had fallen in love with William Butler Yeats and his poetry. After the school, I took a horse drawn tinker’s caravan across County Cork to the sea. It was a summer I’ll never forget, and I have dreamed of returning to Ireland ever since. It took me nearly 50 years, but return I did.

I was so afraid that the country might be vastly changed, but it was not – and the spirit of the lovely Irish people has remained just as warm and gracious and hospitable and humorous as I remembered. In fact, my age helped me appreciate all that these amazing people have to offer. The art of conversation is certainly not lost in Ireland!

If you are planning a trip to Dublin, I highly recommend the free Dublin City Walking Tours. There is a tour of the south side of the River Liffey at 11 a.m. and a tour of the north side of the River Liffey at 3 p.m. We lucked out with a guide named Peter, who is the owner of the company. He is incredibly knowledgeable – a Trinity College grad who could answer questions on anything, from politics and poetry to architecture and art. Find it at www.dublinfreewalkingtours.com

The walkingn tours meet at the Spire on Connelly Street.

The walkinng tours meet at the Spire on Connelly Street.

Of course I had to make a personal pilgrimage to some of the places where I could learn more about Yeats. In fact, our hotel was just around the corner from the house on Merrion Square where Yeats lived when he was  a Senator.

Yeats' home in Dublin.

Yeats’ home in Dublin.

Dublin does a great job of identifying places that had meaning for its plethora of artists. You see plaques and statues everywhere commemorating Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Sean O'Casey, James Joyce, and so many other literary giants.

Dublin does a great job of identifying places that had meaning for its plethora of artists. You see plaques and statues everywhere commemorating Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Sean O’Casey, James Joyce, and so many other literary giants.

I also learned a great deal about Yeats’ brother, Jack Yeats, considered one of the world’s greatest artists of the early 20th century, and of course Yeats’ father, John Yeats, one of Ireland’s most prominent portrait painters.

The National Library of Ireland has the largest collection of Yeats manuscripts and material in the world. It is free to get in and Jerry and I spent nearly an entire day there.

It's hard to see here, but the Yeats Exhibiiton is a treasure trove of personal and professional material about Yeats and his family and his  increidble body of work.

It’s hard to see here, but the Yeats Exhibition is a treasure trove of personal and professional material about Yeats and his family and his incredible body of work.

As you enter the exhibit, you are surrounded by images of Sligo and a selection of Yeats’ poetry is read by actors. Most moving, we heard Yeats himself reading “Lake Isle of Innisfree.”

Another really special treat on this trip was a visit to the Abbey Theatre to see a play by Frank McGuinness called “Behold the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.” Yeats was one of the founders of the Abbey and I have wanted to see a play there for many years. As a student, I couldn’t afford a ticket. The play was brilliant and moving and beautifully directed.

The Long Library at Trinity College, Dublin

The Long Library at Trinity College, Dublin               Photo by Jerry Mayfield

The Book of Kells is the most famous visitor attraction in Dublin, but Jerry and I were more excited about the Long Library, where floor to ceiling volumes grace the shelves.

The stairwell in the Long Library   Photo by Jerry Mayfield

The stairwell in the Long Library                         Photo by Jerry Mayfield

I don’t want to belabor this blog, but please know that I will be writing a number of blogs about our trip to Ireland, with beautiful scenery from Counties Wicklow, Clare and Kerry. We spent two weeks with a group of artists and teacher from Canada, trying to capture some of the magic of Ireland with watercolor.

- Paula Rath

 

July 13th, 2016 / posted by paularath

If you’re looking for something fun and different to do this Sunday morning, July 17, please join me at Na Mea Hawaii in Ward Warehouse for Tea and Talk Story at 10:30 a.m.

Tea and Talk Story is the brainchild of Nake’u Awai, my multi-talented friend (former Broadway dancer, fashion designer, choreographer, show producer, artist) who has a way of turning everything he does into a party. The flyer image may give you a clue – and if you’ve ever attended one of his Christmas fashion shows, you know what I mean!

Tea and Talk Story flyer

Nake’u asked me to speak about fashion, but I declined. Fashion is no longer the focus of my life. What is? Palama Settlement.

Palama is my family’s legacy. My grandparents, James Arthur and Ragna Helsher Rath, were the founders of Palama Settlement. My father was born there and was an emeritus Palama Settlement board member until he died. I am now an emeritus board member and will probably remain so until I die. The Palama maroon runs through the Rath veins!

Of course, if you would like to talk about fashion or travel, we can always do that too. Tea and Talk story is a relaxed, evolving and, I hope, effervescent, event.

See you Sunday!

- Paula Rath

July 8th, 2016 / posted by paularath

 

A drive out Makapuu way can bring you back in touch with why we live Hawaii nei.

A drive out Makapuu way can bring you back in touch with why we live Hawaii nei.

It’s often hard to find a balance between hard work and rest and renewal.

We seem to have the idea that going holo holo must mean a trip away, at least to a Neighbor Island. But, you know, when you look up holo holo in the Hawaiian dictionary, it says “to go for a walk, ride or sail; to go out for pleasure, stroll, promenade.”

Can’t we, then, go holo holo any time, even here in busy Honolulu?

I think it can be as simple as changing up an old habit, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator just to feel our heart pump a little more.

A pause by the road to enjoy this incredible vista of sea and surfers.

A pause by the road to enjoy this incredible vista of sea and surf at Diamond Head.

Or how about structuring our day so we can have a little extra time to walk part of the way to our destination, or take a different route in our car? The other day, I avoided the freeway and thoroughly enjoyed a drive through Waikiki and around Diamond Head, where I stopped for a while to watch the surfers. It felt so wonderful!

A treasured tree in Kapiolani Park, one of my favorite walks.

A treasured tree in Kapiolani Park, one of my favorite walks.

Going holo holo can mean allowing time for moments of reflection, a pause by a favorite tree in a park or a visit to a favorite beach, just to sit and ponder.

Of course a museum is always a great place to go holo holo. I love visiting the Honolulu Museum of Arts and just sitting in one of the lovely, serene courtyards.

One of Deborah Nehmad's new works, "Wasted," a powerful and poignant trilogy on all the lives wasted by guns in America.

One of Deborah Nehmad’s new works, “Wasted,” a powerful and poignant trilogy on all the lives wasted by guns in America.

But of course the art can always take the mind to a different time and place as well. Don’t miss the current Hawaii Designers exhibition. I spent half an hour alone in the little enclave that houses Deborah Nehmad’s breathtaking - and thought-provoking - work.

Jerry goes holo holo to find a picturesque place to sketch and paint en plein air. Here he is at Malekahana Beach Park.

Jerry goes holo holo to find a picturesque place to sketch and paint. Here he is at Malaekahana Beach Park.

Some folks just cannot go holo holo without a purpose beyond simply gazing and reflecting. My husband Jerry is one of those people. He makes forays around the island to find places to sketch and paint en plein air. Just being outdoors and appreciating nature soothes his soul.

The sunset near Kaimana Beach.

The sunset near Kaimana Beach.

The one thing Jerry misses in our home deep in Nuuanu Valley is sunsets. So sometimes we just drive down to Waikiki or Diamond Head or Waterfront Park and sit and watch the sun as it dips down to end the day.

A hula halau performs at Center Stage.

A hula halau performs at Center Stage.

Shopping is no longer my thing (after many, many years of shopping as part of my job as a fashion writer) so I almost never go shopping without a specific goal in mind. But one day I had to run an errand at Ala Moana Center and what fun, and how refreshing, it was to take a few minutes and sit down to enjoy the hula at Center Stage. The malls frequently offer experiences beyond shopping. Have you been to any of the great concerts at Kahala Mall?

None of these things take much time or money, but they can certainly contribute to our sense of well-being. Hey, millions of people spend thousands of dollars to do the things we can do any time, any day, if we’ll just take a bit of time to go holo holo in Honolulu.

- Paula Rath