Sunday, August 18, 2019

Byodo-In Temple and Colorful Koi Fish on O'ahu

Oil on Wood Panel

When I was four years old my family left our home, in Alaska, to move back to Southern California. On our way we made a stop in Hawaii. Being so tiny I can't say I remember the whole visit but there are a few things emblazoned on my brain. 

I remember the smell of plumeria, men twirling "sticks that were on fire" and my sister and I dressed in little muumuus. I also have a vague recollection of feeling warm both in and out of the water without having to wear a snow suit! What I do have a very clear memory of was kneeling over a pond filled with huge brightly colored "gold fish." 

Mokoli'i, otherwise known as Chinaman's Hat, on our way to the Byodo-In Temple ...

When I was thinking about what to paint for my last solo show "Through Time and Place: Five Decades" I thought of places that imprinted themselves on me and had made a big impression. Some of those places even changed me. Hawaii made an impression on me at 4 and then in my late 20s when I went back for one of my best friend's weddings. I went back again after she had her first baby.

Now, 16 years later, I had a boyfriend on O'ahu. Hawaii was and is a place filled with incredible memories! Of course, it's beautiful there but there's also something that feels mystical about it. I find it hard to explain. I ended up doing two paintings representing the islands. One piece was the koi fish in the at the top of this post. The other was of a plumeria, one of my favorite scents on the planet! 

Byodo-In Temple

Like I always do, before going to Hawaii for Christmas of 2017, I did my research! I looked up things to do and see on O'ahu and one that came up on all sorts of travel articles and YouTube videos was the Byodo-In Temple. It's a "non-practicing" Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths. It really is a perfect place to meditate, pray, enjoy the incredible walking garden and just enjoy a bit of Japanese culture in Hawaii.

The temple is at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains in Kaneohe. It's a wonderful replica of a 950 year old Buddhist place of worship in Kyoto, Japan.  It was built for the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in 1968, which also happens to be the year I was born! 

It also has hundreds of very healthy looking koi fish ready for a photo op! I took so many pictures and definitely felt a painting coming on! 

Perfect models for my painting! Although, I'm pretty sure they were thinking they were going to get fed!

Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is located on the windward (eastern) side of the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu at the foot of the Koʻolau mountains, near the town of Kāneʻohe.

This golden Amida Buddha (Amitābha) is thought to be the largest figure carved outside of Japan. The 9 foot  Buddha was carved by the Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui. "Amida Buddha" is one of the five "Wisdom Buddhas." Amitāyus means "Infinite Life" so Amitābha is also called "The Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life" is the principal Buddha in a branch of East Asian Buddhism called Pure Land Buddhism which is part of the larger Mahayana Buddhism.

"There is no place where the moonlight fails to grace, 
but it only abides in and purifies the hearts of those who gaze upon its face."
Honen Shonin-
Buddhist monk and teacher of Pure Land Buddhism 

The photo below is of me in a beautiful silk shawl my Aunt Cheri designed with a plumeria in my hair!

I think I definitely need to paint the temple!


After the temple, we headed down to Waikiki. It's definitely packed with tourists, hotels and traffic but it also makes for some beautiful photos, wonderful memories and great people watching. My mom lived there in her early 20's working at one of the hotels and even sung with Don Ho! I was there with my girlfriends at the famous Hawaiian Hilton with the big rainbow on the side, for our friend Beckie's wedding 30 years later. It's fun to go back and revisit places that inhabit wonderful memories.

This next photo is the Makua and Kila Sculpture based on a children's story by Fred Van Dyke. It honors "Hawaiian values of love and respect for Ohana (family) and the ocean."

The photo below is from O'ahu in 1996 for Beckie and Shaun's wedding. The bride is on one knee in the middle and I'm next to her in blue.

This next photo is in Honolulu, from 1973, with my Mom and my big sister Penny.
Dad was taking the picture. Maybe my colorful little muumuu is the reason why I still love a red and bright pink color combo!

Byodo-In Temple

Blessing, Light and Aloha!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sacred Spaces and Mystical Places ~ North Shore Silent Meditation Garden and the Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau

Be enthroned in the castle of goodness, 
and your memories will be like beautiful flowers 
in a garden of noble dreams.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

North Shore Silent Meditation Garden

Here's a beautiful classic Hawaiian song to listen to while you visit this post! 

When you sit in the silence of deep mediation,
joy bubbles up from within ... 
~Paramahansa Yoganana

This beautiful hidden gem is up in the hills above Sharks Cove on the North Shore of O'ahu. It's a non-denominational sanctuary where you can meditate and pray in a magical setting. On Sundays there is a Self Realization Fellowship style meditation service where they read a teaching by Paramahansa Yogananda, Amma, Jesus or other spiritual teachers.

Kevin and I went a few Sunday mornings while I was there. It somehow would always start raining outside during the meditation which not only made it even more peaceful and I felt fused with the whole of nature outside.

Phones are not allowed on the property or in this meditation garden.  They will allow cameras but not phones so I took these photos with my digital SLR. Because your phone has to be off, there is thankfully no one taking selfies or Instagramming their meditation! 

I love these vermilion colored magical flowers that seem to float among the trees in the garden ...

If you want to love God you must love people.
They are His Children.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

All the white with blue made me think of Greece.

Humbly serving all with their beauty, 
flowers say more to us about God 
than anything else.
Each one brings a message that the Heavenly Father 
is right here.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

Kevin practicing a yoga inversion in the silence.

Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau 

This Heiau is the largest religious site or temple on the North Shore and covers almost 2 acres. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962 because of its historic significance.

"Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau may have been constructed in the 1600s. Built as a series of 3 walled enclosures, the stacked rock walls ranged from 3 to 6 feet in height and the interior surface was paved with stone. Within the walls were wood and thatch structures. Such a large heiau would have been built by the makaʻainana (commoners) under the direction of a high ruling chief (ali’i nui) and his priests (kahuna).

In the 1770s, high priest Ka’opulupulu under Oʻahu chief Kahahana, oversaw this heiau. This was a time of political upheaval and it is likely that the heiau was used as a heiau luakini (sacrificial temple), perhaps for success in war.
In 1795, when Kamehameha I conquered Oʻahu, his high priest Hewahewa conducted religious ceremonies at this heiau. Use of the site continued until 1819 when the traditional religion was abolished."

The Heiau is on the ridge above Waimea Bay and it is said that signal fires were up at that spot for communication between the islands. It really is a stunning location. The turquoise and azure waters with the rust colored earth are breathtaking. 

Hope you are enjoying these view of beautiful Hawaii!


The beauty in the world bespeaks 
the creative motherly instinct of God,
and when we look upon all the good in Nature,
we experience a feeling of tenderness within us-
we can see and feel God as Mother in Nature.
There is no greater experience than to feel and know 
that Cosmic Mother is with you.
Watch for the presence of the mother, 
because She will look after you in every way.
~Paramahansa Yogananda

Blessings, light and much Aloha!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Art and Color on the North Shore of O'ahu ~ Sunset Beach

'A'ohe loa i ka hana ke aloha
Distance is ignored by love

Finally! Hawaii, Christmas 2017-January 2018

My little Fabriano sketchbook ...

Sunset Beach

Naupaka Kahakai Plant

Hawaii is incredible! There is a reason why people from all over the world visit Hawaii in their lifetime. The colors, the water, the air, the beaches, the hiking and the flowers are magnificent. So, if you are going to have a long distance relationship, where you have to spend time on an airplane, might I recommend the North Shore of O'ahu?!

These colors make my heart sing! These plants are on the walk to Sunset Beach.

Kevin's place where he was living at the time ...

Waxing his board on the lanai ...

Kevin said geckos make the best roommates. They are a little messy but they are good luck, eat the bugs, very quiet and super cute so I guess it balances out!

In the neighborhood ...

"Mother's Beach"

It actually is where mothers love to take their kids to learn ocean awareness, surfing and swimming skills. Plus there is a huge shade tree, which makes for the perfect temperature on a sunny day. There are many local families, of all colors, including regal Hawaiian ohana there spending time together. Below, Kevin at "Mother's" getting ready to paddle out to the outside reefs of Sunset Beach.

More little watercolors on the beach! Often, at home, I do black and white sketches or ink drawings in my tiny sketchbooks but that's rare in Hawaii. The colors are so incredible around the island it was nearly always a watercolor.

Kahuna Nui Hale Kealohalani Makua
Love all you see, including yourself.
~Hale Makua

Here's a shot I captured of Kevin up the beach at Velzyland. Yes, he actually surfs and isn't just a poser! Haha!

Sunset Point

Sunset Point, on the North Shore of O'ahu, is a legendary surf spot. The thing is,  it is one of many on a stretch of beach called the 7 Mile Miracle. It starts at Haleiwa and goes up to Velzyland. When we drove along the Kamehameha Hwy, which runs along that stretch, you can catch sight of the ocean between beachfront homes in some places. While driving along Kevin would point and name all the famous surf spots without making a pause! Some of the most important surf contests in the world, like the Pipe Masters and the Triple Crown of Surfing, are held along this famous 7 mile stretch of the North Shore.

It's fun to hear about all the legendary surf and while it is very impressive ... I just keep seeing things to paint! Here's a rare graphite drawing in my sketchbook of the not so rare Pōhuehue vines that grow along the beach.

The reef makes for some great surf breaks but you have to be careful not to fall on it or let a wave drag you across it. That goes for swimming too, of course. Kevin loves to quote this Hawaiian proverb, "Never turn your back on the ocean."

I kept seeing a man cutting them open and then I finally got my Sunset Beach coconut water! When I was done I went back to the man who prepared it and he scraped all the meat of the coconut for me. And let me tell you, it went into some very delicious frozen adult beverages!

You can see that with so much beauty it is very inspiring for an artist. I did quite a few little watercolors and when I got home I painted two oils for my solo show which was last December. I'll be sharing those soon!

That whole trip we sang Mele Kalikimaka ... and it was!

The other song we sang and continue to sing, while Kevin plays the guitar, is Island Style by John Cruz. He shared this video with me on that first trip and I love it. They raise money for music in schools and the kids are adorable!

Blessings and light!