Being Creative When I’m Not Painting
August 16, 2014
Haven’t been painting? Egad. Can’t be so! Yes, I take breaks from painting. But I rarely take breaks from being creative.
Spring was been busy this year. I taught two six-week workshops at #Orange Coast College’s Community Education division, one on Flowers in Watercolors, the other was Watercolor Still Lifes. And I have just finished a new six-week workshop on painting Cityscapes, and I’ve got two more slated for the Fall semester. I also started a new part-time job with a non-profit in April, which has been very stimulating and fun. I announced a new line of scarves for my Blooming Silks: “Layers” which I will be showing at the Contemporary Crafts Market in Pasadena, CA over Halloween weekend. And I went on a trip in June.
It’s the trip that I want to share about today. To begin with, I love Hawaiian music. My family has listened to Hawaiian music my whole life. My mom got us started, she went to Hawaii with her family when she was a teenager in the late 40’s, and learned to play the ukulele from the locals. Gabby Pahinui has always been one of my music heroes, and the guitar style he played is called Slack Key, or ki ho’alu in Hawaiian. If you have seen The Descendants, you’ve heard this music, it’s the soundtrack to the movie. Other favorites are Ray Kane, Dennis Kamakahi, Jeff Peterson, George Kahumoku Jr., and Kimo West. Just to name a few, there’s so many!
I’ve played guitar since I was a kid, my dad taught me how. My family used to sing and play together, along with some friends, mostly folk music, a little bluegrass, and some early rock and folk/rock. But I’d always in the back of my mind thought it would be so great to learn to play slack key. Well, a couple of years ago Mom and I went to a slack key workshop organized by George Kahumoku Jr. in Maui, where the instructors are some of the slack key artists whose music I been listen to. I was in heaven for a week, inundated and overwhelmed with the beginnings of the slack key style. It was so wonderful, that we went again this year, and if possible, this year’s workshop was even better than the first one.
First off, this was the view from the lanai of our room. We woke up to this each morning, drank our coffee here, dried off after swimming, sipped on cocktails, and sometimes just sat in peaceful awe. We went swimming and/or snorkeling every day. We didn’t take a computer, so I was happily unplugged.
We were there for the music. For a week we were immersed once again in Hawaiian music and culture, eating lunch and dinner with the whole group, and sometimes breakfast, and swimming when we took breaks from workshops. There were classes for six days, mostly in slack key guitar or ukulele, but also in lei making, kapa cloth making, and hula. Mom was taking classes on the uke, I of course on my guitar. Every evening, after dinner, there was a kanikapila, or jam session, where everyone played and sang together.
Here’s a shot of most of our faculty one afternoon, as we celebrated the life of musician and songwriter Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, who this past spring lost a short, intense, battle with lung cancer:
David Kamakahi, Jeff Peterson, Herb Ohta, Jr., George Kahumoku, Jr., Richard Ho’opi’i, Laurence the sound guru, Jason Jerome and Led Kaapana. This room was where we had our kanikapilas each night, over 80 of us sitting in a huge circle, playing slack key music together.
The last day of the workshop we performed at the Ki Ho’alu – Slack Key Guitar Festival 2014 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Wailuku.
Group shot of the workshop, ready to perform at the Festival. Photo by Scott Hillman
Here’s a great video from the same workshop 3 years ago, so you can hear the music. This is from the workshop 3 years ago, and features George Kahumoku, Jr., the late Bob Brozman, Led Ka’apana and Herb Ohta, Jr. George, Led and Herb were all teaching again this year.