Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 wrap up

Study of female reclining, brown Conte on paper, 18" x 24", by Hilary J. England, 2015

I can't believe this year is already gone!  What a whirlwind it went by in - but as they say, the older you get, the faster time goes by...what an irony!

I have been very busy lately, but I am looking to continue many interesting things in 2016: traveling, continuing my painting series, continue my plein air paintings, continuing with my figure studies, and all of the other things I enjoy to do, such as forging silver jewelry, sculpting, writing freelance, and then there is my garden.  I didn't get to work on my garden these past few summers, since I was away overseas.  This year, I'm thinking of going away in September so that I can plant my garden and relax with it through the summer.  So, that's the tentative plan...end of summer for some more overseas work.

I have some shows I am putting together as well, with a possibility of the Armory in NYC, etc.  I haven't really expended a lot of effort toward NYC these days, since I had a lot on my plate with things going on in my personal life, but I think I may be ready with enough energy to engage in another New York show or two this upcoming year, so I am cautiously guarding my strength, haha.  Those shows do take tremendous energy, planning and commitment, so I am still mulling it over.  I have another day to make the decision, lolololol.  Talk about bringing it to the razor's edge ;-)

2015 was an eventful year-- it was a year fraught with change, and although it was ultimately for the good, it was still at times very stressful.  There were so many things that occurred this year, it allowed me to learn a lesson I have been grappling with all my life....just let it go.  Just let go, and go with the flow.  That was an extremely hard, if not nearly impossible task for me up till this point in my life, but something finally just broke, ultimately in a good way, as if watching a crack in a dam, and you just know it's beyond your control to stop that rushing water.  And so, I hope I can continue to not try to "take control" of the changes that are ultimately beyond my grasp.  I am a much more relaxed person for it!! But, as with everything, baby steps are involved.

So to you everyone, I want to wish a very healthy, happy, prosperous, peaceful yet exhilarating 2016!!!  All the best wishes and blessings <3

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Barren birch in the autumn field

"Barren birch in the autumn field" by Hilary J. England
8" x 14", oil on canvas, 2015

It's been a busy week with Christmas approaching...putting up the tree and decorations, and all the other preps we usually make.  I have been working steadily on my writing as well, and this takes alot of time in itself.  I have three different articles going, while I also have my short story for the Travel Anthologie to clean up, so very busy indeed.

I can never NOT make time for my love though...which is plein air painting.  It just clears away all the wreckage, and helps to bring my soul back to balance.

This painting of a really beautiful, bare birch tree was a bit nail-biting in that it really looked like it was going to rain, and being that it had rained on and off for days now, I was racing the clock to not get soaked.  The weather held until I was done, and I was able to finish up, happy, warm, and with no wet feet.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Blueberry fields near winter

"Blueberry fields near winter" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2015

Here is a little landscape I did of a blueberry field, all red now with the approaching Winter, at the base of the Blue Mountains.  I go back to a lot of the same places, because I love them, and this spot is one of them...close to where I used to live.  Nice memories there I suppose.  It's like having a warm bowl of chicken soup...comfort food.  Deep inside, I guess I am a rank sentimentalist and romantic, but that's OK.  It makes life a more beautiful experience in the face of a broken, fallen world.

I have others I need photograph, but I have had a Mr. Magoo moment, and can't find the charger for my big camera, and the battery in the Canon is dead.  So, after ripping apart my studio, and every other place I can think of, I tried to recall places I might have absent-mindedly stuck that darn battery charger, and I keep coming up blank.  For all I know, I threw it away with my decimated suitcase when I came back from is possible. So, now I will need to order a new one, and that will take at least a week, so I am a stick in the mud for right now: going nowhere fast haha.  I do have a little pocket camera which is decent, but it is too frustrating trying to see the image on that tiny screen, so I'll just wait.  Patience has never been my strong virtue, but I'll manage!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015


"Barcelona/Rowdy with Gaudi" by Hilary J. England, 16" x 20" x 2" oil on canvas, 2015

I have finally finished "Barcelona."  It took longer than anticipated because my eyes have been giving me some troubles these last few weeks, and I tried to ignore it, but I guess I have to bite the bullet and make an appointment with the eye doctor.  I blamed the lighting, even my new brushes for the issues hahaha....because denial is not just a river in Egypt.  None of us likes to admit it when our faculties begin to weaken a little, and my eyes were always top notch, so this new development (well, actually not new, more like slow and creeping) was a bit alarming, but now that I have admitted it, I can move forward and correct it.  So, I should be sporting a new set of nifty glasses next week :-)

Photographing inside is usually the bane of my studio existence, and this time around, it was no different!  If the weather is better tomorrow I will photo this painting correctly.

I also have new landscapes that I also have been remiss in photographing, but I'll get to them tomorrow, or in the next few days as well.  The weather here has been raining steadily for the last few days, rather depressing, since I usually like the rain, but for some reason, it has gotten to me this time around, and I'm ready for some sunshine.  Seriously.

I am looking forward to doing some plein air work this weekend also...hopefully the weather will be more cooperative than it has been.  I think it will!  


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In the shadow of the great tree

"In the shadow of the great tree" watercolor on paper, 11" x 16" 2015

The weather has been really beautiful these last few days, and hardly feels like Thanksgiving is approaching.  I have set out to work on some studio projects, in the anticipation of some not-so-nice-weather, but that has not been the case.  So, I figure I will post the last of my beautiful weather/San Fran trip studies today, and then continue in my studio for today.  The plan is to enjoy the next day of weather, and do a little local plein air work.

This study was in the shadow of the great tree.  It was so very majestic, that it still takes my breath away, being in God's cathedral.  What a truly magnificent and humbling experience.  I can see now where Gaudi derived his natural inspirations for the columns in La Sagrada Familia.  Just a stunning connection to me, as if a lightbulb went off in my head, and I had that true "a-ha" moment.  So very very lovely....

Monday, November 9, 2015

Redwoods and admirers

"Redwoods and admirers in Muir" watercolor on paper, 11" x 16", 2015

A relaxing day after a whirlwind of activity this last week, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I can see the huge, benign, billowing clouds drifting by on the currents here, and Huntington is quiet.  It's nice we had a cloudy, "East-like" day here.  Keeps things real.  

Here is a watercolor study I did of some of the ravishing redwoods in Muir Woods.  Of course, you can never really do justice to such a majestic sight...cameras do even less, as I looked through my photos today and saw with much disappointment how the charged atmosphere that throbbed with life there was reduced to flat, almost mosaic-like tiles.  Frustrating, but the real deal is captured in my mind forever, so that's what counts.  A painting can make an attempt to bridge the gap between the real and the it left an impression.  And it certainly did.  I do wish I had my oils, as watercolors are so, well, watery!  I find them frustrating mostly, and end up looking like a kid in preschool with paint all over my hands after swiping at them in an attempt to somehow make them more versatile like oils.  Laying in washes, lifting out color, dry brush work consisting of lots of stabbing, scribbing and angst....that's my watercoloring haha.  But, in all, it wasn't bad for a quick study, if I do say so myself.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

San Fran

As much as I wanted to dislike San Francisco, I must say, I really enjoyed it.  I thought it would be a Lefty paradise, but I was pleasantly surprised, both by the very beautiful area, and the laid back people.  The city itself is at a pleasant pace, and minus some aggressive homeless people, it really is a very enjoyable city.  

Dale and I crammed in as much joie de vivre as we could in our small amount of time here, and as much as I loved the cultural activities such as visits to the local gallery scene, taking in some of the historical sites, etc., the crowning part of this trip was to Muir Woods, right outside of Sausalito, over the Golden Gate.  The redwood forest was so breathtaking, it stirred my soul so deeply, I never wanted to leave there.  It was as if one of those great, old, noble trees, with the nooks and crags and corridors, all of their mystery and magnitude, had a little doorway you could duck into, and be in the realm of elves and fairies, or cross over to some world like Narnia.  It was sublime.

All said, San Francisco seems a breezy town, large enough to rival Manhattan Island in it's sprawl, but minus the frenzy that seems to accompany NYC.  The city has a somewhat empty feel to it, and there is also an decent amount of empty storefronts throughout, along with the large homeless population that is not restricted to the mission, which gives it a somewhat forlorn feeling at times, of a city on the precipice of death, rather than one that is growing.  This city, seems to us, just at face value, a city that is surviving on tourism.  No one we met was a native.

Looking at the stats here, it's no wonder.  The city dwellers, by and large, can't afford to live here, and that puts many businesses under, due to out of control rents, and wage workers that can't afford to live in the city, or even near it, to fill the lower paying jobs.  Socialist policies versus capitalist corruption, and a magic elixir of disaster.  Very sad.

So, I was happy to have visited this very lovely city, and enjoyed the best of what it has to offer, the beautiful views, the easy pace, the yummy restaurants, and then, leave.  That's the best of all worlds!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Abandoned tracks in Pottsville

Abandoned train tracks in Pottsville, 11" x 14"' watercolor on paper

Here is a watercolor I did yesterday waiting for Noelle while in Pottsville. It was a beautiful day, such nice and gentle weather after the storms of the day before. I found these Abandoned tracks, and just did a rapid watercolor sketch, less than an hour, but a little Longer to pause and feel the sunshine on my face, the breeze in my hair, and smell the damp, earthy odor of the fallen leaves. How beautiful is this natural world, where the ethereal seems to cross over into our earthly plane, and the two intersect and meet every now and again. Those are the invigorating moments that make me so grateful...the beauty of God's blessings in such a wonderfully timeless yet mundane moment.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Nauset in a storm

"Nauset pending storm" watercolor on paper, 11" x 14"

Here is another quick study done in the car! This is also the beach at Nauset, and it was crazy stormy, with the clouds furiously blowing by on the wind, and the atmosphere was charged. Just gorgeous, since I love storms, and beaches!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nauset lighthouse

"Nauset lighthouse, Cape Cod" watercolor on paper, 11" x 14"

The weather has been absolutely fantastic--what a lovely stretch of warm before the winter begins to creep up.

Here is a little study I did in the car while waiting for Noelle haha. Anthony says it's a new series of "car art" 😆😆. This is of Nauset lighthouse. Although the trip was a colossal fail, the moments on the beach were, as always, so beautiful, it was enough to make the rest of worth it. I saw a pod of whales in the distance, their spouts signaling their presence in the stormy blue green Atlantic, and then, the moment that momentarily transformed my trip into a happy one: two seals cavorting in the surf! I watched them as the happily moved through the breakers, oblivious to the ominous sign warning all that great whites patrol those waters. No, they seemed carefree to the point of ethereal. It was a few moments of bliss for me, until they returned to the mysterious regions only they are aware of.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Anatomical study

Study of back/torso/buttocks, HB pencil on Ingres paper, 10" x 12"
I have been doing some anatomical studies lately, as they are always helpful, no matter what stage of the game you are at.  This was a study done after a contemporary artist, Sabin.  I love his work, and reproducing great art and anatomical studies is also very helpful to help you with your own techniques.  I have never been one for cross hatching or linear drawings, as I am usually much more gestural and love the fluidity of finger blending, so this was a challenge to build layers strictly through linear hatching, and I enjoyed the change.

It's raining today, after yesterday's perfection of autumn weather, so I will probably stay in studio, work on my new painting in my series "Travelogue," and do some more anatomical studies.  I am looking forward to getting some fresh material in these upcoming weeks, and of course, clearing my mind with the refreshing fall breezes that are now upon us.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Study of female torso and back

Study of back and torso, conte on paper, 18"x 24"

This is a study I did last night at the Art Establishment. This study was strictly a study of the torso/back, and I had the model lay in a way that was comfortable for her, which basically meant none of her limbs were visible, just her back, which is fine, because I wanted to just concentrate on that body part anyway. This wasn't an anatomical study per say, I wasn't looking to draw every muscle and the straie, but I wanted to engage light and play around just really spend my time examining that part of the torso as a whole. This study took a little over an hour.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


"Paris" oil on canvas, by Hilary J. England, 16" x 20" x 2", 2015  No. 4 in series "Travelogue"  

Each object in this painting represents something.  The red woolen cape with fur trim was a really warm coat I wore there when it was (and I was) feeling very festive, and boy, did I get festive wearing this coat lolololololol.  I always loved a yellow rose, as it represents new beginnings, or welcome home, and friendship, which is what Paris always represents to me, in her eternal sunshine and optimism that is the city itself.

I very much enjoyed painting this, and it was a challenge, as all still life work is to me, as I don't usually have a lot of discipline and patience that these require, as I would rather flit off to something else like a butterfly, so painting this series has been very good for me, as it requires I sit still and just concentrate, which I haven't done too much truly quiet work like this in a long time.  Anything that pushes our boundaries of comfort is ultimately a growing experience, and that is good.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Torso study

Here is a live figure study done in 20 minutes at the Art Establishment in Bethlehem.  This is 18" x 24" conte on drawing paper.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


"Goa" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 16" x 20" x 2", 2015
This is the third painting in my series of "travelogue" paintings, as there will be 12 as of now, perhaps more if I do some more traveling in the next few months (a very strong possibility).

The skirt was hand-dyed by a local vendor (he used this as his sales pitch to me), and I was able to buy it for only 400 rupees, and the other objects are all symbolic of my time in India this summer.  I didn't want to put too many items into the composition, as it becomes cluttered.  There was already a wealth of interesting textures and colors to keep the eyes occupied, so that more objects were unnecessary.

I continued along with the same perspective as the others and will continue as the unifying format in series.  I am looking forward to starting my new painting tomorrow :-)  These are generally a little slower moving as they require probably a month a pop since I don't work on them steadily, but rather in sessions...I'm hoping as the weather gets colder, and I have less distractions outside, I will begin to get each artwork done a bit quicker.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Pat with fringe

"Pat in a fringe sweater" conte on paper, 24" x 36"

We started Sunday night figure drawing sessions at the Art Establishment now, for those who can't make it on Friday mornings due to work, etc.  I enjoy these sessions so much, it's a time to really just relax and get back to basics.

This drawing is one of Pat wearing a fringe sweater.  It is a 10 minute study, a relatively fast study, but yet, 10 minute studies are the most awkward for me.  There not a super short study like a gesture, but not long enough to really develop the drawing, so I feel like it's really a middle ground, and I hate the middle ground, both in life, and even in a drawing/painting hahaha.  It's too uncertain and vague.  The foreground or front, and background, are always easy to manage, but it's that slippery middle ground and the relations to the front and back that make or break things.  And with a "middle of the road" drawing, not a gesture, and not a complete study, well, things get awkward for me...I usually get caught (proverbially) "with my pants down" as I start developing the drawing and am cut off in an awkward phase of development lololol.  This one is terms of proportions, her leaning stance, etc., but I really would have liked to further develop some value relations, and guess what, I just don't think that fast on my feet....I do usually, as I am getting used to just "laying it in" and then going back and picking it out, refining it, etc., which is good method when painting in oils, but sometimes, in conte, while drawing, not so much :-D :-D   So in all, it's always a learning curve, no matter where you are "in the game."  That's why I love it so much!  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Study of Pat

"Pat in her shift" conte on bristol, 18" x 24"

On the fly today.  Did a few hours of figure drawing at the Art Establishment in Bethlehem, with out ever patient and gracious model Pat.  I got some good clothed studies, but my eyes and feet were hurting still from last night, so it kind of cast a little pall over my drawing...grrrr....

On a more upbeat, we will be meeting more than once now for the upcoming weeks, and I very much look forward to that.  I will also start teaching drawing at the Art Establishment in September, not sure of the nights yet, but when I know, I'll let you all know, in case you want to come and learn how to draw--from me, the Master Drill Sergeant!  LOL--only kidding.  This is a beginner's class, and no experience is necessary, just a desire to learn.

So, now off to deal with the work flow....but, I'm grateful for every day.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Red barn and clouds

Commission of little red Barn and clouds at sunset 18" x 24" oil on canvas, 2015

Here is a commission I just finished.  It was a replica of an earlier painting I had done, with a little red barn added into it. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Growing pains

These were some quick 2 minute gesture poses/sketches that I did on Friday morning at the Art Establishment.  I have lots and lots, but that is a good thing.  Figure drawing sessions are hard to come by in this area, and having the sessions at Lafayette and the Art Establishment really are invaluable.

I am sitting here, sipping my coffee, listening to the rain.  My brain has been on fire lately, but that is both good and bad.  When I reach a fever pitch like this, it usually means I'm ready to start in on a new project, and that's good.  The bad part is it literally makes me crazy...I can't sleep, my mind races, and I'm all over the map...that's the bad part.  The last few nights, my mind has germinated a new set of paintings I'm going to begin today, after taking all of the material I was mulling around in my head from India.  There was India and the hot stillness, with the rhythmic sound of the women washing their clothes in the backwaters, and cool quiet dreams of Russia and Romania flitting around in my mind, and then Paris has been whispering softly in my ear, and then I had a crazy dream of Barcelona only all of the people were from Bulgaria...I saw La Sagrada Familia, but I was spinning around over the city, in a little paper airplane...

So, I mulled these things over.  The dizzying and terrifying, and haunting, and nostalgic, and hopeful, and distilled it all down into an idea that could encompass the mayhem and make it coherent.  I feel it is what I was looking to hit upon, after the ideas I had for India were not to be, and then there was a larger idea to grasp on to.  And with this maelstrom purged, my thoughts turn forward into the mist of the always unknown future..  Maybe Africa or South America.  Definitely Israel.  And of course, back to Europe.  I don't know if I can ever stop circling in the little paper airplane.  As much as I swear that this is it, I'll not do it again after the last trip, the discomfort goes away and the madness creep up again. The wanderlust I can't quell. The longing for something new, new sights, new faces, new tastes, new experiences, new cultures, new visions.  I just can't seem to stay put, but that is OK I suppose.  It's just part of who I am, and I am OK with that.  

So, for now, I am mulling Istanbul, or Bolivia for next summer's residency.  Still in the thinking process, so it may be something else all together...

Sunday, August 2, 2015


"Bottles and plants, Stonehedge" oil on canvas board, 12" x 16", 2015

Yesterday's work at Stonehedge.  I found a quiet little nook with all these great houseplants growing, in different shades of purple, and it was just was I was looking for.  No landscapes yesterday, I just couldn't do the set up and hide under the umbrella.

I really enjoyed my time there, it was so nice and peaceful and serene.  


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Figure studies

More studies done at the Art Establishment.  This conte drawing was a half an hour study.  We have a nice little group going, and I forgot how much I love to draw the had been a while, and it is something you never tire least I don't!

I was planning on some plein air painting today, and the weather is just lovely, but it is also dangerous weather, in terms of sunburn, and having gotten 2 decent burns this summer already, I have opted to wait until after 2 pm to head out, just as a precautionary measure.  My back is still itching and peeling from the sneaky burn I got this past week at the shore, so no thanks.  I'll wait a little bit just to be sure.  I always seem to get burned in the areas I miss with the sunblock, and it gets frustrating!  So, how to make sure I don't get burned?  Abstinence from the sun lol.  The only sure preventative.

So, that's it for now :-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Study of Pat

"Pat at the Art Establishment" conte on bristol, 18" x 24", 15 minute live figure study

Here is a quick 15 minute live study I did last Friday at The Art Establishment.  I really enjoyed doing some quick figure work, as I had not been able to do any live figure drawing in nearly a, the time sure goes quickly.  Now that I found this group that meets weekly,  I hope to be able to work with them a few times a month, weather permitting.  

This was a very quick study, and having talked to the group, they seem to mostly do rapid, gesture drawing which is nice, but I also spoke with them about doing a longer study, for perhaps 45 minutes to an hour, to really have time to develop a nice study of the subject.  They said this was a good idea, and hopefully we will be able to accomplish this on this upcoming Friday meeting.

So, that is the long and short of it for right now!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pears and cherries

"Study of pears and cherries" 2015, 7" x 14", oil on canvas
Back to the routine of being home.  Jetlag seems to have resolved, and for that, I am extremely grateful.  I have decided to do a series of little fruit paintings, just because the weather has not been too conducive to painting outdoors these last few days, and I have not done any sort of fruit studies lately, and there are lots and lots of nice fruit around during this season, so it kind of piqued my interest.

So, more little fruit studies in the next few days, hoping to clear my palette (all puns intended!) and get ready for some newer works ;-)

Monday, July 13, 2015


Sketch of canoe in the backwaters, beyond the brush, 2015

The jetlag of this trip has been the most brutal I have experienced on any trip I have taken.  It was so bad, I actually thought maybe I caught some exotic illness in the last leg of my journey, and now it was taking hold of me.  I had severe insomnia, dissociative disorder, confusion, body aches, stomach problems, broken and restless sleep when actually falling asleep, depression, just the whole kit and caboodle.  Pretty awful, but finally today, nearly a week later, I am starting to feel somewhat normal.  Not 100%, but at least now I know it will be over soon.

I have heard the jetlag of crossing the time zones against the rotation is much worse than going with them, and this was most certainly the case.  Going, I had very little period of adjustment, which is normal for me.  But, the return this time was just awful.  Even last year, coming from Eastern Europe, was bad, but not nearly as bad as this.  Last year, I felt back to nearly normal function after a day or two, this time around, wow....just wow.  I felt like I might die or go crazy.  Not meaning to scare anyone...this was just my own personal experience with it.  I have never experienced jet lag in North-South trips, but I have heard the troubles arise in the East-West travels, and usually it's much more marked when you travel against the time zones, and the longer you stay, and the more time zones you cross, the worse it is, anecdotally.  Well, I can say with certainty, it wasn't anecdotal.  At least not for me.

But, that is not to say I won't ever do such travel again...absolutely not the case!  It just means I will be more aware of what to expect, and give myself much more time to recover.  I came back and made commitments and just thought I could jump right back in immediately, and that was most certainly not the case.  I am just so happy now to be feeling on the road to normalcy, and to give myself a break and not push myself too too hard until I feel 100% like myself; maybe in the next few days, as I hope.  The rule of thumb is 1 day of jetlag for every hour/timezone difference, so that puts me at around 10 days...I am on day 6, and I am feel a huge improvement this morning, like waking up out of a dream.  I actually slept a whole 8 hours uninterrupted and restfully, which is the first time in over a week, which to me, means I have "turned the corner."  Hooray!

So, today, I am heading into my studio, plus catching up on some other paperwork and project proposals in my office, and then will just go with the flow...if I feel tired, I will rest, if not, so be it.  I have the same problem which many of my compatriots have which seems to be distinctly American:  I feel like a slacker if I allow myself to rest during the day!  I have always felt like that, even if I am sick!  I felt uneasy and guilty if I "wasted" my time taking a nap, so much so, that I rarely do it, and when the rare occasion happens, I don't enjoy it or feel more rested, because I feel guilty over having done it.  I usually barrel through things, forcing myself through fatigue or even illness, until I get in "range" of bedtime, and then, just go to bed a little early (even that rarely happens).  I am trying to move beyond this unjustified guilt, and just rest if I need to, and that's that.  It seems to be working this time around, because yesterday, I literally spent the day resting, and then slept a very good nights sleep, and today, I feel much better, and ready to go :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

En route

"View from my balcony on a rainy day'  Oil on canvas board, 11" x 14"  

Today is the day.  Going home.  I am excited and of course, always a little wary, and will be able to relax once I'm aboard the plane for America in Mumbai.  

Alyssa and I plan to make a little day of it in Cochin before I go to the airport, and that's fine.  I had planned on going straight to the airport, but I would have sat for nearly 12 hours, so why not do a little sight seeing beforehand?  She is staying in Cochin for the evening, so I can stow my luggage in her hotel for the afternoon, and at least have a nice day out.  And then, I'm very happy to be on route home, and to see my family and friends.  For some reason, this trip was harder for me, and it seemed harder to engage with the culture, and by the time I did, it was almost time to come home, so maybe the next time plan a longer trip, and knowing what to expect, I will feel comfortable more quickly than this time around.  I think the experience was SO foreign to me, the culture shock took more time to overcome.  But, experience is priceless, so I am happy for it...all things are a learning experience, and this trip was certainly that.

So, bon voyage to India, and hello to America.  I am looking forward to home :-)

Saturday, July 4, 2015


"Boatsmen in the lilypads"  oil on canvas, 11" x 16"

Going home tomorrow.  It's truly been an adventure, from the horrifying first night in Goa when I got stung by an Asian wasp (super wasp) and the misery of that incident, to the harrowing night in the Margoa train station and the amazing train trip down coast of India....the gray stormy seas at the junction of Mangalore, that looked so ferocious and intense, I thought the waves would wash over the train, that's how close we came to the ocean...

The residency was a very intense experience, but in the end, it was a success in the larger sense of things.  Although I may not have completed all of the works I had intended, I did complete a good amount, and actually, if I count the many sketches I did, and research writing, etc., I actually did more than what I had anticipated. And, of course, there is the other element of the experience of India, and meeting new friends, so yes, no matter what technical hiccups we had along the way, the residency was most certainly successful.

Now, as I sit here an look out on the rice paddies from my terrace, I know I will miss India.  It is a very ancient society that is making it's way into the global arena, but still retains so much of it's varied culture and heritage, and the people, rather than frightening as we think they are with all of the news of rapes and brutality (and yes, that element is very real), are rather endearing and kind.  The people here like to speak to foreigners and are curious and will offer you tea or chai in their home and conversation, so that is the gracious side of India you don't see blaring across the news wires.  Personally, aside from a belligerent panhandler in Margao train station, all of my interactions with the Indian people were very pleasant, and very courteous.  

So, I will have this last night to reflect and contemplate India, and to prepare for my long journey home to the States....

Friday, July 3, 2015

Countdown to home: 4 days

"The ghost boat, Lake Vembanad"  oil on canvas board, 11" x 16"

My keyboard went on the fritz as well for the last few days, so there seems to be some little gremlin that is haunting my iPad.  I thought it went down for the count yesterday, but I was able to resurrect it.  I have made quite a few "notes to self" on this trip, trust me, and bringing an iPad for the sake of space is a faux pas on a trip where you need to do more than just a little light Facebook posting...this was my first time doing so (I usually lug my laptop), and thought it might be a progressive and novel way to travel, but it was mostly troublesome, as the keyboard kept acting up, losing it's charge, etc.  So, to be on the safe side for a work trip, it is either: a.) the laptop  or b.) the iPad with a better keyboard and the right attachments (that is a whole other blog in itself!).

We are having a Fourth of July "party" tonight, it will technically be our closing dinner, as several people leave tomorrow rather than Monday, and that is fine.  I am mentally gearing up for the long trip back to the USA, and what comes after....what did I take away from this trip and hope to build on?  This journey in India was a mixed bag: interesting, frustrating, challenging, and provocative.  I met some new friends, learned some new tihings, rehashed some old ideas as well, learned to work around the obstacles of environment and a very varied group of people, learned to just adapt and go with the flow rather than be constantly frustrated (I think this is a hard one in particular for us people that are very visionary or goal driven), and through it all, actually was able to "see" the people and landscape of India.  I believe if I had chosen to stay on here longer, say for a few months, I would really have grown and loved it very much, but the brevity of the trip takes me away home again just when I was beginning to enjoy and understand India...but that is the nature of the game.

We resolved the whole issue of accommodations a few days ago, when our hosts shifted me and another artist to the resort a kilometer down the road, so we now have better accommodations in terms of amazing air conditioning, wifi, and just general comforts like TV and larger beds, hot water, etc.  The base/original property is an amazing one, just couldn't sleep at night in the heat, and the air conditioner system wasn't going to be fixed in time for us to continue sleeping there. We are still experiencing rolling blackouts, but this place is also on a generator system, so we are not really affected too badly by it.  The staff on this resort are also very nice and every morning they call to see if we would like fresh linens and laundry done (which I don't need daily, but it's a nice offer) and bring us a very nice made-to-order Continental breakfast of omelettes, toast and jam, coffee and tea, and lovely local foods, on our private terrace that overlooks a beautiful vista of rice paddies.  There are several different species of herons and storks that wade through the watery vegetation, and it is a most relaxing view.  Of course, we are limited to sitting there by day, because at night, we become tender sweet meats for the mosquitoes...and no amount of DEET seems to keep these annoyances away.

I think for the last day of my trip here, I will spend the day sightseeing in Fort Cochin with another artist, I am still debating it, if not, I will relax here for the day before leaving and going to the airport, but I am still unsure.  The idea of one last hurrah in Fort Cochin is starting to sound more and more appealing, so that is probably what I will do.   For today, we have a little exhibition going of my artwork, and my presentation which was put off until today because of technical issues with the wifi and scheduling clashes, etc. and then our "party," so I will just finish up one more painting, and close the book on India...or should I say, close the chapter?  There may always be more to come....

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 17

"Wash day" oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14  

Day 17--Musical Beds

Closer to home.  Just a few days to go, and I am looking forward to going home and seeing my family and just being home and comfortable.  This is the first time I really feel somewhat homesick on a travel abroad, so it is what it is...alot went on on this trip, so I guess that is normal.  It is still up in the air whether this trip will technically be a failure for me, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I was unable to get even half the work done that I had anticipated, due to various setbacks, plus, being in shared quarters, it's difficult, no matter which way you slice it.  I tried to improvise things a bit, but there is a delicate give and take that must be done for the comfort of others as well, so that I was not able to get the amount of work done I would have as if I was on my own, which I originally intended.  For the sake of the residency experience I had made a decision to not leave the compound earlier on, and the group of artists, even though the accommodations were growing inadequate (not due to size, just to maintenance), but now I may regret that decision.  If I had left earlier, I might have had a chance at getting more work done, but that opportunity is gone now too, so either way, even if the accomodations are improved, I will be so far behind there will be no catching up.  I just have to accept and deal with that fact, and work with what I've got when I return to the States, to develop my series.

And, what I have is only a handful of sketches and five paintings, which is pitiful.  Last night, our room reached nearly 100 degrees inside, no breeze, and the moisture in the room was so dense, our pillows were soggy and smelled moldy.  Our air conditioner has not worked in over a week in the heat and intense moisture, but that is due to a maintenance problem rather than electrical issues. We were told that four of the five shared bedrooms DID have running air conditioners, even on the generator, whereas we (my roomie and I) did not have air conditioning for days now, and were told by the men that staff the property that the issue would be resolved, and sadly, it never was.  

After the room reached that zenith of heat, no amount of sleeping in your underwear could make it livable, just left us open to mosquitoes and predators (the human kind) by forcing us to sleep with all windows and even the door open for a little cross draft, so we were forced to decamp in the middle of the night, and join a room of 3 (that was also over original capacity of 2) who were kind enough to invite us into their already crowded quarters.  Now, there were 5 of us in this room, like artist refugees, huddled around the air conditioner, sleeping with our mattresses on the floor, and even though the room is very large, it was still an awkward experience, and one I do not wish to continue with for the remainder of my stay, mostly because I know I will never get a decent night's sleep for any of these nights left, just because I am a fussy sleeper.  This means I will be looking to leave here if the air condtioning situation can't be rectified today.  It's just too many people in a room, although another room of gracious artists did say we could join them (3 in a room), I feel kind of bad about that too, like a gate crasher, as their room is very small, but we'll see how it goes today.

So, that's my situation for now.  I got about 2 hours of sleep last night, and am groggy and grouchy.  I don't see a very productive work day in this weary and disjointed state, but I'm hoping to (again) try to push through the discomfort and get this painting done (it might be the final one here, not sure yet), and if the conditions aren't improved, have to have my hosts arrange for me to stay at another homestay or resort until Monday, where I can have some air conditioner and be able to sleep without feeling like I'm stuck to flypaper.  Not an impossibility in India by the way, as I had it in Goa at that modest little holiday home called "Angels" that I stayed at privately prior to coming to Lilypad.  As I understand, if the air conditioners cannot be fixed for our room today, the owner/ residency hosts will extend us the gracious action of sending us to a hotel a kilometer or so down the road that has air conditioning so we can spend the night in comfort, and then transport us back to the compound for breakfast and working, etc.  That is sounding very good at this junction, and although I like my room and my roomie and I had/have a good system in here, she is opting for the comfort of air conditioning as well...

That's the long and short of it.  Our residency hosts have been trying hard to get everything resolved, and for that I feel sorry for them, as they are also dealing with the gripes and discomfort of a group of 10, all are frustrated in varying degrees, by various issues such as the wifi, etc. and so, hopefully, we can just get this situation fixed today and enjoy the last several days here we have left.....In the meantime, I will try to finish up my last painting, and maybe if I can get another done by Saturday, I will attempt it.  I'll have to see how it goes, depending on the weather, the workspace, etc.

Day ???

 I am so tired, but being that we have been offline for nearly five days, I will post up the first painting I did after we went back to being primitive (without power or internet).  It's amazing how much you can get accomplished when you are offline...and we all laughed about how we knew we were back online: no one talked to each other the moment we went live again.  Pretty sad.  For those five days, we actually became human beings again, talking, laughing, interacting, playing games, watching movies, all the things we did before we went online.  And, once we went on again, it was instantaneous...the room got silent, and all you heard was the clicking of keyboards, and an exasperated mutter here and there as we each sank deeper into our own little universe.

So, I am playing catch up here with my journal.  It was a long lost five days of laying around in the sauna that is monsoon during the long, hot afternoons, awaiting that cool breeze that starts to ruffle the curtains around 4 pm, so deliciously, like a long desperate drink of cold water.  The mosquitoes come if there is no breeze, so we go crazy spraying each other, like a group of monkeys in a wild forest.  The pool filtration system went down too, so that it began to resemble a swamp rather like the backwaters, and swimming became impossible, so in the long sweltering stretches of afternoon, between stripping nearly naked like a savage and painting, then collapsing in a sweaty heap in a patch of shade, hopping a cold shower and repeating the process, I was actually able to produce some work.  A bit strange, but that's the nature of this trip so far, frustrating, strange, yet highly entertaining.  It is such a primitive experience now, I am kind of glad it went this way...I feel like I can honestly say I had an authentic experience, sans any comforts we have grown to depend on: electricity, warm water, internet, AIR CONDITIONING, comfort foods, television, clean laundry (aside what we wash in our own buckets and hang all over the compound like a crazy decorations), ice cubes or even confirmed drinking water...but, it is still very interesting.

A few days ago, as we all sat around lost, lamenting and bewildered, we decided it would be best to do something, so we took a houseboat ride around Lake Vembanad, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  The houseboat was beautiful, and we enjoyed the cool breezes of the lake, and afternoon tea.  It really cheered us all up, and we all had a laugh about getting adjusted to our lack of tech...we are getting there.  It's amazing how much we have grown to depend on it, and how it takes some days to get readjusted to living as we did maybe 20 or so years ago....

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 9

 "Lake Vembanad before a storm" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 10", 2015

It's been a peaceful day, and the first one I've really been able to work.  It started off nicely, with one of our artist residents, a young artist named Grace (and also my roomie) giving a very nice presentation of her work, which was very interesting.  She does "projection mapping" (I'm not quite sure what it is still, except that it involves scanning found vintage pornography images into your computer and making an animated collage that comes out looking a bit like a weird cartoon) and she gave a demonstration on this.  Again, quite interesting, but way out of my depth.  I'm just a simple gal who loves to paint, so I felt a little unable to completely grasp the concept of this medium, but that could also be because I'm old least compared to a 20 year old ;-)  Anyway, it is nice to see other artists and their creative processes, no matter what medium they work in.

I went out and painted this little study of Lake Vembanad from the edge of our property.  There were many reeds and the dense lilypads seem to form surface so solid on the edge of the lake, it seems you would be able to walk on them!  Obviously, that would not be a good suggestion, as you would wind up drowned in lilypads at the bottom of the lake, so I will just stay where it is nice and solid, and paint this lovely little scene at my leisure.  It took about 2 hours, but that was with breaking for lunch and talking with Ru Ru.  For a 2 year old, he has some definite opinions about painting!

So, the others went out to the market, and being that I was still not done with my painting, I decided to stay behind.  The compound is nearly empty, so floating in the pool was quite relaxing and quiet, as I listened to my own heartbeat through the water, I felt I could have been back in the amniotic sac, floating in uetero...the layers of stress just slowly peel away like a snake shedding its skin.

I am looking forward to more work tomorrow, I've made a pact with myself to get "x" number of paintings done (I won't reveal the number in case I miss the mark haha).  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this little window peek at  Lake Vembanad~

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 7-8

Day one of the residency, and the property is splendid.  We came into the place at all hours, in dribs and drabs, as we did in the Romanian residency...stories of missed connections, and flooded train tracks, and all the other little mishaps that happen along the way during international travel, but in the end, the outcome is a good one.  It has been well worth the hiccups along the way.

We are an eclectic group of 8, we would have been 9, but the other artist, an Australian artist staying behind for extenuating circumstances.  Our hosts, Triparna and Shivajee, have been most acocmmodating, and their little son, "Ru Ru" is most adorable.  He reminds me of home, and my family, thinking of our babies, Maddie, Bronson, Amelia, and Isaac, and Nicole and Wade.  He makes me smile, as he is only 2 and 1/2 and is just as mischievious as a all little kids are.  He will add a touch of lightness to our group, as little ones do.

It's been a leisurely day, one of introductions, both formal and informal, hammering the "kinks" out with the technology and staff, sleeping arrangements and arrivals, and getting to know one another, as both artists and people.  I didn't get much work done in terms of beginning to paint, but that's OK, since tomorrow is another day, and that's my plan.  I was able to get a full night's rest last night, the first in nearly a week, and that was wonderful, I was able to refresh and reset, and feel nice and ready to do some painting tomorrow...also, the soak in the pool helped, I'm sure.  

The landscape here is fabulous...the views of Lake Vembanad are lovely with the soft blues, grays and cool greens that conjure thoughts of timeless and primieval continuity...just freshness of heart and mind.  I sit and watch the warm spot on the lake, a sinewy man, his dusky skin vibrating warm against the cool landscape of the rippling surfaces, fishing in his canoe, and you feel it could be now, or 100 years ago, or maybe even 1,000....the landscape evokes a timelessness that is palpable and comforting.  It will be a lovely experience to paint these sights, and to feel the truth of the landscape.  

The weather here is sublime, and the moisture of the day, which seems to be at 100% humidity at times even though the temperature does not seem to move out of the mid 80's F, is just hot enough to NOT be overwhelming, and now, in the evening, has given way to soft, clean and cool breezes off the water; the soothing sounds of the gentle waves, the swaying lilypads, and the tree frogs are enough to lull me comatose--a true tropical paradise.  I haven't been anywhere tropical in a bit, so this is a trip that is well overdue :-)  .

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 6-7

It is sunny...I had my night shades on, but still the rhymthic swaying of the train was not enough to hold me asleep.  Once I peeled these off, it was like being unmasked for a surprise party! The sights of the Southern Indian countryside are just spectacular, to the point of my heart leaping with wonder.  This train ride, in itself, gave me hope for what beautiful landscapes I will find in Kumarokom.  

The wait to get on this train was an exercise in pain, no doubt.  Seven long, somewhat nailbiting hours waiting for it to arrive, as yes, it was very overdue because of monsoon flooding, among other things.  The station was glutted with people, sleeping on the floors, chairs, anywhere that their bodies could fit, in a sight so bizarre, I began to think I was actually hallucinating it.  I overheard snatches of broken English, about "trains being canceled" and my heart caught in my throat....Margao was not exactly the most stellar place to be caught off guard--kind of like getting stranded in Jersey City.  I just took a deep breath and said a quiet prayer.

As I was sitting there, trying to retain a calm facade in the face of mounting pressure, a disheveled man, obviously a drunkard or a bum, came up and began yelling in my face for money.  I waved him off and then calmly looked straight ahead, and ignored him, but he was very persistent, and began to get more agitated and louder.  The young Indian man sitting next to me promptly looked at me, and then at him, and began to yell at him in Hindi.  I heard the heated exchange, including the threat of "police," and the bum grudgingly walked away.  I sat there for a moment, and I looked at him, and he at me, and then he said, "I'm sorry for that.  Unfortunately, there are bad people no matter where you go in the world." We smiled, and began to converse.  He was a very nice person, waiting for his wife, he was an engineer, he had been to Europe but not yet to America, and we talked of the snowy winters in the Northeast, and of the droughts in California, and all things American, and I was so grateful for the nice conversation, it was most certainly a godsend.  

After about an hour, the train his wife was arriving in (it was 12 hours late) was finally pulling in to the station, and he continued to assist me, by bringing me to a women's only lounge (which I was not aware of), and arranging with a porter to assist me with my luggage when (and if) the train arrived.  Here we parted company, and I went to sit with the large group of Indian women in the ladies lounge...which was guarded by a sleepy looking porter, and a bored looking police officer.  It was open to the main platform so I could still see the departure board, and every hour that ticked by, I watched my train departure getting rolled back yet another hour, until midnight, when it disappeared off the board altogether!  Alarmed, I asked the young Hindi lady sitting next to me to watch my suitcase (yes, a foolish chance, but the suitcase is huge, and no one was going ANYWHERE at that point), and walked over to one of the porters to try to communicate with him.  After a completely broken conversation, I gathered the train was finally arriving for us at 1:20 pm, and once again, blessing for me, it would be on the track/platform I was sitting on, and I would not have to lug myself over to the more desolate part of the train station, that honestly, had me a little frightened.  I had even took my box cutter out and tucked it into my bra just in case.  But now, I could literally just board right from the ladies lounge.  I was elated.

Many of the ladies rushed the toilets in anticipation of the trains arrival, and actually so did I, since I literally had not used the bathroom in 7 hours due to the delays, and the stress of leaving my luggage unattended and it getting stolen, so I was in desperate need at that point, because even though I had not drank any water in all that time either, so this way I wouldn't need to go, after 7 hours, water or no, you gotta go.  I quickly went into the bathroom, paid my 2 rupees to use the hole in the floor (quite literally--aim and go ladies) and then ran out, found the porter, and scurried to the train that was now, FINALLY, pulling into the station.  I was exhausted but fervently relieved, as it least it was finally here, and I wouldn't be sleeping the night in the train station, etc.  

Plus, there was a very young American couple sleeping in the mouth of the door for the ladies lounge, neither of them being more than 21 or 22.....both very blonde and Midwestern, she with her natural bright blonde hair and fair skin (a BIG deal here), he with his sandy hair and blue eyes, sleeping on their backpacks, but attracting ALL the stares.  I know it's terrible, but what a relief to know I wasn't the only white person in the station, getting stared at like an animal in the zoo.  The little blonde girl (obviously feigning sleep on the floor because her boyfriend was out cold) noticed me looking down at her, and we locked eyes and she managed a weak smile...I could tell she looked confused and exhausted.  I smiled back, and with that little reassurance, she snuggled back a little closer to her snoring boyfriend, and put her hoodie over her entire head.  Good move.  I wondered why she hadn't done it before...after all, the mosquitos were on a rampage (Margao is an outdoor train station) but lucky I must taste bad.  Not a single bite.  Maybe the wasp's venom is still lingering in my scent hahaha.....

So, now I sit in my train cabin, looking out the window, immensely enjoying the sights, and have this moment of happiness.  I don't know what comes next in terms of things beyond my control, such as delays, and mishaps, and other unpleasant things that tend to get us feeling defeated, but the sights of the lush watery pthalo green fields, with the raging gray ocean in the background, the swaying palms, and the cows  and herons calmly grazing together, are enough to make me feel the pall that was cast over me this week start to lift...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 5

It's wild here...and no, I don't mean "nightlife" wild, but I'm sure that's the case too, as I have heard from the waiters about the "good clubs" to go to, and it was "nice" I don't go, because I am "nice lady."  Haha.  More like reclusive and unmotivated to go to a disco filled with crazy English tourists :-D  
The monsoon has been knocking the power out more often than not, so technology is basically foiled for a good part of the day, which is fine.  I did bring two books to read, along with my Kindle on my iPad, plus working--I have managed to find a way to work from my balcony in the rain, but the wind has become quite heavy making outdoor work unmanageable today, so I am just prepping for tomorrow's departure to Kerala, and all that entails.  As I sit here in the quiet, I hear the monkeys screaming in the trees...initially I thought they were children playing, but now I know better.  At night, some of the birds make the oddest sounds...I thought it was a car alarm for one night, and then I realized where I was, and what it was, and just laughed.  First World programmed....

I had several issues with my Vodafone that I purchased here, and that took nearly 24 hours to hammer out, and was quite frustrating.  I am just starting to feel remotely like myself, after the jetlag is finally beginning to abate, and my leg is about 75% healed.  It is now just a big reddish purple area like a giant bruise, not swollen, etc., and the sting itself is healing nicely, not too ulcerated, but healing.  What a whopper of a sting....I have never experienced anything like it, and hope to never again.  I have prepped all my canvases in my downtime during the storms, so I won't have to bother grounding them when I reach the residency, I can just get to work.  

I also had an issue with my bank cards when I went to use them here, which was pretty horrifying, especially when you are exhausted, feel like sh*t, and have no cell phone or wifi access...but, after trial and error, found out: A.)  American Express is NOT welcome in most stores and hotels, despite their commercials LOL  and B.)  HFDC, a major British bank, DOES accept them, and like a squirrel finding a precious nut, kept having to return to the one ATM about .5 a mile a way, but there is a young man named Rhual (probably misspelled that) who drives the shuttle, and he was very nice to bring me there several times for nothing.  Now, I have to make sure I make one final stop at it before heading to the train station tomorrow, so that I am not short-strapped in Kerala should I not be able to find one there, etc.  

With all of the adjustments, I do feel like India is beginning to grow on me, which is why I would never make a trip like this and stay less than two the time you get adjusted, it would be time to leave, and with the added trauma of the leg injury, it would have been a complete bust.  I do enjoy their cuisine, but yesterday, I was feeling a little under the weather in my stomach, so the smells of curry etc. was overwhelming to me, and I hid in my room for most of the evening, ordering room service, of Continental cuisine: just a plain chicken breast with a slightly spicy mushroom sauce that I promptly threw away as I couldn't even bear the slightest odor of it, and some french fries, with a ginger ale.  Fixed me up pretty well, so that this morning, I went to the cafe and had an egg over easy and some buttered toast and a side of fresh papaya, and now I feel pretty good.  I still haven't completely recovered all of my around 3 pm, I feel extremely tired, but lucky thing it rains so I almost don't feel bad taking a nap.  Almost.  I still can't unAmericanize myself in that aspect of feeling like a lazy loser if I am not busy at something ALL the time, or mostly, for taking a nap haha.  That one is an offense that is hard for me to overcome, but I've been being "kind" to myself because of my leg and my terror of the injury escalating, so I allowed myself this leeway.

I am very much looking forward to the train ride for some reason--it seems like an exciting journey down through the Indian countryside, but I remember it will be mostly at night, so I will have to remember to wake up a little early, so I can really enjoy the landscapes before we reach Kerala.  I am still somewhat hazy about what my gameplan is when I reach there, in terms of the landscape, landmarks, etc. for my paintings, but I am sure that Triparna, the head of the residency, will know of some interesting sites for me to paint at.  I have high hopes for the beautiful and exotic landscapes and culture, and to paint and interpret that.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Day 3

I am still undecided about how I feel about India.  After the long travel here, the delays, the conversion problems, the hellride through the desolate roads with the taxi driver and stranger, and then literally walking into my hotel room and immediately getting stung by a giant wasp, and having a hideous and continuing reaction to the venom, I was pretty sure I was not getting out of Goa alive, and if I actually did, and made it home to the USA, made a promise to myself to have my head examined quite thoroughly.  

After spending the entire day in bed yesterday nursing my ailing leg, and laying about in the spacious air conditioned room, listening to the soothing rain, watching HBO between dozing on and off, and taking a lukewarm shower that at least washed the travel away, I felt a little better.  I ordered room service, a very nice roasted lamb dish with new potatoes in a brown garlic sauce, that was very good.  And, a 7-Up with an old fashioned straw....made me think of home.

The food here is amazingly good!  For breakfast, I had a delicious omelette masala, which is a spicy omelette with hot peppers and other veggies in there, along with a light yet dense rice cake with a sublime cucumber sauce that accompanied it, and the waiter called "Cumar" insisted I try a nice little sort of porridge, delicate and milky, yet sweet, with slivered almonds and golden raisins, which was truly delicious.  You can't help but eat all of these amazing local and native's so easy, as they are there, and so casual the way the food is given to you.  It's different from any other "foodie" state or country I've ever visited.  Say, for instance, Paris, the food is sublime, but the approach is aloof, and the Parisians offer no help there, are left on your own, overwhelmed with decisions, and for someone like me, I usually go with the safer choices...but not here in Goa.  For some reason, the atmosphere of this place is just conducive to partaking of all the native foods...or maybe it's just the bee sting that gave me brain damage!  No, I will give Goa high marks for delicious and interesting foods.

The people here are also very accommodating.  The men, who were severely demonized Stateside by well-meaning friends, have been very gentlemanly, and I appreciate that, since I was wary of them to the point of paranoia.  Now, don't think I will get too comfortable, but it's refreshing to know that for the most part, they have been very genteel and polite, and helpful to me when I have asked them to help me, directions, locations of certain stores and resources.  And, it's needed, because this place can be overwhelming...The chaos of it, extreme poverty and squalor, with pockets of civilization, on the outskirts of Goa, while Panjim City seems to be a wealthier area, with narrow streets jammed with taxis and rickshaws, and many different shops which would prove a real treat for those who love to shop, but I, either fortunately or unfortunately, am not one of those people, so just observing the place, the people, and the architecture was enough for me.  There seem to be many influences here, from the different groups of invaders that left their marks upon this place, leaving it fascinating in it's chaos and crumbling beauty.  

I came to observe and to digest this place, and I hope I am up to that task.  I finally have my mineral spirits, so I will sit on my lovely little balcony tonight, and paint the exotic flowers until the torrential rains return...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 2

In Mumbai awaiting my transfer flight and I'm totally punch drunk from lack of sleep...I feel my mind starting to shut down, and I still have this last leg of the journey get to Goa, and we are delayed because of the monsoon rains. I have no internet access, nor phone access, so I don't know how I can get in touch with the hotel and make sure they have a shuttle waiting at the appropriate time now that we are delayed, so I will probably have to just take a taxi and hope for the best.  That's all I can do, unless I can get some access to wifi in Goa and call them from that airport.  

I am physically spent at this point.  The trip was long but thankfully uneventful until we reached Mumbai, and then it became quite a torturous process to change/transfer planes.  I had to go through customs, and it was very thorough, and the agents were nice, if just a little slow.  Then, I had to retrieve my luggage, and deliver it to another part of the airport, and then, catch a shuttle to a secondary airport, or a subairport, which is several miles from the main airport.  The sites were stunning, even if everything was quite blurred out by the torrential rains and my bleary eyes....the chaos, filth, and human bondage, all amix with space age digital billboards touting the newest Jaguar, literally in the middle of a ruin that resembled the movie "District 9."  The huge colonies of shacks, with rusting tin roofs and oceans of blue plastic tarps to "waterproof" these dilapidated structures was both shocking and mind boggling.  Masses of people living in sheer quagmire, unlike anything I've ever witnessed, even in Jamaica  I was held hypnotized by the sight of it, until the rains made it impossible to see more than a few feet ahead.  I just closed my eyes and listened to the cacaphony of horns (amidst a sea of no honking signs), and watched people scurrying by in the deluge, open taxis with drenched women trying desperately to close the flimsy little curtains that would block the sun in a vain hope of staying dry, others taking shelter under the numerous rotting and moldering edifices in every direction....

After reaching the secondary Mumbai airport, it was like a cattle call with all people being herded off the buses, like down a cattle chute.  I was moving on autopilot at this point, but lucky thing God had his angels with their eyes open, or iI would have been shuttled onto another bus to a flight to Hyderabad, and this could have been a really strange tale from that point forward, lol.

So, then through more security--women in one checkpoint, men in another.  That's another thing--this culture is sex obsessed, and I mean on every level.  Here, there is segregated seating marked "ladies" everywhere...for a culture that seems to revere "ladies," they certainly do a whole bunch of leering and ogling...not very gentlemanly.  But for me, an indifferent look has pretty much shut any frisky looking male down, so I feel fairly safe, but totally alien.  I am literally the only "white" Western woman on this flight....there were a few on the other, but none on this one.  Oh well, I am the odd man out.  

I can't wait to just get to the hotel, and lay down. Take a nice shower, and relax.  The air here is unlike any I've ever experienced--the humidity was so dense, it's like being in a sauna.  The inside of the airport is airconditioned, so I don't know what to expect in terms of Goa.  I guess I can only wait and see...
I am finally in my hotel room after what seemed to be the longest day ever.  I could barely keep my eyes open on the connecting flight.  The flight served up a sandwich that was really vile...made me nauseous just watching people eat it.  It seemed to be some kind of curried pickle relish on a spiced roll, and people would then drizzle ketchup all over each bite they took...was enough to make me a little ill.  

After landing in Goa, I wound up taking the LAST cab available for the evening from the airport, and had to share the ride with a young Indian guy.  I was exhausted, and then when we started heading into the dark jungle, flying down desolate roads, I was convinced the cab driiver and the young man were in cohoots together, and I was dead--never to be found after they raped and robbed me.  But, luckily, he was an honest driver, he dropped me off at the resort, and I thanfully checked in to my room.  Not bad, until I used the bathroom and got stung by a giant wasp on the inside of my thigh, that must have been hiding under the toilet seat.  No joke, most painful bite, thought I was getting stung by a scorpion and freaked out.  Now, this bite is all swollen, right at inner mid thigh level, so I took some benadryl just in case, as well as an ibuprofen, and will try and get some damn sleep.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice day even with this sting.  I guess it was better than getting bitten by a snake LOL

Monday, June 15, 2015

So it begins!

So it begins!!

The journey begins today, officially.  All of the little plans, and little details, the work up to it, everything, is enough to give one butterflies, as this is the furthest I&rsquo;ve been away from home yet, and for some reason, that thought made me slightly nervous yesterday.  I don&rsquo;t know why, yet it did.

In reality, I am in even a better position to travel this year than I was last year when I went to Eastern Europe, yet the more relaxed pace previous to this trip gave me more time to think, and to digest all kinds of scare-mongering from well meaning loved ones, hahaha.  I refuse to give in to fear.  It&rsquo;s against my nature.

So, now I sit here in Newark airport, waiting for the long flight to Mumbai, and then the layover, and then the short flight to Goa.  The check-in process in Newark was incredibly smooth, which is why I really love this airport.  JFK is a nightmare on every front, from the grueling cross town traffic, to the ineptness of the whole check in process&hellip;no thank you.  Every time I get tempted by a slightly cheaper ticket over there I just think back to the various nightmares I have endured at that airport, and shudder, and then go with the Newark ticket LOL.

This waiting process is not very hard right now, and I am surprised at the number of women travelers, both solo or as mother/daughter teams.  That is a reassuring observation to me, for whatever reason&hellip;.maybe it assures me I&rsquo;m not really freaky for traveling to India solo ;-)

Now, I will change some currency, and just wait to board&hellip;I have my books, movies and various games downloaded to my iPad, and I am hoping the smooth trip continues nicely and God remains with me on my travels, and I can lay my head comfortably on my pillow in my air conditioned room in Goa!!  I will update in Mumbai&hellip;or maybe even up in the air if I have wifi access!

Monday, June 8, 2015


"Study of curving hedge after a sun shower" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 10", oil on canvas, 2015

Back to plein air....just getting limbered up for India next week.  I plan on doing plenty of painting, to be sure.  I had fun doing this quick little oil sketch...the curving hedge and crazy sunlight plus rain made for an interesting juxtaposition, not to mention tactical conundrum haha.

I plan on a few more local landscapes before India next Monday, then the next will be of the exotic Indian landscape :-)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Studio work

"Portland Head" by Hilary J. England, 2015, oil on canvas, 24" x 36"

I just completed this painting today, it was a little project I did just for myself.  I have a large space in my bedroom, on the wall straight ahead, and I was completely sick of looking at a blank wall there, so I decided I would paint myself a scene, something that was lovely and close to my heart, and would bring me some nice dreams when I feel asleep meditating to it.  So, I looked back through my old studies, and knowing I wanted some kind of water scene, found some interesting drawings and sketches of Portland head, and decided to paint that lovely lighthouse.

I had been wanting to do this for a long time, and the beauty of being a painter is in the future, when I want a different scene, I will just paint another one! ;-)  So, there are perks to being an artist, haha. 

I hope you enjoy this painting as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

On break

"On break" by Hilary J. England, 2015, 24" x 36" x 2"  

Here is a new painting called "On break" from the series I started called "The margin."  This young model was on her break, looking quite angelic on her downtime, making even the old ugly dressing area seem a sanctuary. 

I have been busy, very busy, but I look forward to getting this new series underway without distraction, even with India on the horizon.  I think the warm weather is a great motivator!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dreams for tomorrow

"Tree at sunset" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2015

I am so happy that spring is finally here...even if old man winter gave us a jackboot kick in the a$$ on the way out by that final snowstorm that arrived on the first day of Spring.  I really was worn thin by the constant stress of having a snowstorm arrive every day I had to make a commute...literally.

So, now for plans for this upcoming year....India in 3 months, studying with Daniel Greene in August, Europe in the autumn,  looking to plan a trip to Israel, Greece and Egypt in the winter 2015-16, and start plans beyond that too.  so, good stuff!! 

Here is a little painting I did par coeur from my time in the Riviera...I literally did this while I was looking out my studio window into blizzard like conditions.  Hey, a girl can dream!!! ~Enjoy!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hopeful Spring

"Broken logs and wildflowers" by Hilary J. England
8" x 11" oil on canvas

Here is a painting from last summer that I never posted.  When I came back from Romania, within a week, it was like I felt completely if all of the stress of the last two years finally caught up with me.  It was like running down a train track and stopping for a breather, and then, well, you know. 
All of the tumult finally came down like a ton of bricks on me...the move, the injury, the deaths, the birth, Noelle's  and my Dad's health breakdowns, all of someone dropped the boom on me.  It was like my mind just short-circuited, and went into a protective cocoon, and there it stayed for the last several months, refusing to think of anything at all outside the moment I was in.  Although I did work a good deal, I didn't remain very faithful in updating most of anything, and to be honest, I just didn't care.  It was like being a feather floating on a breeze...and I was oblivious...not blissfully, just mind-numbingly.  It was like teetering on the edge of a great precipice...calmly, not frantically, or fearfully, just sitting there.  Romania didn't do it in itself...I think the trip  was wonderful, it just seemed to open some kind of mental "Pandora's box" when I let my guard down, and all mental hell broke loose inside the fragile ecosystem of my mind, and the balancing act I was maintaining in there.  It was unavoidable I suppose.  Too much happened in too short a span of time, and my way of dealing with painful things is putting each issue and event into it's own little compartment, and dealing with it later if at all...hopefully I can outrun it, and leave it behind permanently.  Some things just can't be outrun. Not a healthy system, but there it is.

I initially had made up my mind to just fulfill some obligations like the Dacia show, and some commissions, and that was that...I had no idea of anything, just that maybe I would take off on the breeze as well.  But, as I began to "come to," and trust me, this winter was no help whatsoever, with the endless procession of snow and ice storms, my senses started to slowly return, like a person waking up from a very long sleep.  I decided to confront these hidden cataclysms, and work through them, and move on.  I'm still doing that, but I feel very optimistic that 2015 will continue on to be a most productive and positive year.  With that in mind, I decided to go on to the India artist's residency, and see what new and wonderful marvels India has for my artistic journey.  After all, new experiences are truly my core addiction...I am a travel junkie, and I make no apologies on that account.  I may not smoke or have more insidious vices, but I sure do love to travel!!! So, I am most happily looking forward to India.

And, in the meantime, here is one of the many little paintings that I never posted.  It reminds me of the warm weather to come! ~Enjoy.

Carry on- Beginning Life in Lockdown

“Study of dramatic back lighting” oil on wooden panel, 16” x 16” Strange Times Beginning Life in Pandemic Lockdown Life in ...