Saturday, August 25, 2007


"When making a choice one prefers sunny and colorful effects, and there is nothing that prevents me from thinking that in the future many painters will go and work in tropical countries." - Vincent Van Gogh

WOW! Couldn't believe Van Gogh was already thinking of me during that time. He prophesied about artists going to tropical countries. Like Van Gogh, I think, there is no better place to be inspired than in tropical settings. The palette is distinctly colorful - sky blue, orange, pink, vermilion, bright yellow, bright green, bright wine-red and violet. Impressionist palette is made up of pure colors. This palette actually had a powerful, potential for expression.

VINCENT VAN GOGH was one of the most famous impressionist artists. Yet during his lifetime, he received no recognition and sold only one painting. Van Gogh was born in Holland but lived most of his life in France. He was a Dutch and French monsieur at the same time. He had a case of split personality like the island of St. Maarten. He moved to Paris and was immediately attracted to the impressionist art he saw there. Under the influence of Impressionism, Van Gogh lightened his brushstrokes and used bright, clear colors. Later he went to Arles in Southern France. There he painted his most expressive and original paintings.
FAVORITE ARTIST Van Gogh is one of my favorite Impressionist artists. I was reading an art book on Van Gogh and I found this little info about one of my favorite paintings of his, entitled "Seascape" (1888). While still in Holland he wrote: "Sand-sea-sky - I would like so much to express these at some point in my life. At Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, he had the opportunity to do so. He spent only four days at the seaside town, but was sufficiently enamored to make nine drawings and three paintings of it on his return. Of the paintings, two were seascapes and this is the better of the two. In fact Van Gogh was so pleased with it that he produced three copies. At the time of the original, Van Gogh was aspiring to a more assured way of working the broader strokes, called for in painting the sea, freed him from previous precision. The foreground waves, which have curious grass-like quality, are painted in a particularly thick impasto that makes them appear to splash off the canvass. Van Gogh being a Dutch and a French artist is the most interesting "imaginary tour guide" to help us see why St. Maarten is so spectacular.

WELCOME TO SAINT MAARTEN This small saintly island is divided between Holland and France. It's like two destinations in one - the Dutch half of the island and the French side. If you're on the Dutch side, this island is called St. Maarten. If on the French side, it is called St. Martin. No formal boundary exists between the Dutch and French sides of the island, a simple welcome sign tells you when you cross from one country to the other. But the differences are as noticeable as the spelling of the island's name. It's this split personality that lends much to the island's charms.
S..............................................SPECTACULAR, SENSATIONAL A.............................................ARTISTIC

N.............................................NOT-BORING SPECTACULAR as a saint named Saint Maarten. It is also as spectacular as the new cruise ship "Crown Princess" (on the left side). True to its name, Crown Princess is a spectacular floating palace. It is 952 feet in length and 113,000 gross tons. Accomodates 3,080 passengers. Its so huge and could be a floating museum and display all masterpieces in museums around the world. Crown princess is sensational from the moment you walk into the piazza. This unique atrium captures the spirit of a European plaza with myriad places to dine, relax and people-watch. It is the same sensational feeling I have, when ever I see an original Van Gogh paintings inside the museum.
ARTISTIC AND COLORFUL WELCOME PORT The magenta, blue and yellow colors of the St. Maarten letters are eye-popping. Although this island is balmy and breezy, the colors will wake you up. The colors will leap out at you.
INSPIRING SEASCAPE I think the Caribbean seascape is as inspiring as the Mediterranean seascape that inspired Van Gogh. Soothing blue colors that are beautiful to the eyes and restful to the soul.
NEVER-ENDING SHOPPING ADVENTURE At the duty-free shops in port. A great place to find and buy colorful and big Caribbean gems and handcrafted items. But beware! These things are pricey. I'd rather invest our hard earn dollar on an original painting by Van Gogh. But this is an impossible dream. Maybe, I'll be happy to own a copy.
TYPICAL DUTCH LANDMARK Bold red Dutch buildings and windmills dotted the colorful landscape of St. Maarten. Red color arouse passion. Before shopping, by-pass this Dutch landscape. You'll not be tempted to splurge.
THERAPEUTIC Browsing through this colorful art galleries is very therapeutic. Just looking at every wall drenched in different color, inspired by vibrant and pulsating hues that evoke Van Gogh's colors, will make you feel better without splurging."MAGNIFIQUE" -As the French says. Here's a magnificent view of St. Maarten before crossing the border to the French side. Van Gogh painted the Mediterranean seascape but not the Caribbean seascape. Still his thoughts about painting a seascape could apply here. He said that the Mediterranean proved more colorful than he had expected it to be and strengthened his belief that......"color must be exaggerated even more."MAGNIFIQUE! C'est Magnifique! This magnificent view is like a handsome painting by Van Gogh. In a letter describing the scene to Theo (his brother) he outlined his further surprise that - "the deep blue sky was flecked with clouds of a blue deeper than the fundamental blue of intense cobalt, and others of a clearer blue, like the blue whiteness of the milky way." After this we shouldn't look at the blue sea and sky the same again. Let's look at them through the eyes of this great impressionist artist.
ADMIRABLE HANDCRAFTED COLORFUL CARIBBEAN SCARVES These dreamy scarves speak of colors in paradise. Let's take have a short painting lesson here. Have your paint brush, colors, and you paint paradise, then in you go. Do it! Take orange and magenta and blue and purple....and green, and yellow.....and paint your paradise. Put lots of texture and it will look like a Van Gogh painting. Yes, you can do it.
ALIVE With colorful tropical wind chimes and native jewelries. Traveling is also one of the fun ways to pick up design ideas. Every place in the world has its own different flavor and style. Incorporating design idea and the items you collected from your travels both inspires and refreshed. Ideas are one thing you can take home FREE. When Picasso ( a famous modern artist) said, "A good artist borrows, a great artist steals,"......... he was speaking of ideas.
ROMANTIC What is more romantic than celebrating Valentine's Day (2007) with a Princess?Think RED! Think love, courage and passion. Red will make your day alive with additional solid brushstrokes of romance plus joy to your heart. Endless radiant breakfast, ravishing lunch and romantic dinner with champagne and cake were as colorful as Van Gogh's paintings. Perfect partners for an unforgettable day.
TANTALIZING Teasingly beautiful blue sky, aquamarine sea, and inviting hammock. Why is beauty so important? Because we get energy and motivation from beautiful sight. Beauty is food for the soul and balm to the spirit.
EXCITING ARCHITECTURE DESIGN To please the eyes, stand beside this French designed rotunda and whistle. Then wait for the exciting joy to follow. NOT-BORING This is Marigot Bay on the French side of the island. It is very interesting sight. It looks like you're back in the French Quarter in France or New Orleans, U.S.A. Very exciting place to linger with the ocean nearby. This place will stir your every emotion and steal your heart away.

PARTING THOUGHT: I have read many books written on the life of Vincent Van Gogh. His life was very sad indeed. His happy masterpieces and vibrant colors were a sharp contrast to his unhappy life. He imagined a happy life but he was too frustrated with waves of problems and ended his life. On the lighter side, his artistic life is not in vain. Every time, I look at his paintings, I feel happy and inspired. Artists should continue to create art, no matter how difficult one's circumstances are. God gave us this creative gifts to inspire and make others happy. To those who are gifted with other creative talents, you can also be an inspiration in different ways.

Monday, August 20, 2007


"The landscape with its bold, intense colours, dazzled and blinded me." - Paul Gauguin
WELCOME TO SANTA LUCIA This is a very lovely and peaceful island. The first European who settled in Sta. Lucia are the French. Today, there are still many traces of French influence in this island. I am sure if the famous French painter, Paul Gauguin had been to this island, he would have immortalized it on his masterpieces. I know he lived in Martinique Island for a while before settling in Tahiti. When scouting for a movie set as stand-in for Tahiti, the island of St. Lucia is a close choice. They look like twin sisters. I have not been to Tahiti, but after gazing at many Gauguin's paintings of Tahiti, I can say I had seen it.PAUL GAUGUIN Is one of my favorite artists. Early in 1891, when French post-impressionist painter Gauguin left France for Tahiti, his home for the reminder of his life, he began a series of paintings depicting the beauty of island life in the South Pacific Seas. He was enchanted with this magical place. One of my favorite paintings of his is the above painting entitled "Tahitian Mountains." When he painted it, he said...." the landscape dazzled and blinded me." It's a stunning scenery with spectacular mountains and lush vegetation. He painted the mountains in deep brown and orange, palm trees in deep yellow and ochre, and trees in verdant green.
LOVELY SANTA LUCIA! This is like discovering Paul Gauguin's "earthly paradise (Tahiti)." But this other "earthly paradise" is (Sta. Lucia) located in the Southern Caribbean. You don't have to travel the distance to appreciate this island. Just look at the many paintings of Paul Gauguin about Tahiti, and you have a dream-like vision of this paradise. Well, I couldn't think of any artist who is more qualified to paint Sta. Lucia's landscapes/seascapes and guide us around the island than Paul Gauguin. He left us many of his dramatic imprints and colorful brushstrokes on many of the worlds most beautiful paintings of paradises. Let's look and savor this island with his delicious and inspiring brushstrokes.
S................................STUNNING, SINCERE

C................................CHARMING, CREATIVE, COOL
STUNNING WELCOME AND VIEW This island is as lovely and stunning as a sincere saint named Lucia. Here's a stunning view of the island and our cruise ship from a photo stop. Everybody will be inspired to be an artist even if you had only done paint by numbers or did coloring books. This dreamy paradise will inspire you where ever you go around the island.
ADORABLE ISLAND AND COUPLE Enjoyable royal breakfast at our cruise ship (Crown Princess) before the 7 1/2 hours tour of Sta. Lucia island. The view is also adorable from this spot. NATURAL BEAUTY ON EVERY SIDE Sta. Lucia is a natural beauty inside and outside. The tour was a leisurely drive around the island, feasting our eyes with awesome views of the crystalline and colorful ocean. This natural setting will surely be a life changing experience for everybody. You don't have to be an artist, poet or musician to be awestruck by the natural beauty of Sta. Lucia. TWINKLING AND SPARKLING OCEAN VIEW AROUND THE ISLAND This scenic east coast took our breath away. We had a photo stop on this rugged but picturesque Atlantic coastline. Just being here, and the mixture of the ocean and the rocks come together, it's really a spiritual experience. To be around a place that the Master Designer (God) created that is this huge, it's a little bit humbling. A new sparkling view can change your perspective in life and put twinkle in your eyes.
AGELESS This awesome view is ageless and will transport you to a Paradise. Who said, there is no paradise on earth? This earthly paradise is a real place where time and age do not exists. Once you saw this place and reached the peak, your worry will disappear, smile will be sweeter, and outlook brighter. That's why you'll feel........ ageless.
LOVELY TOGETHER This is a lovely view from the top of an electric power house. The lovely view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea merging together will remain in our memories and hearts forever. Traveling two by two is the best way I know to climb the mountains of life. Each plateau is special, and when you and your mate stand together, each achievement is doubled in joy.
UNIQUE Ever seen a drive - in volcano? We did! We journeyed to Sulphur Springs, the world's only drive in volcano. Only in Sta. Lucia could you drive a car through a dormant volcano.
Real life is not always mountain -top experience. Sometimes life is flat like going through a dormant volcano. In art variety and texture make a painting more interesting. So is it in real life. Variety is the spice of life.
UNUSUAL We're not so far away from the volcano. A close up of the unusual volcano. The sulphur smelled........... awful but the different textures are worth a peek.
CHARMING BALENBOUCHE ESTATE This French estate is one of the few surviving original plantation in Sta. Lucia. It is surrounded with sprawling tropical gardens with colorful flowers and fruit trees. A charming place for an artist studio but not easy to maintain. It's versus painting or owning a huge estate that's burdensome to maintain. I'd chose a small loft or space, where, I'd be free to paint and do whatever I like to do.
CHARMING ESTATE PLANTATION HOUSE Its colonial architecture dates back to the early 19th century and rooms are furnished with antiques from around the same period. Traces of a pre-Columbian presence are also evident at the estate and include rock basins, petroglyphs, and a collection of artifacts.
CHARMING TROPICAL MANGOES Reminded me of Gauguin's mango paintings. When he lived in Tahiti, he painted lots of juicy mangoes plucked off the tree - in deep yellow, orange and red. What fruit has the combined flavor of very ripe peaches, apricots and pineapples? Why, the mango, of course. The green mangoes will turn yellow or orange when ripe. If you've never tried one, you're in for a tropical treat. Varying in size, shape and color, mangoes offer a juicy yellow-orange flesh with a rich taste and spicy aroma.
CHARMING AND COLORFUL PAPAYA TREE Gauguin loved to paint the papaya tree too. Many of his landscapes are dotted with papaya trees. I love to eat papaya but never painted one. Someday???????????? COOL TAMARIND TREE AND FRUIT The color of tamarind is brown -from light to dark brown. Not very colorful to paint but very delicious fruit to eat especially for conceiving women.
COOL THATCHED HUT Americans call this type of house "thatched hut." But in my heart and mind, it will always be my small "nipa hut." Seeing this nipa hut transported me back to my roots, to our small town and province in Victoria, Tarlac (Philippines). It also reminded me of many Filipino paintings. Gauguin painted this hut too. Usually this cool nipa hut is a popular subject in tropical places.
COOL AND CHARMING VILLAGE Love this charming setting. Reminded me of a Philippine village or Hawaiian village. The village is a colorful riot of tropical flowers and trees. It makes you want to take off and play like little kid again. Let's start doing finger-painting, huh?
COOL AND CUTE NIPA HUT. Reminded me of my birth place. I was born during World War II and hospitals were closed. One day, my mother told me..."All of my children were born in the hospital except you. You were born inside a simple nipa hut." During that time, I felt sorry for myself. But after traveling so many Paradises, I discovered that the thatched hut is a symbol of paradise. Isn't a nipa hut more charming than a sterile, white hospital? A nipa hut is surrounded with whispering palm trees, swaying mango trees, breezy bamboos and pretty papaya trees. Wow! It's a humble dwelling and birth place, but you know what, I would never exchange it for a high-tech hospital. This is as close to paradise as you can get.
INTERESTING The magnificent Pitons (twin peaks) rising over 2,600 feet above the azure waters of the Caribbean. This is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
IMPRESSIVE The Pitons are impressive site and here's a photo taken during one stop......."Wish You're Here!" With travel, our minds become more curious and creative, our hearts more powerful and our spirits more joyous.
P.S. The peaks reminded us of a famous landmark. Bora-Bora? Bali-Hai? Nope! Wake up! This is Sta. Lucia. AMAZING OCEAN COLORS You'll never get depressed here even if you're surrounded with many different kinds of blue colors. Let me count the blues-aqua, aquamarine, azure, blueberry, cerulean, cobalt blue, cobalt, indigo, lapis lazuli, dark blue, light blue, medium blue, navy, navy blue, Prussian blue, powder blue, robin's-egg blue, ultramarine, sapphire, sky blue, turquoise. Now you know as many kinds of blues, you can start painting your room blue. It's a calming and relaxing color. You'll have a good night sleep and dream of many more "Paradises" to come.

FAREWELL THOUGHT: When you come to Paradise, leave your laptop, alarm clock and cell phone at home. When you return, everything will be recharged, especially YOU! Just once in a life time, everyone should have the opportunity to taste Paradise. Till our next tour!