When Inspiration Strikes, Make a Whale

Inspiration may have come from the Sawdust Art Festival, my walk to seek out unexpected beauty, balancing my chi or a combination of all of the above. All I know is that while walking the dog this morning, a discarded palm’s frond called out to me to take home and make something with it.

The inside was a beautiful mix of rich reds and oranges and the shape reminded me of a wave. I wasn’t sure what I’d make with it, but I knew it would be today’s exploration in creativity.

I laid my art supplies across the dining room table and stared at this frond, admiring its striations and form. I imagined how I could paint it into a wave and somehow hang it outside.

As I reached toward it with my brush lathered in sticky blue paint, a strange thing happened. I couldn’t bring myself to paint over the natural, rich color on the inside of the frond. I paused and thought maybe I’ll just paint the outside of it into a wave, which was more a bland tan color. Again, it felt wrong to use brush strokes against the grain of the wood rather than flowing with it’s natural texture.

I set my paintbrush down and moved the frond around on the table in various positions. Then I saw it. The real form that had spoken to me yet hadn’t made its way to my consciousness. It looked like a whale coming up out of the water for air. If the table was the ocean, the frond was a whale’s back surfacing. How did I not see this before?

With a fervor I didn’t anticipate, my paintbrush-in-hand glided over and caressed the grain of the frond. It felt natural and almost like it was someone else’s hands stroking the back of the whale like a pet cat.

First Layer of Blue
Back of a whale surfacing for air.

Realizing I have a whale statue in my living room, I grabbed it and placed it on the table next to me for anatomical guidance on next steps. Yet it didn’t look like a humpback whale…it was another kind.

Google searching whale images, I came upon a blue whale and that felt more right for its back, though not its head.

Whale Image
Copyright 2017 Thinklink Oy

Orcas are shaped like this frond, but I wasn’t feeling black and white today…today is all about the blues! And because there are no rules in art, this will be my Blue Orca.

I began mixing my blues to create the underbelly and slight ridge on its back and tail. Once again, my hands moved along its sides smoothly.

Then I added some white to his belly and around his blow spout.

Final touches before leaving to dry.

He’s more abstract than concrete art. He may or may not receive a blow spout, eyes and mouth. For now, he’s resting comfortably to dry.

My lesson? Even tree trimming debris can turn into something magical through a little imagination and willingness to try something completely different. Whether he stays as is or I add parts to him later, or even whether he goes on display or in the trash, I had a spark of vision that felt really, really good to live out. Right now, in this moment, I am happy…and that, my friends, is what this whole ride is all about.

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