Tropic Night

Published on 13 January 2024 at 15:53

Medium: Watercolor on Paper

Date: 1988


Beside the rainforest, from the porch of our house on the steep hill, my dear friend Nicolasa and I sat in the overwhelming heat. Our skin was bare, feeling the spray of water from the surrounding mist. In front of us were the tops of a dozen trees, known as basket ferns.


Like the colors of the surrounding atmosphere, which could change each second, the plants and trees on our slope were continually changing, too. We sat for hours, mesmerized by the changing plants, animals, insects, mist, and colors, unable to move in the intense heat. We sat on armchairs made from woven grass, cooled and preserved by the rain-filled mist which blew across us as if we were two heads of lettuce in a market. We could see across the valley from the mountains behind us all the way to the mountains on the other side of San Juan. The clouds in the distance were huge and ever-changing. We were right next to the Rainforest, the major such forest in the Caribbean.


In front of us, a small tree grew large leaves over the past half-hour. It quickly dropped foot-long stems from which dangled large pods. I had heard that these pods were hallucinogenic, so I grabbed several pods and began boiling them, eager for some of that tea. I recall my sister persistently begging me not to drink that tea. I gave in to her entreaties. I did find out later that it was deadly nightshade, hallucinogenic if done right but deadly if not done right.


I loved the basket fern. There was at least a dozen on our steep lawn. This tree grew by unfurling its top branches. Once the unfurling began, it took about 25 minutes to fully open. This was a beautiful sight. So strong was the impression that I made a drawing of it. Later, several nearby residents remarked that it resembled a figure made by the Taino Indians, who had lived in this rainforest for centuries. I called it Tropic Day.


The year 1988 was distinguished by my journey into mastering computer programs at the law firm where I was employed. During this period, I devoted myself to painting this piece. This endeavor was a gradual exploration, a process through which the painting revealed its hidden depths and secrets to me. Parallel to this, I worked on its counterpart, "Tropic Night" – both artworks reflecting my artistic interpretation of the day and night in a rainforest. "Tropic Night," a creation equally rich in narrative and symbolism, will be the focal point of next week's blog, offering another glimpse into this vibrant and mystical natural world.


As we delve into the surrealistic essence of this picture, we start on a journey that transcends conventional boundaries. The bold blues and yellows merge, creating a vision that seems to draw inspiration from the depths of the subconscious mind. At the heart of this dreamlike vista, the eyes gaze back at us, like a sentinel in a sea of swirling hues, a reflection of the soul’s innermost thoughts.


This canvas became my playground for imagination, where each stroke of the brush told a story that resonated with my own. The interplay of light and shadow danced across the surface, bringing to life a world that defied the mundane. It was as if I had captured a moment of pure, unbridled emotion and crystallized it in color and form for myself. This picture, in its abstract beauty, spoke to me in a language beyond words, a language of pure feeling and sensation. It was a visual symphony that resonated with the deepest chords of my being, inviting me to explore the uncharted territories of my own psyche.

I found myself lost in its intricate details. Each element, no matter how small, played a vital role in the overall tapestry of the artwork. The way the colors blended and contrasted with each other, the subtle nuances of the brushwork, all contributed to a sense of harmony and balance within me. This picture was not just a feast for my eyes, but a journey for my soul, challenging me to look beyond the surface and discover the profound truths hidden within. It was a testament to the power of art to move, inspire, and transform me, a reminder of the endless possibilities that lay within the realm of my imagination.


Tropic Day, reminiscent of a dreamscape, beckons us to journey across its canvas. Each element, seemingly abstract at first glance, intertwines to form a complex tapestry of meaning. The colors and shapes converge in a harmonious chaos, mimicking the unpredictable nature of dreams. At the core of this chaotic beauty is the human form, portrayed not as a distinct entity but as an integral part of the larger cosmos. This inclusion of the human form is not merely a visual focal point; it is a symbolic anchor, reminding us of our perpetual quest to find our place in the universe. It is a visual representation of our innate desire to connect, to belong, and to understand the vast and often incomprehensible world around us.


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