Tropic Day

Published on 20 January 2024 at 13:18

Medium: Watercolor on paper

Date: 1988


Tropic Day: The Enigma of Perception

In the realm of art, there is a space where my mind's eye interprets more than what meets my literal eye. It is in this space that the image I created, Tropic Day lives—a surreal and provocative place that invites a multitude of interpretations, reflections, and emotions. This piece is the second pictured that was inspired by the unfurling fronds of the basket fern tree at the edge of a Caribbean Rain Forest at a place where I stayed with my friend Nicholasa.

At first glance, the picture offers a vibrant contrast of colors with a central focus on what appears to be a set of eyes. The vivid blue and white hues create a swirling effect, reminiscent of the hypnotic patterns one might find gazing into the depths of a kaleidoscope. But this is no ordinary set of eyes. It seems to host an entire universe within its bounds, with elements that suggest a scene far beyond the familiar.

The pair of eyes in the image humanizes it, with one eye impaled by a lance symbolizing human suffering. This depicts the blurred lines between joy and the essence of existence. This symbolism extends beyond the eye being a window to the soul, suggesting it as a gateway to infinite possibilities. It embodies the power of imagination and our inherent urge to delve into the unknown whether it be a painful experience or not.

The abstract nature of the image allows for a personal connection. What do I see within this eye? Does it reflect my inner thoughts, hopes, dreams, or perhaps even fears about the vast unknowns of our own subconscious?

And to speak of the unknown, this image was imagined and drawn at the very edge of the Rain Forest in Puerto Rico in July.  Experiences at this place were beyond my imagination. A scientist said, the universe is not only beyond what we do imagine but also beyond what we can imagine. 

One evening we returned to our house to see a toad 4 feet tall looking in the window. In the day as we sat on our terrace surrounded among huge leaves, snails as large dinnerplates came to see us as they crawled up from behind the leaves and then crossed over the leaves.  We imagined one snail could feed a dozen people. Truly beyond my imagination were the sounds from the forest.  Day sounds were very different from the night sounds.  At sunset and again at dawn all sounds stopped for about a minute.  The silence at these times was awesome. The sounds that began at dawn were totally different from the sounds at night.   The sounds came from different animals, insects and birds when it was dark.  While we were listening and enjoying the sounds from the forest, flying insects like big cockroaches splattered against the walls as rats as large as small pigs tore through the house running out of the forest and shooting out the front door. Nicholasa dealt with the flying bugs on the walls as I funneled the rat-pigs out the door.  When we sat savoring the fern basket tree, which this picture describes, we had never seen or experienced such events of nature.

This piece serves as a reminder that art is not just to be seen but to be experienced. It challenges me to look beyond the surface and to find my own unique meanings and narratives within. It's a call to question what I accept as reality and to open my mind to the surreal possibilities that lie just beyond my perception.

In conclusion, the image is a visual storytelling that goes beyond aesthetics. It encourages me to explore deeper questions about my existence and the universe. It's a powerful example of how art can transcend traditional boundaries and become at least a conversation starter, a thought provoker, or a mirror to my soul.

As I navigate through the web of my daily life, often focused on the tangible and the concrete, this image reminds me to pause and to contemplate the larger canvas of which I am a part.  I'm inspired to embrace the enigma of my perceptions and the art that calls me to explore them.

How does it speak to you? I’m sharing my reflections and inviting you to share your thoughts.



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