Ibbie White Alshamma
THE BEAUTY OF HAWAII
Since I moved to Hawaii in 2006 my enthusiasm for painting tropical flowers as well as sea and landscapes knows no bounds. Each morning I take my hot tea on a garden and green house tour to commune with the most recent blossomers. The tropical bromiliads, gingers, heliconias and exotic foliage provide exquisite subjects for watercolor rendering. My favorite subjects are the most-recently blooming orchids from my green house or their favorite growing place – palm trees – where they splay roots 6 to 10 feet up and down the trunks.
ECLECTIC STYLES OF PAINTING
Very eclectic in the styles of painting I’ve studied, my work reflects things I’ve learned from many wonderful teachers. Years ago in Michigan I painted porcelain with Grace Pollock, whose innovative technique of painting the full colors before firing the porcelain piece rather than the traditional “wash and fire, wash and fire” process prepared me for the “touchiness” of watercolor. In painting on porcelain, the artist learns to work quickly without retouching, as once the paint is dry, a brush stoke pulls off the paint and the whole image is destroyed.
At Penn State-Ogontz I learned to carefully observe subjects and to take care with brush strokes from David Milby. He encouraged me to allow a painting to transform from its original intent and to be diligent in studying my own creative process.
In the six years I studied with Madeleine Fu in Mill Valley, CA, I realized the beauty of Chinese Brush Painting. Madeleine, then in her 80’s, was a long-time student of the world-renowned Chang Dai Chien. She passed on traditional Chinese techniques of mixing paints, how to hold a brush, keen observation, as well as the hand and arm movements that produced her visual poetry. Fortunately she shared her wisdom of processes for fusing rice paper and scroll making.
Madeleine also inspired my deep love of watercolor, the subtleties of ink, and a deep appreciation for fine-quality paper. The hot and humid climate in Hawaii has pushed me to explore painting with watercolor on canvas, treating gessoed canvas with water color ground – a product that, when applied to canvas and sanded smooth, results in a marvelous surface that accepts watercolor paints.
Recently I’ve experimented with commercial watercolor canvas, which results in softly muted paintings, and yupo, an exciting plasticized paper.
LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE
Daily life in Hawaii centers on my 3-acre farm, which my son masterminds, my orchid and “keiki” greenhouse, and about an acre of herbs and flower gardens.
I participate in exhibits with the Kauai Society of Artists several times a year, open my studio and offer self-guided tours of the gardens during the island-wide, annual OPEN STUDIOS. When not painting, walking our two Jack Russells – Jackie and Pikey – or meeting the needs of the illusive ebony Rani cat, I read voraciously, participate in an infrequent book club, take writing workshops, migrate to Honolulu for a dose of “retail therapy” and/or culture, and practice yoga and Pilates to keep fit enough to paint more.