Spirited Beings – Maui

This painting signifies all the impenetrable characteristics shared between the symbol of the fish and the hanging’s recipient. The symbol of the fish transcends all folklore, religion, culture and corners of the earth. It has long represented Knowledge, Instinct, Persistence, Determination, Foresight, Wisdom, Inspiration, Rejuvenation, Prosperity, Fortune, and the Flow of Life From the Earth. A salmon journeys to its ultimate goal against all obstacles. The fish is all great teachers in one.

In many cultures, a fish is used to compliment one with unusual ability, and a pair of fish (such as in this wall hanging) symbolizes marriage and conjugal harmony.

This painting went to Richard (Dick) Donner and his wife Lauren, and was seasoned with all the colours and style and heart of Maui in mind.

I first had the pleasure of meeting Dick briefly in New York in February 2005. I then had the absolute privilege of spending a few days with him on the set of the Bruce Willis / Mos Def / David Morse movie 16 Blocks in Toronto in June.

Anyone who has spent anytime with Dick, however small, can attest to the fact he is a pretty inspiring individual. From the first millisecond I met him I knew he was a rare gem. Aside from being a legendary Hollywood director and producer (for those of you who just watch the movies and don’t read the credits, he directed The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon I, II, III and IV, Maverick, Conspiracy Theory, and my personal favourite, Scrooged, just to name a few), he has an easy going non-pretentious nature that he necessitates not only from himself, but those around him. But more than that, there is this aura of absolute enthusiasm that literally seems to radiate from him in all directions as he runs circles around people half his age. Calming but enormously strong and effervescent, the energy he emits is suffused with incomparable brilliance and kindness. It is an energy that runs rampant with a passion for his career, his friends and family, and his superabundance of life.

It was such a great honour for me to be able to do this painting for him. As stated above, there are impenetrable collective characteristics shared between Dick and the symbolism of the fish. Mostly though, the essence of the painting is the bond between Dick and his wife Lauren (famed producer in her own right of such movies as Ladyhawke, Any Given Sunday, You’ve Got Mail, X-Men I, II, and III, and Constantine). A pair of fish symbolizes marriage and conjugal harmony, and I thought that was the best compliment I could give them. Therefore I made that the soul of the hanging.

… when I unrolled the tapestry, I was totally in awe. The beautiful piece and the card, with the explanation of what the tapestry signifies, will hand side by side with great pride here in our Maui home…. Thank you, thank you. Much love, Dick.

I developed tendonitis again while painting this one, as well as some neck and back problems. I’d painted the 3 previous hangings right before this one without taking a break inbetween. I also have always painted on a flat surface, which I am not allowed to do anymore. And let me tell you, going from painting on a flat surface to using an easel is a bit like learning an entire new language. Anyway, since I was barred from using my left-hand, I had to finish this one right-handed.

I listened to a lot of ethnic music while painting this one. I wanted to experience a lot of varying world grooves, just to see what other things are inspiring the planet these days. This is the playlist I created on my iPod that accompanied me almost entirely throughout this very long painting. Even now, a few months on whenever I hear one of these songs, I know the exact colour I had in my hand, often the exact line and section I was painting. They are the best memories of the whole Zen experience that is painting for me.

This is the playlist I created on my iPod for this hanging:

  • The Prayer Cycle – entire CD (many thanks to David for turning me on to this gem)
  • June – Pinback (from Some Voices – the brooding Cancer in me loved the lyric “why must all those pretty things be sad, sad, somehow, somehow…”)
  • Tres – Pinback (from Blue Screen Life)
  • Silhouette – Tony Levin Band (from Double Espresso)
  • Cancion para Dormir A Uni Nino – Beatrix Pichi Malen (from Trance Planet Volume 6)
  • Manhem – Omar Farouk Teklibek (from Trance Planet Volume 6))
  • Foto Viva – Mo’ Horizons (from World Lounge)
  • Rice Field Chant – Black Bombay (from Yoga Chill)
  • Nadia – Nitin Sawhney (from Yoga Chill)
  • Nomad – Niraj Chag (from Yoga Chill)
  • Dos Hombres The Alken – Dos Hombres (from Buddha Bar VI)
  • Blossoms from India – Ginko Garden (from Buddha Lounge 2)
  • Making Music – Chunking (from Perfecto Chills vol 2)
  • Nostalga – Oscar Lopez (from Armando’s Fire)
  • Bentley’s Gonna Sort You Out – Bently Rhythm Ace (from Chillout Mix)
  • Spirited Beings (30″ x 84″)
    July 2005 / Hawaii (Maui)