Tag: childhood stories

Flowers and Mushrooms (c) Marika Reinke 2016

Wonderland is Epically Entertaining

It is not an exaggeration when I say I have been painting, painting and painting for the last few months.  I have been painting inside and outside.  I have had paint all over myself, paint cans, brushes, the living room floor, on old wooden panels, concrete blocks and on canvas.  I have painted so much I can’t use my painting apron and some brushes anymore.

My latest and biggest project has been to paint the full set for the Wonderland musical production for Beach Nuts Theater.  And finally, now that the production is underway, I can share the real work with you here.

The set consists of 22 4 foot x 10 foot panels and about 6-7 weeks worth of solid outdoor work in buggy, muggy and rainy Costa Rica.  I loved every minute of it and mostly I have loved the kids reaction to them.  Those kids put so much energy and love into this epically entertaining production, they deserve every amount of joy I can give them back.

Take a look.

The Real World (c) Marika Reinke 2016
The Real World (c) Marika Reinke 2016
Wonderland (c) Marika Reinke 2016
Wonderland (c) Marika Reinke 2016
Wonderland Trees (c) Marika Reinke 2016
Wonderland Trees (c) Marika Reinke 2016
The Queen of Heart's Castle (c) Marika Reinke 2016
The Queen of Heart’s Castle (c) Marika Reinke 2016
Flowers and Mushrooms (c) Marika Reinke 2016
Flowers and Mushrooms (c) Marika Reinke 2016
The Mad Hatter's House (c) Marika Reinke 2016
The Mad Hatter’s House (c) Marika Reinke 2016
Magic Tree (C) Marika Reinke 2015 Watercolor 24" x 18"

A Magic Tree

Magic Tree (C) Marika Reinke 2015
A Magic Tree (C) Marika Reinke 2015

A tree and climber tend to each other while conjuring private magic.

One offers height, an ever changing maze, adventure, and endless possibility of another world. The other lays hope before her, curiosity and this secret; to understand what lays in her own hands. With each strong grasp and successful push she learns she is capable, again, again, and more.

In a tree’s magic cradle.

Watercolor 24″ x 18″

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Spare Change

Spare Change and Legacies

My father, who died 17 years ago, used to keep a 5 gallon water jug for spare change. It was a way of saving, a game and my confession: my brother and I used to “steal/borrow” from it as children.

Dad wanted to see if he could fill it up but he expected to live much longer than 49 years…so he didn’t. And our sneaking didn’t help his goal, the quarters disappeared fast.

After he died, my mom kept it and added a little to it over the years.

Today, she handed it over to our kids; a heavy bowlful of change that can’t be counted in one sitting. It is a gift from a ghost and from a time when having kids were little more than maybe a thought to the 23-year-old me.

My kids are through-the-roof excited.

Dad touches them, with a small habit, very tangibly right now like a small bit of time travel.  I’m happy he could give them something they feel at this age, a small brushing of souls.

He touches us in many unseen ways too.

And maybe he meant to save the money for them and maybe he didn’t. I don’t know.

But legacies play this way. We think we know what we leave behind, but we don’t. We just do our best and leave it for the people left behind to make meaning of it. The meaning making is our legacy.

Dana’s Turtle Progress Report

Dana is happier with the turtles progress now. The water has pulled in the ideas she was exploring in her drawing. She notices this. She feels seen, she feels important. I have had a small moment of connection and motherly victory. I'll take what I can get. I get a lot of eye rolls and sighs these days too.

I also washed the head in some deep yellow because she suggested a golden head. I'm really going to have to think about the head now. I'll look at some pictures, but as I write some ideas are forming.

So much of painting is looking, studying, thinking. I often take long breaks and photos on my cell phone so I can just look. Before I had my studio, I used to prop my painting at at the end of the bed before I went to sleep, just to look at it and make decisions for my next painting session.

Her original drawing has a nest of eggs. She has told me not to include it now. Honestly, I'm glad to not include it, I knew it would be challenging to design. It will let me focus on the other elements more thoroughly. I think it will also reflect the experience of seeing the turtles more acurately. And in some way, that makes it more magical for me, and less scientific. Is that weird? The turtle just appears and we don't know where it comes from now.

For me, There is a point in painting, when a the painting goes from being a painting “of something” to a reflection of my viewpoint, where I and the painting merge. At this point I internally say “Now, this is me, now I'm heading somewhere,”. It is as if I and the painting are making our ways towards each other.


Ironically, often when I'm done, I laugh and think I must be a little insane. I don't mind being crazy as long as it makes me laugh.


The point is emerging, but I'm not there yet.


Daire's Dragon (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Daire’s Very Not Perfect and Wonderfully Uncompromising Dragon

Daire's Dragon (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Daire’s Dragon (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Daire’s Dragon

I breath fire, water and stars on rainbows in the moonlight.  Who says it can’t be so? I will turn them into air.

Watercolor 18″ x 24″ 

The Story

This is not a perfect painting.  By far, it is a lesson in the art of imperfection.  The wobbly line, the chaotic scales, the tail that swells and recedes, the messy colors and shadows, and my incredible frustration with everything about it.

Dragon Tail detail
Dragon Tail detail
Dragon Head Detail
Dragon Head Detail

(As I painted this the paper popped off its board, rolled up and buckled. I was too in love with the dragon to stop and try again.)

It popped off the board and curled
It popped off the board and curled

There are so many mistakes hidden in this painting and there are many, many lessons.

It is not a cartoon, not “high art”, not digitally enhanced or animated and very likely not what you think but maybe what you somehow know is true.

It is my son’s wholehearted and exuberant belief that he can have everything including the “impossible” and “magical”.

And like him,  we need impractical, imperfect, uncompromising magic. Yes, you do. Because life is only explicable to a point.  That blank space, the “I don’t know”, the “science can’t explain”, is where magic thrives, and this dragon lives folding her wings welcoming us to understand this:

We are creatures of magic; the everyday act of living.  

As I worked through the frustration of this very not perfect yet uncompromising painting I began to believe this as well:

Perfection is the enemy of magic.   

We have had it all wrong.

There is no such thing as “perfection”.

And that is real life magic.


Original Available: $400


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