Tag: painting

A Legacy… to me

There are people that are always giving. The kind of person who stops what they are doing and very gently focuses all their attention on you, because, you are there, and obviously important.  That kind of full service attention is special and rare. It is expressively loving.  These people are always curious. Flowers are always beautiful and time worthy, the birds, even a common finch, is interesting.  A book arouses their interest and they begin to read it… right now. A restaurant, a new local discovery and adventure or faraway travels are compelling too. These people are open about their experiences; ugly, dark, complex, beautiful and true and they are kind with how they give these stories to you and for you because our stories really are our gifts to people.  They practice compassion, not perfection, to self and others.

The world is lucky for the many people here like this.

I had a person like this in my life at a pivotal time.  She was a lovely neighbor and my first close friend outside of my generation. A grandmother to my daughter’s best friend and old enough to be my own mother, but a far different history than mine. She had an artist soul, loved nature, worked steadily for the environment and loved her family so gently it felt fierce. I admired her character and her spirit. She aged well and unlike many, she wizened as she aged.

Then she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and slowly moved more inward, not less kind or compassionate, but her fight and temperament made her more intimate about how she shared herself. Death is a burden to all who love the dying, and the dying feel this, heavily.

She loved that we were moving to Costa Rica.  When we came back last Spring, I saw her briefly and she was kind though withdrawn and tired.  Then last August she died with her family nearby. I heard the news from Guatemala at the time, and cried a few times.  I learned that death makes me homesick. Shortly afterwards, I booked tickets for us to visit Seattle in December and here we are still, happily.

I had the opportunity to stay in her house for a weekend recently and at first I resented the memory of her.  It made me sad and restless. I felt like I didn’t belong there. Then I let it wash over me.  Her house is so full of her spirit.  The art on the walls, the books, the office space and the magnificent garden are all whispers of her. I want to be a 70 year old like her.

Her partner encouraged me to go through her art supplies and take what I wanted. She would have wanted someone to have them who loved art as much as she did.  I do not know if I loved art as much as she did.  Really. But I am honored and humbled to have her art supplies now.  I will be lucky if I walk a similar path as her legacy. I will think of her with love as I paint.

Blocking the Light (c) Marika Reinke

Blocking the Light

Blocking the Light (c) Marika Reinke
Blocking the Light (c) Marika Reinke

Obstructed light

halts the stubborn scuttle.


gently draw a different map.

Acrylic 24″ x 30″


Donated to the Black and White fundraising auction 2016 for CEPIA, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.


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My Jungle

My Jungle



My jungle is not green, Nor any quiet color. My jungle is not silent, Because she squeaks and yawns unlike an ordered universe. My jungle is not still, Its movement flows in winds and rivers. My jungle blooms, and swallows, sighs in heaves, it splatters and disconnects and re-puzzles. She does not know she is a mystery.   She is my jungle.

Watercolor 12” x 16”

Marika Reinke 2016



Currently installed at Sage Brush Art Studio, Brasilito Costa Rica


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Mantas: A Love Story (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Mantas: A Love Story

Mantas: A Love Story (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Mantas: A Love Story (c) Marika Reinke 2015

There is no hope in understanding a marriage.  It is bound by love and faith, not analysis.  There is love in one another and more importantly love in what they create together. This home, this family, this feeling, this conversation, this intimacy, this strength, the gift giving, forgiveness and courage they form together and this friendship only exists in this marriage.  It is incomprehensible… and a wondrous fact.

Watercolor 28″ x 27″

More of the Manta Story: A Story of Color and Life


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Draw a Blank

Truth: An artist comprehends no separation between art and life.

A Healing Place 2 story card 1

But recently I learned that I subconsciously regard aspects of my art as separate.

I have told myself this:  Writing is not painting.  But writing is most definitely art.

In this way…

When I decided to take the leap of faith and become a painter, I let go of others’ judgment and my worry. You know, that little voice that wants to please and seeks praise?  I threw that out the window.  It does not help the artistic process.  Truth: I have an unique artistic voice that is not for everyone and that is the nature of art.

My paintings touch people and some people profoundly.  I focus on this.  When I paint for someone or some theme, I do my best to put their skin on and see the world from their perspective.  The painting should be profound for that person or theme.  If it touches more people in the process, that is a lovely side effect.

Paintings are an expression that creates meaning, relationships, and ultimately expand our understanding of life.  Mine will do that for a few or many.  But not all.  Ok.  I accept this and let go of worry.

When I handed “A Healing Place 2” off to my client, she stood in her living room and announced that she was going to read the story card aloud to her daughter and husband.

A Healing Place 2 In route (c) Marika Reinke
A Healing Place 2 In route (c) Marika Reinke

“Ack!” I choked and covered my face. I had a mini-panic attack right there.  I wanted to run.

It was a Moment of Truth.  A Teachable Moment.

Here on this blog and in all my marketing attempts I have exposed (one aspect of) my artistic soul in a gallery of public paintings and processes. I have no panic attacks. It is a struggle but ultimately I trust myself here.

But in that moment I could not listen to someone pronounce my words. I wring heartache into writing. I did not want to hear it and be faced with a critique.

Some damage, huh?

Writing is a cracked and bleeding medium for me.  This is a revelation.  I have been manipulating words and hiding behind the painting, a coward. Writing and I have a long history, longer than painting, but before I knew how to protect myself from all the real, imagined and self critics.  It is my first love saturated with juvenile expectations and painful miscomprehensions. It is riddled. A puzzle of meaning and pain.

I need to get over it. If there is something my painting can teach my writing, this is it.


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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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To Paint a Climber

I’m not a graphic designer.

This was my first thought when my husband suggested this project. I’ve done the graphic design thing. I worked at a firm at one point. I’ve taught design and related software. I really respect graphic designers. It’s a lot of work, talent, persistence, thought, completely artistic but highly client focused and much more technical and straight edged than I’d like my next career to be. I’m not a white space person, I struggle with white space. I’m walking away from a computer screen in favor of a paint brush for a reason.

But all those “I’m nots” is more a defense to keep me in one place. And they are full of assumptions. I’m not in a position to be closed-minded. Plus I generally don’t respect a closed mind.

So I looked into it.

This work in progress is for my husband’s climbing team t-shirt. He sold hiring me to his team, and his coach liked my work. They understand they are getting a paintbrush.

I originally sketched this out vertically. I started drawing with one idea and ended with another. This is my concept sketch.

The team liked it. But we all agree horizontal for a t-shirt is better. My husband doesn’t like pink (typical). They all prefer red, blue and green. The name of the team will be under it. I thought I would use a program for it, but maybe I’ll paint it now. I’m warming to the completely handmade idea.

I don’t usually sketch as heavily under my painting but I am real sensitive to getting those climbers right in relationship to the rocks. We are a climbing family, my husband and I have been climbing for over a dozen years and the kids with us. It won’t be right if they aren’t right.

It’s a small project, but fun to capture something we are all so dedicated to. And perhaps the fear of not getting it right is really why my initial reaction was full of “I’m Nots”.

Lesson learned.

Daire's Dragon Photo 4 (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Scream. Cry. Love. Hate. Repeat

Daire's Dragon Photo 4 (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Daire’s Dragon Photo 4 (c) Marika Reinke 2015


I’ve been sporadically working on my son’s Dragon and have some  in-progress pictures here.  I was inspired by a picture he drew with passionate energy.  The post has been a lovely vignette of an enchanting kids painting in-progress (written with a touch of sarcasm).  

But now

I could scream 

Maybe I did.  I can’t remember clearly.  There was a rush of something – maybe adrenaline – that clouded my vision, my heart beat accelerated and a trembling wave of shock radiated from my chest.  Thinking rationally – gone.  Control of my hands – gone.

The watercolor has a mind of its own! I can’t control it! Oh My God!  Its running all the way into the green!  The yellow!  Oh no the yellow! All the hours in this painting lost.  Where are the Q-Tips! They aren’t working!  F*ck Watercolors!  

I dropped the Q-Tips and brushes.

I.  Must. Walk. Away.


I hate this painting 

It is so trite and cliche.  I’ve seen it before, not original, definitely done somewhere else by someone else more skilled.  A kids vision.  Not sophisticated.  I’m stealing his vision because I have no vision.  I’m an idiot in over my head.  The rainbow is too much, I can’t handle it.   This is taking me too long.

I love this Painting

I love the story.  I love my son.  I love the way this painting has pushed me.  I love the crazy colors.  I love that Daire made the lower jaw bigger because when the dragon closes his mouth you can’t see how big his teeth are.  I love that he breathes fire and water and stars.  The dragon has no arms. Poor little arm-less dragon, I love you.


And Repeat.


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If Frida Kahlo Defined a Woman: Six Lessons

 She did not create to please you

Look at her.

Self Portrait with Thorn Neclace and Hummingbird. Frida Kahlo
Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. Frida Kahlo

She is un-impressed with you, the viewer.   You must prove that you are “good” enough for her.  You must come to her and on her terms.  Can you even begin to understand her?

She is fierce, defiant, unabashedly sorrowful and reserved.   Her reserve is ever-present like a question mark in her work.  A sign of pain, distrust and distance despite the intimacy of her work.  Her work is authentically hers and it is your privilege to be viewing her.

She did not care if you thought her beautiful

Equally, she accentuates the flaws that most modern woman would Photoshop;  the mono-brow and mustache.  They highlight the realness of her, a person, not a beauty to behold.  They highlight the masculine and feminine; the not-one-or-the-other and certainly not afraid of the un-attractive.

These “flaws” invite you to look inside her through the symbols of her work; entrapped in a thorn necklace or held up by a broken column.  Her goal is to be real, so that you might understand and become more authentic with her.  In order to do this, she painted what you would not call beautiful and with un-seeable symbols whose only life was on canvas and in her mind.

Frida The Broken Column
Frida The Broken Column

 She was not squeamish

The Two Fridas 1939
The Two Fridas 1939

Blood is a life force, it sustains and connects.  It binded her many selves and kept her alive at times she didn’t want to live.  She had much blood in her life; in her accident that left her immobilized and subject to intermittent bouts of pain and in the miscarriages she suffered.  She was not afraid to paint the painful truth even if it contained blood or made you uncomfortable.  Discomfort makes you think differently, it teaches compassion and it transforms.  It is a fact of life and you can not hide from it.  But you can learn from it, feel from it, think about it, connect with it and experience life more deeply because of it.

she unleashed her passion

She felt all her emotions fully, and held them with equal weight in all her relationships.  She did not brush them aside to please her lover’s passion.  This was true in her passionate, unfaithful and complicated love of her off and on husband Diego Rivera (and famous Mexican painter) and other lovers both male and female. And equally apparent in her fierce loyalty to Mexico, her home and birthright which bruised her with its macho and sexist culture both unfaithful and unjust.  She loved deeply and fully with equal pain, complexity and intensity, enveloping the connection as close as atom to atom and as large as the universe.   

The Love Embrace of the Universe,the Earth,Myself,Diego and Senor Xolotl,1949
The Love Embrace of the Universe,the Earth,Myself,Diego and Senor Xolotl,1949

 she could not be silenced

Ultimately, through her persistence, her voice was heard (and even more loudly in death).  Despite criticism, troublesome health, consistent and debilitating pain and deceit, she remained stubbornly steadfast that her voice mattered and painted on.

The Wounded Deer by Frida Kahlo
The Wounded Deer by Frida Kahlo

Life = Art

It is impossible to talk about Frida Kahlo‘s art without referencing her life.  Art = life and few artists are as intimately and personally raw as Frida Kahlo.   And she was right.  In  work, family, friends, leisure, in love and grief, in joy, tragedy and triumph – it is life, un-separated and without compartments, where art begins.  This space that holds the hours, events, the world and people paradoxically together, is a brave and lonely space and yet strangely connects and unites us.

If you would like to learn more about Frida Kahlo I recommend reading this book.  Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo – October 1, 2002  by Hayden Herrera

You can also learn more on the Artsy.com Frida page here: https://www.artsy.net/artist/frida-kahlo

It is the book that inspired me to begin my journey as painter which I’ve referred to in the following posts.