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The Contemporary Pacific 18.1 (2006) vii

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About the Artist

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I'm only five years old as an artist. Yeah, so I feel very awkward talking about something I've only been doing seriously since 2000! I mean, I've only had one public exhibition and that was in my house for one day. And I don't really want to talk about my art like I've been talking about my writing for over thirty years. I want my drawings and paintings to do the talking.

All I can say is that I've loved doing it since I restarted in 2000. Yeah, loved it. Once I'm in the zone, the planet may as well not exist. I forget even the pains of old age, my bad back, my hunger and thirst, where Reina is, what's happening outside, etc, etc, etc. And when it's working well, and the colors and shapes and feelings are falling into place perfectly, the high is all-enveloping and I don't ever want to get out of it.

Early in my writing life, that's how I felt when I was writing really well. Not even my logical mind intruded, it was all done by "feel and touch," the atua's mana surging unimpeded and easily through my mind and hands, as if by preconceived plan, onto the blank page and turning it into my shape and sound and smell and sight and sense of the world and people and things.

Because I didn't do any art for over thirty years, I'm also now fascinated by and driven to discover all the art materials that have developed over that period, and all their possibilities—and while doing that, again learning the basic skills you need to be a good drawer and painter. I don't have the time now to learn about all the other ways of art: I only have time to learn how to draw and paint. And if the atua are generous and grant me that time, I will use the art to discover and come to terms with the locations I'm in and the people I'm with, and through that, understand them and myself a little bit more.

I feel absolutely blessed that at this late stage in my life, I'm into the art again. I'm blessed to be doing that in the mana-ful landscape of Hawai'i and its magnificent Kānaka Maoli and akua. Yes, really blessed!

Ia manuia le Tapuaiga!

Photo by Stacey Leong