For this last year I have been a Project Learn volunteer, helping Leon brush up on his reading skills. I have doodled during lulls in the sessions. Recently, my idle scratchings revisited an old compulsive tic. Some twenty years ago I stumbled across one of those holes in the fabric of existence that I have often felt a need to patch. I discovered that Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanism, was visually underrepresented in traditional Hawaiian art. Since then I have gone so far as to attempt carved wood and plaster visualizations, along with paintings, all of which I have thrown out.

I began to wonder, while scanning these doodles into the computer, how they might be worked up in Photoshop. Here are some results. But before showing these, I would like to review a few Pele things.


This painting is typical of how Pele is visualized these days: a volcanically-adorned woman, or a tableau depicting an episode taken from her narrative. I have tried to treat Pele in a more symbolic way, pulling together “woman, island, lava and symbolic depiction” as more or less geometric constructs. A parade of discards testifies to my great success.

Some years ago I carved this portly example.


Later I tried my hand at some Pele perfume bottles using sand as a medium. They look too phallic for the part.

Below is a sketch as recently doodled while with Leon.


My doodling was a bit of a mishmash, but it sat on the sheet in a promising way. I brought it home and exported it from my scanner to Photoshop. There I was surprised to find it ending up like this.


I had gone for a calligraphic look in another set of doodled Peles. This translated into a sort of fireworks seen through a Venetian blind. You may have guessed already that the straight lines came with the notepaper. But instead of being a negative, they create for me an interesting counterpoint to the flowing lines. I’m reminded of our recent conversations about art and music – the music here having come from Leon’s improvements in reading.


And finally, this, taken from another page in the notebook. I return to an old theme of Pele as some kind of a pineapple and Hawaii as a striped tent. Some writing from the other side of the sheet bleeds through.

One can begin to get carried away by an illusion of painterliness that appears on the screen. As a result of my happy discoveries with processing, I have been going back to older objects and images with an eye toward improvement. This means another lengthening to-do list of work to be reconsidered for a renovation. It’s as though the proper subject of my future work could be my past.

Hooray! if this turns out as I hope it will. However, I fear a missing image or two, as WordPress has been balky on my computer. I’m also trying to create this as a joint venture between two computers.