Tuhei of the Spirits
Tuhei of the Spirits
Im an artist who loves art, all kinds of art.
My name is Michael I’m a painter who enjoys painting from the moment my cat wakes me up at
5:00am until 10 in the morning. Shower eat, and gather painting material together. Head out the door to find a location for plein air painting, sea scapes painted in cold winds . Waves crashing on to rocks to symbolize the world is alive with telling man, do not turn your back to the ocean or it will drown you. Stayed painting as late as I could and rush home. Feed the cats, one is a grey stray and the other a tuxedo cat that is somewhat not as friendly as I thought it would be when first I got it as a kitten.
Before bed I try to watch some TV. Most of the time a movie about artist lives. Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh or famous art collections at museums around the globe. Some strange paintings of beheaded kings or Christ being lowered from the cross. All depicting life of mans sorrow and also trying to find beauty with nature or love. Beautiful paintings of nudes, mens vision of women.
Recently I watched Gauguin, the journey to Tahiti. Well done French film about Paul Gauguin. I was moved by the story and mostly by the actress named Tuhei Adams. She portraits Gauguin’s young wife that was given to him by the tribe chief. Beautiful actress.
I especially liked learning about how Tahitians that were afraid of the spirit from the dead that would come and visit them.
Interested in Tahitian culture I started to make paintings of Tuhei. At first a beautiful portrait, Her beauty captured my heart as she posed with a scented flowering in her hair against the blue green ocean water and a rainbow over the ocean. Her simple solo mood, Her dark skin and dark sorrow eyes. As though she was keeping an inner secret. A dark spirit in her eyes. A mystery about her, I also added a tattoo, the painting started to look like a Gauguin painting.
My second painting of Tuhei was of her looking into both of her hands which had a glowing light, A light glowing with the mystery of an inner light she was looking at possibly a spirit coming from her hands. I knew I was starting to get deeper into the Tahitian spiritual world. A world of dark jungle life with nature’s mystery. A pure time before Europeans destroyed primitive life in Tahiti.
I too wanted to live a pure life like Gauguin and seek love. And innocent.
I started to dream in my sleep of expressions of art. I had a dream about a abstract black shape of something that looked like a cross. When I woke up early, I started to paint this cross on a canvas. First brush stroke was of a black painted sideways cross then I followed my instincts to add the next color and the next color on top of other colors. Then added gold paint which now symbolized love over suffering. The spirit had moved into my paintings, it was a beautiful expression. So easy to make. And so deep with feelings.
Then I painted a third painting of Tuhei holding a heart in her hands with the sun above her, she is standing at the waters edge looking out beyond to an abstract splatter of paint in the sky. Is she looking at the spirit.
My next painting was a portrait of two Tahitian women, divided by an orchid flower plant. One woman is looking up and out into the the audience as though she is having a conversation with the viewer. The other woman is looking downing at a plant. She has her eyes almost closed. I call this painting LIFE (orchid) LOVE (woman looking up) DEATH (woman looking down)
I made contact with Tuhei through Instagram and she replied. As time went on we became “friends” a term I don’t like. But our friendship continued. We shared many stories and photos.
My goal was to meet her. Find out what the deep secrets in her eyes told. Paint the Tahitian heritage And learn secrets of the deep spirits that maybe she could help me find.
Big sunrise over the Pacific Ocean as my flight from San Francisco landed at the Papeete Airport. Grass skirt dancers as I walked through the airport at 6:00 AM were greeting arrivals
Picked up my luggage and my easel filled with my oil paints and about a dozen blank canvases. Rented a car and drove to Papeete along the beautiful colors of the ocean on one side of the road and lush jungle vegetation on the other. Sounds of birds , Mild breeze filed the air. Warm weather with perfumed smells of flowers Native people along side of the road going to work on bikes , scooters and cars. Small huts that are selling food and fresh papaya and coconut drinks. A paradise from the rest of the world. I thought to myself why didn’t I ever move here first and stayed for the rest of my life. Who knows, maybe I will!
Finally in Papeete, busy little city. I find her at a cafe where she is sipping coffee. We greet and I ordered an Americano. Also a French pastry. Yummy but to sweet.
I tell Tuhei that Im very interested in going to paint the beautiful nature.Where there are few tourist. She says she will show me some trails we could hike.
Check into my hut rental. A cool little hut that sits on stilts over clear water. An octopus is hanging out below. The sand is white and fish swim by. I can’t wait to go for a swim. Put on my swimsuit and jump of the edge of the hut. Ahh beautiful and warm. My body starts to heal from the moment I touch the water. Years of up tight muscles start to relax. Even my olive skin feel like its getting darker from the sun. My eyes reflect the blue green water and I smile.
It’s time for me to gather my paints and art material and get to eat food before my hike on hidden trails with Tuhei.
She meets me at the edge of the rented hut with sandwiches and drinks. Load up my gear in her car and drive off. We drive for an hour and come to a small Polynesian village. Hardly any Europeans or tourist. Are there. As we get out she asked a local if the trails are safe and are open. Sometimes the rain cause them to be closed. They speak not in French but a native tribe language. Tuhei amazes me with her perfect knowledge of many languages.
We rented horses to carry us up the steep mountain trails. Far away from civilization. Bird sound and animal sounds throughout the thick jungle vegetation. Trails disappear and reappear
Animals cross our path as we head upwards toward the sound of a waterfall. The sound get’s stronger finally we arrive. A hundred foot waterfall. Splashing down into a beautiful small lake. Tuhei takes of her cloths and shyly wanders into the water and swims toward the falling water and hides behind the splashing water.
I set up my easel and put out a canvas to start a painting of Tuhei standing with her back towards me in the water. Her long black hair over her shoulder. I start to paint, beautiful energy comes from me. Watching her beauty reflecting in the water. Ripples of reflection of her dark skin and the green mountain turning purple. The sky turning pink. Reed flowers are open as the back lite sun brushes against them. Im painting colors that I love but normally don’t use. After an hour of painting Tuhei is getting hungry so we stop to eat, Drink coconut water and talk very peaceful about our two worlds.
Tuhei tells me about growing up with ghosts that live with Tahitians people in these jungle areas. Some spirits are friendly and stay next to us as we live our daily lives. Some spirit goes go up to the sky and some go down into the earth on occasions . Some spirits can harm us and cause sickness.
All of a sudden a strong rain starts to pour on us . I run and grab my painting and cover it with my shirt. Tuhei gathers the food and we hide beneath some palm leaves.
Now its getting dark and we can’t go back on the trail in the dark, to dangerous. So we make a hut from leave and branches. I build a fire. And soon we fall asleep in the dark jungle with rain. My mind wondering about snakes or wild animals or spiders.
As we are sleeping Tuhei is awaking by a spirit and she is scared, she screams and cries, The spirits she says are watching . They have come to visit. First I don’t see anything then a white bird flutters and flies near us and flies away. In the dark shadow is a figure. Its eyes and teeth are white.Making grueling deep sounds, Tuhei is frightened as she holds onto me. I calm her down and kiss her forehead saying its ok. Then many fish jump up from the water, and snakes burry themselves into the ground.
The landscape slowly got lighter as the morning light appears. Birds and animal sounds awake as the sun appears through lush leaves and flowers.
I tell Tuhei I have to keep working on my painting. As I’m painting I decided to add the spirits we saw during the night good and bad spirits. My painting was a success for me.
We gather our things and load up our horses and find our trails to go back to the village.
Frightening night that it was I had created a painting that I had come to Tahiti to make.
Tuhei and I were drawn to each other almost like magnets to steel…
But in the real world it couldn’t work.
Time to put the Mermaid back in the water.