Notes from the St. Thomas workshop

The St. Thomas workshop was held at the Garden of the Silver Palm

Day 1, April 30, 2007

Spent the day rerouting my flights.. as the airline canceled most of the routes to/from the VI.

ended up spending the night in SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO.  i slept a few winks..   just enough to catch a morning flight to ST. THOMAS.

DAY 2, May 1

susan hunter, my new friend.. was bright and feisty at the airport... and met me with her blond curly hair tucked under a hat!  

she then tootled me around the island.. pointing out points of interest... all the while a gentle tropical rain was falling.

we had a breakfast at TICKLES by the bay.. and drove to MANGO TANGO GALLERY-- one of the renowned art galleries in st. thomas.   jane, the owner shared with me her favorite artists.. and gave me some cards to take home.

we then drove to find birdseed, fish food, and sugar... before heading back to her bed & breakfast.

Garden at Silver Palm

THE GARDEN AT  SILVER PALM   (her B&B)   is SO  gracious and tropical.   it tumbles over the hillside-- while keeping a spectacular view of the harbor in sight.  

each room here.. has an amazing view of the harbor... the water is shocking blue...   looking out towards WATER ISLAND.  

Pool at Garden at Silver Palm

i feel so fortunate to have met susan. .. and been invited to teach!     she has a deep pool on  the deck.. along with hammock and various porches for relaxing or painting.   her gardens are amazing... lush with lizards, iguanas, turtles-- red footed   LOUISE and BUBBA!!

Louise and Bubbah Slowski.  Covered in dirt.  Ahhh!.

she showered the turtles  to wash off the mud.. and introduced me to her 'slow-maintenance' friends.  

Turtles... prepare to shower!

her dogs and kitty are always supervising.. and the whole activity is engaging and charming.   i ALREADY feel relaxed!

all the smells, sights, and sounds (roosters) are   fragrant and foreign to me.   it feels exotic and lush.   a perfect way to relax and get away from your scheduled life.

the air is moist and calm... the pace is slow... the people are amazing friendly and warm...  

suz and i are going to have a relaxed dinner with steve, her friend.. and then get ready for tomorrow's activities-- and carolyn's arrival.

Carol Carter at work on her blog.

it feels so different than the midwest... and i so look forward to finding the rhythm of ST, THOMAS.. and painting the images that capture the novelty of it's existence.

DAY 3, May 2

today is a drop dead beautiful day... peacock blue sky... ultramarine harbor.

Beautiful day in St. Thomas

we drove by EMERALD BEACH on the way to the airport.. and guess what??   it's appropriately named...

susan took me on a tour of downtown.   we climbed all sorts of streets.. that were steep and old -- 17th century structures abound.   i was overwhelmed with each view being picturesque.

17th century architecture in St. Thomas

there is so much life and energy.

everyone is friendly- smiling.. in a good and gracious mood.  

sun is shining brightly --Old gate in St. Thomas and we took many photos.   kings court and queens court... both sections of town are incredible.

Plant climbing wall in St. Thomas

we saw many artists and art galleries.  

one internet cafe had an inlaid floor [see photo] that was reminiscent of beach combing.

Internet cafe with inlaid beach-floor


picked up carolyn at 2pm from the airport.   she flew in from EUGENE, OR and jen met us at the GARDEN.   jen is from HASSLE ISLAND-- and will be joining the art group.

we are just about all here.. and will be joining dinner this evening with Paul Borghi from ST. THOMAS.


the weather is warm.. the air is humid the boo-gan-vee-ya is blooming. the tourists abound everywhere from the huge cruise ships--- there is much activity and commerce.

i'm going on a walk now--   taking my camera up to BLACKBEARD'S CASTLE.

DAY 4, May 3

so.. what   a day we had today!!   wonderful hummingbird weather....     perfect for a walkabout to BLACKBEARD'S CASTLE-- which was less than 200 yards from Susan's home.

Botanical watercolor.

we visited the historic 17th century homes on the site... and learned about what made ST. THOMAS so rich in history over the ages.   the harbor was easy to Hey!  You lookin at me?navigate for Dutch traders... and St. Thomas was a port for merchants exchanging goods from all over the world.

Painting equals happiness.

pirates.. would raid and plunder... and there is treasure littered on the bottom of the ocean.   much has already been retrieved.... but the stories and history of the pirates remain vivid.

the lookouts, the stone walls, the views and the craftsmanship of the buildings is incredible.


we had lunch at HERVE'S -   conch fritters among our fare.


in the afternoon -- everyone settled in for a watercolor demonstration on the deck below susan's house.   the view to CHARLOTTE AMALIE harbor was so stunning...   i painted my best to bring out the view.

it was wonderful to paint, talk, muse... listen to roosters, dodge a spontaneous [but short] rain shower.. dip in the pool, have a cup of tea, watch the sunset, talk about history, and west indians, music, and reasons to paint.... eventually   everyone started their own paintings-- jumping in to their works of art.

it was a magical afternoon of painting and sharing.. and becoming  more of a group...    


this evening... the breeze started up... and became so fragrant and cool.   jen... our wonderful new student... made an incredible dinner of mango curry chicken... for us to enjoy.   we had our rum punch... and finished the evening off with brownies and coconut ice cream.

the most perfect day of all today...    

no photos today.. because i can't get wireless to work.. and my laptop has all the digitals.   i'll try to send them tomorrow... along with our day's journal

DAY 6, May 5

Carol hasn't written for a couple of days. Excuses abound, but draw your own conclusions from words that arrived from an anonymous St. Thomas resident today:

“I've sent this picture of Carol just so you know that she's working hard but still found a way to get into the swing of island life.”

Carol Carter in the swing of island life.



Today we painted under the umbrellas on the deck.   It was a hottish day, but we took dips in the pool to cool down.

Group portrait.

Edie joined us's and everyone painted banana leaves.   The majestic bananas were outside our apartment door-- the leaves being over 20 feet tall.   Soon, everyone made delightful compositions of leaves and began painting at their own pace.

Palm tree.

In the afternoon's we decided to hike the town starting at Jeppes Gang, and walking the upper perimeter of St. Thomas.   We walked by Camille Pisarro's home,  Villa Santana, and Crystal Palace, sprinkled in by the most amazing scenic views of the harbor.

Umbrellas in paradise.

St. Thomas closes retail down at 5pm so downtown was quiet and easy to see.   There are just as many older buildings in need of renovation interspersed between newer reconstructed buildings making a cacophony of neighborhoods.  

Another Umbrella shot.

In every direction you see friendly people, dogs, lush vegetations, flowers that coordinate with trim colors, amazing historic doors, arches, gangways, stairs that reach to the heavens, cobblestones, steep hills, gades, winding roads, paths, gades, signs, unbelievable views of the ocean, kittens, roosters whew!! That makes up   St. Thomas!

Blue door.


Oh my gawd, today was the day of beauty and nature.

The eco sea kayak tours and snorkel was the morning's event.   Mangrove, frigate birds, hermit crabs, estuaries, parrot fish, puffer fish, sea urchins, coral reefs, sandy beaches, blow holes, salty waves, and calm lagoons, all in a 3 hour kayak from shore.   It was truly unbelievably beautiful and engaging.

  Pass the corona and lime please...

Talk about "live in the moment"!

We ended up at the Iggie's Beachfront Cafe for lunch.   Lunch turned in to a 2 hour thing and of course, BOLONGO BEACH was drop dead gorgeous.   I went swimming again... and then sauntered over to lie in the hammock on the beach.   Uncharacteristically, we canceled the afternoon watercolor class probably making up for it on Monday.

After a few errands to help Brother John in the hospital, we headed home for afternoon drinks: POOL SIDE.      Sitting on deck,   Jen painted... and the rest of us continued to swap stories that made us howl with laughter.   We must have laughed continuously for hours!

Jen prepared an awesome dinner's and we ate on her screen porch.   The evening was capped off with Searching for The Wrong-eyed Jesus on Suz's TV upstairs in her great room.

Indescribably fun and beautiful day's nature- camaraderie, depth, and conversation made us all richer and calmer.

At a couple of times.. I really felt that I was in a movie, all the scenery and events
seemed unreal and dreamy,



The most unbelievable day ever!!!

It was sunny, warm, bright, pristine,.   We set out for St. John on a car ferry in the mid morning.

After arriving- we hauled up to Centerline Drive for an overview of the island.   St. John is mostly a protected national park so much of the interior of the island is wild and green. [and mosquitoes]

We traveled along a winding road where KEANU'S MINI MART jumped out at Carolyn to be photographed.   There were many gorgeous vistas and views.   Every corner held a drop dead scenic beach's white sand, turquoise water, baby blue sky, fluffy clouds.   One was prettier than the next!   Carolyn and I photographed to our heart's content,hopefully gathering images for future paintings.

Windy day.

Navigating the roads proved to be an adventure, donkeys, goats, scooters, whiplash turns.. all were deftly handled by Suz.

She chose TRUNK BAY as our destination's and we planted ourselves on the beach in later afternoon to capture the perfect sun.

First line of business?   A lounge in the ripple less flat ocean! [turquoise water]

The water is cobalt turquoise green; the air is breathless warm, the beach glistening with reflected sun.

It was late afternoon's the beach was almost ours.   Hmmm-- a few snorkelers.

After a snooze and snack- Carolyn and I decided to photograph and walked to one end of the beach.   There was a wedding about to happen's bride/groom/photographer/minister.   We didn't want to interrupt's so we stood and watched a bit from the distance.   After discussing the many aspects of marital bliss,. we strolled to the other end of the beach.   There was a couple- sitting on a rock who asked us if we wanted to see something cool.   What we found after climbing on the rock was a huge 4 foot long barracuda- in the ocean.  The barracuda appeared to be waiting for another opportunity to hunt.


Wow! what a day~

We loaded in the car's as the mosquitoes descended.   We rolled the windows down fast's to shoo them out and then tried to roll them up again [to prevent them from coming back in].   Feeling frustrated's that I couldn't get them all out's I yelled out .. OUT.. all you!!! and for the rest of you [mosquitoes] you're gonna DIE BY DEATH! at that point we howled with laughter... and couldn't stop.

An imaginative discussion ensued about a murder mystery based on the DIE BY DEATH premise. This artistic-license-to-kill book gathered steam in Suz's creative mind and she plans to write a murder-mystery about a game-gone-real.   We then imagined an art-and-travel- and mystery-workshop that could go along with the book..   Suz has already fleshed out a rough draft!

The laughter we enjoyed left us breathless and doubled over.   We had tears in our eyes.. and busted out's each time...thinking of the potentiality of the book.


Upon arriving at the ferry's we found that it left early. We were stranded on St. John without a way across the harbor!   Yikes!!   Reviewing our options-- we felt it best to have a PINA COLADA at the bar and wait for the passenger ferry.   We parked the car at St. John left the island... and took an evening boat ride home.


Today.. was a day for painting.   A 3 hour demo of two watercolors, and a fine lunch on the porch.

Jen and Carolyn then painted as I supervised.

Later in the day's we walked to downtown's found an internet website to look at Carolyn's website and critiqued her work.

Jen painting

We shopped a bit, and walked back to Queens Quarter on Crystal Gade.   We photographed shadows in the warm evening golden-hour light.



Drinks by poolside, listening to Cornelius recites his poetry, watching the sun set - followed by dinner were the evening's events.   Movie time now!


Painting today from morning till night.   We had a demonstration followed by individual painting.   Outdoor lunch on the patio's followed by poetry reading from Carolyn and short story reading by Suz.  
Both women are incredible writers it was wonderful to hear the written word by each author.

Island workshop work.

Carolyn, Jen, and Suz painted all day's each producing wonderful paintings.

Botanical workshop work.

Suz made a dinner of cocoanut-lemon mahi mahi grilled in banana leaves.   Jen prepared the rest of the meal.   We went to the movie store for a DVD's and the music store for some Beres island music.

Walk like an Egyptian.Workshopping...Hey ya, hey ya, hey ya.



Ocean adventure day!    

Ocean Adventure Day.

It was our day on the ocean's courtesy of Paul Borghi and his daughter Kyla.   They met us at Tickles Bar with their boat all ready and stocked for departure.   We loaded on a picnic's and headed out to Saba Island.   After seeing that it was a little rough for snorkeling's we headed on to a different beach's and put down anchor for a swim and snorkel.   Paul, Kyla, and I snorkeled's and Suz and Carolyn paddled to shore.


We all beach combed for a bit... and headed back to the boat's for lunch.

At one with the sea.

After shrimp and cheese n'crackers, we decided to head  for some deep sea fishing.     Paul set out fish lines with bait, and I took a turn at the wheel.   I've never driven a boat in the ocean before!!     It felt really terrific to navigate the swells.   We had 4 strikes, Paul and Kyla took turns at the reels: bonita, kingfish, and mackerel!!  

The Artist herself.

Paul taught us a bit of the signs to look for when fishing's birds on the water-indicate schools of bait fish which are subsequently hunted by the larger fish (this is what we're looking for) he also showed us where the various spots are in the ocean for fish's Tuna Bowl [donut], North Drop, South Drop.

Babes in a speedboat.

Although all the fish ended back in the water's it was amazing to have the adventure.

It's hard not to smile.

We continued on to SABA ISLAND for some quick snorkeling... and shelling on the beach.   SABA is a bird sanctuary there are terns and nests everywhere.

Really, really hard... not to smile.

We found the most incredible shells's sharing colors, shapes, sizes while dodging hermit crabs and no-see-ums.

Paul !!!

Carolyn took a turn at the wheel to get us to shore. The sunset was perfect.

Blue sky, blue water, blue dress.  What a shot...

It was one of those days where everyone and everything was magical and perfect.   We all bonded.   Each person was unique and special and the camaraderie perfect.

Paul fishing.

I shall always remember this most unusual day among special friends.   I am most grateful to Paul and Kyla for making the day so memorable.   I really enjoyed Paul's generosity.

Swimming, swimming, swimming.


Evening brought a bit of reality-- packing to go home... and good byes.  

We sat in the apartment and reflected on what our past few days together meant.   We made a list of our favorite sayings and quotes, we also spoke of our short-term goals and our willingness and desire to keep in touch.   We want to reaffirm our friendships through phone calls and emails.

We laughed, we toasted our good fortune, we cried we had become friends.   Good friends.

Carolyn came up with a name for our newfound group-- THE SISTERHOOD of the SILVER PALM.  

 That just about sums it up!


Leaving in the morning was particularly sad for us all.   It's easy to mope and feel sad.   But truthfully's I am really happy and grateful that I had the opportunity to become friends with such incredible women's Jen, Carolyn, and Suz.  

To share an intense and emotionally bonding experience was just what I needed! I shall never forget it.  

St. Thomas was perfect in every way possible.   Each day's better than the next.    

I hope that the inspiration and goodness we felt with one another will continue. and grow.   I also hope that I am able to take the genuine quality of our humor and depth of sharing and caring to others.

Thank you Jen for being an exemplary human being.

Thank you Carolyn for being so willing to learn and listen.   You are a great artist and wonderful spirit.

Thank you Suz for being the catalyst for this to happen.   You are an inspiration to me.   You are my role model.   You definitely shined some light on my path.

Always remember:

Good girls go to heaven's


Carol Carter - Island Girl.