Playing & Painting in the Caribbean

sunrise caribbeanTraveling, painting and photography are among my biggest passions, and I love it when I have the opportunity to do them all at the same time!

Having just returned home from our annual family vacation in the US Virgin Islands in the beautiful Caribbean, I thought I’d share a few pictures and facts I have learned from my time there.

Normally, there are only two seasons in the Caribbean – dry and rainy seasons. The dry season usually lasts from roughly December to May and it is very hot, breezy and even dusty. After that, from June to November is the rainy, hurricane season. I am not complaining, but we really did experience unseasonably wet weather during our two week visit.

Most of my plein air painting was executed from the shelter of a grape-leaf tree or a covered balcony.

plein air painting

The US Virgin Islands boarder between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. While on his voyage to the Indies, Christopher Columbus landed on this region and named them the West Indies. The name Caribbean comes from the American Indian tribe, the Carib Indians, who originally inhabited the islands.

caribbean painting

©2012 LMcNee, "A Day in Paradise"

For this trip I packed very light for my plein air painting. For my pochade box, I brought my EASyL Lite box, tripod, 3 paintbrushes, palette knife, medium, and water soluble oil paints (titanium white, cad yellow light, cad red light, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson).

plein air pochade box

palm tree painting

Today, roughly 2% of the Caribbean Islands are inhabited. Most residents are descendants of African slaves who were brought to work the sugarcane plantations. Once slavery was abolished in 1848, most decided to stay in the paradise-like conditions. You can see the rich, diverse and colorful Caribbean culture reflected in the architecture, music, clothing and even the amazing fruit stands!

caribbean fruit stand

fruit stand caribbean

 I especially love to photograph the old doors and windows…

old caribbean door

caribbean door

The arts have flourished in the Caribbean Islands since the 1900s, and have especially grown since the end of World War II in 1945. I enjoyed visiting with this local artist who was sketching underneath the shade of a grape-leaf tree. Did you know that Camille Pissarro , the famous Impressionist was born in the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas?

caribbean artist

Flora and fauna are in abundance, you just need to take the time to look. I enjoyed taking pictures of the primitive and colorful looking iguanas. Iguanas become rather friendly, especially now that they are protected on in the USVI.. even so, the locals told me they, “taste like chicken”!  

iguana caribbean

I found this wading egret looking for his lunch within an old mangrove preserve.

wading egret

Theses wild bananas were hanging outside my room! Many beautiful flowers and fruits make their home here like the mango, papaya, orange, banana, guava, pineapple, tamarind and even watermelon

wild bananas

This little bananaquit songbird hit the window in the hotel lobby. I was happy to revive and release him back into paradise!

bananaquit ibrd

The Rolex Regatta sailboat race was right out from our beach in the Great Bay where Black Beard the Pirate once sailed…

rolex regatta

After two weeks of snorkeling, sailing, playing and painting with my family and friends in the Caribbean, I am ready to get back to my ‘normal’ busy life. It was great for me to unwind, adopt the island life, and for me to ‘unplug’ from the Internet! I hope you enjoyed this mini-vacation…where do you like to vacation? 

Lori's family and friends

**Let’s also meet on Twitterand on Google Plus, Pinterestand join in the fun at Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page! Please checkout my art too ~Lori

Here are a few other posts you might enjoy:

My Tour de France

Water Soluble Oil Paints: Facts, Tips & Why I Use Them

Turn an Altoid Box into a Mini Watercolor Set

How to Build a Pochade Box from a Cigar Box

New Zealand: Painting & Playing in the God Zone

Birdwatching in New Zealand: In Search of the Rare Fiordland Penguin

How to Interpret the Landscape in Paint


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  1. Kimbundance April 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Oh wow ! How beautiful I would absolutely love to paint in the Carrabien as well. Your pictures are stunning and wonderful!

    • Lori McNee April 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Yes, it is so beautiful there. The colors are much different that those of the mountains. It is challenging for me!

  2. Ann Trainor Domingue June 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Great to read your post about the Caribbean. I too enjoy sketching from life while vacationing at various islands over the years. Color is so different there from my New England muted palette. Pthalo colors were made for Caribbean life. I totally enjoy the overwhelming color overload. Refreshing and energizing. The evaporation of my watercolor work is really different than up north here. I use my sketches and photos to create new work in oil, wc or acrylic when I get home. And thank goodness for seagrapes–sometimes the only shade around. Just have to move out a couple of crabs every now and again. Thanks for writing about one of my favorite areas.

    • Lori McNee August 28, 2012 at 11:30 am

      Hello Ann, and thanks for the nice comment. I love those seagrapes too! You are making me homesick for the islands!!! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here.

Comments are closed.