The first time I painted outdoors was on the north shore of the island of Kauai, under the brooding presence of the mighty Pele. In the Hawaiian religion, Pele (pronounced [ˈpɛlɛ]), the Fire Goddess, is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands. She begets her own weather, generating rainstorms that send torrents lashing down her sides; her peak is the wettest place on earth. As I settled myself on the beach and began painting, the massive cloud cloaking the volcano darkened. Her wind picked up, lifting the paint on my damp paper—suddenly I was not only painting Pele, I was painting with her. She decided where the paint would go, not I. It was quite the initiation to painting on site—to paint with a volcano is humbling.

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