Discover more from It's Good to Be Here
Bob Ross Reinvented, Comfort Food, and Your Own Private Island
Plus, a good excuse to go to Tahiti
Move Over, Bob Ross: Helen Dealtry Is My New Favorite TV Painter
I love watching people paint. I think most artists do: we are endlessly fascinated with how other people pull off their magic tricks. The demo portion of an art workshop is always everyone’s favorite part—we don’t actually have to try the technique and screw up ourselves, instead we get to watch someone far more skilled try and succeed.
The British shows Landscape Artist of the Year and Portrait Artist of the Year (available at the moment on Tubi, Amazon, and sporadically on YouTube) are my favorite soothing bedtime art-watching TV shows. But now I’ve added Helen Dealtry to the rotation. Her show, Art in Bloom, was created by the Magnolia Network, very much in the style of the early days of HGTV, when a host would simply stand in their studio and show you how to do a project, like make a birdfeeder or decorate an antique chair.
That’s what this show is like, and I am totally here for it. For three seasons, Helen walks you through how to paint an abstract floral painting or a landscape, working with materials that are only vaguely described but seem to be watercolor, acrylic ink, or possibly India ink. (I think if you have the Magnolia app, you get a supply list, but I’m just watching these on HBOMax.)
Abstract watercolors are not exactly my thing, but I painted the first project along with her for the hell of it. As you can see, it wasn’t terribly successful, but I have a use for these kinds of blobby watercolor experiments: I cut the paper up and write notes on the backs of them. (If you’ve bought a painting from me, you probably got a thank-you note written on the back of some experiment like this.) Weirdly, they look much better when they’re cut into pieces and just look like random abstract blobs. Anyway, this is a very soothing, lovely show, and if that’s your thing, you’ll love it.
It Never Hurts to Look: Private Islands for Sale
I was awake in the middle of the night recently and there was absolutely, definitely, no hope of getting back to sleep. So I reached for my iPad and started planning some insane dream vacation, in the hopes that this would distract me from whatever was keeping me awake, and lull me back to dreamland. (It actually worked pretty well.)
As I was planning this dream vacation, I stumbled across this website that lists private islands for sale. Of course, private islands are ridiculous and obscene: they’re either overbuilt resorts for rich elites, or deserted sandbars that are only minutes away from being underwater forever.
Nonetheless, it’s a pleasant way to pass the dark hours of the very early morning, scrolling through the listings or flipping through the online magazine they publish, looking for a good deal, and texting listings to those friends of yours who do not object to the occasional nonsensical 2 AM text.
I’m particularly fascinated by Wailagilala Island in Fiji, priced at a bargain $3M for what is described as “leasehold” ownership, which is probably an accurate description of any kind of ownership arrangement with an island—you’re only leasing it from the sea. If I’m interpreting the realtor-speak correctly, it’s reachable only via a 165-mile boat ride from the nearest outpost, and it is entirely unhindered by any of the annoyances of modern life such as utilities, drinking water, telecommunications, medical care, or DoorDash. There are a few straw huts and a couple of houses (described as villas, but I’ve learned that every house on a private island is called a villa), so you’re not starting from scratch. Bring a fishing net, I guess. Here’s a video if you’d like to see more.
This island is one of only about 400 true atolls in the world. If you’re a little rusty on the details of atoll formation, here’s a video that explains it—and reminds any prospective owners that they are definitely only temporary inhabitants. Just passing through, as the atoll itself is also just passing through.
Here’s the Best Care Package Ever
Hey, have you ever had a loved one who was going through a rough time, and you wanted to send them something more than a hug emoji? Maybe some soup or some hot chocolate?
I recently discovered Spoonful of Comfort, a company that specializes in care packages and does them beautifully. You can tailor a box to someone’s specific dietary preferences or to the occasion, but generally you’re sending soup or mac & cheese, rolls, cookies, maybe some tea, and a bunch of optional extras that range from fuzzy socks to cough drops to lavender eye masks. They even offer a few books and puzzles you can throw in. The whole thing is packaged with a great deal of charm and wit, making the box a real pleasure to open.
Seems like I go looking for a good gift basket company a few times a year, and most of them seem overpriced and underwhelming. This place is the exact opposite. And no, this is not a paid advertisement! But do go take a look if you’ve ever in the market for such a thing.
Rán Flygenring Puts Out a Fun Illustrated Newsletter
Please go look at the wonderful illustrated newsletter of Rán Flygenring, illustrator, comic-maker, and trouble-maker. It’s weird and wonderful and handmade and I think you will enjoy it. You can find it here:
What Are You Reading?
While I was in Tahiti I read Larry McMurtry’s book about Tahiti, Paradise, which is really a memoir about his parent’s marriage that he wrote while on a trip to Tahiti. Some writers contrive a fairly plausible excuse for exotic, luxurious work-related travel, such as a murder mystery set in a village in Provence. But if you’re Larry McMurtry, you say, “I’m going to write a memoir about the marriage of two people who never left Texas, and the only way to do that is for me to go float around in Tahiti and contemplate it for a while.”
So that’s what he did. The book is like a longish version of a longish New Yorker article that is so well-written that you hardly care what it’s about. Part travelogue, part family history, and partly a glimpse into how a famous writer lives and works. Highly recommended, especially if you happen to be floating around Tahiti while you’re reading it.
The Bit at the End
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