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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Day 5 – Person of The Forest.

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Today is our last day in Mulu before we fly to the very southern tip of Borneo , Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Sadly we said goodbye to Robin today, who took a flight back to the UK. We’ll really miss him as we continue our travels south but it has been so valuable having him on board for our Mulu adventure!

Having had a really busy few day since arriving in Mulu, we took today at a much slower pace. This gave John an excellent opportunity to paint the last two paintings from our time here in Mulu.

Today, he painted Deer Cave. The view he chose to paint was from the far end of Deer cave out into, what is known as, the ‘Garden of Eden’. The painting is full of life with bats, birds and butterflies filling the canvas.

His second painting was of Batu Bungan, the Penan village we visited previously. He specially captured Nyapun and his two wives, playing the traditional Penan instruments, the nose flute and their string instrument.

Here’s John to explain a little bit more about how he paints:

“Before I start a painting I create an image in my mind and if I’m not in front of my subject then I gather reference sources which are photographs, videos, memories and field guides (books or leaflets that illustrate wildlife).

A painting is free to change the time of day, move objects around, add people, plants, animals and insects at will and the composition can be changed to create the essence and feel of your subject.

This freedom is the great joy and the creative life of painting as unlike a photograph you can really emphasis parts of the subject or experience or bring in things you have seen on previous days or in my case include birds that I hear in the canopy of the rainforest but never get to see.

When I put the paint on I start with the background (sky first) and work forward in layers adding elements finishing with the foreground.

I change colours and play with colour combinations, it’s the feel and emotion of the subject that is important and my work has a lot of narrative (storytelling) in it.

I try and complete each painting in one sitting when working on location but when in the studio (like your classrooms) I often paint a background on one day and then continue the next when it is dry.

It’s also great fun to focus on a single subject and to paint just a bird, frog, flower etc rather than always attempting a whole scene.

Have fun and I can’t wait to see your paintings, so please submit them to our when they are finished and try and do this before November 22nd for them to be eligible for our Zazzle Art Awards.” John Dyer.

This evening we went on a Dyer adventure up to a canopy tower. At the top of scaffold stairs was a hide in amongst the canopy. This allows people to view the rainforest from a new angle. Sadly the only wildlife we saw was a miniature squirrel and several huge colourful butterflies. This was probably due to the weather which started thundering as we reached the top!

This brings me nicely to answering a question we’ve had from Queengate Foundation Primary.

“Which place do you prefer, the Amazon or Borneo and why?”

  1. This is a very good question, although very difficult to answer. Both have their similarities and differences. The rainforest and climate is similar in both places. We have seen little animal life in either place and this will be down to the Yawanawá population living in the Amazon, slowly driving the wildlife further into the forest, and here in Borneo, the high density of visitors having the same effect. In the Amazon we worked very closely with the Yawanawá people and this was made easier as we were staying amongst them. This however did have its disadvantages, as getting round to completing paintings and visiting locations was mainly down to the Yawanawá and the time it takes them to do anything is much slower than we had expected! Here in Borneo, we haven’t worked as closely with the Penan, and it has been lovely to see their traditional music and knowledge combined with how they have adapted to a more modern existence. What we have loved the most has been being in both places so close together and comparing the two.

We are off now to have our last evening meal in Mulu before we pack ready to start the journey to our next destination tomorrow.

Regarding our videos and blogs: When we reach Lamantau Wildlife Reserve we are unsure as to how easy it will be for us to post. We will try our best, so keep your fingers crossed all goes smoothly for us!

That’s all for now,

Martha-Lilly x

The Last Chance to Paint team’s latest video will be live tomorrow (11/09/19) at 9am!

Catch up on our videos on this link:

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