Painting a portrait of good health
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|Video: Fitness with an artistic approach|
By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Mike Gordon
LANIKAI — There's some kind of cosmic connection between a long swim and a blank canvas that artist Michael Ives has learned to tap.
It's the artist as athlete. He paints in his head before he paints with his brush, one stroke at a time.
"It's a meditation, no doubt about it," he said. "I'm counting every lap, but I'm working on my projects at the same time. I get my best ideas a half hour into a workout. The endorphins kick in and the ideas come."
With his mind and body in balance, Ives lives a life most folks dream about.
The 59-year-old artist spends his summers in a beach house in Lanikai with his wife, Jill, painting beneath the shade of a coconut tree with the Mokulua Islands, canoe paddlers and swimmers for further inspiration. He spends his falls and winters in Tucson, Ariz. It's a geographic balance he has made since 1971.
His days are a mix of work and working out, painting and play.
The portrait of the artist in the morning includes sand on his paint-spattered feet — pink and purple, on the day of this interview. Ives typically starts at 4:30 a.m. with a walk on the beach. Then he picks up a brush.
The rest of the day is divided into segments, he said over a breakfast of papaya and coffee.
"I give myself little vacations," he said. "I paint for a few hours and go for a swim. I paint more and run. By the end of the week, I have a few paintings done and I've had a blast."
Ives, who grew up in a small Ohio town and got kicked out of Catholic school because he doodled too much in the eighth grade, has been a professional artist since he was 19.
His paintings are bright and cheery, with lots of orange and blue and teal. Ives claims no one style and changes his approach on each canvas: from cubist to pointillist to feathery. His Hawai'i paintings often feature Lanikai's signature bumps: the Mokuluas.
"A lot of my stuff ends up on kids' walls, whether I want it to or not," he said, pointing to a whimsical painting of falling pets called "Raining Cats & Dogs in Lanikai." "A lot of work I do is primitive and naive. It lets the kid come out." (See more at www.ivesart.com.)
A few years ago, Ives learned to kiteboard, a sport he found as daunting as it was seductive. Kiteboarders cut across the water like a sharp knife, smooth and beautiful, he said.
But he was in his mid-50s and didn't want to hurt himself. Ives wore a helmet and a life jacket and sometimes had to take a deep breath to steady his nerves.
After several months, he had learned enough to stay out of trouble and in the process, found another canvas.
Ives is painting his yellow, 12-meter kite with bright swaths of purple, green and salmon because the kiteboarding industry is a visual disappointment, he said.
"It's milquetoast," he said. "Why aren't these people celebrating their sport?"
When he started, Ives could only manage 10 to 15 minutes on the water before fatigue drove him to shore. Now he's up to an hour or more.
"It's a great upper-body workout and works your legs, too," he said. "I come back exhausted. I come back and take a nap. It's a very profound nap."
Reach Mike Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.