Our Costa Rican art adventure is over. The biros are all used up, I’ve run out of white oil paint and, most importantly, there’s no canvas left.
I guess the question is: Has it done any good?
As far as the art goes, I feel the impact has been huge, but maybe you should be the judge. The image above shows the 9 artworks I’ve completed whilst out here, laid out, ready to be packed away for the journey home.
Something has definitely changed between me and art; the time I take to complete works has dropped significantly, and I think the outcome is much better as a result. I feel much freer to focus on the atmosphere I want to create rather than the detail of what I’m painting. As a result, I’m really looking forward to getting home and seeing where this takes me, particularly on larger canvases!
We also came out here to immerse ourselves in a different culture and experience the incredible wildlife that lives here.
As ever, culture is a complex issue, and not one that’s easy to talk about. You have to acknowledge that any statement made will be hugely reductive and generic, but here goes:
Costa Rica is renowned for its focus on the environment, and that appears to be very true, people seem to respect wildlife more, overall, than in our own country and the country decided to stand down its armed forces in order to focus on eco-tourism. Having said that, recycling isn’t (or doesn’t appear to be) done very much at all, and plastic is very prevalent.
They’re a deeply religious country, with 92% identifying as belonging to a religion, 70% catholic. Family is clearly extremely important, but I guess that’s true in most places, although this isn’t necessarily true in some western cultures. We’ve regularly seen large extended family groups on days out.
I struggle to think of a more laid back country, there’s a real sense of it wherever you go. It even has it’s own phrase “Tico time”, which specifically refers to the lack of timeliness in the country, a symptom of the laid back way of life here. Even in the most touristy areas, and Costa Rica has an economy that relies on tourism, so there are plenty, there is very little pressure. We’ve walked through tourist centres with no one hassling us for anything. That, on it’s own, feels very special.
The wildlife is truly extraordinary, it seems so close and part of everyday life. The best example of this is the place we are currently staying in. It’s not in pristine habitat, like our place in Manual Antonio, so we haven’t seen anywhere near the same amount or variety of wildlife. However, it’s the nesting season here and by the last count we have at least 6 species of bird nesting very close by, and we’ve been able to watch birds collecting nesting material and building nests. Something you usually have to work quite hard to do in the UK.
Obviously, all this has some down sides, we have geckos and some very BIG insects living with us, and the odd scorpion and monitor lizard visited us in the house. Then there’s the heat. Life loves heat, so if you want to see lots of life you need to go somewhere hot. I just wish that I loved the heat as much as every other form of life seems to. I think some of my Scottish genes mean that I’m just not designed for it. My feet are swollen and sleep has been a bit of an issue. But I really can’t moan, look at where we are!
In short, we’re extremely pleased we’ve done this, as it has taught us a lot, about many, many things. It’ll be a long time before we do anything like it again, but I, for one, really hope we get the chance.