UNDER THE KOA TREE, a locally owned art gallery & gift shop that has supported artists in business for over 20 years in Hawaii, expanded its retail space at Waikiki Beachwalk earlier this month.
Pictured above at the entrance of his new showroom, which doubles in size of his previous showroom, is owner Kimo Spencer, who not only represents over 70 local artisans from all across Hawaii, but keeps his merchandise exclusive to Made in Hawaii items–a rare find in the Waikiki shopping scene.
Backed by the gallery's strong base of repeat customers and people in search of locally made products, Under The Koa Tree has also expanded its support for Hawaii's artists. Unlike ultra high-end galleries that feature just a handful of top-grossing artists whose large-scale art is hardly within financial reach of the public majority, UTKT focuses on offering a wide price range and variety of matted, canvas, and metal art prints that are smaller in size and compact enough to transport in a carry-on suitcase. Art-seekers truly seem to appreciate in addition to these options, the fact that many of the featured artists are very small, passion-based entrepreneurs who are receiving the opportunity for recognition in a highly competitive market.
I'm grateful and honored to be one of those artists I just described. Pictured right is me, standing beside the art prints I individually packaged myself, in hopes of inspiring and touching the hearts of people who visit from around the globe who may become drawn to my work. I've been represented at UTKT for a little over a year now and looking forward to expanding my body of work for them.
Having somewhat of an "insider's" point of view, I foresee continued success for UTKT's future. For an independent, brick and mortar art gallery to have survived and thrived in a competitive and expensive marketplace such as Waikiki, such as Hawaii in general, for over 20 years, means all the major components are being done right: Authentic merchandise, check; Desirable location, check; Customer loyalty, relatable and friendly staff, and support for local artists, check. A business doesn't get much more genuine than that, right? Congratulations, Under The Koa Tree!
Under The Koa Tree is open 7 days a week from 9:30AM to 10PM on the 2nd floor of Waikiki Beachwalk on Lewers st.
This photo of me and my love is what initially inspired me to do this painting. So I consider this the VERY start :)
Today I'm excited to announce the release of my newest oil painting, Warm Hearted.
Below are photos showing my progress from start to finish. Although the quality of the photos aren't great, I hope some of you will get some interest out of this. In the future, I'll be taking more comprehensive progress shots with more details, but bare with me until then. A few of my followers have also requested I do a livestream painting session, which I am also considering. Feel free to leave me feedback on this and share it on FB!
This is the finished painting:
Interested in a high-quality photographic print or canvas print?
Interested in purchasing the ORIGINAL painting? See details here:
Sometimes I write poetry and I should do it more.
This week was definitely challenging for me, as I only completed two pieces. What can I say, life is life and we all have schedules and responsibilities. The thing is, I decided not to get down or disappointed at myself, as a fellow challenger said, it's about the journey this art challenge brings, not about creating 30 pieces of art just to go through the motions. It's true. I've already discovered new things about myself and gained new, artistic friends abroad. I'm still in this challenge for the rest of this month, and expect to still see new pieces from me. Although it may not be daily, but again, it's about the experience!
As I walked down my street this evening, I saw an old TV out on the road for pick-up labeled "FREE". Somehow, a melancholic feeling came over me and it inspired me to write this poem. I also took the background photo of blurred lights in my city at night. I usually don't write poetry but I really enjoyed it. My plan to alternate art forms seems to be working, because I felt rejuvenated and more connected with myself tonight.
It's finally out in stores and available throughout December and January! Real Word Magazine, a local publication that features inspiring stories and "all things creative" from people in Hawaii, asked me to write an article on COURAGE, the theme for this month's issue.
A week after I was asked to write for them, I went through one of the most difficult, confusing, depressing times of my life, and I panicked; I went weeks without sleep, I fell behind in my classes, I couldn't tell anyone what was going on, and my mindset was farthest away from a positive place. How was I supposed to write an article on "courage", a characteristic that is so strong and meaningful; something I thought I didn't embody in the first place, when all over sudden I was faced with a major loss in my life, that I wanted to end my own life? I had planned on writing about my "courageous" decision to become an artist at a young age, regardless of the "starving artist" notion, regardless of what anyone said against becoming an artist––and now, I was unable to think one clear thought, and it felt impossible to write this article.
Somehow, having dealt with heavy anxiety and depression for half my life, I found––ironically––the COURAGE to sit down and write the article. It was the hardest thing to do at that time. Only one thing saved me, and it was the love and passion I have for art. It saved me many times in the past, as I mention briefly in the article, and it happened to save me this time around, too. Writing for Real Word Magazine turned out to be a process of self-discovery, and a much more emotional experience than I expected. After I was finished, I actually became aware of my own courage, not only as a young artist just beginning her journey, but as a whole person. I've always been someone who denied her own accomplishments, and was someone with no self-esteem or self-worth. However, the events in my life always seem to occur methodically, for a specific reason, at a specific correct time, to give me strength and more wisdom. This was a huge one...
I hope to inspire at least one person who reads my article on "courage".
In addition to the issue, my article was included in the Real Word Magazine's 2010 Hardcover Book, a compilation of stories featured in past issues, as picture below:
Thanks to Real Word. Magazine team for all their generosity and hard work!
I notice that several of you are taken to my colored-pencil drawing of BoA, so I will show you how I drew her visually. I took a lot of pictures while drawing her for some reason, so I must have pre-determined the outcome. Sorry for the really bad picture quality; I was working through the nights with hardly any light, and using a small, outdated point-n-shoot camera.
* Note that this is not intended to be a tutorial or drawing guide, but merely a step by step visual progression of one of my drawings.
Today I came across a website that by chance (or by synchronicity, as I prefer to call it) helped me discover the answer to an Artist struggle I’ve been struggling with for years––and by years I mean roughly since high school when I became “too busy” and had no time for art anymore. For the last 4 years, people who really know me can justify the things I complain about most as: 1) Not having time for art outside of my art classes, 2) Not feeling like an Artist anymore because I don’t have time for art, and 3) Never finishing the artworks I start because other priorities quickly get in the way. Perhaps these hopeless excuses I make about not having time wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t have the tendency to constantly try and make a statement about how passionate I am about art (and not just passionate, but more passionate than you). At times I wonder if all I am is fake; I wonder if all I am really seeking is the label, “Artist”, in hopes of being a someone rather than a nobody in this world; I wonder, why can’t I just make time and cut the excuses––simply make the effort to make time for art! After all, lack of time is everyone’s struggle and those who are able to invent time, per se, are likely to achieve their dreams. Why do I fail myself in making time for my passion? Why have I produced such little work in the past 4 years when I know I could have produced so many more? In my mind I am not lazy.
After coming across a certain website, and after reading Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, I realized something shocking about the kind of Artist I have become: a left-brained, rational, perfectionist. A left-brained Artist in the way I approach my artwork––a left-brained Artist; how’s that for irony and personal shame? What do I mean by left-brained Artist? I realized I have lost most of the habits that are the epitome and the essence of artistic creative growth. It’s the same as losing one’s inner child: the abilities to play, be spontaneous, explore, make mistakes, not think, make more mistakes, and play some more. After my 10th grade year, when I actually produced the best artworks in my ever so young life, I became so focused on my technical skills as an Artist rather than on my creative skills.
Ultimately, this is what has come of me:
- I seem to be incapable of keeping a sketchbook, or simply making a sketch or doodle (for crying out loud!). Every piece of art I do has to be a “fully developed ‘masterpiece’ on fine-quality drawing paper”. My left-brain Artist: “think, draw, think draw”; to display my drawing skills, I must create a fully developed, gallery-ready masterpiece; it’s either that or I don’t draw at all, because I’m afraid of making art that doesn’t show my “real skills”.
- I am not creative. I have faced this fact a while ago: I’m an Artist but not a creative one. When I draw a portrait, I can make it amazingly realistic, but the portrait is nothing beyond someone’s face on paper. I can’t draw a thing from memory––I can’t illustrate or draw cartoons; everything I do must be referenced from a photograph or visual of some sort. I can’t do what I did in middle school––simply draw whatever comes to mind; no, no––never.
The likely solution:
Is simple, yet so difficult. Most casually put, I need to dump the need for perfection 24/7 and draw aimlessly. Just riff. Draw like a kid again. Be imaginative. Don’t use references. Make crappy art. Draw in a sketchbook and actually make it a sketch. Be unconcerned with rules. I would have to go back to basics and reinvent myself to “unblock” my left-brained perfection-craving Artist.
As ridiculous as it sounds, the whole process sounds scary and daunting. Making fun, simple, random art shouldn’t be daunting to anyone, and that’s what scares me even more. Luckily, I stumbled upon this inspiring website today: drawanyway.com. According to their about us section,
“It’s about doodles, sketches, work you might never show anyone else. It’s about seeing the value in pictures that have been dashed off, and about getting confident in art so that it becomes a pleasure and not something daunting.
It’s for everyone, those who believe they can draw, and those who believe they can’t, but want to. Those who have no time to draw. Those who have plenty of time but no idea where to start.
Ach, basically, it’s all about making time for art, and enjoying art. And that’s it."
And that is exactly what I need to do. Not that I’ll ever stop making “masterpieces” or putting as much detail and effort as I can in my art, but going back to basics and not being afraid to make mistakes is essential to my improvement as a (right-brained) Artist. If I can reintroduce the creativity and spontaneousness in my art, then I’m excited to see where I’ll be in a year, 5 years, 10 years; I’ll produce more artworks than I ever have, and have more time for it than I ever have.
I’m going to make a goal for myself right now: to draw aimlessly in a sketchbook one again as I did when I was 11 and 12, and rid myself of the notion of perfection when it comes to sketching. Then, I will share my sketches with you on this website and watch myself grow in creativity. Might as well give it a try. Oh and one last thing. I created this website not just for displaying my best work, but to watch myself grow personally as an Artist––and I ultimately want this site to be about YOU, the viewer, rather than just my artwork. I wouldn’t have bought the domain, inspiremi.com otherwise. What I want can’t be made clearer.