Throughout history, hawaiian painting has been an important part of Hawaii’s culture. The islands’ rich tradition and remarkable beauty continue to attract artists from across the globe.
One of the earliest Westerners to visit Hawaii was professional artist Louis Choris. He brought his skills with him to document the islands and its people.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to a unique and rich culture with a variety of arts. Feather work, kapa (bark cloth), wood carvings and petroglyphs were created for practical and spiritual purposes long before European contact. After the arrival of Europeans, Hawaiian art began to evolve. During the 19th century, a number of professional and amateur painters visited Hawaii. Some were native to the United States, while others were from other countries. One such artist was David Howard Hitchcock, who is best known for his dramatic nocturnal scenes of erupting volcanoes. He was a member of The Volcano School, an influential art movement.
Kamea Hadar is another Hawaii painter who focuses on cultural subjects. Her evocative portraits of Hawaii’s beautiful natural scenery feature subjects like palm trees, cascading waterfalls and swaying flowers. She also makes use of vibrant colors to highlight Hawaii’s landscapes. Her work has earned her recognition around the world, and she’s worked with brands such as Hurley and Hawaiian Airlines.
While many of these artists focus on the beauty of the Hawaiian landscape, others take a more abstract approach to their artwork. Christie Shinn, for instance, uses a combination of colors and shapes to create her pieces. She often portrays the natural beauty of Hawaii in a way that is both contemporary and unique.
Having grown up with a Japanese/Korean mother and an Israeli father, Kamea Hadar’s multi-faceted upbringing informed his artistic journey from early on. By the time he was 3, Hadar’s grandmother had told him that art was his calling. “You can’t argue with Grandma, so I took her word for it,” Hadar says. He went on to study at the Honolulu Art Academy and University of Hawaii, as well as traveling, studying at The Sorbonne in Paris, and living in both Madrid and Tel Aviv.
Kamea Hadar is no stranger to large-scale work, having painted more than 50 murals over the past decade. From a larger-than-life portrait of Barack Obama on the side of a law firm to wrapping a Lamborghini with floral art vinyl, Hadar’s impact is all around us.
Most recently, Hadar adorned the 14-story Halawa View Apartments with his largest mural to date. The goddess Hina carries the moon in one hand and a taro leaf in the other, symbolizing the community’s reliance on both the sea and the land.
Hadar’s work is a reflection of the cultural heritage and environment that surrounds him in Hawaii. He uses his art to draw attention to issues like climate change and ocean preservation, as reflected in the detailed depictions of a fishing trip on this piece. The mural also features two fish peeking out of the ocean in distress, a reminder that our waters are under threat.
A Hawaii-based artist who specializes in watercolor, acrylic, and paint markers, Lauren Roth’s work is a dreamy combination of tropical shapes and organic colors. Her inspiration comes from the places she has traveled and the beauty of her everyday surroundings. Her work is also heavily influenced by her love for nature and the ocean. Roth’s artwork has been featured in Hawaii Magazine and she even works with companies like Nautica. Her art can be purchased at her gallery in Kailua, through 808Arts, and on her website.
Another unique Hawaii artist is Sarah Caudle, a mixed media artist who uses resin to create calming beach scenes. Her paintings have a unique style that can be found on a variety of products, including tote bags, necklaces, and ornaments. You can find her work at select galleries across the country and in Japan.
There are many artists from the continental United States who have migrated to Hawaii and made their mark on the local art scene. From painter Kamea Hadar to sculptor Marques Marzan, their work is influenced by Hawaiian culture and the unique ambiance of the islands. They also incorporate the ancient Hawaiian tradition of using kapa, lauhala, and koa wood in their designs. They are among the most notable of Hawaii’s contemporary artists.
For artists, Hawaii has always been an inexhaustible source of inspiration. The islands’ extraordinary landscape, rich tradition, and remarkable history attract creatives from across the globe. Whether they’re working in visual arts, music, dance, theater or film, Hawaii’s unique culture and breathtaking beauty inspire bold creators who push the boundaries of innovation and resourcefulness.
From sculptors to painters, Hawaii’s most notable art makers are as diverse as its residents. But no matter how many times they venture back and forth between their homes in Hawaii and New York City, these artists are bound by the island spirit that echoes through all of its cultural traditions.
For example, sculptor John Koga is known for using unconventional materials in his artworks, including avocado pits, driftwood and tobacco. The results are surreal sculptures that resemble stones, trees and branches that you would see in the Hawaiian Islands. He also uses elements from nature to create pieces that celebrate adventure and heroic myths.
Another standout Hawaii artist is Lannie Boesiger, who paints gorgeous tropical flowers and plants. Her works highlight some of Hawaii’s most stunning natural wonders, from the Na Pali Coast on Kauai to the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island. Her works have a distinct vintage vibe, and her designs are available as prints and on merchandise such as tote bags, hats and t-shirts.