Aloha Friends! I am happy to present to you my latest original painting entitled, "Island Oasis." It is a 24"x30" acrylic on canvas original, featuring some of my favorite tropical leaves (monstera, banana, ferns, palms and colocasia). I would now love to share with you some of the process and inspiration behind my newest piece.
Living in Hawaii, I am inspired on a daily basis by all of the incredible tropical leaves that can be found in nearly every outdoor space (even gas stations and parking lots!). Although I have included leaves in many previous paintings, I have never made them my main and only subject matter. I usually depend on the contrasting colors of bright flowers to dominate my paintings' foregrounds...so in this case I was a little uncertain about how to create a good composition with mostly green colors.
Because of this, I spent countless hours sketching a very precise composition in pencil. I erased over and over, flipped the painting upside down/ sideways, and looked at it in the mirror until I was finally satisfied.
I found it a challenge (as usual) to create an aesthetically appealing design that also stayed true to the realistic form of the plants. For reference, I used a live monstera plant in my house, and also collected palm fronds and ferns. For the banana leaves and colocasia/ alocasia, I took photos and searched on Google images.
The next step was not something that is typical on every piece: outlining the pencil sketch in color with paint. But since the actual lines were such an important element of this piece, I felt it was necessary for me to make them bolder before I continued filling in more color.
Following the outline, I spent time considering my preferred color scheme (teals and greens). I then began to fill in larger areas of space with watered down acrylic paint.
At this stage I thought my painting began to look like a fun aloha shirt pattern!
Since my painting would be composed of entirely leaves, I had to think about how I would incorporate contrasting colors besides only blues and greens. I was very conscious about negative space as well, to help the painting elements to "pop".
I added pinks, yellows, maroons, purples and deep blues to help round out the piece and add dimension. I worked layer by layer with a thin wash of acrylic, allowing the paint to dry between coats.
Once I was finally satisfied with the colors (about 40+ hours of work later), I went in with Posca paint pens and added black lines around the majority of my shapes. This is the final step I do on each piece to give it a "cleaned up" and modern look.
I'm really happy with how this piece turned out, and am excitedly planning to use the image for prints and fun products that would look great with a tropical leaf design. The best part about the whole process was that it really deepened my appreciation for tropical leaves. I see them now not just as a filler or "background accessory", but as a gorgeous subject matter in their own right :)
If you would like to purchase the original "Tropical Oasis", click here.
Aloha for now!
Magical, mysterious, magnificent humpback whales! I am so excited to have finally expressed my love and respect for these animals in my new published original, "Mystic Blue". Keep reading to find out the process behind this 24"x30" acrylic on canvas painting!
"Mystic Blue" 24"x30" acrylic on canvas by Colleen Wilcox
I began this piece back in November of 2015, just at the start of whale season in Hawaii. Hoping for some real life inspiration, I scanned the waters daily for my first sighting. But the humpbacks were slow to arrive this season, and reports of sightings were only trickling in over the next two months. Finally on the last day of 2015, New Year's Eve, I was surprised by my first spout and tale slap off of Waikiki!
My excitement over seeing whales that day was nothing new... I have been in love with these creatures for many years (who isn't, after all?). However for some reason I had never attempted to paint or draw a whale. When I finally committed to creating my first whale painting, I gathered many reference photos to render the proper body shape of a humpback. I wanted the actual whale figure to be mostly realistic, and its environment to be somewhat of a dreamscape (I typically like to have elements of realism mixed with fantasy in my work).
I began with something like a "motif" to be the main focal area, and figured I would fill in outwards from there as I went along. I didn't have too many specific plans apart from the general color palette, and that I would include a variety of waves, swirls and bubble shapes. I basically was just figuring out my next move as I went along, and allowing my inspiration to come moment by moment.
For some extra "good luck", I kept my whale charm nearby, which was gifted to me by my Nana when I was a young girl (pictured below).
I continued filling in all the white on the canvas with layers of watered down acrylic paint over the weeks that passed; playing with colors, experimenting with lines, and defining shapes in the area surrounding the whale figure. Once the Christmas season arrived, I was too busy with holiday orders to work on my whale piece, so I put it aside for some time.
While painting "Mystic Blue", there were many areas that I re-did, sections I covered over, and lines and shapes that I took out. This painting was not without its frustrations! Because of my high hopes for this piece, I often found myself feeling stuck at certain points and wondering how to fix obvious aesthetic problems that I was viewing. It became apparent that creating a good composition out of a nebulous underwater scene was harder than I thought.
I did my best to take breaks until I regained a state of mind more conducive to creating. I also used a list of descriptive words (as I often do) to keep the mood of my painting in focus. From the beginning I knew I wanted the image to feel "magical, wonderous, mystical, dreamy, soulful, expressive, ethereal and intriguing" to name a few.
I kept putting in the hours and became almost obsessive about the details in this painting; making sure I liked the way each curve/ line connected to the next, and adjusting how each color played off one another. I felt that I couldn't stop and that this painting might never be finished!
Finally after what I estimate to be a total of 160+ hours (over many months) I decided the whale had come far enough along its journey and was ready to be revealed to the world! Although at times the painting felt like effort, there were also times where I felt complete effortless flow...Moments when I felt lost in a magical realm of dreamy shapes and color where anything was possible. Moments that as an artist I live for!
Here is me holding the finished piece, the original 24"x30" acrylic on canvas, "Mystic Blue." I hope you enjoyed learning a little about my process. If you would like to purchase the original click here. Prints will be ready shortly!
Until next time!
Last month I had the opportunity to create an original design on a surfboard to donate to the silent auction at the John Kelly Awards on November 14th, 2015 at Waimea Valley. The yearly event is hosted by Surfrider Foundation to "recognize those who have made the greatest contributions towards protecting or enhancing our coastal community and environment." I was supplied with a shortboard via Surfboard Factory Outlet Hawaii and told I could create whatever I desired.
When deciding what to paint on the board, I took my current inspiration of night skies/ galaxy art and translated that into something more meaningful and appropriate for this event...an underwater scene. The ocean depths and underwater world so often remind me of space and I wanted to portray this in my piece. I used royal blues and purple/maroon swirls reminiscent of those seen in photos of galaxies and nebulas; dotted with white bubbles/ foam that reminded me of stars and clouds. I added starfish (because, well, they are star shaped ;) and jellyfish because they have always reminded me of celestial alien beings.
After a few technical mishaps and false starts, I was off and running with my design and finished it in about 3 days. Overall I am pretty happy with how it turned out and am even happier that it ended up finding a great home after the auction! Many thanks to the organizations mentioned above for allowing me to participate in this event and give back. Aloha!
Jellyfish undersea surfboard design by Colleen Wilcox
What an honor it was to be invited to collaborate with the famous handbag and accessories company, LeSportsac! I am excited to share with you a behind the scenes look at the process of creating my Hawaii exclusive design, "Ku'u Lea," from painting to finished product!
Colleen Wilcox in front of the LeSportsac store at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki
After my first several meetings with the Hawaii LeSportsac team, the vision was to create a design that represented the source of inspiration for my artwork. Living in Hawaii, I am very inspired by the incredible beauty of the ocean and the landscape that surrounds me. This is why I decided to create a painting that portrays my favorite tropical plants and flowers, as well as elements of the ocean. These are the things that make me feel most happy; so the fitting title for the artwork was born, "Ku'u Lea." "Ku'u" is Hawaiian for "my" and "Lea" is Hawaiian for "happiness/ joy".
Initially I was instructed to provide the LeSportsac team with a quick pencil sketch to show the basic design idea. But I got so excited about starting a color theme, that I dove right into painting (with acrylic) on the 24"x30" canvas I had picked up. Once I shared the beginning concept with them, they loved it, so I kept going!
I proceeded to flesh out the design, thinking about how I needed to keep fluid edges (instead of filling up all the white space) so it could be turned into a repeat pattern for fabric. It was difficult for me to conceptualize how all the edges of the design would connect in repeat since I was so used to creating a composition to fill a rectangular canvas.
I continued by adding my signature black lines/ borders around the shapes and placing more layers of color. I began to think about all the small details, like sea shells, that I could add to create interest (using my own shell collection as inspiration!).
About one month after beginning the painting, I submitted the design to LeSportsac at this stage, thinking we would be ready to go. However, my lack of knowledge about creating designs for repeat patterned fabric was apparent. They advised that I would STILL need to add more elements to fill in the areas of white space that would be left once the design connected. I had to rack my brain for what to do next!
After some bouts of artist's block and frequent hours spent staring at the canvas...I decided on what to add around the edges of the painting. This included two protea flowers, another hibiscus, more plumerias, plus seashells and coral shapes. At this point, I thought the design looked good, but I was nervous about how it was actually going to work on the fabric, and what LeSportsac would think.
Once I submitted the last revisions, I received the good news that their designers were ready to run with the design! Yes!!!! The good people in the LeSportsac headquarters went to work with a high resolution digital scan of my original painting. They put the design into repeat and added my signature and their logo throughout the pattern. I'm not sure what else went on behind those magical headquarters doors, but a few months later the first fabric samples had arrived. And then soon after....the finished sewn bags arrived! I was very impressed to see how they had captured the vibrant paint colors in the fabric print, and kept the integrity of my original artwork.
Another part about the bags that I love, is that there are 27 different styles to choose from and each one is cut from a different part of the fabric roll...so each is completely UNIQUE. You will never have the exact same bag as your friend! :)
Once the finished product arrived in stores, we kicked off the collaboration celebration with a media and signing event on October 23, 2015. It was truly a great time!
Now if you visit any of the Hawaii (or Guam) LeSportsac stores, you can see my "Ku'u Lea" line in the front window of their boutiques! I hope that if you stop by and pick up a piece or two, you can feel the joy and aloha spirit that went into this collaboration, and carry this feeling with you wherever you go!
Yesterday I had a great time at Global Village in Kailua for an art signing and 'meet and greet'. I really love the town of Kailua, and am thankful for all the people there that support my art!
This was the first time I got to check out the new wall of prints, phone cases and hats- Love it!
I am so appreciative of everyone that came in to say hi, and am thankful of this opportunity to share my artwork with the residents and visitors of Kailua!
I hope you can stop in next time you're in the neighborhood! Stay in touch to find out when is the next signing event!
Every July for the past four years I have participated in the annual Haleiwa Arts Festival on the north shore of Oahu. This year the festival fell on July 18th & 19th, featuring over 90 artists, photographers, crafters, jewelers, and designers displaying their creations in booths along the beach park.
We spent weeks preparing by building and painting the booth walls, ordering products, and creating new artwork. Finally Saturday morning of the festival had arrived, and the finishing touches on the booth were complete and ready to show off!
I love to display a wide range of products with my artwork on them. Everything from original paintings, to limited edition giclees on canvas, aluminum prints, matted prints, phone cases and Aloha Trucker Hats!
I was so happy with how the display turned out, and so thankful that my friends were there to help me set up. They really did a great job supporting my artwork (or maybe they just wanted to snag some free trucker hats ;)
Many fans and followers of my social media came by to pick up their favorite pieces and see new ones.
And many people who had never seen my artwork before were introduced to it, thanks to this great event.
Even Hokulani the Dog paid a visit!
At the booth we had something for everyone, including a chalkboard wall for budding artists to express their creativity.
Inspiration was everywhere!
After two long days in the hot Haleiwa sun...sweating, smiling, laughing with old friends and meeting new ones...the festival was complete! What a wonderful way to share my artwork and be part of an event that supports a growing community of creatives. Until next year, Haleiwa! Alooooooha!
Cosmic Surf January 23 2015, 2 Comments
A behind the scenes look on Colleen's newest published original painting "Cosmic Surf"
Often I choose my painting ideas based on subject matter that I love and that is relevant to my day to day life. Once the painting is completed I will then reflect on it further, and can interpret a deeper level of meaning and expression. I began "Cosmic Surf" with a general theme/ layout in mind, as well as a "mood" that I wanted to portray. Once I got into the swing of things, the design process swept over me and surprised me with ideas and techniques that I hadn't experience before. This allowed me to create a unique and original piece that I feel stands apart from my previous paintings.
How did I decide what to paint?
Since I live right on the ocean in Honolulu, surfing is a big part of my life, so naturally I like to paint girls surfing or near the water. Many people have asked if the girl in "Cosmic Surf" is me, to which I reply no, but she certainly has elements of me in her. I chose to paint a crazy night sky/ galaxy because this past year I have been fascinated with looking at space photos (mostly from Pinterest) and observing the moon/stars in real life. I have been very inspired by some amazing astro-photography of galaxies and nebulas, and wanted to paint my interpretation of them. Also, since I haven't seen many surfing night scene paintings, I thought it would be an interesting combo.
What are the emotions/ feelings/ mood of this piece?
As I mentioned earlier, I like to think of a general mood or "vibe" of a painting when I am starting out to keep me on track. For this piece, some words that come to mind are: magical, mystical, ethereal, energetic, joyful, free-flowing and empowered. Once I begin the painting process, I keep my mood in mind and aim to allow my color scheme and design choices to reflect this.
What does the imagery in this piece mean to me?
When I view the completed "Cosmic Surf" piece now, I can interpret more layers of meaning than I was consciously aware of while I was creating it. As I reflect on this piece, I see the surfer girl as someone who is completely absorbed in this magical moment and seemingly at one with nature and all her surroundings. She feels powerful, free, and filled with joy. In fact, she feels so in-tune, so connected, that she is almost reaching out and swirling the ingredients of the cosmos at her fingertips. How wonderful to experience that feeling of being "in the flow."
I hope you enjoy viewing "Cosmic Surf" as much as I enjoyed painting it! To watch a time lapse video of the process click here.
To own the original one of a kind piece, click here.
To purchase prints & more of this image, click here.
"The Dreaming Tree" 24"x 30" acrylic on canvas by Colleen Wilcox
I recently finished one of my latest original acrylic on canvas paintings which I entitled "The Dreaming Tree." This piece was one of those rare paintings that I named long before I finished it. In fact, this piece was started back in December but I never seemed to have time to come back to it until this summer. It encompasses my range of emotions/moods/insights for the past six months, while still staying true to my original vision. I wanted to create a piece that not only expresses my love for Hawaii's magnificent trees and starry nights, but to capture a particular mood or moment in time.
Although I have always appreciated trees, I became particularly fascinated by them after painting a few over the past couple of years. Every time I paint something new, whether it is a specific type of plant, flower, etc., I seem to gain a new awareness of it. The next time I see it in person, I never look at it the same way as I did pre-painting. While living on the north shore last year, I became fascinated with a particular banyan by Shark's Cove that I would ride my bike to. It seemed so majestic and wise, sitting there next to the beautiful ocean. I liked to go and sit under its branches and marvel at its sense of presence and strength. It seemed so certain, sure, and consistent...no matter what the weather or the season. This is what inspired my previous painting "Enchanted Banyan," and I have never looked at banyan trees the same way since.
When I started "The Dreaming Tree," I wanted to convey the feeling you get when spending time out in nature next to a beautiful vista, landmark, or tree, etc. I chose to make it a nighttime scene, so I could express the feeling of sitting outside and looking up and pondering the mysteries of the night sky. This scene is from my imagination, although I used many online photos and real life trees/ locations for reference.
Although the reason I paint is to express emotions/moods/moments that are difficult to put into words, if I had to describe this piece I would use adjectives like whimsical, enchanted, mysterious, and magical. If I could, I would jump into "The Dreaming Tree" painting, and sit by the tree's moonlit branches under the stars and allow its presence to fuel my spirit and ignite my inspiration. I hope this painting does the same for you!
Imagine turquoise water, balmy sea breezes and a picturesque beach with sand as fine as sugar...and you can feel what it is like to stand on the shores of the famed Lanikai Beach. Lanikai is a beautiful area, and one I remember fondly from my childhood when my grandparents had a house overlooking the iconic Mokulua Islands. Because of my affinity for this place, when I was asked to paint a Lanikai beach scene I was excited to begin.
It is always interesting to work within the bounds of what a client requests. I find it a particular challenge to incorporate specific plants/flowers and landmarks in a way the looks realistic, yet fits my style and works within the "flowy" design layouts that I favor. I had a fair amount of flexibility with this one, although the clients specifically wanted Spider Lilies, Naupaka plants (with the little white flowers) and a sunrise color scheme.
Below you can see some inspirational reference photos I used, and check out some steps along the way of creating this piece. Once I was finished I decided that I liked the image enough to publish it. So I am pleased to say that I am offering giclee reproductions and aluminum prints of this image. Matted prints and phone cases are coming soon....so you can carry a little bit of Lanikai with you wherever you go! I hope you find that this piece reminds you of your own personal Lanikai memories, or the dream to one day visit this little piece of paradise.
Aloha for now!
View of the Mokulua Islands from a hike above Lanikai with Nalu and Honey Girl
The abundant Naupaka plant found along Hawaii's beaches and Spider Lilies
A close-up of of beginning to add paint after sketching the layout in pencil
A couple layers of acrylic paint now in as I begin to develop the color scheme
After outlining with my paint pens, I always go in and add more color/ detail
Several coats of varnish later, I have officially completed "Lanikai Sunrise,"
an acrylic on canvas 24"x30" original piece. With a high resolution scan from
the printer we are able to offer a limited edition of 50 Giclee Reproductions
& 10 Artist Proofs. Also available are sleek, modern, Aluminum Prints of
different sizes! Check back soon for matted prints and phone cases.
Have you ever spent the day on one of Hawaii's beautiful beaches? If so, then you know exactly how it feels to enjoy the warm, tropical sun, cool trade winds, and brilliant blue waters. Near the ocean is my favorite place to be, and to me it's even better if I am surfing. In my acrylic on canvas commission, "North Shore Surf Day," I wanted to capture the feeling of spending time relaxing and playing at the beach on a bright, sunny Hawaiian day.
This large 20"x60" commissioned piece was based off of another original I painted called "North Shore." I wanted to create a slightly different scene with other kinds of flowers/foliage and background yet maintain the happy "vibe" of the first original. Below you can see some images that reveal my painting process. I typically begin with a pencil sketch, then fill in many layers of color, and finish with a black outline.
First I spend hours penciling in the layout of the girl, foliage and waves to get everything just right. Then I begin to add blocks of color with really watered down acrylic paint.
Next I add big areas of color all over. I can use faster, bigger strokes in this stage to cover larger areas at a time. This is the stage where I am really deciding on the color palette I will use for the piece.
After several days of layering color to define shapes, I start adding black lines with my paint pens. This helps me to further define the painting and get a feel for where everything is going.
After an initial round of black outlines, I go back in and add more layers or color and more detail. I spend a lot of time staring at the painting and deciding what areas need more red, yellow, white, etc. This is the detailing stage that really makes the painting pop.
Once I have decided the piece is finished, I go over every single black line to smooth them out and 'clean up' the whole painting. That is always my final step. Then I give it a few layers of varnish spray to seal in all that hard work!
The best part is when the client gets to see the final piece and is really happy with it! It is one of the main reasons I create art...I love putting smiles on others' faces. The new painting owner can now experience the feeling of their own day on the beach in Hawaii without even leaving their house!
It's another beautiful winter day in Hawaii! As I write this, I can't help but smile knowing that it is February and outside the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and a refreshing tropical breeze is blowing. We have had so much rain this season, that many of the drier areas like Diamond Head are lush with greenery.
People often ask me what inspires me to create artwork. The main source of my inspiration is from nature, and there is no shortage of natural beauty in these islands. If you have ever visited Hawaii or live here, then you can probably relate to my love for the variety of tropical flowers and foliage, spectacular mountains and beautiful beaches.
I am constantly observing nature in my day to day experience, and when I sit down to paint I like to portray Hawaii through my own perspective and interpretation. I try to capture the essence of how it feels to be enjoying a beautiful moment here in paradise. I hope you can get a sense of this through my paintings and designs.
If you would like to share in the beautiful scenery I find around the islands in my daily life, feel free to follow my Instagram and Facebook.
Aloha for now!
I'm so excited to share with you the details of my recent collaboration with a talented contemporary singer/songwriter from Hawaii, Anuhea
. This summer Anuhea commissioned me to create an original piece of artwork for the cover of her newest live album
, "Butterflies." Although there was a tight deadline to meet, I jumped at the chance...not only because I love her music, but because this was an opportunity that also had some personal meaning for me...
|Anuhea's Album "Butterflies" with Cover Art by Colleen Wilcox
About 5 years ago when I was waitressing in Waikiki, Anuhea would come to Tiki's where I worked to play her guitar and sing for the crowd. At this time in my life I was still in the middle of figuring out what to do for my career. Amidst my indecision, I remembered feeling very inspired by watching a girl close to my age getting out there and pursuing her creative dreams. I think I sent her an email or a message on MySpace to which she responded graciously. At the time I had been consciously searching for real life examples of people gaining success in their artistic careers. Seeing Anuhea perform was another example that made me say, "Hey! Maybe I can hack it at being an artist too!"
|Colleen with Anuhea after a show at Turtle Bay
So the years passed and I soon quit waitressing and threw myself into painting- practicing, experimenting, developing my style, and getting my artwork out there locally and online. All the while I watched Anuhea's career start booming. I listened to her songs on the radio and downloaded a bunch of tracks from iTunes. I even remember saying to myself and a few others, "Wouldn't it be cool if I could paint a CD cover for her someday?!"
Then this spring it just so happened that Anuhea saw a painting of mine in a local magazine and began following my artwork on Instagram (with no conscious awareness of the whole Tiki's connection I might add). I saw this as the perfect opportunity to connect with her and give her one of my custom trucker hats and thank her for being one of my inspirations for my artistic career. I met her after her show at Turtle Bay and we mentioned the idea of doing a collaboration sometime. It turned out that sometime came way sooner than expected when she emailed me a few weeks later to see if I could create a new piece for her upcoming live album!
|Sketch for Anuhea's Album Cover by Colleen Wilcox
Even though I had a lot of projects/events going on, OF COURSE I took the opportunity. There was a tight deadline but I did my best to create something that fit her vision of one of my 'swirly-haired girls' looking out into a crowd, holding a guitar in a nighttime scene. I added fluttering butterflies to reinforce the album title, and tropical flowers to represent a Hawaii vibe. I wanted the scene to be kind of magical and dreamy, so I painted a starry sky and made the lights of the "crowd" to appear like sparkles or even fireflies. It was my goal with this painting to not only represent my own artistic style, but to create a visual representation of Anuhea's musical style and vibe. I even listened to her hit "Forever Summer" (that was playing all summer on the radio) while painting to get into the groove!
|Progress of the Painting for Anuhea by Colleen Wilcox
I painted the original in acrylic on a 24"x30" canvas and entitled it "Na Pulelehua" which means "butterflies" in Hawaiian. Once the painting was complete, I crossed my fingers for Anuhea's approval, and had it scanned to produce a digital image. This image would be used for not only for the physical and digital album cover but on tons of cool products like posters, prints, tshirts, hats and more! I am really happy with how it came out and stoked for all the products
we have been designing with the image!
|Anuhea and Colleen Wilcox Collaboration Products
|Colleen and Anuhea Signing Posters for "Butterflies"
|Anuhea's album is available in stores now!
So the moral of the story is....always follow your dreams! So cliché I know, but it's true that following your inclinations and inspirations can lead you to exciting opportunities and rendezvous that will surprise and delight you with all the best that life has to offer!
If you would like to own one of the limited number of fine art reproductions of the "Na Pulelehua" original, or any other products from the collaboration with Anuhea click HERE
and feel free to email email@example.com with any questions. Thanks for stopping by!