North Shore Artist To Watch For: Heather Brown Takes Kokua

North Shore Artist To Watch For: Heather Brown Takes Kokua

When we met Hawaii-based artist Heather Brown, she was sitting under the shade of a banyan tree, in a park on Maui. There, she sold her paintings to passers-by who were drawn in by the vivid colors and stained-glass nature of her images.

Less than a year later, Brown is showing her work in a Wyland art gallery, and last week, was chosen to created the poster for Jack Johnson's earth-conscious Kokua Festival, which takes place this coming April.

Clearly a rising star in the Hawaiian art scene, one thing is crystal clear: People dig what Heather Brown paints. Her images -- while simple in substance -- highlight what makes Hawaii so special. The colors in a passing wave, the whimsy of a plumeria fluttering in the wind, or a single surfer staring at the sea... each has its place in the great makeup of a Hawaiian snapshot. Brown captures these moments in a provocative yet carefree manner, using bold colors and fluid lines.

Read our sit-down with Brown and browse the gallery of her images.

B on Hawaii: Please tell us about the Kokua Festival poster and how that came about. How will you work with the Kokua Foundation ongoing"

Heather Brown: I met Jack Johnson's wife Kim at the Haleiwa Arts Festival last year, and she contacted me to ask if I would like to do the poster for this years Kokua Fest. It was the most exciting project! To able to make the poster for one of my favorite musicians was a very rewarding opportunity. I have made many paintings while listening to his music.

I also do other art projects for the Kokua Foundation, for brochures and logo designs. I also just finished the new "Plastic free Haleiwa" tote bag that is being sold in various stores on the North Shore -- which will cut down on unnecessary waste.

B on Hawaii: Tell us, when did you first begin taking art as a profession seriously?

Heather Brown, artist: I've always thought that life is most rewarding when you are doing what you love. Making art is something that I been passionate about and has always been so interesting to me. When I received my bachelors in fine arts from college, I never thought I would be able to make a career out of it. It wasn't until I started selling my art to small galleries and received great feedback that I decided to try to make a career out of it.

B on Hawaii: What was your first sold piece of art? Describe what it felt like to know that you were on the path to supporting yourself as a creative artist.

Heather Brown: It was an amazing feeling. I would still continue to make art even if I didn't make money from it because I enjoy the process so much. The whole picture is so exciting for me because I am happy when I am able to create, and even more happy when I see how much of an impact my art has on someone. My first sold piece of art was sold on ebay. In school, I would regularly sell pieces on ebay for extra income. I think I sold my first painting for $50.

B on Hawaii: That's a lot of ramen! What artists -- visual or not-inspire you on a regular basis?

Heather Brown: I have a handful of artist who continue to inspire me. Some of my favorite current artist include Andy Davis, Thomas Cambell, Tim Biskup, Barry McGee and Wolfgang Bloch. The classics -- Picasso, Paul Klee, and Hundertwasser always influence me. I also am very inspired by tribal art from Melanesia, Micronesia and Africa.

B on Hawaii: You are connected with Wyland; can you explain the relationship?

Heather Brown: I do show my art currently at the Wyland gallery in Haleiwa. Soon my art will be in some of his other galleries such as Waikiki and Maui.

B on Hawaii: Describe to us in your own words the relationship between people and the environment, as portrayed in your paintings"

I want people to look at my painting and say, I wish I was in that painting right now. When I do include people in my paintings, I rarely am painting anyone in particular. I like to keep the characters anonymous, that way they can choose who they want to be. The surf girl can be a daughter, a sister, or a girlfriend. I want the people to have a connection with the piece and to get a feeling that is calming and brings good thoughts to the person.

Clearly a rising star in the Hawaiian art scene, one thing is crystal clear: People dig what Heather Brown paints.

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