Hawaii Surf Artist Heather Brown’s Top 5 Paintings
I am often asked in interviews and surf art shows "What is your favorite painting and why?"
As a full-time artist with over 2,600 paintings, that is such a hard question for me to answer! When creating an original piece of art you start to create a bond between you and the art itself. Picking a favorite piece of art is similar to asking which child is your favorite.
With that being said I have decided to share with you five of my paintings that have meant so much to me and my career as a female surf artist. While I have a love for every painting I have done, these paintings all have an extra special place in my heart. I hope this article will help your love of art grow!
So lets jump right into it...
What are my favorite paintings & why?
My first pick is “Ku'uipo’s.” I originally painted Ku'uipo’s for my husband Chris back when we first started dating. We love to surf together and we share a deep love for Hawai'i's nature, surfing culture, ocean, trees, beautiful birds, and all the “life” that the Hawai’i shows us each day. The first time I met Chris we were both surfing at Waikiki beach, one of our favorite Oahu south shore surf spots, and Chris was riding a beautiful green Bing Surfboard. That unforgettable day is what inspired this painting.
When I first painted Ku’uipo’s (Hawaiian for Sweethearts) it wasn’t something I ever thought of releasing, it was just to hang in our home reminding us how special of a life we had together. As friends and family came over it seemed that everyone wanted an art print. Ku'uipo's reminded them of their love for their partners and the happiness nature can bring. I finally decided that since it brought so much joy to the people closest to us I wanted to share it with the world.
It's my goal in life to make people happy, put on a smile, and feel the warmth of aloha in their hearts.
As it happened, people loved this piece! The limited-edition giclees on canvas sold out in less than a month! There are still matted prints on paper & wood panel prints of Ku’uipo’s for sale. It has been a best seller surf print for over 10 years now. I receive tons of emails from people who have connected with this art as it reminds them of themselves with their partner in an idyllic world. It is incredibly special to see how this painting brings people the same loving emotions that inspired its creation.
"The Good Vibe Tree"
My next pick is a fairly new release called “The Good Vibe Tree”. This was my first original painting, except for some commissions, that I created in 2020. It started as a study in color and shape. Then came the quarantine and the deluge of depressing pandemic news everywhere you turned. I wanted to express my feelings during this time.
With all the sad news, I felt almost an obligation to finish this work with some birds. My idea turned into a few different ideas until I finally landed on the one you see today.
A tree full of beautiful birds of all different colors and shapes, representing the beautiful colors, shapes, and ideas in all of us. I wanted to show how we can all come together and live in harmony if we try.
I find myself looking at The Good Vibe Tree every time I start to get negative about our current situation and hope that someday we can all hang out in the same tree again.
Since the release of The Good Vibe Tree, I have received so many messages from fans about how it gave them some hope in the dark times, how it showed that we are all different but can all have a place in the same tree. I hope that every time you look at The Good Vibe Tree it warms your heart too.
Next is “Glassy Green” This is another older title of mine showing a clear sunny day on the North Shore of Oahu with perfect glassy surf conditions and beautiful barreling waves. I always love the perspective of the surf while paddling out, and that moment when you see an amazing wave from the side and feel your energy heighten.
That moment you know that escaping the fast-paced life to go surfing for a few hours today was the best decision.
I was surprised at how quickly people who never surfed or even spent much time near the ocean gravitated to Glassy Green and filled them with peace. It became a very quick favorite not only to me but to everyone.
A couple of years after I painted Glassy Green a favorite restaurant of ours in Japan, Aloha Table, licensed the art to create a full wall mural at their location in Yokohama.
Years later the University of Hawai'i at Manoa commissioned me to do a few pieces for the campus and when they saw Glassy Green they asked if they could license the work for their student ID cards! As a graduate of the bachelor's of fine arts from UH Manoa, it was quite an honor. I always love it when a student shows me their ID cards and I can see the joy it brings them.
"Sailboats at Hanalei"
“Sailboats at Hanalei” is a piece that means so much to me. When my husband and I first started dating he was living in Kaua'i and I was living in Oahu. We would do weekend trips back and forth. Before meeting him I had never been to Kaua'i so Chris loved taking me to all the best sights, hikes, and surf spots around the beautiful garden island.
In 2008, he took me to a beautiful secret viewpoint where you could see all the sailboats moored in Hanalei Bay for the summer.
We would dream of one day living aboard a boat and spending summers living in the bay.
We would sit there for hours sometimes just taking in the beauty of the north shore of Kaua'i. That inspired us to go home to our studio and paint the beauty of that day.
Most people visit Oahu or Maui and not many venture over to Kaua'i. I was really surprised that Sailboats at Hanalei would resonate with so many people around the world.
Chris and I, just like many other local surfers, live for the winter swells that grace our island, but because of these summer moments we shared there is a very special place in my heart for summertime in Hawai'i.
And my top pick is... "High Tide"!
My last pick is probably my favorite of all time. “High Tide” was originally painted for a show that I did in 2009 at The China Town Boardroom in Honolulu. High Tide was the first modern surf art piece I painted in preparation for the art gallery show. I loved displaying art at the China Town Boardroom because it was a great place to unveil new ideas and pieces that departed from the more classic style I'm known for.
High Tide was done in warm tones and a bit more of a cubist approach from where my original art inspiration came from. As an art student, I was totally inspired by cubism masters like Paul Klee and Hundertwasser. My art started mostly in a very classic cubist way and most of my work at that point in my career was done with different art printmaking mediums before I got into painting and bolder colors.
As the title piece to my show, High Tide was hung front and center for the show and many people commented on the departure in more muted tones and color palette. What nobody said was “I would like to buy this piece” Ha! Ha! 😂. High Tide wasn't sold during that show, and not long after the show Chinatown Boardroom had to shut its doors.
I moved High Tide to The Wyland Gallery in Haleiwa where it hung prominently on a big gallery wall. I found once again that while I loved the piece so much, my collectors didn’t feel the same way. Chris loved the original and, since it wasn’t selling in the Hawaiian art galleries that support my art, we decided to take it back to our home where we only had one original (Ku’uipo’s) and hang it over our bed.
We love it so much and find ourselves spending lots of time gazing at it and dreaming of a mellow surfing day at the beach. While not the tropical ocean art I am most known for, it fills a special place in my heart.
Since then, whenever we move to a new place, High Tide is always the first piece of wall art we hang and we put other coastal decors around it. Currently it is hanging above our record player cabinet so we get to look at it as we listen to our favorite records.
We ended up releasing it as a special limited edition giclee with only 50 pieces in total and it never picked up steam until a year or so after when all of a sudden all 50 sold in about 3 months. The matted paper print is still available for sale for those interested in sharing my joy with this piece.
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I am so happy to share these favorites of mine, I hope you enjoyed learning more about these pieces! As I am writing this blog post I am so inspired to get right back behind my easel to create more art that may become your favorite!
I look forward to you finding your favorite pieces of my art and am always so happy to hear that my art connects with you and I hope it helps at the end of a long day to bring you back to center and remember all of your best memories.
If you enjoyed this post please share it with anyone who loves art!
In the meantime, please check out all of my favorite art products featuring these special paintings!
Mahalo & Aloha Always!