A day with an artist in Hawaii…

A day with an artist in Hawaii…

I met Mark Brown years ago at the Maui Annual Plein Air Festival. Once a year, during the month of February, twenty- five or so artists from all over the world are invited to come paint the beauty of Maui island over a 9-10 day period. Mark is one of the local artists from Oahu. Of all the artists who have been invited to participate, Mark is one of only three who has been asked to return for all sixteen years of the painting event’s history.

Mark, Chuck and Me
Mike Carroll painting the model at the Maui Plein Air Event

Visitors can watch the artists paint all over the island as the works are being created.

Fresh paintings for sale at the Pioneer Inn

It’s a really exciting event, watching beautiful paintings being created by these extremely gifted and talented artists, then seeing them finished, framed, and ready for sale in a relatively short amount of time. The week culminates in a gala dinner and exhibition of all the artwork created during the ten days.

Getting ready for the big dinner and art sale!

Having been a host family for many of the artists over a ten year period has put us up close to the life of an artist. Truth be told, we hardly saw them. They were out the door by six in the morning and usually back by ten at night. They had to get out to their location, set up their easels, and try to catch that early morning light that creates such lovely long shadows on the ground. They paint again at the golden hour, the time just as the sun sets, casting a beautiful golden light on everything just as the sun dips below the horizon. They grab a bite to eat to talk shop with their fellow artist friends, come back completely spent from a long hard day of standing for long hours in the heat of the hot sun, to get up the next day and do it all again. It takes dedication, self discipline, concentration and focus and they give all to the creation of their paintings.

The artists sharing their ideas, talent, and a hard week’s work…
Showing at the Maui Plein Air Event
Mark wins for Best In Show

This time, Mark invited us to come to his house. I often wondered what his place was like, knowing that he resides in an old converted church. In the quiet Valley of Kalihi, nestled up against the mountain you’ll find his home. Perched on stilts on a hillside beneath an umbrella of trees, as you walk the moss covered stone steps to the door, you can hear the sound of a fresh water creek running below. Sitting on the porch, sipping on coffee and eating French pastries, one wonders why anybody would want to leave this idyllic, picturesque spot.

The Artist Home
Stairs leading to the House

Prior to Mark having taken up residence there, another famous painter, Lionel Walden lived here. The souls of artists past have occupied the house, which is a good omen.

Lionel Walden

Pass under the pointed arched cathedral front door, and now one feels the remnants of the former little church with its pitched roofline. Built in 1932, this little gem was featured in Architectural Digest in 1988.

I never thought about what a full time artist’s life is like, but seeing this house, I now understand a lot more. His life, his soul, his thoughts, actions, words, and deeds are consumed full time with painting and creating art. Housecleaning, washing dishes, and organizing all take a back seat to his passion for creating the paintings.

Mark paints BIG!! That is what is so overwhelming when you walk into his studio. You are totally surrounded by art in every direction. He was commissioned to paint the side of a building in Honolulu so any canvas is a piece of cake for him! His latest canvas sitting on his easel is a flat door turned on it’s side…a mere seven feet wide. Some canvases sitting around the room are with five feet wide, others bigger. Every inch of available wall space was covered with art. Spare bedrooms held art, like cookie sheets, stored on their sides in custom built racks. The entire garage housed paintings of all sizes and all price ranges.

They say that there is beauty in the brush strokes and nowhere is that more evident than in Mark’s colorful, impressionistic style. Also on full display is Mark’s love of the Hawaiian islands, as he captures the beauty, elegance, lifestyle, the people, and the culture of everyday life of his lifelong home.

Beauty in the Brushstrokes

Mark has also become Oahu’s premier artist for live paintings capturing wedding ceremonies. I can’t even imagine how one does this when you have 14 bridesmaids and ushers!!

His work is breathtaking, inspiring, and beautiful. Bringing an original piece of his art into your home evokes your own personal memories of great times spent in Hawaii. If you’d like to find out more about the artist, paintings, or commissions, check out marknbrownfineart.com. If you want to learn more about the painting invitational, go to paintingmaui.com.

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Monie Thompson