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Artist Interview: Hula

March 7, 2016
7 min read
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Hula is quickly becoming a master of the female form, the images of his bathing women enjoying the warm Hawaiian seas or the ice lands have travelled the world wide web. We reached Sean for a nice chat about the role of Nature in his paintings and his recent experience at Pow! Wow! Hawaii 2016.

Hey Sean, let’s start from your latest experience at Pow!Wow! Hawaii, how it was to play at “home”, comfortable?

It was such an honor to be invited to Pow!Wow! and even more so since it was the first mural I painted at home. The whole experience was great, I’ve never had that amount of support from people in any other festival and it was really good to see all my family and friends come out and help wherever they could.

Your piece for the festival is another great woman portrait, would you like to tell me some about it, how did it come the inspiration and how did you reach the final result?

I really wanted to portray the Aloha Spirit and Hawaiian culture I was raised in, thus I used the lei to embrace the subject who was looking off into the distance. I worked on a couple different compositions for this wall, but felt this one captured the emotions I wanted in the piece.

Your portraits series is charming, I’m particularly drawn to the portrait of “Imua”, and I found a great relationship between the expression of woman beauty and the inner greatness of Nature. What’s behind the choice of the right spot for every subject?

With every piece I like to incorporate the environment heavily with the figure, showing some kind of connection between the two. I always like to balance out the scenery with my figures and sometimes add interaction when needed. I feel like growing up in Hawaii has taught me to look at my environment differently and appreciate the relationship with different elements.

Looking at your portfolio, it seems to me that “Malihini” was a kind of turning point in your artistic production, you came to a technique even more refined than before. Is it just an impression from the outside or do you think it has marked a milestone?

Since every mural has had its own unique variables, I feel like I learn something new with every one and am always finding better techniques. I hope to constantly have turning points and milestones showing throughout my career.

I’d like to know more about your technique, because I’ve rarely found in other artists the same attention to the details. How do you proceed to achieve these results, would you give a brief walk through your process?

I have always been drawn to the traditional methods of painting portraits, heavily inspired by Renaissance artists. Most of the time I will use oil paint because I love the blending I can get with the longer drying times. I tend to layer my brushstrokes using different methods of cross hatching and contouring, especially for skin tones.

How would you develop your style in the near future, is there something you are studying right now or trying to get and still eludes you?

I feel like my style is very organic in that it changes depending on my personal life. I get inspired to experiment with different techniques and ideas depending on that same state of mind I am in. I hope to always stay true to that inspiration in the future.

Don’t know why, but I found a primitive sign in your characters, it’s like a vibration you take from the “earth” and then you paint on “earth” with an high modern style. Is it something your looking for with your paintings?

I always like to make my figures as natural as possible, almost like a timeless aspect where fashion and style trends are not emphasized at all. I feel the paintings are more intimate and relatable.

How has your work evolved over the years from when you were beginning, when you look back, how do you feel about your beginnings?

Aside from the obvious changes to fine tune my realism techniques, I feel I am much more confident in being bolder and using stronger brush strokes or colors. In the beginning I would play it safe with very traditional portraits and wouldn’t stray too far from the normal techniques.

Do you remember the very first piece of art that you worked up?

My very first piece of art was a charcoal drawing of a portrait of a friend who I gave it to as a present. I was always comfortable with drawing as a kid so I didn’t start painting until my late teens.


Here we go, Proust Questionnaire:
– Your favorite virtue?

Determination, for me it had been the hardest yet more important in my life.

– Your main fault?

I can be very over ambitious at times

– Your idea of happiness?

My Happiness is contentment, losing expectations

– If not yourself, who would you be?

I would be some kind of inventor, problem solving and innovating has always intrigued me.

– How you wish to die?

I’d say how everyone would want to, peaceful and with the ones I love knowing I left no regrets behind

– What is your present state of mind?

Eager, I am excited to see some new projects getting brought to life.


What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?

There is a lot in the mix this year, a lot more of my mural projects around the world as well as gallery shows in NYC and LA. Also working with some bigger brands on exciting projects that will be unveiling in the coming months.

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