Painting memories of a Lantern Ceremony

Painting memories of a Lantern Ceremony

One of my favorite summer traditions living here in Hawaii is attending an Obon Festival at least once during the season. The season traditionally starts towards the end of June and runs throughout mid August. There is an amazing ceremony every year on Memorial day at Magic Island in downtown Honolulu that really starts it all.

What is an Obon Festival? Well, it is one of Japan’s most well-known holidays and here in Hawaii they are a huge part of summer fun and tradition. The “Bon season” is an important part of the culture of the islands. Our newspaper publishes lists of the various locations of Bon Dances and Festival events all around Oahu …and on the neighbor islands too. My family and I circle the ones we want to attend most and try to add new ones each year.

There are two ways to translate Obon. One translation is the Lantern Festival or another is the Festival of the Dead. Obon is a day to honor those family and friends who have passed away. At most Bon Dances there will be a drum tower, Taiko drummers, and dancers dressed in traditional clothing dancing together to the music all around the tall drum tower that is ringed with colorful paper lanterns.

Some of the Obon festivals include the very special floating lantern ceremony. Paper lanterns are written on, then lit and released into the waves where they float out to sea, symbolically representing the ancestral spirits’ return to the other world. I find this part of the evening the most magical of all. I wanted to capture the feel of the lanterns in the waves, the dramatic bobbing up and down in the waves and the way the points of light disappear where the ocean meets the sky. If you never have felt this feeling, I hope you get to experience one of these festivals at least once. The memory of it will stay with you forever.

This original painting is for sale and displayed in the Fine Ass Chocolate and Coffee store in Ka’a’awa. If you are interested in purchasing the painting you can email me at: or call the store at 808-237-1213 and let them know you are interested in “Obon Lantern Festival”. This is the original painting and no duplicates will be made.

Paintings displayed in the shop in Ka’a’awa

Paintings displayed in the shop in Ka'a'awa

I have been very fortunate the last few years to have many paintings displayed in a shop in Ka’a’awa, Hawaii called Fine Ass Chocolate and Coffee. At this fun and wonderful store, they sell two of my favorite things to consume…chocolate and coffee. 🙂 They also have a lot of amazing gift items and an incredible selection of Hawaiiana items you just can’t find anywhere in the crazy bustle of downtown Waikiki. And the views on the drive there ( from either side of the island) are absolutely breathtaking. I like to go on the weekends just to unwind and then of course, get my chocolate fix. The Crouching Lion restaurant is on the upper part of the hill and the shop is in the lower part of the building with carved wooden lion statue by the front of the store. I owe a huge MAHALO to these guys and especially to my friend Zondre. They have been promoting and actively selling my paintings and craft signs all this time. If you can’t make it to my island of Oahu, then check out their website here to see what I am talking about. Also, if you look them up on Google maps, you can see a 360 degree view of the store too. If you are on island, make a stop for sure and tell them “Andy” the artist sent you their way. Mahalo nui loa (thank you so very much ) to everyone at the Fine Ass Chocolate and Coffee store!

Early Painting Years

Early Painting Years

My wonderful 81 years young mother recently sent me a few photos of a much younger me painting in the backyard of my old childhood home. Based on the short Princess Di inspired haircut and skinny runner legs, I believe this was about 10th grade. I painted mountains a lot back then, even though my childhood home was located pretty far from the beginnings of the Grand Tetons seen emerging on the canvas in this photo.

I was forever dreaming of far away places while painting a snow capped Matterhorn or a tropical ocean lagoon silhouetted with palm trees. I think its important to remind myself of those early years when I would watch William “Bill” Alexander on PBS and then grab my paints and canvas and just “fire it in”. I had no fear and it was all about playing with the paint and dreaming.

Now all these years later, in fact hundreds of paintings later, I often find myself having to stop negative talk in my head about how long a painting is taking me or how accurate it might be. I need to remember that child-like courage and creativity and just let myself have fun. Those are the paintings I absolutely end up loving the most, the times where I get in the flow and just play!! Those are the times when hours can pass in the blink of an eye and suddenly my keiki are clamoring for mom to step away from the canvas and feed them some dinner. So my new mantra for the next few months is actually a saying of Bill’s, the fiesty old German artist who sparked my first flame as an artist —— “FIRE it in!!!” …………..And now back to my canvas.

Mahalo nui loa ( Thank you very much) for your time.