PINEAPPLE PAINTING TOURS
Visitors who don't consider themselves artistic get a double treat on a Pineapple Painting Tour, by gaining an intimate perspective on Oahu's landmarks, and discovering they really can paint.
This vista program takes people on painting excursions
Plagued by tremors from Parkinson's disease, a 75-year-old visitor from California didn't think he could properly hold a brush, let alone paint with it. But his wife had heard about Pineapple Painting Tours and wanted so much to experience it, he reluctantly agreed to go.
Pineapple Painting Tours
Pickup: At various Waikiki hotels or meet at the location, which usually is Magic Island
Offered: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily
Cost: $99 per person (minimum age is 12), including transportation, supplies and snacks. Kamaaina rate is $75.
Web site: www.pineapplepaintingtours.com
Notes: Pineapple Painting Tours also offers a six-hour beach painting tour that usually involves going to a North Shore location. Cost is $145 per person, including transportation, supplies and lunch. Minimum age is 12. Kamaaina pay $125 if they drive to the location themselves. Ask about custom private tours; prices begin at $125 per person.
"He did an awesome job painting Diamond Head, and I think he was really amazed at what he could still do despite his condition," recalled artist Linda Kane, who owns and operates the company with her friend Jinni Mitchell. "Anyone can paint; if they just tried, I know they would be surprised at how well they do."
Launched in 2005, Pineapple Painting Tours introduces participants to watercolor painting at scenic locations on Oahu. They're able to see nature through an artist's eyes, receive personalized attention from the two artists as they paint a scene and take home a priceless memento: their own rendering of Hawaii!
Both Kane and Mitchell hold Master of Fine Arts degrees and have taught art at the high school and college levels for many years. Kane grew up in "farm country" in Wisconsin and Illinois, and as a child was always doodling and involved with crafts.
"I liked making things," she said. "I had some great teachers who, along with my parents, provided a lot of encouragement. When I was about 10 years old, I remember my father was making shutters for the house. I was so intrigued with the process that he taught me how to use the table saw. After that I wanted to learn more. I would draw, paint, sculpt, work with clay and do mosaics and enameling. I wanted to do everything!"
Hawaii's beautiful weather and scenery are ideal for the plein-air style of painting that Pineapple Painting Tours promotes. Just like the French masters Monet and Renoir, fledgling artists sit outdoors with Kane and/or Mitchell, drinking in the movement of the clouds, the different colors of the ocean, the dance of shadows and sunlight. The smallest elements play a big role in how their piece turns out.
"It's all about slowing down and really noticing what's happening around you," said Kane. "Whenever you go back to a location, it's never exactly the same. The wind, the weather, the light -- such factors in the environment are constantly changing, which alters the look and mood of the place."
Materials also influence the final product: Pineapple Painting Tours uses only quality paint, paper and brushes. Participants work on a pad of 9-by-12-inch French Arches Watercolor Blocks which remain flat, eliminating the possibility of paint puddling on warped paper. The Russian Blue Squirrel Mop brushes can absorb a large amount of paint yet come to a fine point to create details.
"Because they are easy to handle, beginners can concentrate on their work rather than fight with their tools," said Kane. "Their painting winds up looking better than they ever imagined."
Pineapple Painting Tours' Waikiki excursion usually goes to Magic Island, where a fabulous view of Diamond Head unfolds. Spaced comfortably apart from each other, participants set up their tripod easel, paper, brushes, a small plastic container of water to rinse the brushes, and a "pochade" (wooden box) holding a tray of watercolors.
Although Kane and Mitchell encourage tour-goers to paint freehand, they provide cutouts of Diamond Head that can be traced if desired. Throughout the three-hour session, they circulate among participants, answering questions and offering suggestions about composition, color choices and techniques.
One method they share is "wet into wet," which involves putting down a color on the paper, then applying another while the first is still wet. "You get softer results and sometimes unexpected happy accidents," noted Kane. "For example, by applying yellow to the paper and then adding some blue on top, you can create wonderful greens."
Paper towels are handy for much more than just cleaning spills. A simple way to paint the sky is to start with blue color, then lift some of it off with a paper towel. The white of the paper is revealed, creating clouds.
When the initial coat of paint dries, Kane said, other colors can be applied to build up the volume of the clouds. She also shows participants how to use brushes of various sizes to produce different textures.
Kane believes art, like music, is a universal language and that everyone is an artist.
"Sometimes people are discouraged at an early age or told that they have no talent, so they stop creating," Kane said. "Many of the students in my introduction to drawing, introduction to painting and intermediate painting classes at the University of Hawaii are back in school to pursue an art education -- what they really wanted to do when they were younger, but were persuaded to get a practical degree instead."
She encourages visitors to take a Pineapple Painting Tour at the beginning of their Hawaii vacation.
"By doing that, I think they wind up appreciating the beauty of the islands more because they're more apt to pay attention to little things that they may otherwise have missed," she said.
When they return home, some participants have sent Kane and Mitchell a letter or e-mail to say they've joined art classes and are enjoying fine-tuning their newfound skills.
"Receiving notes like that makes my day," said Kane. "I love connecting people to their hidden artist within."
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.