Once she finds her “happy place” she can paint anywhere. Artist Elise Nicole Kauffman first started drawing her signature style of girls with long flowing hair when she was in grade school. Today, living on the island of Kaua’i, Elise is a self- professed gypsy; traveling, surfing, skating, and creating art wherever the road takes her. “Her art portrays colorful fun, which is what surfing is all about,” said Julie Cox, Director of the California Surf Museum where Elise’s art was featured for the Women on Waves gallery. Action Life Mag caught up with the artist while she works on her latest project, painting skate decks.
1. You live in beautiful Kaua’i. Tell us about your lifestyle on the Garden Isle.
Kaua’i is beautiful! I love how country and raw it is… it’s so easy to explore a new place because there is so much to see. Inspiration sits right outside my front door! The ocean couldn’t be bluer, and the mountains couldn’t be greener! Although I must admit, I’m kind of a gypsy and traveling is a huge part of my life, so I don’t stay too long in one place. But I always end up back on the islands.
2. Where do you paint? Do you have a studio?
I can paint just about anywhere… if I can get into my happy place mentally, then I can be creative on trains, planes, my backyard, or yes my extra bedroom- turned ‘studio’.
3. Your artwork is bright and fun, how did you create this style? What paints do you use, and when did you feel as though you had your personal style in your art?
Thank you for the compliment, I aim for the viewer to feel happy and to be able to relate! I paint with acrylics and recently watercolors too, I adore trying new mediums. I think the long flowing hair has always been my “thing”, I was doodling this kind of hair when I was in grade school.
4. When did you start submitting your artwork into galleries? Was it scary to have your creation out there for everyone to see?
My work has been in a few surf shops, galleries, and magazines over the years, and I am still STOKED on every one of them! It’s really hard to believe; sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Galleries were a tad bit intimidating at first, but I believe that the artists’ attitude themselves make up half of the reason galleries will accept your work. If you are confident in what you do, then other people are too. I’m glad I went out on my branch to share my art. I have met so many wonderful people and been wonderful places because of my art.
5. What’s the story behind “She Cheats”?
“She Cheats” is special to me because I love cheater 5’s… Five little “sausage” toes peeking over the nose! It’s featured on a greeting card for a set created for the California Surf Museum too! I hear you can snag one from their gift shop.
6. What’s the story behind “Goin’ Slow”?
“Goin’ Slow” is a favorite for me as well because I used to cruise a 1971 sea-foam green Plymouth Valiant… it was the ultimate surf mobile, and driving around Honolulu with my boards strapped on top was like something straight out a vintage surf flick. I titled it “Goin’ Slow” because that’s how life should be taken; slowly, and well, old Oscar as I called him didn’t go fast anyhow.
7. How long have you been surfing for?
I love to surf! I rode my first wave when I was about 6 years old, then once I turned eighteen, I packed up from Texas (where I’m from) and moved to Hawai’i. That is really when I fell in love with the pursuit for the perfect wave. Any board sport I’m hooked- I skate and snowboard too, as well as free-diving, scuba, motocross (thanks to my Pops), beach cruisers and even horses. I LOVE to ride and glide!
8. What are your favorite boards to ride?
I have a custom “Bear” (shaped by Randy Rarrick) that’s a heavy glassed 10′, glass- on- fin and all. It’s my baby. I love to try new boards though to see how they ride. It’s an art to master each one, so I just keep on riding. My Sector 9 collection is pretty impressive too. I’m a junkie for carving down smooth concrete.
9. You have some great photography posted on your blog. Is taking photos another passion of yours?
Photography is in my blood. My Grandfather Beau, and my darling Mum are both photographers. I don’t go anywhere without a camera, and anyone I know will attest to that. I try to capture all of life’s beautiful moments- trust me it’s not easy- but if you see me coming, put a smile on because I most likely am snapping photos.
10. Tell us about the skate decks that you are painting! Sounds like an awesome project.
AHHH! I’m so excited to be working on these decks! One is a commission for a groovy couple that skate all day everyday, and the other is just a lil’ doodle I thought would look good on wood! I like to paint on anything natural or re-purposed. I think our mother earth likes me for it too “keeping it natural”.
Buy Art: http://www.oceangirlart.com/
Check out Elise’s blog: http://elisenicolek.blogspot.com/