Art, Landscape, Painting, Plein Air, watercolor

Twelve Days in Kaua’i

I spent 12 days in Kauai with my family. It was great to get away and spend time together in beautiful Kaua’i. The cones of my eyes are now so used to bright sun and saturated colors that everything looks one color now that I’m home in the grey Pacific NW.

I slipped away to do a little bit of sketching but I really wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the sun when I wasn’t in the shade.

7" x 10" watercolor in sketchbook
7″ x 10″ watercolor in sketchbook

This was done in Hanalei, near the north end of the island. It’s a surfer beach, I forget the name of this particular one.

7" x 10" watercolor
7″ x 10″ watercolor

I never figured out the name of this mountain in Anahola on the east shore. I found a nice shady spot at the dead end of the road to do this one.

7" x 10" water color and ink
7″ x 10″ water color and ink

There was a large vacant spot, between resort condos, on the beach near Kapaa on the east shore. The beach was quiet and I was pretty much on my own here. If you didn’t look back to shore, it was easy to imagine being on a deserted island. This is the view in the opposite direction.

When I turned around toward the ocean, this is was the view:

Deserted beach in Kapaa

68 thoughts on “Twelve Days in Kaua’i”

  1. Bill, I really love Kauai and have visited several times. Lucky you, to travel there with your family. I enjoyed your watercolor paintings of the area. I have been doing watercolors for about a year now and would like to branch off to painting/sketching outside. I am curious what items (notebooks, paints) you take with you when you travel to make painting easy? Have you used watercolor pencils? Thanks, and I wish you an artful day! Marian


  2. Hi Marian, thanks for the note, I’m glad you liked the sketches. You don’t really need much to get started doing watercolors outside. I usually have a small sketchbook and pen with me all the time. To do watercolor, I take along a small Cottman watercolor palette and a waterbrush. There is a very robust community of folks doing on location sketching with portable media. Check out the Urban Sketchers ( ). They are dedicated to promoting on location observational drawing and there are many local chapters who get together on a regular basis to draw together. There may be on near you. Also google Danny Gregory ( ) and his books about graphic journals and Enrico Casarosa’s Sketchcrawl ( ) group. The Urban Sketchers site has information on sketching materials and advice on how to get started drawing outside. Ink and Watercolor are the most popular media for this kind of work.

    Personally, I find that commercial sketchbooks are disappointing to do watercolor in so I often buy good watercolor paper and bind my own but I also use some commercial ones, like the Moleskine watercolor bood or Canson wirebound books. The paintings in this post were done in a 7″ x 10″ Strathmore 400 Series cold press field watercolor book. It’s wirebound so easy to keep flat on my lap as I paint.

    Good luck getting outside and feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.


  3. Bill, thanks so much for your prompt and informational reply, and all of your suggestions. I will check out the web sites that you mention later today. I can’t wait to get started!! Marian


  4. Welcome back Bill,
    Gosh, these studies are so crisp with clear clean marks . They are such up-beat pieces. Looking forward to getting together with you. Jer


  5. Bill, first of all, so delighted that you and the family got away for an extended trip to (almost) paradise! Your watercolor sketches are wonderful and nearly take me back to one of our favorite spots. Happy Birthday! xo


  6. What beautiful water colors of Hanelei. Did you get a chance to go to the Limahuli Garden and Preserve which is full of beautiful gardens, ocean and mountain views?


  7. Really nice work! I wish I could paint like that. Instead, I try to paint with words… Congrats on being freshly pressed. 🙂 Also, hope you enjoyed Kauai!


  8. Oh! This is so interesting!
    I recognize the scene in your last photo, because I took a photo around that same area. The difference is that in my photo, there is only one piece of driftwood propped up by rocks, and a mountain ridge cannot be clearly seen in the background. I was on a beach in Kapa’a, walking away from Lydgate Park (which was back to my left).
    Look at the 3rd photo in my post “On Wings of Thought”….and you will see the similarity.
    My husband took the 5th photo, I was sitting on a piece of driftwood near the Park..
    I posted another Kapa’a beach photo –in “Driftwood Bird,”
    This was also taken while wandering along a beach in Kapa’a.
    Obviously, both of us realized how beautiful and photogenic that area is !! I was there in 2009 and 2011.


  9. New England light can be gray too; that’s why I drive West to the Plains, Rockies and Desert Southwest for my art. Hawaii must be very exotic. Great stuff and thanks for posting, happy St. Patrick’s Day!


  10. Hi Bill – great to see this in freshly pressed – wonderful sketches – thanks for sharing these as I’m really interested in how artists work. It’s been too hot lately in Melbourne to get outside (even very late in the day) and now we’re have a cold snap. Hopefully we’ll get some more even autumn weather soon and I can have a go at sketching outside again, or else I’m just going to have to toughen up.


  11. awesome pantings, it’ great to see something like this..i also has a dream to travel then do some sketching 🙂


  12. I am enamored with your watercolors. I’ve never been to Kauai but now I’m more convinced than ever. Your technique is fresh and pleasing to the eye. Do you have any comments on your techniques? I’ve recently began playing around with watercolor again and I’d like to hear from you as to how you start your paintings and how you compose them. Thanks


  13. We got married fact..that stretch of beach looks so familiar..was there a condo “courtyard” behind you and a high spot that was considered holy ground? Just wondering. Beautiful paintings and photos.


  14. hotteachic, There is a Heia near this spot and many condos with courtyards. It is a beautiful spot for a wedding. Thanks for visiting.


  15. Devonta, I’m glad you like the sketches. These kinds of sketches, I do just for fun and sometimes as a visual journal entry. I often carry a portable brush pen and small watercolor box along with a pen and sketchbook containing watercolor paper. Usually I’ll start with a very loose pencil sketch just to locate large shapes and scale the image then I work back and forth with ink and watercolor. On this recent trip I didn’t use ink much and stuck to painting for the most part. I really don’t think about composition much with these sketches. I just start drawing something that catches my eye and let the drawing go where it wants.


  16. Jessica, thanks for visiting. I’m glad you liked the sketches. I really enjoyed reading through your blog. You write beautifully and you story is lovely. Mahalo.


  17. Thank you to everyone who visited and commented or liked this post. And thanks so much to Krista @Wordpress who featured this on ‘Freshly Pressed’ I greatly appreciate your kind words and thoughts.


  18. I really like the first painting. Nice work. I’m at a tropical spot for the weekend myself, returning to the Seattle area Monday. Things definitely feel more vibrant in the sun…


  19. What a wonderful way to express the beauty and calming nature of Hawaii. I have often contemplated selling everything and buying a shack on the beach there, I love it so. Thank you for these paintings and photos and visual words of love for the island.


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