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Back on Track

Robert Wyland, Hanauma Bay

I took a trip down to Hawaii this past week, my very first trip since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. And let me just tell you how incredibly amazing it felt to walk down that airplane aisle for the first time in a year and a half. For a split second, I almost felt like I was walking down my very own wedding aisle on the supposed best day of my life. Yup, best day ever, I thought to myself.

During my first few days there, it struck me how much I had been needing this escape--not only as a person but as an artist too. To be quite frank, I had been feeling frustrated for a long time, creatively stuck in an environment that I had already drawn about a hundred times before. My art--it is centered around the indoors, people, business. It is related to the fast-paced urban lifestyle that is my reality living in San Francisco. I love where I live and the subjects that my environment allows me to picture, but now that I was in this place that was so drastically opposite--a place where I could enter a hiking trail five minutes away from my hotel room or sit by a beautiful turquoise ocean--I had just about a billion new ideas blooming in my head. Instantly, I could feel every particle of my yearning for the materials I had left back at home, wishing I could grab ahold of them and illustrate everything I was experiencing in those very moments.

As soon as I set my eyes on a new setting, I saw something in it. So, I followed to take pictures. I took pictures of everything, starting from the local-owned poke shops on the sides of the road surrounded by nothing other than green, to the crowds of chickens and roosters strolling past people's porches pretending to be squirrels. I pictured the surfers walking downtown heading towards the beach looking 10 shades darker than what must've been their natural skin tone, barefoot and carrying the weight of their surfboards over their heads with the support of their hands. Each image that I took, I knew would become incredibly valuable the second that I got home to my studio.

I had never before thought to paint a pineapple--but now that I had visited the Hawaiian Dole Farms I knew exactly how to make people feel like they could just taste the abundance of flavor in them. Now that I had also gone snorkeling, I wanted to resemble that same slippery texture of the fish and the sea turtles using my watercolors. Through my paintings, people would feel as though they were just as close to them as I was--like they could just reach over and feel them.

Flying back by the end of the week, I knew that I had taken away a newfound importance for traveling. As an artist, it is so important to get out there and submerge oneself fully into new settings. This way, we will keep feeling excited and motivated to depict them, while also creating a fresh twist in our art. New views, new tastes, and new smells--they play a role in how well we are able to accurately interpret what we are wanting to illustrate. This is why I encourage you, to travel to the wildlife if you live the urban lifestyle, and vice-versa. I assure you that you will gain so much from it--besides you will get some great Piña Coladas while you’re at it!

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