“Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Stayin’ Alive!”
The Hawaiian Mamo: a stunning black and yellow honeycreeper that sadly is extinct. Fortunately for me, I can paint whatever I like, so in my world the Mamo is stayin’ alive!
I have them sneaking a kiss while doing a little disco on the intoxicatingly sweet Tiare (Tahitian Gardenia).
These two are part of my Ke Aloha Series that features native Hawaiian birds making kissy hearts. Profits of these paintings will go to help the conservation projects working to protect and revive endangered Hawaiian bird species.
To find out more about the conservation projects in Hawaii, check out:
Every morning on our walks, my dog Uggi looks for the perfect spots for business and I look for my Northern Cardinal. I usually hear him before I see him. His lulling call sounds like if a car alarm met a hypnotist met a soft pillowy cloud. Then I will look up towards the direction of his voice and see a spot of red on the very top of a nearby pine or palm tree. If we are lucky, he will swoop down in search of his love. And then that little flash of red is off again onto his next adventure.
In Hawaii, we have bourgainvilleain all different colors and shapes. My favorite color is the light orange bougainvillea. They are vibrant and calming, thorny and soft, scrawny yet full of life.
My 'Anianiau pair found a spike-free section on this bougainvillea branch. The 'Anianiau is an endemic Hawaiian honeycreeper. Their beaks are shorter than most creepers, but still longer than the song birds. They are found in the forests of Kauai.
I love these little birds. They make me happy.
Every painting with this bright creamy yellow background reminds me of spring. The two birdies today are 'Akikiki. Stocky, fluffy endemic Hawaiian birds found on Kauai. They like to hop along the tree branches and trunks, picking off bugs in the high elevation forests.
My 'Akikiki pair are welcoming in springtime with a sweet smelling Pikake (jasmine family) in the morning sunshine. Sweet love!
The Nene is our Hawaii state bird, also known as the Hawaiian goose. They have striped necks mixed with brown, black and cream tones all over their bodies. The Nene's call is a soft coo, sounding similar to their name.
My sweet couple is out for a Sunday stroll. Along the way, one can't help but want a little snuggle. So the other lovingly complies. Isn't love grand??
My Ke Aloha Series showcases Hawaiian birds creating love hearts. Sadly, many endemic species have become extinct due to deforestation, invasive species and viruses spread by mosquitos and other pests. Conservation projects in Hawaii are in effect to promote the survival of existing species. To learn more, check out
I know a lot of artists that paint trees have at least one painting called "Tree of Life", so here's mine.
The term "Tree of Life" can be found in virtually all studies of the universe and the human condition.
It means the center of creation with roots to the underworld, trunk on earth and branches reaching towards the heavens; interconnectivity of all evolving species; peace and longevity; hope and eternal strength.
My tree is based on the Royal Poinciana with its bright orange-red flowers that envelope its canopy branches, but I purposely made the tree very stylized. There are fifteen Saffron Finches in my Tree of Life, all doing their own thing.
With all the history and importance placed on the concept of a Tree of Life, I wanted my ToL to have a "wow" factor (as my husband likes to say). Ultimately, this painting makes me smile, and I think that's what life is all about.
Hawaiian Creepers are honeycreepers found mostly on the Big Island. They are adaptive, but the introduction of invasive species has led to a dramatic drop in numbers. Hawaiian Creepers now have to compete for food with other birds such as White-Eyes. And because their nests are relatively low to the ground, the eggs and babies are vulnerable to rats and other predators. Conservation projects are working towards eliminating rats and protecting the food sources that these creepers need to survive.
My little friends here are taking a coffee break on Kona's most famous agricultural resource. Coffee grows on trees with long thin branches. The beans aren't really even beans, they are seeds. And the fruit around the coffee bean is called a cherry, but it's not the traditional cherry. It's all slightly confusing, but that's ok. These two birdies are just having a good time, drinking in the morning air and enjoying each other's company. Good times for all!
Java Sparrows are very fun to paint. From their white cheeks and bright pink beaks to their slate blue tuxedo and pink feet, so much fun! The Java is an introduced bird species to Hawaii. They are all over the islands, very curious and extremely active.
Today, my Javas are playing around on the sunflowers up on Oahu's North Shore. The background color was giving me trouble, but I landed on the perfect bright cadmium red. Love it!
For everyone who is not familiar with my term "birdette", it originated from my friend Kris's dad's middle name. I painted a sweet little birdie and was coming up with the title. I showed Kris because she's my go-to person, and told her I needed a name for him. She said she wanted to buy him and name him Birdette after her father (plus it could function as a term for little bird, coincedences do happen)... Loved it immediately, so the original painting became, "Hello, Birdette!"
This little Birdette is a Common Redpoll. The Redpoll was introduced to Hawaii. He has lots of fluffy white, brown and black feathers and a smudge of red on his face. my kind of bird: little, fluffy and sweet.
Karen Obuhanych (kto ART) is a Hawaii-based artist who relishes in the simple, happy moments of everyday life.