Making of 2016 Native Hawai’i Calendar

koki'o keo keo (Hibiscus arnottianus)
The source image for the cover of the calendar.

My idea to do Native Hawaiian Flowers was inspired by a trip with my cousin to the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden where I took this photo of a koki’o keo keo (Hibiscus arnottianus), a Hawaiian plant I saw for the first time at The Kew Gardens in London. Something about seeing a flower-less hibiscus plant growing in a greenhouse in the middle of winter, thousands of miles away from it’s native land made me a wee bit homesick. When I saw the koki’o keokeo again in South Kona blooming and basking in the sunshine, I felt warmly relieved as it represented my feelings of connection to Hawai’i.

Often people ask how I make my drawings and I don’t really think I’ve given a good answer. It grew out of my animation obsession, specifically in Adobe Flash. I learned an animation technique called rotoscoping from Kalika Kharkar Sharma at Pratt, which involves loosely tracing a video image. Popularly seen in movies like Waking Life and a remake of Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’, rotoscoping takes on the quality of the artist’s hand. It’s painstaking work since typically 24 frames equal one second of animation, and each frame can be as detailed as a Disney cell-drawn frame.


I simplify the image down to its essence. Perhaps it’s from my sumi-e training or designing too many logos, I enjoy the challenge of distilling an image to the bare minimum. I found drawing in Flash gives me raw lines and imperfect brushstrokes that evokes my gestures almost as well as a real brush. Often the quickest drawings (1 minute or less) are the best, and my familiarity with my subject makes all the difference. I spend a good deal of time researching in books and websites as well as sketching with ink and pencil.