Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pow! Wow! Hawaii! 2016

'The Siren'
23ft x 37ft

located cross the UFC gym (798 Pohukaina St.) 
in Kaka'ako are in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

(Above image photographed by Brandon Shigeta)

I’m not much of a writer,
but I think it’s important to record my personal experience at Pow! Wow! Hawaii!
What began with feeling anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, and even dreadful,
ended up becoming one of the most beautiful, eye-opening, life changing experiences ever.

click below to read more.



Pow! Wow! centers around a week-long event in Hawaii (now all over the world).
Artists from around the globe come together and celebrate culture, music, and art.
20+ murals created in and around the Kaka’ako area in Oahu, Hawaii, in a span of about 5 days.

I’ve only painted 3 murals, all in the past year, so this was a fairly new endeavor for me.
One at Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts.
Another small one at Static Medium Studio.
And a third one at Long Beach Museum of Art as a part of Pow! Wow! Long Beach.

All three were indoors and medium in size, so this Hawaii mural was my first outdoor humongous scale.
On a curved wall. 23ft x 37ft. 
I had chosen this wall weeks before (dissecting a Google street view image), so I was aware of the size and shape.
But when I saw it in person, i gasped… in fear.

It was really scary.
I was worried about execution, about the time limit, and the pressure of not wanting to fail.
Thanks to my husband, Rob (who came with me as my assistant), we devised a daily plan.

Still though, we were quite nervous.
We had a couple free days before getting to work,
but we couldn’t really relax and wasn’t able to lay out or swim in the Hawaiian beach, which we can see from our hotel balcony!



(Initial sketch, and color tests.)

(Following photos by Jonas Maon. Thankyou for these beautiful shots.)

Monday. Work begins.

The first challenge was getting the drawing up on the wall.
We knew we couldn’t project it, because of the curve (though it wasn’t actually ‘curved’, but on several flat panels).
So the best bet was to grid the wall in about 3ftx3ft squares using a nifty chalk line tool, and then make the same squares on my paper drawing.
And box by box, I drew rough lines with wax pencil, and then clarified it using a thick grey Montana acrylic marker.

(If you want to know more about using grids to enlarge or duplicate a drawing, google 'Drawing Grid Method' and there is tons of info. It's hard to describe on my own. )



Getting the squares on the wall, was a bit of a technical challenge though, and took longer than planned,
especially because both Rob and I have a fear of heights.
I actually didn't know I had a fear of heights until I was up 20ft (which doesn’t look very high from below) in a scissor lift that wobbled, and felt like it would topple over any second and kill us.
My legs froze up and the slightest movement would send me cursing and squealing.
It’s quite overpowering, that fear.
I forced myself to not look down (obviously) and basically stare at one point on the wall, and concentrate on that point, while humming some ridiculous made up tune to try to calm myself.
So my initial lines, were noticeably wonky and unstable-looking at the top, because I just wanted to get the hell down!



Second day.

Going over the marker lines with paint and brush, while Rob filled in the colors between the lines, using exterior house paint.
I initially thought I’d be able to use markers for the final lines, but the wall surface was too bumpy and wasn’t able to get clean solid crisp lines.

I considered trying cans and spraying the lines, but was advised that, it wouldn’t be possible for a newb like me, since spraying crisp lines require experience and learning muscle memory and such.

So I stuck to what I know best.



The first couple days were the toughest.

We had to find our groove. Learn to devise a system and method to things we were pretty new to.
Line/paint work seemed like it would take ages in the beginning, but as hours went by, I became more fluid and efficient.

I kept the image pretty simple too.
Comprised mostly of lines, limited color palette, and just some details and shading in the face and hands.



The challenge was getting it done.

We worked from about 8am to 8pm for 6 days. A total of 65+ hours.
Half the time the sun was blazing on us.
Sweat pouring down and stinging our eyes.
I kept reapplying sunscreen but ended up with a killer tan just on my limbs (and was embarrassed later at the beach for my super farmer’s tans, where my upper thigh and arms remained white).

We’d take an hour break for lunch, but I felt like a zombie, brain fried from the heat.
(One of the days I had a slight hangover from the night before, and that was the worst. I declared no more hangovers till we get this thing done!)



We ended each work day a couple hours after the sun set.

At night we’d be having dinner, and all we talked about was our wall;
what to do the following day, devising plans on how to work it better.

It’s incredible how focused we were.
All we thought about was the wall, all day all night.
We forgot about thinking about anything else.

We woke up after 5,6 hours of restless sleep, eager to head back and start working.




It was refreshing though, being able to completely zone in on it.
I felt a constant buzz of adrenaline in a way.

Another factor that added to my rush, was working in front of fans/viewers/onlookers.
I tend to get nervous, anti-social, awkward, and have a hard time talking with strangers or performing in front of them.
But I felt so different there and then. 
Social fears and anxiety took the back seat.
I didn’t care if people were watching. 
I was like ‘Who cares if I look a mess, and am stumbling around, and not articulating enough! I came here to do one thing and so be it!’
My guard just went straight down. It just happened! 

Therefore, I got to meet and chat with many people; PowWow crew, artists, locals, and visitors. 
Some knew of my work, some were new to it.
And honestly I was getting lots of positive feedback from so many of them.
I can tell that what I was doing was somehow making these people happy and excited.
I completely fed off of this energy.
I was working and giving, and they were receiving and giving back kind words, and it was this never-ending loop of affirmation and support.

I encountered some beautiful people there, and that is quite priceless.
Thinking of their faces now brings a smile to my face. :)





Drawing and painting her face took all day.
I couldn't get the position and proportions right,
because her face was as tall as me, and being so up close to her, you can't really picture how she looks from afar.
I had to get down often and look at her from a distance, and tweak her parts inch by inch, until she started to feel right.

I used a mixture of house paint and a bit of colored acrylic for the face,
working from light to dark, gradually building up the tones.




Then Friday comes.

Our goal was to finish that night, so we have the full weekend to actually enjoy the island, since we were leaving the following Monday.

I had also said yes to participating in Secret Walls on Saturday night, as part of the Pow! Wow! Finale Party Concert.
(Secret Walls is an event, where artists get into teams, and do a live art battle on a large wall, in front of a crowd, within 90minutes or so, using only black markers/paint/cans.)
I wasn’t sure why I said yes to this, since it’s not in my character to draw in front of an audience. 
But then again I’ve been doing it for the past week on the wall, so... what the hell!



Unable to finish Friday night, Saturday comes.

Now the goal was for real!
I HAD to be done by 5pm tonight, so I have time to freshen up and relax a bit before Secret Walls that started at 7pm.
The last couple hours I found myself running about, frantically scurraging to get it done. That was intense.
Ended up finishing around 6pm.



Champagne toast horraaaay celebration!
Thankyou Andrew and Shawn, from Thinkspace Gallery, who introduced me to the Pow! Wow! guys.



Then we ran to the hotel and ran to the party and Secret Walls stage.
By that time, I was so out of my element, that I didn’t care one bit that hundreds of people were watching us.
I was so overwhelmed with a sense of relief, that I found myself just going with the flow, and enjoying it.
Thank you Secret Walls for having me be a part of this! :D

And so, that concludes work mode!

During the week, I wasn’t able to hangout much with the PowWow artists and crew, due to no-time and exhaustion.
I've only spoken to a few,  just in brief conversations.

So that night, after all was done, it felt incredible to finally be able to not worry about the wall, and just hangout with them. 
We drank. We were merry. We laughed. We danced. 





Rob and I decided to extend our stay in Hawaii a couple more days.

Sunday we went to Lanikai Beach with my long time friend, Dominique, and her husband, who were on their honeymoon.
I have a slight fear of the ocean, so Rob, who had never seen me in the water, was surprised to see me swimming about. 
Again, I just let go of my fears!

And it was a beautiful day. 
I felt euphoric from the fact that we had completed the wall, and was now able to take in the wonder of the island. 
To just exist, and marvel at it’s beauty. 
To be able to feel it’s waters and winds, the sand and rocks beneath our feet, and the vast skies and sea, and the lush of greens.

The following days we continued to adventure!  
Snorkeled in Hanauma Bay and had the best hike of my life in Maunawilli Falls. 
I’m not usually an outdoor rugged type, but I felt like a different person, ready for anything!
I didnt care about getting wet and dirty. I was free!
I walked through the stream with my shoes on, swam in the chilly waterfall river, jumped into it, relished the sudden downpour in the jungle, and explored it’s terrains.
All in the company of beautiful people as well.
Thank you Lauren YS for taking us on an adventure. <3



And on that note,

Thank you to Pow! Wow! Jasper, Kamea, and Jeff, for giving me/us this opportunity.
Thank you to all the crew who made sure we had what we needed and for assisting/helping in all the ways.
Thank you to fellow artists for giving me tips, and for sharing your vision/talent/skills to the world, and for just being rad overall.
Thankyou to photographers and filmmakers for documenting this endeavor, especially since we had no time to do it ourselves.
Thank you to my family and friends for believing in me, and for always giving me love and support.
Thank you to fans and viewers, who took the time to come by, and say hello, and giving me an emotional high five.
Thank you to all in Hawaii for being so generous and welcoming, and for letting me grace your walls.

and

a SUPER Thank you to my husband, Robert Humm.
For sticking with me all the way through from beginning to end.
For helping, assisting, advising, discussing, planning, and tackling this together.
For being my emotional support. 
For encouraging me every day.
Without you this would have been impossible.
We’ve never worked together this way, so it was pretty incredible to know we can take on such a grand project.
We make such a super team, and I am so grateful.
I feel this whole new level of gratitude, respect, and love for you.
Its quite magical. :)

Thank you Robert, for everything. <3



So yes.

Winding up my train of thought here.

In conclusion,
I had an awesome past couple weeks.

It was completely out of the ordinary.
I headed out to do something that was incredibly unfamiliar,
and came out the other end feeling proud and more confident and… happy!

Theres’ a sense of clarity in me now, which I hope to continue. 
What kind of person I want to be, how I want to live, how I want to create.
Goals and dreams I haven’t really thought of in a while.

I often get boggled down with self doubt, self consciousness, and self criticism.
Sometime I don’t like myself. I think I have no skills or talent.
I feel ugly. Or that I lack in personalty or character.
And I close myself off. I get sad.

But I’ve decided I don’t want to live that way any more!
I want to be comfortable and confident in my skin and in my skills.
I want to be more present, at peace, and less stuck in my head.
I want to be more free and open.
I want to speak and express.
I want to laugh and dance.
I want to be happy!!

So, that is my goal. 
That’s my dream.
To be happy (and what ever that entails, from the tough times to the good).
And to experience that happiness with the people I love and encounter along the way.

:) :) :)



Im sounding pretty cheesy now.

But thank you for reading.

Hope we re-connect again soon.


<3


61 comments:

  1. This is amazing! Good job, you :)

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  2. I love this so much! Hard work sure does pay off, she looks beautiful up on that wall! xx

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  3. It turned out great Audrey & Rob! You should be very proud of yourselves. Thanks for sharing your personal struggles and the walls you were able to knock down throughout this experience with all of us.

    Hope to see you soon!

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    1. oh hi Scott! Thankyou. and yes im actually quite proud of ourselves. :D

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  4. Just beautiful. As an avid collector of your work, I always eagerly wait your next pieces, so find it somewhat strange to write, that after seeing how beautifully this turned out, along with reading your words, that if this was the last of your works I ever saw, it would be enough.
    My tiny black heart has been moved.

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    1. aww I appreciate this. Thankyou for such kind words. <3

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  5. Thank you for sharing, it is so meaningful to read the full experience behind your beautiful piece! You are truly skilled and wonderfully introspective. Sharing your challenges is so brave and helps those who admire you more than you might imagine. I really respect that. Congrats x

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    1. Thankyou. I never write this way, but I'm glad I did. Even better if other's can take a little piece from it. :)

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  6. This last picture brought tears to my eyes, and made me really, really happy!! Job well done lady! One little wall in Hawaii, next all the walls in the world!!! Much love and respect to you and yours!!

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    1. aw thank you~. and yes! more walls to come, hopefully!

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  7. Amazing work. Great team! And I feel you on everything you said in the latter part of this entry. It is all good.

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  8. This was an amazing post, Aud. Loved reading about your experience and seeing all these great progess shots of the wall. I can't wait to be able to see this wall in person one day!

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    1. Thanks Kerry! it should be up for a few years. plus Hawaii is marvelous, you guys would love the beaches and jungles and such.

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  9. Beautiful work and I love the minimalist take on the overall look. It makes the face detailing really pop. Can't wait to see it the next time I go home for a visit. :)

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    1. yes. i think it was a good idea keeping the image rather simple, considering the time frame and size. am stoked to take on future projects like this, and see how they evolve.

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  10. I love your work and you are a continuous inspiration for me to keep creating. Thank you so much for sharing your process. Congratulations and Cheers!!!

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    1. thankyou! and glad i can be of some inspiration. ;)

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  11. Audrey, I'm a HUGE fan of your and have been following you for ever... Thank you for sharing this beautiful experiences, and your work... Being an Artist myself I do understand the process of discovering yourself through the process of overcoming the Artistic challenges... you NAILED it with style and class as always... Your Art is inspiring and feeds my soul... THANK YOU AUDREY... for sharing this beauty with the world that so needs it today...

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    1. It is important to take on artistic challenges, isnt it!? I feel like i got too comfortable the past few years, so im super happy to have taken this on. And thankyou for the kind words. :)

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  12. I admire your work so much and it is so refreshing to read an honest piece. I feel like I could have written that last part myself as I am also trying to find my happiness and finding my voice instead of always being an anxious wallflower. So I am really happy that you are able to unlock a bit more of yourself through this experience! You really inspire me and I hope I can get to your level of mastery one day :)

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    1. Yes. And i think this search for creative/personal happiness is never ending. Just never stop, and keep going, and do things out of the norm. You can do it too! :D

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  13. The mural looks breathtaking in photos. I'm sure it is just as awe-inspiring in real life. Thank you so much for sharing this process with us. Seeing the behind the scenes images were great. But more importantly, thank you for sharing the story behind it. Realizing someone I look up to creatively also having such similar struggles and powering through gives me courage to do the same. It may not mean much from a stranger on the internet, but I think that the wondrous feelings that your work inspires truly show how beautiful of a human being you are. I hope to see the mural in person soon. :)

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    1. aw thank you. <3
      Yes, I too, go through all of that tough stuff and feelings. All the time.
      Its a constant struggle. Nothing is always easy.
      But we gotta keep doing what we're doing,
      and with experience and time, we handle it better perhaps.
      Anyways, glad I can be a little bit of a boost for you. :D

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  14. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience Audrey! It sounded like you had a hard time and you conquered and are now even stronger for it! Yay! I'm happy my favorite artist is discovering a new her from within and I'm excited to see where that takes you and your work. I'm a huge fan of your beautiful work and of you. Thank you for being so inspiring and creating art that just resonates with my soul! Xoxo! PS yes like everyone said, I feel the same way as you described and I think it's just an attribute of being human and embracing it and yearning for more is very beautiful.

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    1. Thankyou!
      And yes to embracing our good and bads, and rolling with it.
      We are human after all. ;)

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  15. you are one of my favorite artists and i own several things that you've done. i can't believe that you were here (in honolulu) and i didn't meet you!!! i am so bummed you don't even know ... but thank you so much for coming to hawaii to do this beautiful piece! i can't wait to see it in person this weekend. also, thank you for blogging about it. i hope you got to experience what aloha is all about.

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    1. Hawaii is beauuutiful. We fell in love after a few days of adventures.
      The mural is said to be up for a few years, so thats good! Hope you like it in person as well. :)

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  16. So inspirational! I've been keeping up with you since your first blog and seeing your growth makes me tremendously happy. I'm so glad you are doing murals; I can't wait to see how you will grow next. That piece is gorgeous.

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    1. aww Livejournal!
      I kind of miss blogging the way i use to. haha
      Thanks for stopping by here. ;)

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  17. You are so awesome. It is wonderful to have you go through your range of emotions. Taking on something larger than life is thrilling and oh so terrifying. I love your art so much, and hearing how similar you are to myself is an incredible thing to experience. It's funny how people find you incredibly talented and you can feel like just a piece of poop on someone shoe. <3 thank you for sharing you.

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    1. Your mural turned out so well too. It makes some feel like it's something I can accomplish now.

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    2. haha @ poop on someone's shoe!
      I definitely feel that way from time to time.
      And thats ok.
      As long as we find ways of feeling like sparkling Queen as well. ;)

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  18. I am just a fan and have no involvement in your success, but I'm still very proud of you! It is beautiful and you really challenged yourself.

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  19. Oh Audrey what a lovely blog post!! The mural looks of course amazing, and I'm so pleased that you are feeling rejuvenated and happy! Honestly, you are such an inspiration to me!! I've followed you for so many years and as a photographer and striving artist myself it gives me so much hope to see how far your hard work and talent is taking you! It would be so lovely to meet you one day and until then I'll keep following you online! I hope this year brings you even more joy, happiness and good memories! <3

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    1. Yes to feeling rejuvenated!
      Hoping this will help me with my own personal work, and strive for grander things.
      And thankyou for your kind words. :)

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  20. Nice write up! You and Rob killed it. Those lifts are scary! Congrats on the huge painting and getting it done on deadline, I can't believe you only had 5 days and just did it with the two of you. it looks great big! totally worth it

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  21. You're my favorite artist. As a budding artist, I would never imagined you would ever struggle with self doubt. Your work is amazing. Thank you for your inspiring words, even more than this amazing mural. (which is pretty incredible)

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    1. You're welcome and Thankyou!
      Its funny because im not a keen writer, and the purpose wasnt to inspire, but just to record,
      so its a pleasant surprise that people are taking something positive from it.

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  22. i've been a big fan of your work for quite some time, but this wall is absolutely incredible beyond anything else i've seen. i love it so, so much (i am praying you release prints of the sketch or a photo of the completed wall because i'm seriously obsessed). you've got mad talent, lady! keep doin' what you're doin'! (:

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  23. What an enlightening article, I'm going to share this with another art teacher and my graphic arts students at farrington high school, just a few miles from your beautiful mural.

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  24. Absolutely fantastic! Both the wall and the article! I've been a fan for ages and have loved watching your creative, and personal progression. You are a spectacular human being and an unbelievably talented artist, and I'm SO proud of you! <3 <3 <3

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  25. Great post. Thank you for it (all of it)!

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  26. Yeeees to everything you said! It turned out great! You were so smart to limit the palette and make it simple. I can't believe you gridded it, I've never done that for a mural! :O And super yes to the part that you weren't shy anymore and got such energy interacting with the crowds. Indeed murals somehow change you and make you grow like 5 years' worth of goodness. Are you still free and wild from your newfound power? Maybe you should just go to Hawaii often to recharge!

    I'm also heartened to hear that you don't like yourself sometimes. I feel the exact same way about myself. But I'm also glad you found a solution to the dark thoughts. :)

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  27. get it girl
    what a beautiful liberating story of LOVE, everywhere. Thankyou xxxx

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  28. You inspire me with so much of your work.

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  29. What an awesome post! Truly, the discomfort is what makes us grow. So beautiful and inspiring :)

    I wish I could have been there and seen you work in person. The mural looks absolutely amazing & beautiful.

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  30. I loved reading this. Way to go, Aud!!!

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  31. Dear Audrey:

    I had been a follower of your blog since 2007-ish something - after I first read about neo-pop-surrealism and saw your gorgeous painted wood cut-outs.
    After that I managed to get two of your printed girls, they are so eye-catching and recognizable, I could swear they like to wink at my guests.
    When I was following you regularly (yikes, that sounds stalker-ish!), it was wonderful to see how you continued to develop your technique, as well as your rise to success over the years.
    For over two years I hadn't stopped in to see how you were doing. The last work I saw from you were your tiny paper cut-outs. Now, I see you standing in front of a grand mural. You also paint with words now, and I'm so glad that I came across this post in particular after so long. You seemed so melancholic before (not that it's something bad, Chuck Palahniuk says "Art never comes from happiness", after all), and now you're so happy you're shining.
    As a fan of your work and your person, I'm very happy for you and I wish many more experiences, beauty, and love in your life. Keep being yourself, you're an inspiration for so many of us.

    Peace. :) <3

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  32. I loved reading this Audrey. Thanks for sharing from your heart. so inspiring. I have trouble writing openly on my blog (or in general) sometimes too and i resonate with a lot of things that you said. its encouraging to encounter other artists on their journey and in their process. i am still in the beginning stages, but i just got back from a year at art school in Ireland and it was an exhilarating journey as well! i think i will go write something similar on my blog now! Thank you thank you thank you!!! xx much love xxx
    suzanne.
    suzannejoyteune.com

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  33. Many halls are created to provide a catering service to specific cultural needs. And it gets very difficult to have a party at a hotel because the catering staff could not cook the traditional meals required by the client. But this event space specialize in specific cultural needs.

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  34. So happy for you. Hahaha, it's like all your fears ran behind the curtains after this experience.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Love,
    Your Huge Fan :D

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  35. Nice work and all information about the Waikiki Beach is SO WEIRD that's are very amazing well done.
    Waikiki Beach is SO WEIRD

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  36. Aloha Audrey.

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I'm a late art bloomer & have recently decided that I needed to change the trajectory of my life. I'm taking this class that asks "Wo are 3 companies/people who are making money the way you want to? What steps did they take? It was great to not only to read this & see that although your style is so fluid, you are still strategic in making sure things got done (the artist nemesis). Thank you for continuing to create. It's a reminder to those of us who are still hiding & hoarding our art. This article is especially special for me too because I'm from Kauai & went to college in Oahu. I know exactly where this wall is & I can't wait to visit it.

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