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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

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Kauai People
Posted on: Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Artist/lifeguard inspired by the sea

Habermann's ocean art gains popularity

By Diana Leone
It's hard to describe the "paintings" of Aaron Habermann. They seem to grab an aerial view of Kaua'i's coastline – liquid blue-green ocean, frothy breaking waves, rough lava outcroppings, and fine, bisque sand – and miraculously hang those different textures on a vertical surface.
The works are on canvas, which Habermann stretches and frames himself. The uniqueness of the finished product is so elusive, you almost have to see them to understand what they're about.
And once many people see them, they want to buy them.
Artist Aaron Habermann, right, with pleased buyers Jeff and Kristi Fountain of Spokane, Wash. and the painting they bought to remind them of their trip to Kaua'i.

Staff at the Po'ipu Fine Arts Gallery, the exclusive venue for the works, say since Habermann started selling them in February they "fly off the walls."
On a recent day at the gallery, a couple entranced by his paintings stopped to ask Habermann the same questions about how he does them as I was asking for this article.
Habermann freely tells what materials he uses, though he doesn't exactly tell how he gets the items to do what he gets them to do.
The three-dimensional rocks on the paintings are a mixture of rock dust and acrylic and tint. The ocean is very thin acrylic paint with a polyacrylic coating to give it the liquid sheen. The sandy portion of a coastal scene may be sand with a stay-put coating, sand mixed with acrylic paint, or just paint, depending on the piece.

Habermann's technique has an element of spontaneity to its one-of-a-kind effects of the feathering wave-breaks. He mixes the paint for the ocean so thin, "I can't really control it," he says, which is part of the fun.
The paintings are from a higher-than-ground-level vantage point that Habermann says mimics the view from his perch at his day job as a lifeguard at Po'ipu Beach.
Habermann also creates ceramic works that he pit-fires at Salt Pond Beach and raku-style pottery. His specialty pieces are poi pounders, vases and orbs in various sizes, with earthy brown, green, blue mottled glazes and subtle inclusion of petroglyphs.

He's been making ceramics for 17 years and recently branched into the paintings. His prices range from $150 to $650 for pottery works and $650 to $5,000 for paintings.
Born on Kaua'i in 1970 and a graduate of Waimea High, Habermann was a star swimmer with the KIF whose breaststroke record still stands 22 years later. He lived "all over the island" growing up with his parents – artist Glenn Habermann, who now lives in Oregon, and Liz Hahn, who used to run the Gallery at Waiohai.
Habermann met his wife, Alison, when both were attending Kaua'i Community College and they moved together to O'ahu where both attended the University of Hawai'i. She came out of UH with an accounting degree. He came out with a passion for ceramics.
"The first time I touched a potter's wheel, I loved it," Habermann says.
The couple now lives in Kalaheo where Alison operates her Quantum Accounting bookkeeping and accounting firm. Their son, Jamison, 16, is a student at Kaua'i High and part-time employee of the Hardware Guys computer store.
Habermann says being a lifeguard allows him to be outdoors and stay fit. It also fulfills his desire to help people. "Prevention is the key" to lifeguarding, by helping people to understand their limits and the strength of the ocean, he says.
Habermann calls himself "a shameless self-promoter" of his artwork. But basically that means when visitors chatting with him at the lifeguard stand ask how he can afford to live in Hawai'i, he tells them that his other job is being an artist and invites them to check out his work at the gallery.
It's not his fault if, when they do, the visitors are swept away by his work and are compelled to take one home.
Habermann can be reached at 635-9110,; or
Reach Diana Leone at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, love his work, but the price is out of my reach. Remember Suzanne McCrary? We saw her work at the Honolulu Country Club when you visited me. I finally bought her oil painting of Autumn in Japan. $300. It came with a beautiful gold frame and it hangs in my dining area.

June 3, 2010 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger LizKauai said...

Thanks, gigi!

He has some smaller pieces coming out.
Images don't do the originals justice- the surface is very reflective and hard to photograph.

Exciting stuff for Aaron!

June 3, 2010 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous wafan said...


If I save my pennies and nickels I might be able to purchase one of Aaron's smaaaaaaall pieces. HA!

Nice work Aaron and Liz!

June 3, 2010 at 2:51 PM  
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