Arius Hopman was born and raised in an artist family in Kashmir, India. His mother became an artist of world reknown who was commissioned to sculpt Mahatma Gandhi—twice from life, once a post-mortem (exhibit in Smithsonian), the Shah of Iran (bronze equestrian), Prime Minister Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Maharajas and others. Arius grew up with paint and clay as his playthings and soon became proficient in both media. He studied art in college. In Japan, he learned to paint to capture the essence and to paint with a sumi brush. In his travels, he has sold art in Japan, Mexico, Europe, and in the USA.
On Kauaʻi, Arius has dedicated himself to the mastery of watercolor, a demanding medium. He has had five one-man shows in the last six years and has opened his own gallery. 9 of the 12 galleries in Hanapepe are artist-owned. A rapid expansion in skill, painting size and volume of work has ensued. Arius won an Acquisition Award from the state of Hawaii in 1996 and a Kauaʻi Society of Artists Award in 1997. He is a member of the Kauai Society of Artists. Aside from his Gallery/Studio in Hanapepe, he is also represented by the Evolve Love Gallery in Hanalei.
Arius moved to Hawai‘i in 1985 from Taos, New Mexico, and lives in Hanapepe, Kaua‘i, where he opened a gallery in June of 1997 next door to the Hanapepe Café.
Frequently Asked Questions
What techniques does Arius use?
Watercolors en Plein Air
The landscapes are done mostly on location to capture an authentic rendering of the islands. Arius is an active outdoorsman and environmentalist. Outdoor wartercoloring is an excellent focusing meditation that demands being fully present, not only because of the challenges of the medium, but also because it requires the artist to pay full attention to the actual, rather than the conceptual projection. Each view has its own mood, tone, color, range, depth, flavor and rhythm. Discovering and capturing these brings the paintings to life. “Formula painting” is intentionally avoided so that each work is experientially new.
Arius attempts to walk the fine line between spontaneity and control. That not-knowing is the growing edge, the “beginner’s mind” of Zen. To the extent he succeeds, it shows as freshness in his paintings (as compared to a contrived, effortful, or an overworked piece). If the passion of painting the watercolor can be perceived, then it is considered successful. To stay creatively alive, Arius keeps exploring, rather than settling into a routine style. The most recent exploration has been digital photography.
Arius became a professional photographer only in late 2001 when he switched to a digital camera, which allowed him to control the medium from beginning to end. There were several other reasons for switching from film:
- Digital has become more accurate than film both in resolution and color gamut
- Far less polluting
- More economical
The original naturalness of the photographs is preserved as much as possible. Adjustments to images are made to approach the high standards of the beauty of Kauai. Accurate blowups to 40″ x 80″ are made possible with software that maintains the sharpness and color of the smaller prints—another advantage of digital over film which looses definition when enlarged.
Arius has found that producing a good photograph takes at least as much time as painting a good watercolor. This is because the painter has artistic license to edit and create composition. While this is now true also in digital photography, the challenge is to compose and balance in the camera.
Overall, Arius finds watercolor painting more relaxing than photography because of its direct experience and meditative quality. Painting is an excuse to remain fully present with the subject matter for as long as the painting takes . . . usually several hours. Photography has a greater sense of excitement and is more predatory (that is “hunt and shoot”) with its own payoffs.
The new digital technology is quite an amazing artistic medium, really a whole new medium with vast unexplored frontiers, especially when the creative potential in the computer and software is considered. The print substrates: photographic papers, watercolor paper and canvas add yet another dimension to the final product.
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