Friday, February 19, 2010


Today is our final interview of our I’d Rather Be in Hawaii week. Before we pack our virtual bags, let’s just take one more day to bask in the Hawaiian sun and visit with Lisabongzee. Her paintings of that peaceful paradise just pull you in and transport you to that sandy beach under the palm trees.

FK: Aloha Kakahiaka, Lisa. What’s your morning “cuppa?"

Definitely coffee!! My favorite flavor is Kona Coconut.

FK: It’s coffee for me too. Tell me about your Etsy shop and other sites …

My Etsy shop is: Lisabongzee’s Island Dream Life ~ Tropical Paradise Paintings
My blog is: “Island Dream Life”
My Website:

I live in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. Oahu is known as “The Gathering Place” and is the most populated of all the Hawaiian Islands. I would love to maybe one day move to Maui.

FK: Did you grow up in Hawaii?

I was born in California, and with my Dad being in the Air Force, we moved around the United States every few years. California to Fort Walton Beach, Florida; back to San Diego, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Prattville, Alabama (yikes!) and then back to San Diego, all before I was 14 years old.

The summer before my sophomore year in high school, my family took a vacation to Hawaii. I instantly fell in love with the place as soon as I stepped off the plane. The air smelled like tropical Plumeria flowers and the touristy Hawaiian music really left an impression on me. It was the only vacation we ever took that I actually cried when we had to go back home!

Then, by a stroke of luck, the very next summer, my Dad was transferred to Hickam AFB in Honolulu, HAWAII! We were going back for good! A few years later, he retired here, and I like to say that is how I got “stuck” in Hawaii! I don’t think I could ever live anywhere else.

FK: Wow, lucky for you that you got stuck there! Talk to me about your etsy shop. How long have you had your shop?

I have had my Etsy shop for a little over a year now. I think one of the neatest things about Etsy is all the wonderful people I have “met”. Especially other artists whose work always inspires me to keep on painting!

FK: Your work is of course very reflective of Hawaii. With so many beautiful sites to choose from, what are your favorite subjects?

I love the gorgeous Koolau Mountains on Oahu’s east side. The deep ridges carved out by years of erosion are just awesome. I also, of course, LOVE to paint palm trees and the beautiful aqua~turquoisy Hawaiian waters.

But I would have to say, my favorite subjects are the ones I think up in my head. I often paint with just a vision, no photo. A made-up place that I would like to think exists somewhere. Tiki huts and little Polynesian people busy with their daily “Island Life” are some of my favorites, and I think they reflect my quirky personality the most of all my paintings.

FK: There’s quite a few painters on Etsy from Hawaii. What do you think sets your work apart? I know it’s like asking which child a mother likes best, but what are your own personal favorites from your work, and why?

I paint what I love, and I try to put my best into every piece. I hope that feeling shines through in my work. My favorite painting so far would easily be Tutu’s Secret Fishing Spot. This piece took many months of off and on again painting, and I had to be in just the right mood to work on it. I was very happy with how it turned out, and whenever I look at it, it just gives me a very peaceful, calm, laid-back “no worries” feeling!

Tutu’s Secret Fishing Spot (not for sale)

FK: I can see how it would make you feel that way – it does have a very peaceful feeling. How many different media do you work in and how long have you been an artist?

My favorites are oils. I like to paint with a brush for more detailed paintings, but also enjoy the palette knife. The loose strokes and free feel of a palette knife painting seem to give it a lot of personality.

I have been painting all my life. I did go to art school in Hawaii after high school, but am mostly self-taught. I have also been lucky enough to have some of Hawaii’s well known artists show me quite a bit about how they paint. Hawaii has some of the nicest people and they are always willing to share what they know with you. The “Aloha Spirit” in the art community here is really special.

FK: That's wonderful! But I'm sure you still need a break from creating once in awhile  – somewhere you go to rest, refresh, meditate - your quiet place ...

There are several spots that I like to go to get away. In Hawaii, it’s not too hard to find a beautiful quiet spot to just relax and think. But one of my favorites would be my secret hammock in my garden. It is a lush, tropical hideaway next to a small pond with a waterfall and there are always tons of little birds that keep me entertained when I am out there. I have my Hawaiian music playing softly, a cool iced tea and a good book (I am a nut for “Old Tahiti” non-fiction). This, to me, is Paradise!

FK: That is just delicious - a little hideaway. I love it! 
What part of being an artist is the most gratifying to you? And what’s the hardest?

The most gratifying part of being an artist, for me, is finishing a painting that turns out even better than I had imagined. That is what makes it all worthwhile. Of course, having others tell you that your work is awesome is a wonderful feeling too.

One of the hardest parts is believing that I have a gift that not everyone may have. To me, it seems that anyone should be able to paint if they really want to. When people tell me that I have artistic talent, it is sometimes hard for me to accept.

FK: I think we all have our moments of self-doubt.  Lisa, what keeps you busy when you’re not being an artist?

One of my favorite activities is snowboarding (kind of a crazy hobby to have, living in Hawaii. I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like). I also love surfing, hiking, backpacking and camping, kayaking, rollerblading, and mountain biking ~~ almost anything outdoors. I love nature. I would one day like to learn to kite surf also.

FK: Wow – you ARE a serious outdoors woman!
If I were to visit Hawaii, what is the one place or thing that I should absolutely not miss seeing? And what’s your favorite Hawaiian saying?

Well, I could give you a list of touristy things to see or do on the island of Oahu, but something that still amazes me, even after 25 years of living here, is driving around the bend at Makapu’u. Coming from the Sandy Beach side, as you round the corner, the Koolau cliffs pop into view, and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean with several small islands is just breathtaking. Palm tree lined Makapu’u Beach is postcard perfect, and as you head a little further north, you can see the beautiful Mokulua Islands of Lanikai. I have driven this road thousands of times, and am still amazed at the beautiful scenery every time!

My favorite Hawaiian saying? Well, that’s a hard one, there are several. But one that I find kinda fun is:

Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana. (Pronounced “Ha-eena E-ah My Ah-nah Kah-poo-ah-nah”)
I absolutely HAVE to listen to Hawaiian and Tahitian music when I paint. I love it. And the more vintage it is, the better. I noticed a recurring phrase throughout probably 75% of the Hawaiian songs. It was “Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana." I knew that it had to mean something significant, or why would everyone be singing it? My sister-in-law sings Hawaiian and knows some of the translations, so I asked her what the phrase meant. She said it is similar to saying “Here is my story”… or “Let the story be told.” Now it made sense, as many Hawaiian songs are actually stories of days gone by.

Some of my favorite Hawaiian and Tahitian musicians are Sam Ku West, Paradise Islanders, The Maile Serenaders, Henriette Winkler, The Kahauanu Lake Trio, and Auntie Genoa. I also love all Hawaiian Slack Key and Steel Guitar. I really don’t think I could paint without them!!

Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana.  Try and listen for it the next time you hear an Island song.

FK: Thank you for that lovely story, Lisa!   Tell us about your giveaway.

For my giveaway, I would like to offer an 8x10 print of one of my original paintings. The winner may choose either Palm At Kualoa, Good Morning Kaneohe, or Tropical Palm Tree Sunset.

Tropical Palm Tree Sunset

FK: Lisa, thank you so much for letting us visit with you - it has been a lovely treat!

Here’s how to enter:

I will use random number generator to pick a winner of the giveaway from all comments posted here between now and a week from today at noon.

I will also pick a second winner to receive a selection of “I’d rather be in Hawaii” bookmarks and/or magnets from me.

You have several opportunities to enter your comments:

1. Enter a comment about your favorite piece of art by the artist.
2. Enter a comment if you signed up to follow her blog (or comment that you already follow)
3. (Note: Lisa is not on Facebook or Twitter)
4. Enter a comment that you signed up to follow MY blog (or comment that you already follow)
5. Enter a comment that you signed up to become MY Facebook fan (or comment that you already follow)

(And – please – if you say you signed up, be sure that you DID sign up!)

You will need to comment each day if you want to be entered into that day’s drawing.
NOTE: The week's giveaways are posted on the right-hand side of my blog under "current contests and giveaways."

Mahalo and good luck!


  1. I love Lisa's work! She captures the essence of Hawaii so well, and after reading this wonderful interview I can see how she is able to do that-because she truly loves Hawaii.
    Even if I can't be there, it's nice to know that I can enjoy looking at Lisa's paintings! (And yes Lisa, you ARE incredibly talented!)

  2. I am a Facebook fan:)
    Now all that's left is too keep my fingers crossed that I win!

  3. I love ALL Lisa's paintings but if I could only choose one I'd pick "Good Morning Kaneohe"

  4. This was like a vacation to Hawaii. I soaked in the rays of these gorgeous paintings. Lisa is not just talented, she is able to translate her home into the Paradise we expect. I must say I love her "vision" paintings the most.

  5. I just love lisa's artwork! i was lucky enough to visit Hawaii in 1974, and it is a dream of mine to return there some day.
    Reading this interview and seeing Lisa's unique artwork took me back, even if for just a moment...
    I would love to see Lisa put out a calendar with her paintings!!!

  6. OH My our Lisa is so talented!
    Some of your paintings remind me of the places you showed Goldie and I when we cruised in 2008.
    I plan on being back in Oahu this fall if all go to plan. Maybe another day with Lisa and Dean is in order.
    Just lovely these paintings are...

  7. Lisa, your work is wonderful! Every painting just keeps getting better and better. I especially LOVE your palette knife paintings. That is a difficult technique for me, so I can really appreciate it. I can't wait to meet up with you on Oahu some day.

    Hugs and Aloha,

  8. Wow... it's hard to pick a favorite Lisa!! But I guess I would say, in your shop, my favorite is the Tropical Maui painting - with the wave just about to crash upon the sand. I would sit here for hours!

    Thanks for giveaway, and thanks for these great interviews Felicia!

  9. I am following Lisa's blog (and she's been off snowboarding in Utah LOL)

  10. Hi, Melanie - Yes, Lisa was in Utah (she's heading home today). We knew that she had a vacation scheduled, but I didn't want to hold this up, so she graciously agreed to get her info to me before she left. And she was able to get access to a computer in Utah, so she snowboarded all day and checked in with us in the evening. I'm glad she was able to get access and follow along with us during the week.

  11. OMG This is such a coincidence! Lisa was vacationing right here in Utah; I featured her Plantation House Painting last year in a treasury I made on Etsy. I wonder if she reembers talking to me then. Can I pick Tutu's secret fishing spot as a fav? Too bad it's not for sale; I want to live in that hut :) If not, then Tropical Paradise Sailing.
    I really enjoyed this series of your Felicia ...where will you be takin gus next?

  12. I follow your blog...even when you think I'm not looking ;)

  13. My favorite painting in Lisa's shop is: TROPICAL PALM TREE ISLAND OCEAN 8 x 10 Original Oil Painting Beach Sea Cliffs, but I also love Tropical Palm Tree Sunset!

  14. I am following Lisa's Blog.

  15. I amalso following Felicia's blog.

  16. I am also a fan of Felicia's FB page.

  17. Cindi/Clay it Again: Yes, what a coincidence! I'm sure Lisa will look at these comments when she gets home and maybe she'll let you know.

    Where will I take you again?? Whew - can I take a rest first? As you or anyone with a blog knows, it's a little bit of work! But oh my, this one is way worth it - I'm having so much fun with it. But that's an idea ....

  18. Aloha!

    I have followed Lisa's blog, etc., for awhile now...

    She is extremely talented, and her work is always colorful and full of Aloha!!

    Lisa, keep on doing what you do hun, it's incredible! Been fun "being in touch" again - even if it is only on this machine :D Hope you had a blast in Utah and returned home safely...

    Felicia - another one well-done...You SOOO rock!! Gr8 week - Mahalo for giving us artists, here in Hawaii, the opportunity to meet new people and learn new stuff about each other we didn't know...Can't wait for your next installment(why don't u take a break and visit us here?!) :D xoxo Dava

  19. Hi Felicia,
    Thank you SO much for sharing all these wonderful artists and throwing in a taste of the islands as a bonus- it's really brightened my week!

  20. Welcome back, Lisa. Listen, you don't really believe I could do this wonderful week and not decide to finally visit Hawaii, do you?? I'm starting my research ... :)

  21. Lisa is one of my favorite artist of Hawaii. I love how she handles the knife with paint.

    I would love love love to have one of your paintings!!!! I do have an original ACEO but one that is larger I would feel blessed indeed!


  22. Tropical Palm Tree Sunset is my fave! Like really. I love sunsets and this one is so vivid in color!

    reviewsbyabby at gmail dot com

  23. I think I like the Tropical Palm Tree Sunset the best

    shiki6210 at gmail dot com


  24. I love the Papaya Paradise magnet. Your work is so colorful and happy! It would brighten up any room! Thank you for the chance to win!
    june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

  25. I love the shape of the SUNSET HAWAII 4 x 4 Mini Original Oil Painting Diamond Head Waikiki Oahu Ocean Beach Honeymoon. What beautiful work you do. Amazing, ambrerose(!at)

  26. The Tropical Palm Tree Sunset is my favorite because it seems to includes many colors of the flowers that I remember when I was in Hilo, Hawaii!


  27. Hi Lisa,

    I am in awe of your incredible talent! My very favorite picture (so far) is Morning At Mokuleia Beach, MAUI. It's gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us!!


  28. I love Good Morning Kanohe, makes me want to be there!
    cathyhorner at embarqmail dot com

  29. I follow your blog
    cathyhorner at embarqmail dot com

  30. facebook fan of another bright idea
    cathyhorner at embarqmail dot com

  31. These paintings are so gorgeous! I'm quite jealous that Lisa has that beautiful view to look at in person every day. :)

    My fave one is the Good Morning Kaneohe bc it makes me feel like I'm there, at that beautiful, relaxing beach.

    Btw - I listed this giveaway on my site so other people would see these gorgeous prints and participate. Here's the link:


  32. I like DREAMER's PARADISE Original Matted Acrylic Painting Art Artwork Tropical Tiki Hut Palm Trees Hawaii Tahiti Caribbean Beach Sand Coconuts BONGZEE Island Dream Life Paintings.
    Thanks for this chance.

    ale84.vercelli at hotmail dot it

  33. I follow Lisa's blog.
    ale84.vercelli at hotmail dot it

  34. I follow your blog.
    ale84.vercelli at hotmail dot it

  35. Lisa, I love your "Talk Story" as it reminds me of the "40+" years my hubbie and I have shared in our many visits to the "Islands". Tutu's Secret Fishing Spot reminds me of our adventure to "Huahine" in 95'. I love your work and hope to see it in person on my next visit to Oahu. Love, Georgina

  36. I love the painting Good Morning Kaneohe-absolutely gorgeous use of color and shading.

    Elaine R

  37. I really liked your blog whenever I can I vote. The paintings are beautiful.

    Brazilian art and culture. The art of Newton Avelino.

  38. I really liked your blog whenever I can I vote. The paintings are beautiful.

    Brazilian art and culture. The art of Newton Avelino.


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