Kailua Village Artists


Stefanie Culbertson


Artist's Biography

Stefanie Culbertson moved to Hawaii 27 years ago and has been fascinated with the lush, tropical land and sea scapes, growing deep roots here on this Island.  It has inspired her bright and vivid growing watercolor collection.  She earned her BA in Digital Design in 2006 and started her own business Tiffany Arts Designs.  Over the last seven years she has focused on painting in watercolors, working on her bright and vivid “Anuenue Series”.  In the last couple of years she simultaneously worked on her “Fire - Earth - Air & Water Series”.

In her painting “He’e and Nai’a – After the Storm” Stefanie delves into mythology as well.  She started with the background of her painting, the cave looking out onto the calm, peaceful ocean, after a rip-roaring storm.  (She reflected on the growth, change, and healing she had experienced this past year.)  She was inspired to paint the He’e (octopus), beginning her research, she was amazed to how deeply the beliefs, legends and mythology about the octopus run throughout all the cultures in the world.  In the Hawaiian creation account, the “Kumulipo”, the octopus is the “lone survivor from an earlier world”, a type of alien, and the last of its kind living on Earth.  Seeing the He’e in water symbolizes good luck to Hawaiian people.  The octopus is found in all ocean systems on Earth and traces back 30 million years.  The ancient Mediterranean cultures gave tremendous respect for the octopus and worshipped it in ceremonies, leaving offerings for safe sea journeys.  It has been referred to as “an eight legged sea monster” or a “devil fish”, by Native American accounts.  The He’e is extraordinary in its intelligence and capabilities to camouflage itself, to appear and disappear.  It has marvelous defense mechanisms, the expulsion of ink, confusing its attackers and its agility (being a mollusk) to slip through even the tightest of spots.  The octopus symbolizes enlightenment, creativity and flexibility, i.e. the spiraling of its limbs, the path leading from the outer consciousness and materialism to inner soul illumination.  Also in the painting, the Nai’a (dolphin) is swimming past the cave, delighting in the new dawn and calm sea.  The Octopus is holding the trident. (It is Poseidon’s trident in Greek mythology).  However… the artist leaves the interpretation and personalization of this painting to the viewer.

Stefanie is continuously evolving as an artist.  She is pictured in the photograph above painting one of her latest paintings 'Leap of Faith'.  It is an acrylic with 3D raised letters and figure, it also has special light effects.  Initially, 2016 being a leap year, she began her work on this piece before June of that year.  As she advanced in her painting, it became a spiritual reflection of her own progress.  Stefanie reflects “Over the last six months, I've been tested in my faith, perseverance and trust to follow my own dream to live full time as an artist.  It was a 'Leap of Faith'”, she adds “you can't cross a chasm in two little steps.  This painting embraces deeper, universal concerns of all humanity, and our quest to follow our faith and dreams, and move forward in their life.

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