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The Art of Hilton Alves


Meet Hilton.


He paints beautiful waves.


Hilton Alves, professional fine artist and muralist in Hawaii. Kahuku, North Oahu.

And he paints massive waves.

I met Hilton last weekend. One of our mutual friends, Ken, started posting photos of Hilton’s paintings on Facebook and I was drawn to his artwork. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a surf artist in Hawaii so I asked Ken if we could set up a meeting and Hilton was nice enough to agree to chat with me. We talked for a couple hours and I got to find out that this dude is incredibly interesting.

Hilton first came to Hawaii from Brazil to enter a stand up paddle race. He was supposed to stay for three months but, like many of us, he took a liking to Hawaii and never left. Now he lives in Kahuku (on Oahu’s north shore) with his wife who is a high school teacher.

He’s a surfer, competes in stand-up-paddle (SUP) races and pays the bills by selling his art at Wyland Galleries. And, a big focus in his life right now is a social project he’s been developing called SurfArtKids. It’s all about connecting with the community through art.


I met up with Hilton at Wyland Galleries in Haleiwa. (Same shopping center as Cholos.) Him and a few other artists are there every Saturday doing live painting in the gallery. You can see what they’re currently working on and talk to them.


When I showed up Hilton was working on a new painting of a perfect set of waves at Pipeline.


He explained the process a bit. He’ll focus on building the details of the front wave first. Then finish up the back waves. Then the sky and clouds. And he’ll address the beach last. As a finishing touch he can paint people on the beach. How big the people in are in the painting will determine how big the waves are perceived to be.


We went into the viewing room in the gallery to chat for a bit. The paintings on this wall are all Hilton’s.


If you’re ever at the gallery be sure to check out this photo album of Hilton’s art, travels and community involvement.


This is one of my favorite paintings from Hilton. I’m not sure how it is for non-surfers but for me, I never get tired of looking at waves. After a good surf session I’ll see waves in my head when I try to go to sleep. Hilton has been surfing for 20 years so he know how to create beautiful waves with paint. He knows how to create the perfect shape and how to make a wave look powerful.


Hilton’s first sculpture is a commentary on plastics and the environment. It’s a honu (turtle) filled with plastic litter Hilton has picked up off the beach on the North Shore.


You can see Hilton’s murals in this book as well.


The thing that many people may not know about these murals is that they are all donations to the schools. They are part of his social project called SurfArtKids. Hilton and the schools hold fundraisers to pay for paint and equipment. A group of students are involved to help with the process of mixing paint, setting up and keeping the work area tidy. On many murals the students paint fish and other sea life into the piece as well.

I know if some artist came to my elementary or high school to paint a mural and I got to be part of the project, I would be stoked.


Hilton told me about this kid who helped him with one of his elementary school murals. A year or so after the mural was complete the kid happened to be at the Xterra race and up to him and said “Hi.” Hilton got to talk to the kid and hear about how he was doing at school. Hilton told me that he was surprised that kids and parents from schools would recognize him and come talk to him because of his paintings. It made him realize he could connect with people through his art.


The SurfArtKids project has reach in Brazil as well. He gets invited to schools to teach art classes.


In this classroom, there weren’t enough brushes so the kids lined up one by one to sign the paintings they were working on.


I think the key takeaway here is …  kids love art.

* * *



Kahuku High School.


Wailua Elementary.


Laie Elementary.


Wailua High School.


Close up of Hilton painting from a cherry picker.


You can support Hilton by visiting him at the Wyland Galleries or contacting him through his website, Keep an eye out for his murals too. His mission is to donate a mural to every school in Hawaii and I know there is a new one that might start very soon.

The goal for SurfArtKids is to make it an official non-profit organization. He’s researching ways to raise funding for legal fees right now. You can keep up with the SurfArtKids project by visiting and liking the page on Facebook. See more photos and stories on the SurfArtKids blog as well.

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This story was last modified on May 18, 2013. (Originally published in February 2012.)

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