Visitors to Arval Shipley’s shop had best keep moving, lest they find a hibiscus painted upon their person.
Proprietor of “The Hibiscus,” located on Keawe Street at the rear of Rainbow-Jo’s, Shipley paints the tropical flower on everything, from lamps to tables, chairs, salt and pepper shakers, you name it.
He comes from a long background in the arts — primarily theater — and has directed and otherwise worked on a number of community theater productions in the last 13 years since he moved to Hilo. But when his artistic diversions recently led him to painting, he quickly found his niche.
“I was looking for something to paint, and I wanted it to be something Hawaiian. And I painted a hibiscus, and then another and another. Then I understood why Vincent Van Gogh always was wanting to paint sunflowers,” he said.
Calling his art “recycled,” Shipley prides himself on the fact that he buys items at yard sales and then creates a new life for them as “painted treasures.”
While the majority of his paintings are of the hibiscus, Shipley says he’s not worried about ever becoming bored with the subject matter, because he introduces variety by always changing his canvas.
“I love it,” he said. “I’ll work on several pieces at a time. While one is drying, I’ll be working on another.”
In addition to varioius knick-knacks and furniture items he finds at garage sales and spruces up, Shipley also offers traditional, framed watercolor paintings at his gallery.
The store space, located in a rear, upstairs room at Rainbow-Jo’s, is small but comfortable, and colorfully decorated. Painted above a doorway in the room is Shipley’s store motto: “Happiness is Giving as Freely as the Hibiscus.”
That saying encompasses his business theory, Shipley says, because he’s more interested in getting his work out to people than he is in making big profits.
“I’m in it just for the love and fun of doing it. … I don’t want to charge high prices. I want people to be able to buy my work,” he said. “I’m just doing this for the love of it.”
Plus, he added, “the ladies will really like it. They’ll enjoy just coming in and looking around at everything.”
Shipley said he anticipates his shop will be big with tourists, as it’s a great place to buy an original gift for someone.
“They know that what they’re getting here is unique,” he said. “It’s the only one like it. And I sign all my work.”
And if people don’t like the options Shipley has in his store, he’ll always consider commissioned pieces.
“If someone wants me to paint on something else, that’s something I’ll be happy to consider,” he said.
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.