How many people can achieve perfect balance on a surfboard while painting an enormous, stunning, seemingly half-submerged mural on a wall? The answer is that one person can: Sean Yoro, aka Hula, who does exactly that on water-laced walls of abandoned structures around the world. Adding more envy-worthiness to his bio, the Hawaii born and New York based artist is entirely self-taught and the beautifully haunting portraits he paints of women are the result of a very talented thread in his DNA chain.
A surfer before he became an artist, it was only as an older teenager that Sean first picked up a paintbrush and has since made a name for himself and his oil paints, depicting his poignant muses on everything from canvas, to walls, to ice (more on that) and, naturally, old surfboards.
The female subjects he paints (most of whom are personal friends of his) are almost eerily tranquil and appear captured in mid motion; stare at one of them for too long and you might find yourself swearing that "she" actually blinked. Harkening back to Sean's Hawaiian roots and his own occupation as a tattoo artist, each figure also sports a tribal tattoo somewhere on her body, which he has said is there to symbolize the various scars people's past experiences have left on them -- both seen and unseen -- and how those experiences have shaped them.
It's almost painful to realize that his work is basically a temporary installation. Sean uses oil paints and the old masters' technique of loose brushwork combined with tight sharp lines to achieve the portraits hyper-realism; but oil paints can't withstand the harsh natural conditions and the constant water exposure. Interestingly, Sean has said that he doesn't mind the "expiration date" imposed on his work, despite the fact that each portrait takes anywhere from a single day to four days for him to complete, depending on the scale of each piece and the detail work it requires.
Thankfully, derelict walls in undisclosed locations (because he doesn't always receive permission to paint them) aren't the only mediums that are gifted with Sean's special touch. A quick scroll through his hit Instagram account, @the_hula (currently boasting over 97K followers) reveals his paintings on small, constructed icebergs for the Facebook Beach at Cannes, or on naturally occurring icebergs in Canada's Nunavut territory. Along that line be sure to check out the image of him locked in an iceberg traffic jam while "searching for the perfect piece of ice for his next art installation" for North Face, or the mesmerizing time lapse videos of him painting (thankfully!) permanent masterpieces on broken surfboards and traditional mediums such as wood panels and canvas.
Sean has said that he is attracted to capturing "emotions and moments" through the use of his paints which he might have a difficult time expressing through words. Whatever his work's medium, scale, location and subject, as the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."