Despite working as a lead designer for one of the top jewelers in Hawaii, Sarah Caudle found herself branching out from her job to pursuing her passion as a painter.
During the Women’s Luncheon on Feb. 7, one of Caudle’s artwork was on display in the middle of the Aloha Center Ballroom. Attendees gathered around the painting, observing the colors and resin closely. The painting featured was of the ocean, presenting a faint gradient of blue-green to light blue.
“The ocean was always a place where it made me feel happy and free in Hawaii. I think everyone has their own connection to the sea. That’s what’s important to share for me through my art. I just want to share my art with as many people as I can and really share that aloha with the world,” Caudle said.
“I had an awesome job, a stable job.” Caudle said, “I had a steady income, and for me to leave that behind was definitely terrifying. I think if you don’t at least try, you’ll always look back and wonder what if. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and take chances and you can always go back if it didn’t work out. Why not give it a try.”
One of the art forms Caudle focuses on is resin painting. Caudle said she played with different mediums before such as acrylic and watercolors until she found one “that captured the mysteriousness and depth the ocean has.”
Vice President BYU–Hawaii Women’s Organization Nancy Eastwood, shared how she met Caudle during an art festival in Haleiwa. Being an artist herself and a curator, Caudle’s art captured her eye. Eastwood was inspired to ask Caudle to be the speaker for the luncheon, and she accepted the offer.
Dreams of the ocean and painting
Caudle, who was born in Atlanta, said the nearest beach was seven hours away. Summers were the highlight of her childhood. Her grandparents had a beach house and she described the beach by saying, “The sand was kind of brown and the ocean was murky, but I just fell in love with the ocean. I had dreamed of always living by the ocean and I never expected to live by the most beautiful oceans here. I’m really fortunate.”
Caudle said ever since she was a child, she always loved to color and dreamt of becoming an artist. However she said her parents did not have an art background. They did not encourage her to pursue art but encouraged her to stay creative and find a different avenue.
Caudle studied industrial design when she went to college. She said she worked on various projects involving display design and worked for companies like Johnson and Johnson and did displays in New York as well.
She accepted a job in Hawaii and moved to Honolulu five years ago. Caudle said, “Being in Hawaii, it sparked my creativity more. Just being by the ocean felt so right, but there was still something missing. I started getting back to drawing and painting. For fun, I started selling my work just to pay for more paint supplies. I really didn’t have a plan to be an artist yet. I just enjoyed painting.”
Caudle was working in her apartment when she decided to paint full-time. “I really didn’t think it would work out, but I had to give it a try because I just felt called to do so and to share my work. I left my job three years ago and I’ve been painting since.”
Working with resin
After discovering resin, she bought the supplies and took over a year of experimenting to master the technique. She said, “I knew resin was the medium that connected with me.”
During the beginning of Caudle’s talk in the luncheon, she showed a short video of her work process. The video presented the paints she used and the products she has created. She tries to make a conscious effort of using “Eco-poxy”, made from soybeans. According to her, people use petroleum-based resins, which are bad for the environment.
In the video, she used a blowtorch over a painting she was working on. One of the attendees asked her the purpose of the blowtorch.
Caudle said the ratio is one to one. Combining resin and the “partner,” like acrylic, causes a chemical reaction. She uses a couple drops of acrylic paint to find the right color. After 45 minutes, the resin will harden. She uses a torch to help the process and add more chemical reactions. “It’s a little bit of a science and art together. Usually, I’ll do four layers on each piece and paint elements in between.”
“You want to work between layers while it’s still tacky, but its not fully hard so about three to four hours between layers and then to add painted elements, about five to six hours between layers. You have to sand and finish the work as well.”
Inspiration and plans
Caudle is inspired by local artists and said, “It’s just amazing to see any artist put their art out there, that’s inspiring in and out of itself. Anyone who uniquely expresses themselves, someone who does something different you haven’t seen before, it’s just amazing.”
Lorraine Lucrecio, a community member from Mililani, said “To be creative in whatever capacity you’re talented in and whatever art you do, other people will feel your love. So whatever work you’re doing, just put your whole heart in it and other people can feel your love and passion in whatever you’re doing.”
Janae Alo, a community member from Kahuku, said Caudle’s story and art inspired her. She remarked, “Her journey in becoming an artist and moving to Hawaii and living in the most expensive place here while being an artist is inspirational. Being able to follow her dreams and be able to produce something like her art. I think her art is beautiful.”
Caudle has collaborated with other artists to encourage an environment where they can help inspire each other. She and her fellow artists hold monthly bazaars where they invite new artists and patrons to gather and support each other.
Caudle said using the code ‘BYUHAWAII’ for the week of Feb. 7 to the 14 will result in 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the Women’s Organization scholarship. She recalled how when she was still studying, she had to support herself and look for scholarships to go through school and how this inspired her to help out those students as well.
Writer: Esther Insigne