Kerne Erickson – Retro Hawaii Vintage Artist

Kerne_Erickson_picKerne Erickson is a talented and versatile artist. He has explored many different paintings mediums and styles, but is best known for producing large scale acrylic paintings inspired by travel poster art of the 1920 to 1960 era. This style of art is termed “Retro Realism” and Erickson is the premier artist working in this field.Kerne_Waikiki It is refreshing to see an artist that can start with a pencil drawing, then build transparent layers of under painting, manipulate the paint to create the illusion of depth and volume, and then add the finishing brush strokes which bring the work of art into focus. Erickson has successfully combined these traditional painting techniques with modern painting mediums. This process is very time consuming, but it is what sets his art apart from the sterile computer generated images we find all around us.
Since most of his paintings are created to evoke the feeling of a bygone era, it’s especially important that the art captures the innocence of that period. This innocence is particularly evident in the advertising brochures and travel posters of the 1920s and 1930s. Erickson relies on these images, plus old photographs and vintage magazine pictures when developing his art.

If possible he also visits the location of the scene to be featured in the painting and makes sketches of the landscape. When people are included he often hires a model to pose for a series of figurative sketches. His lettering is usually custom designed, hand drawn and painted right on the art. All of this visual information is then arranged a number of different ways until he finds just the right combination that best captures what he has in mind.

The whole point of this art form is to communicate a feeling of pleasure, relaxation and wellbeing. Originally these images were created to show people that a vacation or excursion could provide them with an opportunity to enjoy these life experiences. In the hectic social environment we live in today, these images can be equally convincing if the viewer chooses to let them be.

Kerne_DukeOften these original paintings are thought to be Pop Art works, akin to what the New York artists were doing in the 1960s. The large format, intense colors and inclusion of lettering all support this observation. In some ways this is a fair conclusion, since the purpose of the New York artists was to call attention to the value of art created for commercial purposes. Erickson shares this goal and is doing his part to further this cause.Kerne_ Hula-Girls

The first paintings of this Retro Realism series were produced in 2000. Erickson held back all the original paintings and in the spring of 2006 had a one man exhibition of them at George Stern Fine Arts in North Hollywood. This exhibition also served as a book release party for the hard bound art book documenting this artist’s career. It is titled Kerne Erickson and was written by Gordon and Austin McClelland and published by Greg Young Publishing of Santa Barbara, California.

Erickson’s art has been exhibited throughout the United States and also in Germany, England, Japan and Brazil. His easel paintings have been featured in American Artist Magazine and in major surf related publications throughout the world.  His landscape paintings have been accepted in many juried art exhibitions including those organized by the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society, Art for the Parks, and the California Art Club. In addition he has received top awards from Watercolor U.S.A., one of America’s premier annual watercolor exhibitions.

Pacifica Island Art, Inc. ( is proud to reproduce Kerne’s Hawaiian themed artwork in the form of posters, greeting cards, postcards and magnets. Aloha!


One Response to “Kerne Erickson – Retro Hawaii Vintage Artist”

  1. Thanks for this post, and your wonderful artwork. I absolutely love your vintage style and appreciate all of your talents!

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