Beneath the surface


It’s hard not to be inspired when surrounded by the natural beauty in Hawaii.

Breathtaking blue skies, luscious green foliage and the sound of waves crashing on the shore can make almost any day seem like a good one.

Living in Hawaii has been more than a pretty sight for Rob Branson, 45, a 1989 New Palestine High School graduate. It’s been life-transforming.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

After years of shelving his artistic talents for a more secure career, Branson has finally become the artist he believes he was meant to be, thanks to his move to Hawaii in 2010.

Work as a warehouse manager brought Branson to Hawaii six years ago, but the wild nature, land and sea invigorated him and rekindled his long-lost love for art, he said.

Branson credits an ocean sport for significantly fueling his creative fire.

Standing on a surf board while riding a wave was one of the most life-changing experiences he’d ever had, Branson said.

An avid outdoorsman now, Branson said surfing helped him see his life and the world from another perspective, one he had never imagined before.

“Surfing makes you see and feel different, in a better way,” he said. “It somehow opens things up and let’s you see more clearly.”

It was about four years ago, after he had been surfing for a while, when Branson finally decided to pick up a brush to create an image, something he hadn’t done since he was a teen.

“It’s just so inspiring out here,” he said. “It kind of awakened like a sleeping giant in me.”

His watercolor work is inspired by his surroundings, and it has caught the eye of art lovers throughout the islands.

Branson recently was asked to showcase his creations in a major department store at a new mall in Waikiki. Couple that exposure at art shows in Oahu and elsewhere, and on his website, and Branson is on the cusp of becoming a full-time artist.

“It’s pretty amazing, considering I never liked painting when I was in high school,” he said.

After high school, Branson went to Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis for a couple of years, but when he became involved in graphic design, a career that at the time seemed boring to him, he quit.

The decision caused him to give up his love for art altogether for several decades before moving to Hawaii.

His artwork is unique, people tell him. He paints original designs with watercolor and adds detail to the pictures in ink, giving elements in his work a more pronounced look.

He likes to add intricate highlights to objects such as starfish, pebbles and coral in his pictures with a rapidograph pen, producing a crisper look, he said.

“It’s the one thing people tell me that is so different about my work,” he said. “It’s a different kind of format.”

Rekindling his love for art has opened up a new door of creativity. It’s like a whole new world, he said.

He married a Hawaiian woman and is now a working artist, one who can’t imagine not making time for his passion.

His best pictures have been turned into prints so multiple copies can be sold. He frames his original works and showcases them at art shows.

Branson still has strong family ties to the area. Anna Branson, his daughter, is an eighth-grader at Doe Creek Middle School, and his grandmother, Nadine McCreery, and other relatives live in New Palestine.

To see or purchase Branson’s art work, visit