Bree Poort

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IF THERE'S ONE consistent thread that runs through the life of artist Bree Poort, it’s the ocean. It’s her first love, her escape, her athletic outlet, her artistic muse and it’s very likely within reach of wherever she’s at at this very moment.

Growing up on the Southern California coast, Bree’s grandpa taught her to surf when she was seven. She says, “The surf culture has always been super strong in our family. It’s how we’d do celebrations and how we’d spend our family days, by going to the beach and spending all day surfing. Then we’d bonfire and spend all night at the beach—it was just a very strong part of my growing up.” This strong connection to the ocean has shaped almost every aspect of her life, including providing the setting for her first dates with her now husband, and sealing her decision to move to Hawaii for college, where she now lives on the North Shore of Oahu.

The ocean has also provided inspiration for her unique style of resin art—a style she calls Mar Alto, loosely translated as ‘the sea from above.’

Her current artistic style evolved gradually. Bree has been painting her whole life, initially following in her mother’s footsteps using oils. Bree was passionate about painting but didn’t love the process, “I grew up thinking acrylics were the cheaper version of paint, and that oils were the only thing to use. I also grew up around a lot of turpentine and a lot of chemicals to clean the oil, and I didn’t love it.” Her painting lapsed as other interests took over including yoga and college—she became a certified yoga instructor guided by women she considers some of the most influential mentors in her life, and then studied Graphic Design at BYU Hawaii.

During her last year of college, Bree and her friend started a boutique content collective called Rubias Collective. As part of the collective, they brought a drone to film. On her first flight, Bree captured a photo of the surf from above and in her words, fell in love. She knew she wanted to replicate what she saw in her art.

In researching materials to reproduce the free flowing appearance of the ocean, Bree came across epoxy resin—the same material used in glassing surfboards. She experimented with achieving different colors using acrylic paints as well as exploring various powders and inks. She slowly fine-tuned her painting process, which can admittedly be somewhat mentally taxing. She describes resin as a finicky medium to work with; it has a narrow temperature range. And mixing the colors presents another challenge, especially what she refers to as the third tier colors like teals and the perfect sea foam green. She uses at least four colors in each piece and chooses to highlight the natural wood grain, using it to represent the sand and beach.

Bree considers the perspective as that of a bird in the sky, she says, “I like to see how the water flows and how the colors flow together.” The resulting pieces of art have been said to capture the essence of the sea.

The names Bree chooses for each piece evolve around the feelings that the ocean evokes for her, “Family, fun, peacefulness, chaos…” Some recent pieces include Uncharted Waters, Island Time, Rising Tides and Serenity.

Through this process she has evolved her relationship with the ocean and surfing. She now finds it just as rewarding to surf alone, where she wouldn’t have chosen to in the past.

She says, “It has really made me enjoy that time by myself. I start studying the way the water looks in different lights, especially at sunset when it turns into a gold or orange blanket on the water, how frothy the texture gets, or if it’s a really bumpy day the white caps that show up on the water with the wind. It just fuels my creativity.”

Bree’s work both as an artist and with the Rubio Collective allows her to travel. Her work with Roxy recently brought her out to the Roxy Pro surf contest on Australia’s Gold Coast creating video and photo content from the event for the brand’s social media channels. She followed with a two-week van trip around Australia with her husband. The differing beachscapes inform her work, she noted how Australia’s coast differs from Hawaii. She observed the abundance of rocks for the water to move around, whiter, finer sand, and more vibrant teals. These nuances as well as the local culture influence the look and feel of her pieces. She was similarly struck by the oceanscape at Ceylon Sliders in Weligama, Sri Lanka, where she completed an artist residency early in her career, an experience that helped her grow her confidence as an artist.

Bree’s passion for the ocean comes through in her final pieces, which are displayed in galleries in Hawaii and California, and soon, on the East Coast. She also stays busy with commissions and collaborations.

Bree is also enthusiastic about sharing her resin art processes, she has taught one-on-one lessons, and is planning a workshop in San Clemente, California in the near future. Bree finds a similarity between teaching yoga and art, she says, “For me teaching yoga is like painting a picture, but with the whole entire class. My intention is to polish off that painting, that class, by the last pose. I want to make sure everything's flowing in a direction they want to take.” She sees yoga and painting equally as meditative processes as physical.

Bree has become a role model for many who are following in her footsteps. She receives messages sharing how her work has inspired others to find their creativity.

“It makes my heart feel so warm when I’m told that I was the one that inspired them—it’s really cool if I can be that person or that inspiration to someone else.”

Her focus now is internal, she’s motivated to expand and perfect her work. To create a piece that she really loves with the goal of creating a giant wall-sized installation. She also has collaboration with Dream Yoga Mats in the works featuring an overhead ocean photo—a natural blend of her lifestyle chocics. She shares her hope that the mat evokes a sense of peace and serenity, two emotions she strives to evoke in all aspects of her life and art. Bree clearly has the determination, dedication and devotion to achieve these goals, with an ocean of inspiration to draw from.