Interview with Prominent Kaua’i Artist Jenn Atchley
Written By: Catherine Roth- published 12/15/16
It has been my honor working here at HAWAI’I Magazine for many years. I have traveled all over the islands and covered a multitude of subjects from food, travel destinations, activities to island issues. This past week I had the privilege of hopping over to beautiful Kaua’i to interview Jenn Atchley. There aren’t too many people who haven’t seen one of her paintings or at least heard her name. With good reason too, she has a way of taking the scenery around her and using it to make you feel her love for the island.
Jenn Atchley is a California native and lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for many years with her husband Derek and their family before making the move to Kauai April 15, 2015. I sat down with her at her home and was able to have a very candid conversation. We sat, very comfortably, on her Lanai that wrapped all the way around the house. It was mid morning. The air was still a bit crisp with a slight breeze blowing. I sat just enamored for a few minutes as I looked around. Lush green landscape, backing right up to mountains. And off to one side of her home was some horses in the neighboring lot, and on the other side of her home there was a large garden. She told me that gardening is a passion for her husband and one of her favorite things is to watch him down in the garden with the kids while she paints on the lanai.
She obviously has a favorite spot to paint. Her easel was set up there along with a table full of brushes and jars. There was an area stained on the porch with every color imaginable. She even allowed me a sneak peak at the painting she was currently painting. As we made our way over to the sitting area, she offered me coffee and I gladly accepted. “Tell me, how did you end up here?” I asked, “Kaua’i is much different than New Mexico!”
She laughed, as she often does. “Well, let’s just say that I’d much rather paint with bright color as opposed to all browns. Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful things about the desert. The sunsets and sunrises for one, are second to none! But, there has always been something magical about Kaua’i for me.” She took a sip of her coffee and continued. “Derek and I honeymooned here back in 2004. We fell in love with the island, as so many do. We finally returned in 2012. We came here for a Seminar with the Network Marketing company that we were with. On that trip more of the island entered our heart. I could envision us here, walking through the Poipu shopping center with the kids, listening to the guy playing the slack key guitar. I could see us playing on the beach, taking a family bike ride up the Kapaa coast. It was all so clear to me where we needed to be.”
“So tell me more, describe the journey you took to get here.”
“It wasn’t a simple one. My husband is a chiropractor so we couldn’t just transfer. And, that wasn’t really the life we were searching for either. We had decided that if we were going to move, life was going to be the way we wanted it to be. No restrictions, no “job” to go to everyday, just pure Aloha living.” She took another sip of her coffee. “The network marketing company that I referenced earlier was how we did it. We simply created a residual income that allowed us to not worry about how we were going to survive over here. We focused on others and helping them achieve what they wanted out of life, and in turn, it got us where we wanted to be by default. It’s, of course, evolved from that. My husband is not only a chiropractor but a certified Nutritionist. He travels and helps people truly understand the true meaning of “health.” And I, obviously, paint to my hearts content. It was more of a mental experience for us really.”
I was perplexed by this. “What does that mean?” I asked.
She laughed again. “Well, the shift for us was going through a very intense, but rewarding, 6 month Master Key course. I’m sure you’ve heard of Mark and Davene Januszewski. Oprah interviewed them just about a year ago. But, what we learned from them really showed us that whatever we desire we just have to look inward to achieve it. And that is NOT an easy thing to do. We all have demons and struggles that we face, so this course was really a way to retrain our mind. It was a huge turning point for us. Some of the things we learned we applied in our everyday life. New good habits, Emerson’s Law of Give more get more, and the thought of I can be what I will to be. I honestly used to doubt my painting abilities! I’ve never taken a painting class in my life. So, I would paint something, my poor husband would come home and I would say,’Is it okay? Do you think it’s good enough? No, really, be honest… do you think someone will like it?” she laughed, “and every time, he’d tell me “how many different ways can I say I REALLY like it!” Poor guy, I don’t do that to him anymore.”
“And this Master Key course was responsible for this mental turnaround?” I asked.
“Oh absolutely! It helped me to clarify my dream and connect with it on an emotional level. It taught me to dream with ‘enthuuuusiasm’ as Mark J would say. That made all the difference. I had no choice but to make it a reality.”
I was so intrigued with what she was telling me, but we hadn’t even touched on her artwork yet. I was almost done with my coffee. There were a few clouds hovering above the house and casting shadows done on everything. “I can see how you’d be inspired to paint here.” I said.
“For me, no where compares to the beauty and inspiration here. I mean, just here at my house even, out here on the lanai is one of my favorite spots. When I first got started painting Kaua’i and the flowers and beaches and wildlife, I took a few of my painting around to local gift shops. There were a few that thought they would have no trouble selling. I was shocked when they called that same week and said,’ Uh, do you have anymore?’ she laughed “They sold ALL of them! From there it just kept going.”
“And now, your paintings are in LOTS of local gift shops on every island. How does that feel?” I inquired.
“Um, all I can say is Mahalo. I have been blessed with a gift to give to the world. Honestly, it really is mine to give away. That is why I paint. I want to give people the beauty that I see in a flower, or a particular day on the beach, or in the Hawaiian culture. I want to give them that moment, forever. To remind them of their family trip, or honeymoon or just how it feels to be here. Cause being here is pretty darn awesome!” She laughed. “I have created this life that for so long was merely just a dream. But now its reality, and I have no words for that.”
This morning was by far the most insightful, spiritual morning that I have had in a while. What a privilege it was to be here this morning with Jenn Atchley and hear about her journey. All I have left to say now is… Mahalo.