I was born and raised in central California. As a child, I spent a lot of time at the ocean or mountains. I started my professional art in Nevada doing western wildlife and Indian subjects. After moving back to the California Coast, I started doing marine life on driftwood.
After visiting Hawai’i every year for vacation, I decided the Big Island is where I wanted to live permanently. The marine life, Hawaiian Culture, and native wood inspire me. The beauty of the woods, shape, and color tell me what subject belongs on it.
I am self-taught and have done my art for over 20 years. All my works are originals and done on woods from the Big Island.
Koa and Mango are my favorites and all pieces are done only by me.
NaaDav Wood Artistry
Pyroxylography: the art of making photographs, symbols, etc. on wood by a burning process (pyrography)
Koa wood for the ancient Hawaiians was so highly regarded that is was “kapu” or prohibited for anyone to possess koa wood except the Hawaiian monarchs and ali’i royalty class. After the King Kamehameha the Great's death, his widow, Kaahumanu, and son Liholiho, abandoned the kapu system, thus allowing all Hawaiians to possess koa wood.
Due to its widespread availability throughout the Hawaiian Islands, koa wood was used for every aspect of early Hawaiians’ life. The food was served in carved out Koa bowls called “umeke.” Cutting and carving instruments for daily living called “niho ‘oki” were made from koa and shark’s teeth. These instruments were used in the same way as today’s x-acto knives.
The first surfboards were made of koa. More importantly, koa was used to make many Hawaiian outrigger canoes for fishing, sailing, and traversing islands.
In later years, “malihini” settlers from other countries introduced small stringed musical instruments that the Hawaiians called “Ukulele,” which were almost always made with koa wood.
Koa vs. Cattle. During the 1800’s, land on the Big Island was gobbled up with enterprising ranchers hoping to use these wide tracts of land to raise herds of cattle. Unfortunately, large tracts of koa forests were eliminated to make way for grazing cattle.
In spite of decades without attention or regard, today koa continues to grow on all Hawaiian Islands, particularly the Big Island. The rich volcanic soil of this largest, youngest island yields koa that are particularly dark and red. The most beautiful koa wood as a wavy, fluttering cross-grain pattern called “curly,” which is sometimes referred to as fiddle back. Only 10% of all koa is “curly.”
Today, Koa is so highly regarded for its beauty, that land owners find it a profitable revenue source, even more so than cattle. The State of Hawaii and plantation landowners are very strict about the harvesting of Koa and self-regulation is the standard practice.
Big Island landowners today do not cut down any live koa trees. On the contrary, when dead koa trees are removed from the mid-level elevations, new koa seedlings are quick to sprout. Today, the fences keep the cattle and pig out of the areas where new koa trees are growing. Ironically, the fences once erected to keep cattle within boundaries are now erected to keep the cattle out of the areas where young koa trees are growing.
Koa has never been regarded as an endangered species, and it is certainly far from extinct. Due to self-management and the partnership of private and State interests, there is more koa growing in Hawaii now that 10 or 20 years ago.
Koa trees have a natural life cycle of about 50-80 years due to the natural rot and decay that occurs to the trees over time. If you ever have a chance to visit the mid-elevations on the Big Islands, you will see that the circle of life continues as new koa trees are growing amidst trees that have naturally died and fallen.