Local Artist Creates Pele Adult Coloring Book
Big Island artist Dietrich Varez, famous for uniquely colored paintings, block prints and book illustrations about ancient Hawaiian legends and myths, is involved in the creation of two new books. Pele the Volcano Goddess is Varez’s adult coloring book. Varez illustrated the re-released Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes by William D. Westervelt.
Retelling 24 legends of Madame Pele and illustrations of each legend with detailed black-and-white block prints, Varez leaves the space between the lines to be filled in with color.
“I’d heard sometime last year that they were becoming very popular, even among adults,” Varez explained. “I thought this might be a good thing to try. I’ve been entranced and enchanted by Madame Pele and I thought this would be just the right subject for a coloring book.”
The coloring book contains several stories of Pele and numerous native plant stories; for example, how Pele dispersed the hala tree throughout the islands in a fit of rage and how she separated two lovers by turning them into mountain and lowland naupaka bushes.
In addition, there are tales of the many lovers of Pele, such as the handsome Kaua‘i Chief Lohi‘au, and of her rivalries with her sister, Hi‘iaka, and the snow goddess, Poli‘ahu.
There are morality tales, such as a girl who would not give some of her ‘ulu (breadfruit) to Pele.
There are even sports stories, such as how Pele liked the sport of holua, sledding down a stone ramp and surfing, which she often did with her brother, Kamohoali‘i, the Shark God.
“The intent of this coloring book is to introduce and inspire you with the leading tales and variety of characters in the Pele mythology,” said Vares in the coloring book’s introduction.
“There are three things that go into a work of art. One is the materials, another is time and the third is the vanity that you invested in it, he said. “I’ve thrown out the vanity.”
The Pele coloring book and his Varez’s prints are affordably priced.
In addition to the coloring book, Varez has been working on a project with Petroglyph Press—the re-releasing of the Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes.
“They used all of my oil painting illustrations and all of my block printing illustrations that relate to the goddess and the volcano here,” said Varez.
Varez was born during WWII in Germany. His father died in the war and his mother remarried an American GI during the German occupation. Varez and his mother came to Hawai‘i after his tour of duty.
“I went from hell to heaven,” he explained. “Hawai‘i is my salvation and I’m trying to pay it back for all it’s given me and still is giving yet.”
Varez moved to Volcano in 1968 and built a cabin. He then began tending bar at Volcano House in the National Park.
“I would make wood carvings of Pele and stand them on the bar as I worked there.”
The wood carvings were made from firewood and sold enough to then encourage his career as an artist.
Rolling one of his carvings in ink, Varez experienced a huge breakthrough. Pressing the carving against paper, he made his first print, which then sold quickly at Volcano Art Center, encouraging him to create more.
Varez’s fascination with the legends of Pele has become a rich subject of his art.
Published by The Magic Mo in Volcano, Pele the Volcano Goddess is available at the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks stores in the Volcanoes National Park, Basically Books in Hilo, The Harbor Gallery in Kamuela, Koke‘e Museum on Kaua‘i and online.
For more information, contact [email protected].