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Artist Residence at Prana

Float by Erik Abel

“Float”  18x24in, Acrylic, marker, colored pencil on wood panel. Erik Abel 2016

My eyeball was on fire.  That’s what it felt like.  It was pitch black, I couldn’t hear a sound and I was floating in a puddle of warm water with about 800 pounds of epson salt dissolved into it.  That much salt and that little water made it thick and slippery… and very irritating if it made it’s way into an eyeball.

During the month of January I was lucky enough to be offered an artist residency at Prana Wellness Center in Astoria, Oregon.  The program was simple; Take a dip in the sensory deprivation tank for a 90 minute session, 3 weeks in a row and then create a piece of art based on the experience.  I was all about it.  Joe Rogan’s podcast has helped float tanks gain popularity over the last few years.  That’s where I learned about them and had been wanting to try it out.  I’ve expressed my advocation for the use of psychedelics in posts before, and the possibility of having a powerful mind altering experience without the use of drugs was exciting.

Back to my first float… Prana is a cozy little spot in downtown Astoria. When you walk in, there are a ton of awesome succulents in the window front, a comfy couch and chairs with shelves full of crystals and magic potions everywhere.  The owner Leigh is a lucky girl, she happened to get her hands on several awesome Blaine Fontana originals that she has spread around the walls.  There’s art and prints from other local artists as well.  I was led back to the float room where the space ship is, given some basic tips and I was on my own with my thoughts for the next 90 minutes.

A quick shower, earplugs in, and into the space ship I went.  The air is humid, and along with the water, it’s at exact skin temperature so you can’t really feel where the air stops and the water starts. I let the hatch close. No more light or sound.  I slowly slipped onto my back and spread out in the water.  All of a sudden, I felt like I was hurtling and spinning through outer space. It felt similar to vertigo but once the water calmed down the sensation stopped. It’s impossible to sink.  There is so much salt in the water that you almost float above it.  I must have spent the first 30 minutes just tripping out doing little experiments with buoyancy and getting the hang of the space and which position was the most comfortable to be in.  It was harder to relax than I thought it would be.  I suck at falling asleep because my brain just has it’s own party non-stop, so shutting down my mind has always been a problem.  I hoped that floating around in total darkness and silence in outer space would help me slip away, but it just wasn’t happening.  When I finally mellowed out, that’s when a drop of water rolled into my eye.  That was not good (see first paragraph) but with enough blinking it eventually it went away.  At that point I was kinda over the first float, I just couldn’t chill out and I was getting antsy.  I got the little knock that time was up and I was on my way.

When I walked out the door and turned down the street I was literally facing a weed shop (Go Oregon! So proud of you!).  I walked in, asked the bud tender for the most relaxing, sleepy, mellow stuff he had, and I brought a beautiful little nugget home. SO sticky, SO stinky and SO much for trying this whole thing sober!


The following week I was determined to have a good float.  I did some stretching and breathing before I got there, ate some snacks so I wouldn’t get hungry and made the point that I was going to focus and meditate on art making.  So I took a little toke and then proceeded to get my float on.

Let’s just say, the medicine helped. I slipped out of reality in no time.  Now that I’d spent 90 minutes the first time investigating the whole tank situation, I was able to relax and drift off to some interesting places.  Things turned very introspective at times. And other times I would just get lost down these deep tunnels of thought only to come crashing out of it with giant gasps for air.  I saw things.  I felt things. I may have figured some things out.

90 minutes went by in what maybe seemed like 20 minutes.  I wanted to stay in there for 5 more hours.  I now understood what all the hype was about.

I got out, showered and got dressed and felt like I was just floating around.  Leigh offered me some tea as I sat on the couch recounting my experience.  For the entire rest of the night I was on a cloud.

My 3rd and last float went similar to the 2nd one but not as intense, again, I got a little help from the medicine. It was in this last float that I realized my art piece for this residency was going to be an abstract self portrait in a way.  I floated on home and went straight into this painting.


The float experience was amazing, but I was surprised at how much more personal growth came directly from the experience of creating this single piece of art work.  Although it make not look like it, I discovered and opened several doors for new techniques and inspirations.  One of the things I realized while I was painting, kinda hit me hard.  As a working artist, I rarely have time to make art for me. It’s either for a client or a gallery, that’s how life gets paid for. I don’t make art to keep for myself anymore.  There was a completely different approach and feeling to know this piece was staying with me.  There was something to tap into there that doesn’t happen when I’m normally painting.  I’m excited to see where things go.

– E.A.

P.S. – Thanks for the experience Leigh!

Save The Waves Artist Ambassador


Awesome news… Save The Waves has made me their first “Artist Ambassador!”  Super honored to be among some of the legends in our sport and be able to represent such a great org.

From Save the Waves:

Save The Waves is excited to announce a new partnership with Erik Abel as our first “Artist Ambassador.” A long time artist and surfer from Ventura, CA, you may recognize his work for Save The Waves from this past June’s Life Is A Wave event art, the Lobos Por Siempre campaign t-shirts, or his Patagonia Cause T from 2013. His focus on fundraising for ocean-related nonprofits allows him to use his creative talents to support causes he believes in and Save The Waves is proud to have his support and engagement…


Blue Moon Brewing Co. Label

Erik Abel for Blue Moon Brewing Co.

I was lucky enough to be one of the 20 artists asked to create a beer label for Blue Moon Brewing Company‘s 20th Anniversary: Rising Moon Program. The winner gets a $20,000 grant… that’s huge! I’m asking my fans, fam and friends to support my art by giving my label a “LIKE” and sharing it.  >> Click HERE to go to Blue Moon’s Facebook page and like my image. <<  Voting will run through the end of August.  In the mean time, go find the special anniversary 12 or 24 packs of Blue Moon Beer and try to find my art on a bottle!

Abel_BlueMoon_Bottleart Abel_BlueMoon_Painting

Sole Imperial Interview


I did a little interview over at Sole Imperial.  Check it out HERE.

“Yeah the ocean is a huge influence.  I get inspired by a lot of art styles like primitivism, constructivism, abstract expressionism, pop art, and mid-century modern design.  I’d have to say nature is the biggest influence of all though. You won’t see anything man-made included in my art…” 

Ocean Awareness Art Show – May 16th, North Shore




The Abel Arts Collective is partnering with environmental nonprofits Sustainable Coastlines HI and PangeaSeed to create an art & environmental curriculum for a group of local North Shore Elementary kids. Led by local art teacher Laura Couto, we will engage a group of kids in an after school group for 8 weeks, fostering activism and encouraging expression of environmental issues through a series of art-focused lessons. The culmination of the project will be an art show where the kids present their own works of art inspired by the environment. We created a workbook focusing on the issues to supplement the classes, guest speakers, and art activities.

Please join us to help raise funds to cover this project and for our nonprofit partners.

Erik Abel has also released a limited time edition canvas print of “Solar Soul” specifically to benefit this event.  This 14″x14″ fine art print will be available through May 31st and can be purchased for $175 right HERE. Along with other great art from our partner artists, Colleen Wilcox and Brett Kirkpatrick.

Thanks for your support!




Summit Artist Residency

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

Last week I was invited out for a Summit Artist Residency at Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah.  This was my first Artist Residence program and I was looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and pushing a little further into the unknown. Here’s some thoughts I went into it with…

Artist Statement:

The act of creating art has taken up a significant amount of the waking hours in my life.  Searching for a balance and a way to combine my true creative passions, interests and directions, with a way to be able to make a living, has always been THE challenge. Frustration, excitement, inspiration and self doubt are emotions that I battle with everyday in the studio. There has always been a compromise in the end.  It’s rarely that I get to truly create art from pure instinct without some sort of end goal such as showing, selling or licensing my work. I believe monetary goals stifle the creative spirit, creative process and creative progress.

During my Summit Artist Residence, I will be creating 4-6 pieces of work, on cradled wood panels made from sustainably harvested forests in the Pacific Northwest.

The first goal is to create a cohesive series of nonrepresentational work inspired by the surroundings around Eden/Powder Mountain as well as ideas and inspirations I’ve never had the chance to explore.  These wood panels will act as a base to the work. The completed pieces may include other materials and objects attached.

The second goal is to reach outside of my comfort zone and make art without a preconceived sketch or idea of the final product.  I currently spend a lot of time sketching out ideas and compositions and usually have a pretty solid vision and colored rendering of what a piece will look like in the end.  During the residency I will be working intuitively and spontaneously using nothing but the panel to start the process and guide me through to the end.      

– Erik Abel, Summit Artist Residence,  January 2015

Upon arrival and after being shown around, I was struck with the idea of GROWTH.  Everything the Summit crew is doing and planning for seems to exude this concept.  The trees and plants in the valley seemed to be thinking the same. It was unseasonably warm.  I was in a t-shirt painting outside the first day and Spring was in the air.  So I decided to loosely base my art for the week around plant based forms like pine trees and various others.  That was it.  The first 2 pieces just flowed, no sketches or scribbles.  The last 2 pieces I cheated and messed around with some small thumbnail sketches.  It’s hard to break habit.

Here is the work I created on 4, 24″x24″ wood panels, in chronological order, with some detail shots at the end:

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015



I got to explore some different texture techniques and detail work as well as just loosen up with the brush and not worry too much about covering all my base layers., which adds some great little peeks at the foundation.  It’s nice to not have goals while creating a piece of art.  My normal studio time is very valuable. I always feel like the time spent painting must be for a reason, like a commercial project or a piece for an upcoming gallery show.  I hate wasting time.  Last week made me realize that having fun without pressure and experimenting with different techniques is anything but a waste, it’s definitely necessary to push my work to the next level.  Even if I only come out of it with one new technique I want to use in a future painting, it’s all worth it.  It’s a tiny door into a whole new world of exploration.

Here’s some more shots of these in the making:

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

Abel Summit Artist Residency 2015

One thing I was really pumped about, was to see what my buddy and fellow artist, Griffin Loop would be able to come up with.  (He just finished a 60 foot long, all steal paper airplane sculpture as well as has sculptures hanging in the center of Wynwood Walls in Miami… check out his Instagram @griffinloop)  We ended up raiding a nearby barn and finding some old wood and rusted corrugated sheet metal and here’s what we made… and 8ft tall metal framed beast:

Erik Abel X Griffin Loop Collaboration

Erik Abel X Griffin Loop Collaboration

Erik Abel X Griffin Loop Collaboration

Erik Abel X Griffin Loop Collaboration

Erik Abel X Griffin Loop Collaboration

Erik Abel X Griffin Loop Collaboration

Ideas hashed, boundaries pushed, visions materialized… this was a fun and challenging creation. The eyes have been peeled back a bit and I want to make more. Hats off to Mr. Loop.

Thanks to the Summit crew for taking me in for the week.  You folks have a great thing going.  So much passion, inspiration and good vibes… and insanely delicious food!!  Special thanks to Marshall B. for documenting the week (most of these pics are from him) and all the support thoughout.  I am grateful.  Cheers.

Abel Summit AR

Studio Ape got a new lid!

Studio Ape got a new lid

Meet our Studio Ape.  You wanna know who packs your orders?  Studio Ape.  Who cleans brushes and mixes paint?  Studio Ape.  Who works deals with the galleries and shops?  Studio Ape.  You get the picture.  For his 90 hours of work last week, we rewarded him with a shiny new hat.  He wanted the red one, by simply pointing and grunting.  We think it’s because the illustration reminds him of the symmetry and cycles of nature with it’s simplified wave design by Erik Abel.

We’re testing the waters with limited quantities of these two premium hats.  So pick up one while you can!


• Full color, sublimated illustration

• Breezy steezy mesh back, snap back

• “…LIVE TO SURF TO LIVE…” seam tape

• Embossed leather ABEL signature patch

• Custom woven inner label

• One size fits most all

Available right now in the Store HERE>

Abel Hats


Abel Hat - Blue/Black

Launching Abel Design Co. at Westedge Design Fair

Abel Design Co. Water Clock

Yes, the day of reckoning is finally here.  After much blood, sweat, and tears (Tears are all from the wife of course) we’re proud to announce the launch of our newest endeavor, Abel Design Company.  In the never ending quest for challenge and expression in my art, I’ve decided to dive into the world of product design, home decor, and sculptural art.  While a departure from the wave scenes and surf art you are used to, this new realm let’s me branch out into other areas of inspiration and push the boundaries of my creativity.

Please join us at West Edge Design Fair, October 16-19th in Santa Monica, CA for the official launch of Abel Design Co. and to check out all the stuff that’s been giving me anxiety attacks for the last several months.  This game ain’t easy.

Go LIKE the Abel Design Co. Facebook Page for sneak peeks and follow the voyage.Abel Design Co.

VIDEO: Nicaragua Mural Project

The final video for the Abel Arts Collective‘s first project is complete!  Check it out…

The Nicaragua Mural Project was the premier for Abel Arts Collective which took place in Gigante, Nicaragua. In collaboration who has been building schools and community centers across Central America since 2006. In collaboration with the Gigante Youth Group and Health Committee, the AAC designed and painted a two wall mural in the village’s new Community Health Center.

Special thanks to Project Woo, all our project donors, and Tony Cruz and Brett Kirkpatrick for creating this video.

For more information about this project check out:

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