The skies are literally the limit for a piece of art created by a Seabury Hall senior for the Alaska Airlines' "Paint the Plane" contest.
Izabela Hamilton's gouache creation inspired by the Na Pali Coast on Kauai was named one of three state finalists in the student contest, where the winner will have his or her design painted on an Alaska Airlines 737 jetliner.
"It's kind of a cool thing, painting a plane, and you might get your design in the sky," said Hamilton, 17, of Kihei on Tuesday.
The Na Pali Coast on Kauai was the inspiration for this design by Kihei’s Izabela Hamilton. Her father lives there part time.
A panel of 10 judges, including Hawaii leaders in government, community, arts, education and tourism, selected three top designs from more than 2,700 submissions from students in kindergarten to grade 12 in the statewide contest sponsored by the airline, the state Department of Education and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, said a news release Tuesday about the contest.
"Evaluating so many stunning designs proved to be a very difficult challenge for our judging panel," said Mark Bocchi, Alaska Airlines' managing director of sales and community marketing. "Ultimately, our panel of judges determined that these three designs best represent the 'Spirit of the Islands.' ''
Joining Hamilton as finalists are Sophia Cleek, a 6th-grader at Kapolei Middle School on Oahu; and Aaron Nee, an 11th-grader at Kaiser High School on Oahu.
Online voting, which got under way Tuesday, will weigh heavily in the selection of the winner of the contest, said airline spokesman Daniel Chun. Voting is restricted to Hawaii residents and each household is allowed to cast one vote per day until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
The website is painttheplanehawaii.com.
The student with the winning submission will get his or her design painted on an Alaska Airlines aircraft, a trip for four to any of the carrier's destinations and a $5,000 scholarship. Second- and third-place winners will receive a trip for four to any Alaska Airlines destination, and 12 honorable mentions will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship each.
The winner of the contest and honorable mentions will be announced Jan. 10. Alaska Airlines will unveil the "Spirit of the Islands" plane at a public event in the spring.
Hamilton entered the plane painting contest as part of class work assigned by art teacher Harriet Huff. All class members did a design and entered the contest, she said.
"For the plane, I really wanted to do the spirit of aloha," she said. "I wanted to give a happy, beautiful kind of feeling."
To conjure up those emotions, she went to her favorite place, the Na Pali Coast on Kauai, where her father lives part time. The coast is a common subject of her artwork, which generally consists of a lot of scenery and environmentals that reflect "the moods and the feelings I get." Her preferred medium is oil painting.
In her design for the 737, she strived to create a balance in the environment with a male hula dancer standing on the mountain in the tail of the plane and the face of a woman coming from the sea near the door located at the front of the plane. There is a sunset against the green of the mountains.
The view of the Na Pali coastline was painted from the perspective of the ocean with Niihau at the painter's back.
The winning artwork represents "what Hawaii means to me as my home . . . how beautiful it is," Hamilton said.
Having her Na Pali Coast painted on an Alaska Airlines jet would have added meaning; her uncle is an Alaska Airlines pilot and her aunty, a flight attendant.
The Seabury senior said she recently received the first of her college acceptances, to Colorado State University. She doesn't plan to major in art but rather international affairs or business.
"I don't want to do art as my job, because I will never have that passion for it. . . . because I will be confined to the money aspect of it," Hamilton said.
Her art is an outlet for "creative expression rather than my career."
Still, in the case of the Paint the Plane contest, her art may take her to new heights.
"It's amazing to be qualified for the top three," she said. "It's amazing."
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.