Aulani's Lobby Mural: Finding Passion in a Deadline

As you approach Disney’s Aulani Resort.

When you visit Aulani, you enter through an open lobby. Stepping inside, there are two forces vying for your attention. The first is the view of beautifully landscaped grounds with its volcano and the ocean beyond the lobby porch. Restraining you from moving toward this point is a striking 360 degree mural done by Martin Charlot. His father, Jean Charlot, had lectured to Disney artists many years prior.

There were requirements made on this mural. Charlot wanted the whole mural to be about Hawaii before Captain Cook discovered the islands. Joe Rhode was fine with the idea that the mural facing toward the mountains be about that time frame. But he also required that the side of the mural leaning toward the ocean be about modern Hawaii.

This section of the mural, wrapping around the lobby, showcases the heritage of Hawaii.

The second requirement was that he get it done in time. As he talks about it on his site:

“There was though another very real pressure that ruled my artistic output and that was time. I had miniature canvases that I had made on which I was going to design the mural composition. When I had all 24 full size canvas panels stretched and delivered to my apartment/studio I felt a click go off in my brain. It was like a Stop Watch clicking telling me there was no time left to make sketches of the mural composition. That brain clock was right on as I finished the mural, after two years of work, one week before it had to be sent to Hawaii to be installed. Meeting the deadline meant painting every day from morning to night, no time to sketch, no time to doodle, just paint and paint again.”

This section of the mural, facing the ocean, celebrates Hawaii today.

You would think that such deadlines would stifle an artist. But listen to what Charlot goes on to say:

“Every day was an artist’s dream–do my thing, painting, over and over again. That meant trusting my instinct, running on automatic every day. I loved it.”

Very few people think of a time limitation actually being a stimulus toward creativity, much less toward loving one’s work. Usually we walk away after a deadline hating the thing all the more because we had to rush to get it done. But in this case Martin Charlot drew on not only his skills, but his passion in creating what is truly an amazing piece of art. You will be stunned when you visit Aulani, for it is truly a beautiful work.

For those of us who use pens and laptops instead of paints and brushes, think about your upcoming deadline and how you can draw your own passion and strengths in meeting the time frame. Does time limit your creativity, or can it free you up to focus fully and solely on your passion? Don’t count how much time you have left. Make every moment you have left count!

Each culture sees time differently. But each culture cherishes that time.


J. Jeff Kober