Surf Artist

Abbi Custis draws beachy inspiration from the Eastern Shore. 

(Photo by Chris M. Rogers)

When a client asked artist Abbi Custis to paint an old surfboard, it sparked a new passion. “I started thinking of the surfboard as a blank canvas,” she says. “People put them in beach houses, kids rooms, anywhere—just for fun.” She painted one for a couple’s wedding and guests signed the back. “Now they have a piece of art from their special day.” 

The boards, which she coats with an epoxy resin for a glassy finish, also inspired Custis to take up surfing herself. “I’m more of a sit-surfer these days,” she says, laughing, “but I’m determined to get the hang of it before I turn 40.” With a home in Onancock, on the Eastern Shore, she gets plenty of practice. 

(Photo by Chris M. Rogers)

A former event planner who turned her love of painting into a career, Custis paints commissioned works and has a line of fabrics, wallpaper, home accessories, and jewelry—all reflecting her fearless love of color. “I think color brings energy to a room,” she says. “The brighter, the better.”

To help others stoke their creative fires, Custis and yoga therapist Kelli Anders host Art 4 Living Well retreats. “You’re not coming away from this with a happy crab painting. It’s always the student who says ‘I can’t paint,’ who surprises us. When people tap into their creativity, the floodgates open.” AbbiCustis.com


This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue.

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