By Bonnie Gangelhoff
What inspired your winning entry? I did it for a fund-raising poster, a paddle-racing event to benefit the Mentawais Islands in Indonesia. The funds are used to buy mosquito nets and set up clinics for vaccinations. An Australian doctor went to these islands for a surf trip, but one day the waves weren’t that good so he ended up spending time ashore, where he saw children who were dying. He flew back to Australia, sold everything he owned, and started SurfAid International. A couple of weeks before I painted this piece, I had gone kayaking with my daughter, Zahara. We were coming in when my wife shot a picture of us in Oceanside Harbor a couple of hours before sunset. I liked the lighting in the photo, so I found three paddle racers to pose in that same spot for a photo that was the reference material for the painting.
Do you come from an artistic background? No. My dad is a cowboy.
Where did you study art? With Jeffrey Watts at Watts Atelier and with Ron Lemen at Studio 2nd Street. Both are in Encinitas, CA.
What is your favorite subject matter, and why? The ocean. That’s what I started to paint when I was 16. I was able to come up with paintings I thought were good until I learned more about art. When I was 25, I started studying at Watts Atelier. I started doing still-life, plein-air, and figurative works, drifting away from what I really enjoyed—the ocean. About a year ago, I got back into what I love doing—seascapes, beaches, and waves. I have been applying everything I have learned so far. I grew up near the water, I lived in a house on the beachfront in Encinitas, I surfed before and after school and on the weekends—so it makes sense to me to paint the ocean. Now, I am able to paint it with some skills and knowledge I didn’t have before.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Paint what you love.
What is the one thing people will never see you paint? People’s pets.
Future goals? To establish myself with galleries so I can live solely from my art. I have a sign business, but I’m selling it so I can paint full time.
Featured in our annual “21 Over 31” competition in November 2010