Today, a great young filmmaker, Ali Lassoued, finished a short documentary about my work and process. Although I am flying to Italy in the morning, I wanted to share the news so you could see it ASAP. The title of the short is Inventing Shadows. I am thrilled with his camera work and approach. He captured the essence. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Life Lines Exhibition

All welcome to the opening of fellow artist Fred Gemmell at the JETT GALLERY in San Diego on Friday November 18.  Two of my works (zonaROSA andfracturedSHADOWS) will be on exhibition to compliment his paintings, along with work by artist Joey Viascuso. Jett Gallery is located at 989 W. Kalmia Street, San Diego 92101.  Exhibition continues thru mid-December.

Hospital Installation

The four new “landmark” works for Cottage Hospital are finished and will be installed on December 9th.  There is a opening party scheduled to view all the artworks in January, a month before they move the patients to the new rooms. Until then, here is a teaser of one of the images.  It is from my “slanted” series in which the slanted paintings create an illusion of slipping shadows, hence the title: slippingSHADOWS.  2.5′ h x 7′ long.  If you are interested,  Cottage Health Systems is seeking donors to support the new Healing Arts installations.  For more information, please go to:

To view the creation of this work, watch the documentary, INVENTING SHADOWS

Fabulous ART and Jewels!

Preview the latest collection  by Shel Jewelry, on exhibit at Jett Gallery’s ongoing show, LIFE LINES.  Designer Shelly Mantler will be fusing her sexy, exotic designs with the vivid and gravitating works by artists Fred Gemmell, Joel Vaiasuso, and YOURS TRULY!  Thursday, December 15th  6-9 pm at Jett Gallery: 989 W.Kalmia Street, San Diego  619-231-2466

Cottage Hospital Installation!

Hooray!  A year’s worth of talking, six months of work, three weeks of stress, and two days of installation work….it is finished!

The four new copper constructions with encaustic paintings are installed in the Executive Board Room of the New Cottage Hospital.  These four non-objective pieces are the result of a collaboration between the talent of Aesthetics Inc. in San Diego, the project architects, a very savvy Board of Directors of Cottage Health Systems, a great installer, and numerous behind-the-scene cheerleaders.  Thank you ALL!  During the first week in January there will be an open house to showcase all the new art in the hospital.  Several Santa Barbara Artists are featured in the public spaces.  I hope you can come and enjoy the beautiful new hospital facility and celebrate.  Meanwhile I offer this quick snapshot of the West Wall.  You MUST come to the party to see the East Wall!


Hot off the easel!  A new copper and encaustic artwork for fabulous collectors in central California.  A month ago a couple came to the studio to see what I was up to.  They fell in love with everything and we began a dialog about a potential artwork for their home.  Photos of their room and drawings from my table flew back and forth over the internet.  They wanted something that would give their room some drama.  Not timid these folks!  They went off to an island in the Caribbean and I went in to the studio!  Today….a few weeks of work completed……I am so happy to show them their new artwork.  The slant gives the drama and movement they were looking for……the rusty colored encaustic paintings the warmth….and the copper a ton of luminosity to sparkle their room.  The installation will be in January, just in time for a gathering of friends at their home.  Enjoy the NEW YEAR and enjoy the NEW ART!


Ricardo Legorreta passed away on my birthday December 30th.  In my amateur passion for architecture, he was a hero.  I loved his bold use of color (he was, after all, a student of Luis Barragan), large flat expanses of color, unexpected textures, and above all, simplicity of design.  A few years ago I did a large triptych.  There were two large red encaustic paintings supporting a copper panel.  The inspiration for this work was a building by Legoretta.  I don’t remember the exact building, and that doesn’t matter, as all inspirations are simply a jumping off point to explore, but I do remember the joy in watching his work over the years and going on to create “sol a sol” as a nod to my appreciation of his filtering out the excess and honing his designs down to a zen-like strength.  I tend to see signs and omens in events, and while his life and work continues to be celebrated….I hope the spark of his life was part of the candle on my birthday cake.


For images of his dramatic buildings:

Museum Event

Please come to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art event this Friday night.  OFF THE WALL is a fundraising exhibition and “acquisition” opportunity featuring prominent artists.  For the price of admission you will be entitled to select one piece of art and take it home…literally OFF THE WALL!  Numbers will be given to participants and selected at random.  When your number is chosen, you get to select an artwork of your choice.  First number drawn gets first choice, and so on until all art has been spoken for.  This is a lively event and collectors have an opportunity to have wonderful new work by established artists for a small price.  Everyone wins!

This is the third year that I have participated.  Last year my work was selected second…quite an honor.  The piece I created this year has very special significance for me.  The nature film community lost a very special friend in January. Mike DeGruy was killed in a helicopter accident while filming for James Cameron in Australia.  Mike had a special love of the mysterious octopus.  He delighted in his lectures of educating us about these crazy creatures.  At his memorial we all sang Octopus Garden from the Beatles Abbey Road album.  My piece was created in memory of Mike and is titled OctopusGARDEN.  Here it is:

on fire

I get many questions regarding the encaustic process I thought I would offer an explanation about one aspect of the use of wax as an art medium.  Most of the time people ask, “will it melt if the sun comes through the window on to the art?”  This is a completely reasonable inquiry so I offer a simple answer to that.

First a short introduction to encaustic:  The material/process has been around since the Egyptians painted on their sarcophagi. When I was in Egypt several years ago, one of my main interests was to see this wax surface firsthand.  There it was….fresh as the day it was painted.  Wax is a very stable medium.  When pigment is added to the wax, it fuses together and voila….a very permanent and stable surface.  That is unless it is gouged, melted, or otherwise mishandled.

Think of encaustic as something like our contemporary crayons…. brightly colored, transferable to another surface, and luminous.  However, if handled poorly it can be scratched, roughed up, and melted.  This brings us back to FIRE, and the question…”will it melt?”  Yes, it will melt.  That is exactly how I work my multilayered paintings*.  The molten wax is applied to the substrate and manipulated (gouged, scratched, scumbled, fused) until the painting is declared done!  However, it will NOT melt under normal circumstances.  Normal meaning inside our homes in an environment hospitable to people.  If an encaustic painting is hanging on the wall, and is melting…there are much larger issues to worry about, such as the house being on fire!  Even with the sun coming through a window, for those short hours, nothing will happen.  If left on the patio in the desert sun, yes, the surface will get very soft, but still would not roll off the canvas.  That takes about 150 degrees of heat.  All that said, it is not advisable to put ANY painted or multi-media work in an area where it gets direct sunlight. Pigments can be fugitive…..that means it can fade. This is why museums are not exposed to daylight coming through windows.  The best protection for your valuable investment in art is to avoid direct sunlight, and if you find it is melting, time to call the fire department!

* for a visual on the molten wax process, click on my video at the top of the page.


Heads up all art collectors.  Two of my works have been stolen by a dealer…. I mean con artist… in Scottsdale Arizona.  Promises of returning my sold artwork has been going on for months.  Now he (Garry Smith) no longer has a gallery, email address is cancelled, phone disconnected.  If either of these pieces show up, please advise me.

The red piece, highWIRED, steel + copperwire & oil + encaustic    72” x 48”


and blue piece , aguazul, steel + copperwire & oil + encaustic   23” x 46”


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