The surfer is an artist

December 2, 1996 § Leave a comment

Ken Auster | Muir Beach

Ken Auster | Muir Beach

“THE TRUE TEST of a painter,” says Ken Auster, “is the ability to paint on location – to create an image in a brief period of time dictated by weather and light.”

He speaks with such conviction you might think he always held that opinion. Yet Auster spent many years pursuing art inside his Laguna Beach studio, then heading out to catch the waves on his surfboard. He built a successful business and a reputation as one of the top surf artists, creating prints and T-shirts that became icons in the surfing world.

But Auster harbored the ambition to be a first-rate landscape painter, inspired by a love of the outdoors and a reverence for the early California landscape painters. His breakthrough came when he finally brought his artwork outside and began painting on location. The result: a much looser style all his own.

“You stop 20 percent before you’d stop in the studio,” he says, “which is great, because most paintings are ruined by overwork. Outside, the timer is going. It’s a wonderful way to create quick, loose works that still have a solid foundation.”

Those who have seen his recent plein-air paintings agree: California’s next great landscape artist has found his footing.

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