california artists

Interview with John Culqui

Good morning! A few months back I was doing some research and stumbled across some beautiful paintings that made my mouth water. They were very bold (graphic) and made me crave the beach so bad! I dug a little deeper and found John Culqui (painter based in California) was responsible for these beautiful paintings. After getting to know him little by little we decided he was too awesome not to share so we did a mini interview via email (too bad we don't live on the same side of the states). I hope you enjoy!

1. How old were you when you discovered you enjoyed drawing/painting? 
I can’t remember not drawing or coloring growing up. I know around the age of six I really got into drawing my Star Wars action figures and vehicles. It was a different time, we didn’t have XBOX 360, we played outside, rode our bikes, skated, went to the beach, read comics and I think used our imagination more than some kids do today.

2. Is being an artist something you always wanted to be? If not, at what point did you figure out "hey, I'm really good" or feel that you could do something with your talent?
I wanted to be a doctor growing up. I’m asthmatic so I wanted to help kids with asthma. During the summer of my sophomore year in high school I hung out with my brother who is an architect and got hooked on architecture. I wanted to design buildings and give people these awesome places to live and work. When I graduated from collage, I knew that I wouldn’t be designing right away and needed to keep my design abilities on point so I started to paint. I have been painting and practicing architecture for 13 years.

3. When you start working on a piece do you already have a vision?
When I put paint down I have a vision of what I would like it to be, sometimes that doesn’t happen. My wife, Stacee, doesn’t get too attached to work in progress because she knows I’ll cover it up and start over if I idle on it to long. The conception of my work most likely starts out as a sketch either from my sketch book, a post it pad, or what ever piece of paper I have in reach. I’ll sometimes go right to paint but more often I’ll sketch it first (see 1, 2 and 3)


4. How long did it take you to establish your style?  
My style has gone through its changes, especially the subject matter. I started painting religious images primarily for the iconography (see 4) but one thing that has kept constant is the heavy line (see 5), not until recently have I tried to make the pieces feel lighter. (see 6 & 7)


 5. I love your beautiful color combinations; What is your main source of inspiration for color? 
Thank you, I think that it comes from making the work happy. I try to achieve that by using a bright yellow/orange or making a piece feel calm with light blues and greens. At the end of the day, I want people to enjoy the work and I hope it makes them smile.

6. Do you listen to music while you work? if so...what bands, artists?
 I do or I’ll put on a surf movie on and have it as background noise. I listen to all kinds, Jack Johnson is really huge in our house, Ray Barbee, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews, Green Day, G-Love, Tristan Prettyman, Donovan Frankenreiter, ALO, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Vampire Weekend, Rodrigo y Gabriella…we could be here all night, lets just say I listen to all kinds.

7. My friend used to work from midnight to five in the morning because that was his creative time, is there a specific set of hours that you find yourself the most creative?
Did your friend go to architecture school? I think school really messed up my sleeping pattern but I usually go to bed at 11pm and usually paint or draw a couple hours leading to it and get up around 3am and paint till its time to get ready for the day which is around 7am. If I have a show coming up I usually go to bed around 4am after painting all night. 

8. Where do you paint? Do you have a specific work space?
I paint in our living room 90% of the time. If I’m sanding or varnishing, I take it outside to the garage.

9. Do you surf or skate? 
I love to skate, I wish I had the boards I grew up learning on. Surfing is new to me. I grew up body boarding and tried surfing a few times in high school. A little over 5 years ago my friend Mike got me into long boarding and got hooked.

10. Can you name a few artists you admire?
I think my artist list is a lot like my music one but here are some of my favorites, Matt Beard, Erik Abel, Heather Brown, Jay Adler, Picasso, Caravaggio, Mark Rothko, Jeff McMillan, Jackson Pollock,  Frida Kahlo, Eduardo Kingman, Diego Rivera, Shag, Mark Ryden, Jasper Johns…and many more.

John also gave us a sneak-peek of what he is currently working on

I love that John sent us this jpg so we can see the beginning stages of his work. Look close and you can see areas that he has already chiseled away and the rest is a marker drawing on a sheet of linoleum. SO COOL! 
Fun fact: John's daughter, Grace, inspired him to give the linoleum a shot.

Have you cut into linoleum before? It's a lot of fun, but it takes a lot of patience. I got frustrated once and took out a good chunk of my thumb. I can not wait to see how his prints turn out. 


Isn't he rad? I really wish we could have done this interview face to face, but maybe it's a good thing we didn't; I could talk art for hours. Brief side note: if you live in Houston and have not been to the Rothko Chapel, GO NOW!

K & B

song of the day...

p.s. Thank you for all the loving Birthday wishes! -k


INSPIRATION: styrofoam + coffee + art =

Our favorite coffee spot in houston is called brasil. It's at the corner of Westheimer and Dunlavy and has a great atmosphere, food, and specialty beers, wine and COFFEE! Please don't ask for a bud light because you will just get the stink eye... I lived in the house directly behind brasil for 3 and half years, so I spent a lot of mornings, days, and evenings hanging out there. One thing that I enjoyed looking at while I was waiting in line was the styrofoam cups they displayed on a shelf next to checkout. They weren't just any cups, they had drawings of each employee on them. I thought that was the coolest thing ever! As soon as I saw a new face working, I would immediately look over to the cups to see if they had a new cup portrait.

Recently, I was flipping through the Feb/March issue of foam magazine and I saw CUP O' DOODLES (page 22). The guy in the article, Cheeming Boey, draws his designs on polystyrene foam cups.
  • to buy his cups click here. 
  • to look at his website click here.
  • to read his totally fun journal here. 

I totally freaking love this! I wish I had the money right now to buy one of these! I would make a shelf just for his cups :)

styrofoam plate

I was feeling a little inspired, and didn't have a cup, so I used a styrofoam plate. Have you ever drawn on  styrofoam before? I must say I loved it, especially when you are bored and have to wait... I love the way the pen pushes in and glides so smoothly. Anyway, if you know of any unusual art, send us a link! We would love to check it out.