Elena Garcia studio

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Early History   1955...



Elena Garcia       The Child

1955, I was born in the rural community of San Luis Obispo, California.  I spent my childhood with both parents, my father a second-generation immigrant and career Navy man, my mother keeper of the castle, one sister and one brother.  I was the middle child.  Life at home was the usual kid stuff:  Chase the cows, feed the bunnies and chickens, pick bushels of fruit and corn, climb the apple trees, ride the dog, dress up the animals and put on circus shows.

I designed costumes for any animal or kid I could persuade to join my circus and made up silly skits, stunts, songs and dances for the performers.  The great weeping willow tree in our yard served as the big top for the circus, complete with high-wire tightropes and trapeze made of rope and imagination.

My first art job was making posters announcing my circus shows.  Crayons and paper.  Pretty conventional.

Beyond the backyard my favorite outings included camping, hunting and ocean fishing.  I could pop abalone from rocky crags in the shore surf, clean a 30.6 rifle, gaff a “big one” off the stern of a pitching boat, fillet fish and dress big game long before most kids were allowed to cross the street alone.  

My first 3 dimensional art was made from shells, antlers, and hides.   My art was becoming a little less conventional.



Mountains and Oceans  1973-1995
Elena Garcia    Young Adult

I worked my way through college at Robinson's Red Door Art Gallery in Morro Bay California.  There I came to know the contemporary artists of California.  I visited their studios, attended workshops, helped hang gallery and traveling shows and poured champagne at gala openings. 

In 1975 I graduated from Cuesta College with an Associate of Arts in Nursing and a minor in Fine Art.  My off the job obsession was skiing, which took on a life of it’s own.

My first go at it was on 230cm (7 1/2 foot long) wood skis with bear-trap bindings and leather lace-up boots.  I was hooked.  I joined the male dominated volunteer ski patrol and became the first woman professional ski patroller at North Star at Tahoe.  In Summit County Colorado I built my first house and became a certified Ski and Snowboard instructor.  My illustrated book, Zen and the Art of Snowboarding  was the first instructional snowboard manual ever published.  Two years in a row I won National Amateur Snowboard Championships, with medals in Slalom, Giant Slalom and Half Pipe. 

In the off season I took pre-med courses and worked as an emergency room nurse, first at County General Hospital in San Luis Obispo, and later in the San Francisco bay area, taking calls to ERs at San Francisco General, Berkeley Children’s Hospital and Highland General in East Oakland, affectionately known as the “Gun and Knife Club.”  I turned down a hard earned admission to UCLA Medical school to join the UC Berkeley sailing club.  Career change was in the wind. 

I took a job on a commercial abalone boat and within a year set sail for the South Pacific aboard a 33-foot Ranger.  My adventures aboard commercial fishing boats paled in comparison to the escapades aboard the tiny sailing ship of fools.  During my 16 months at sea I wrote and illustrated a series of articles for San Francisco’s Latitude 38 sailing magazine. When we finally limped home under the Golden Gate Bridge I discovered a bay full of boats.  At the Saint Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, Humphrey Bogart’s 55-foot yawl, Santana became my part time home and full time job.  All this time on days off, during blizzards in the mountains and cold foggy days on the coast, I turned into another person…an artist.  Eventually my growing passion to create new art consumed me.


Artist 1996 - Present


Elena Garcia    The Child…again

I am grateful for my friends, family and loyal patrons who gave me the confidence and courage to quit my day jobs and turn my passion into a fulltime career.  In 1996 I bid a fond farewell to my snow shovel and spar varnish and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to become a fulltime contemporary artist.  

Today, besides acrylic and oil on canvas painting, I also work “outside the box” on mixed media paintings and exploring various two and three-dimensional media.  Currently I’m experimenting with clay and concrete as a sculpture medium.  It’s big, messy and unpredictable fun.  Another great joy is sharing the process of making art with students and other artists in our studios and local art center.

My original paintings can be seen in several fine art galleries and my website, elenagarcia.com Other venues for my paintings are juried competitions and invitational exhibitions.  Honolulu Academy of Art Museum’s invitational Showcase, which I have been honored to participate in since 2002, is an annual fundraiser for children’s art programs throughout the Hawaiian Islands.  I'm a veteran (1980's) of the Santa Barbara Sunday Boardwalk shows and the Summer Art Festivals in Laguna Beach.   Both venues continue to attract large audiences to their great variety of contemporary work by California's top artists.

Now from my studio in Hawaii overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I feel like I’ve come full circle, from a kid playing with colors, to a bigger kid playing with colors, design and form.  When I’m not busy playing at (art) work I find time for family, friends, community, travel and surfing. 


I still believe in love, give what I can and pray for peace.