Rebecca Arguello, "Carpinteria Bluffs 2," 2020, oil, 12 x 16 in., Available from artist, Plein air and studio
Rebecca Arguello, "Carpinteria Bluffs 2," 2020, oil, 12 x 16 in., Available from artist, Plein air and studio

Contemporary plein air and studio painter Rebecca Arguello shares her inspiration, her biggest aha moment, and the art advice she wishes she had heard earlier in her career.

Studio / Plein Air Artist to Watch: Rebecca Arguello

artist Rebecca Arguello
Rebecca Arguello,

Art education: I have taken classes and workshops from a number of professional artists and instructors. My two most influential instructors would be Terry Miura and Jennifer Diehl.

Favorite subjects: The inspiration to create pieces comes from my emotional attachment to the landscape. All of my works start either plein air or through on-site observation. I tend to favor a high contrast or heavily atmospheric scene.

Aha moment: My aha moment came from a self-portrait exercise. I knew my own face so well, I could sense what was wrong as I was painting it, and I just could not get it right. At some point my frustration became greater than my fear of messing up the painting, so I took some real risks. The risks became growth. I still have the piece and look at it from time to time to remind myself to take the risk and make meaningful, confident strokes … but it’s still scary.

Second-choice career: I’m a University of California, Santa Barbara alum with a science major. I loved being out in the field and studying environmental impacts, so I’d go back into environmental science.

Plein air painting of a beach
Rebecca Arguello, “Orange Bucket,” 2020, oil 9 x 12 in., Available from artist, Plein air and studio

Favorite artists: I love Terry Miura’s abstractions of cityscapes and backlit scenes. I draw inspiration from his style, the grittiness that he draws from realism, and his ability to set a mood. His workshops taught me how to simplify a scene and abstract information.

I also love a good vista, and Edgar Payne does it so well. I feel adventurous just studying his work. He inspires me to walk a little farther or get a little closer to that ledge to find the perfect scene to paint.

I also love the current works of Jesse Powell, who does seascapes beautifully. His nocturnes are breathtaking and they inspire me to find those subtle value shifts that make viewers believe they are actually there.

Best advice you wish you had received earlier in your painting career: You will spend more time on the business side of your art career than you think.

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