The secret to Laguna Beach-based Marc Whitney’s success is a combination of his self-awareness and instincts when choosing his subjects and finding his audiences.
I‘m not sure there’s any other place I could get away with what I’m doing,” Marc Whitney, a Laguna Beach-based artist, says. He refined his craft at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Frudakis Academy of Fine Arts and the University of the Arts during the 1980s, but ultimately returned to Southern California—where he was born—to open his own gallery.
The rustic coastal setting near the Pacific Ocean provides the ideal backdrop for his nature scenes and gentle indoor set pieces. With the help of his wife, Jackie, it is also a place where everybody from serious art collectors to more casual fans will feel confident when selecting a painting or discussing a commission.
“As I’ve gotten older, I actually like to see and understand where the art will be placed in the home,” he continues. “I’ll tell them what I think about the best spot to hang it and what elements in the room will make it look its best.”
As Whitney sees it, art transcends being a way to make a living or a form of social expression—it’s all about relationships. He came from a family of artisans and musicians, noting his uncle was a sculptor.
As I’ve gotten older, I actually like to see and understand where the art will be placed in the home,” he continues. “I’ll tell them what I think about the best spot to hang it and what elements in the room will make it look its best.
“I started painting and drawing spontaneously at the age of four, and I knew I was sort of an artist at that point,” he says. “My mom was really enthusiastic about what I was doing, and she enrolled me in the Laguna Beach School of Art and Design. There were many students, and it operated at the time as an adult education art school. It also gave the local Laguna Beach professional artists an opportunity to make some side money teaching and it was a good experience because there were still a lot of good artists teaching there, and there still is now.”
“However, when I was in my early teens, I would always be told to not be an artist as one would not make any money, which was true. I was a pretty smart kid, so I went to college and then I had a lot of jobs like bartending, working in hotels and a tire yard for a while. I realized early on that I wasn’t going to succeed in the corporate structure or even just in a simple job.”
Although he admired noted watercolor artists like John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer and Charles Demuth in the beginning, he gravitated towards artists working with oil-based paint as he went through art school and found that the medium suited his style.
“I made some beautiful watercolors, but I was sort of swimming upstream,” he says. “When I created oil paintings, I was inspired by the French school paintings of the 19th century, the generation just before the Impressionists, which included Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet as well as older masters like Rubens and El Greco.”
The work Whitney puts out today spins together his personal tastes and life experiences. Delicate shades and sensibilities get extra definition through bolder textures achieved with oil paints. And beyond paintbrushes and other tools, his intuition and abilities to connect with nature and viewers who appreciate it help him both establish and transcend his place in American art—adding a touch of richness to the Laguna Beach, California art scene in the process.
“Home is Where The Art is | Laguna Beach Artist Marc Whitney” By Elyse Glickman, Iconic Life. 21 December 2022. https://iconiclife.com/laguna-beach-artist-marc-whitney/