Visitors to Santa Maria are greeted from the north and south on Highway 101 with billboards. That may sound typical, but these aren’t ordinary billboards; they are works of art.
The billboards depict scenes of this central California wine country painted by famed California artist Robert Burridge.
Living up to the description “Renaissance man,” Burridge is an exciting and lively artist with an impressive resume of credits, including the Philadelphia Water Color Society Gold Medal, previously won by Georgia O’Keefe, Andrew Wyeth and Pablo Picasso.
His road to becoming an artist was unusual. After 25 years as an industrial and graphic designer – during which time he developed designs that earned 23 design, mechanical and chemical patents – he and wife Kate quit their full-time careers so he could paint seven days a week and she could be his full-time manager.
“I’ve been painting every day for 18 years,” he said. “I’m one of the luckiest people in the world.”
Burridge paints in his beachside barn studio located near Arroyo Grande. Praised as “happy, intriguing and powerful,” his artwork reflects his joy in life. “Art should be an uplifting experience and a celebration of all that’s wonderful about life and its quirkiness,” he says. His “Good Life” series includes impressionistic still lifes, vibrant floral bouquets and lush landscapes, while abstracts are his current passion.
His original paintings are sold in galleries nationwide, and he is the first artist featured on Starbuck’s Commuter Mugs. Every bottle of Pearl Vodka features his “Three Cheers America” hang tags.
Besides painting, Burridge is a popular workshop instructor, inspiring and challenging professional and emerging painters throughout the United States, Mexico and France.
“I tell students that you can paint as a business,” he says. “It’s not a job; it’s a lifestyle.”
With his wife, he also presents art-marketing seminars to teach up-and-coming artists how to turn their hobby into a lucrative business.