The Psychedelic Desert, According to April Seelbach

One of the countless reasons I’m happy to be back home in Southern California is because of its proximity to one of my favorite natural landscapes–the desert!

I grew up exploring various deserts throughout the West with my parents. As I’ve mentioned in another post, my dad spent his youth in Saudi Arabia, dirt biking amongst the dunes and native bedouins surrounding the American oil towns there. So naturally, I spent a lot of time there as a kid. It was easiest to travel to Anza Borrego within San Diego county…and after all, SoCal is a desert. It feels like my natural habitat. So coming home to warm nights and unbearably hot days here in San Diego (that I actually can bear…I love hot weather) has been wonderful!

It’s interesting to see how the desert has become so romanticized over the years. Full disclosure, I’ve never been to Joshua Tree, but areas pretty close–but the idea of just going there has blown up (and honestly I’m pretty interested), and I’ve witnessed Instagram account after Instagram account filled with JT images or houses that people have taken up residence in. And to my friends who actually rock climb there, who scoff at the “glampers” and folks just in it for the trend, there’s a sense of ownership. The desert, whether it’s Joshua Tree or not, is a special place. It will always feel like that for me too.

So when I found April Seelbach’s account as I wandered down another rabbit hole (Instagram is a trip), it brought back that feeling. April layers digital patterns over her own photos of the desert from road trips she’s taken, and her work is decidedly retro. Her artwork reminds me of how the desert and nostalgia are somehow inherently connected (or maybe that’s just the romantic in me):

A psychedelic saguaro.

A self portrait.

Dusk? With some digital sun flare.

April also has a separate Instagram account filled with her beautiful, totally retro road trip photos here!

Thoughts on the desert?

Mary Finlayson’s Painterly Still Life Artwork

This morning–a fortuitously sunny, 60-ish degree San Francisco-kind-of-warm morning–I made my way down to Fort Mason Center for one of my favorite events in the city: West Coast Craft! I’ve probably attended each event (there are a few every year here and in other cities) since I first caught a glimpse through the warehouse windows on a late night first date with my now boyfriend (hah!). As a forever crafter and lover of art, I’m always in awe of what people are creating, and today blew my mind! A handwoven rattan furniture company run out of a garage in Oakland/studio in Indonesia, hanging macrame lighting, Memphis inspired squiggled shirts and bags, and a slew of artists with funky, illustrative style were just a few of my personal highlights. And of all of these talented folks, I think I’ve found one of my new favorite artists.

The style of Painted Mary, aka Mary Finlayson, seems so clearly inspired by painterly, Fauvist paintings, and very closely resembles Hunt Slonem’s work. Seriously, you couldn’t tell the two apart! I love his work, and I’m so smitten with Mary’s paintings that I almost bought a print, but opted to wait until she stocked her store with new prints. I hope to fill my walls with a few of her deeply saturated still life depictions of potted flora and nudes. They are simply gorgeous!