Meet the Artists

Studio Upstairs is a group of ten Southern California artists who meet weekly for three hours with a live model to draw, paint, and expand their artistic skills. A pleasant adjunct to the group’s formation has been the evolution of respect both for each other as artists as well as friends.

Several studio members have gained widespread recognition in regional art circles, as well as internationally. The creative methodology for members of the group is diverse, spanning many genres of art and media.

Realism, impressionism, abstract expressionism, non-objective abstract art, color-field painting, and sculpture are examples of some of the approaches pursued by artists from The Studio Upstairs.



My major at Everett College in Washington was accounting and I disliked it so much that I changed to art. But I was only able to take two semesters in that major before we moved to Boston from Seattle. I picked up my brushes again after I retired. My first class was with Paul Donaldson at Golden West College in the fall of 2006. I also studied with Church Tran. Both instructors encouraged me and entered my work in student shows. My figure studies included classes with Jane Bauman at Coastline Community College. Shortly thereafter, through a mutual artist friend, I joined Bob Mah’s Studio Upstairs group where I have been drawing with other artists ever since.

I enjoy drawing with my friends in the studio where I am currently experimenting with colored pencil. I have the opportunity to observe professional artists and their approach to form, color, and style. We also share information about museum exhibitions, travel experiences and other aspects of life. My time at the Studio Upstairs has enriched my life as much as it has stimulated my art.



I’ve made art in one form or another from as far back as I can recall. I create because I’ve found no other activity that satisfies, nor fills that space for me like making “stuff.” I’ve worked with many media: paint, clay, found objects, palm fronds, and beads. I am self-taught, with a leaning toward the “outsider” persuasion. I try to work direct and raw and to stay away from the decorative.

Art, in my mind, is best when it emanates from the gut rather than the head. To quote the great jazz musician Ramsey Lewis, “Never approach a work of art from an intellectual perspective.” Personally, if a piece of art, music, or whatever does not move me emotionally, I find it difficult to relate to it.

To learn more about Stevin Cohen and view his paintings, masks and shields, beads, and pots, visit Mask Man Gallery.



I am not happy until I sit down to paint.

Paintings cannot be finished.

The most interesting subjects are those which are undervalued.

Painting cannot be taken at face value.

Painting is not out of style, style is out of style.

An open spirit is not spiritual.

Learn more about Paul by visiting




Intuition plays an increasingly important role in my process of art making. By simply following my instincts and allowing myself to enter into the play of materials, I let the flow of accident guide me in full faith that this intuitive, hands-on process will tease out salient imagery from my subconscious.

This spontaneous approach brings about unexpected results: the forms are biomorphic and surreal, lying somewhere between abstraction and representation, between form and formlessness. They are
evocative of human or animal parts without direct reference to them. I welcome this ambiguity of open-ended imagery, leaving room for the viewer to interpret, imagine, contemplate, or perhaps even reject what is seen.

When I drip, pour, splatter, and rub the mixed media materials on to the surface of the sculptures, I feel liberated. This spontaneous interaction with the materials reveals itself in the sculptures, imbuing them with an organic feel as well as a sense of chaos and deterioration. As evocative as the forms are to me, my hope is to create works wrought with layers of emotion, rendered through the complexity and richness of the materials.



BillselfportraitWILLIAM LANE

Travel has often provided the visual memories that initially lead me into a painting. While the atmosphere and spirit of Mexico have always been inspirational to my work, visits to Hong Kong have introduced me to new color and spatial sensations that continue to affect my work. As an abstractionist, the observations and memories may become submerged as the painting develops, but they resonate and continue to inform during the painting process.

My paintings are color structures of rectilinear forms. The initial surface divisions are rescaled and adjusted as they fill with color, and this color development really becomes the life of the painting. The work arrives at a resolution when the colors interact and result in a spatial fusion.

Visit William Lane’s web site at




My work represents a visual statement that incorporates the senses, mind, and heart. The figure and the landscape are key components for my acrylic paintings and monoprints. A variety of mixed media using acrylics, markers, watercolor,inks, and oil pastels on a variety of surfaces including YUPO paper are used to express ideas.I try to reveal the beauty and intricacy of life through reflections,portals and explore reality and imagination to capture the serenity and emotion of a place and time.

A spontaneous reaction is essential to my point of view and through the critical process I try to think of a child’s vision and their reaction. Color is a strong component of my oeuvre. A child sees the world through unfettered eyes and if I can see and record my feelings in that manner then I feel successful in my work.



Painting, to me, is like interpretive dance. So much depends on perception, rhythm, and willingness to explore. My subject matter is interpreted in my own unique way using expressive vocabulary any form.  

I was born in Brooklyn New York and studied at New York University and State University of New York at Albany, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts.

Watercolor presented both a freedom and an artistic challenge for me. I have been fortunate to have exhibited in numerous one woman and group shows, and I’ve won many awards for my paintings in the United States and Europe. I hope that my paintings show my unique perception and willingness to explore this medium to its fullest potential.  I like to think the subject matter is interpreted in my own uniquely expressive vocabulary.

I live in Huntington Beach, California and teach watercolor at the Huntington Beach Art Center, where you can also see my work.



In abstract expressionism, the totality of the painting elicits various responses from the viewer instead of recognizable figures or objects. As a painter of this genre, I enjoy making a work which is original and not seen before, thoughI recognize that nothing can be completely without reference.
I strive to uncover the elemental core of a concept or a thing without being literal in the end result.

In making and in thinking about a new piece, I am influenced by music, language, color, and images of paintings and photographs. My work often relies on accidental or spontaneous marks or splotches and drops of paint which inspire me to form them into a composition, born, as it were, de novo. Gestural and unplanned brush movements often lead to effects which demand further, more conscious, development to solve the aesthetic and compositional problems which result. This expressionistic work process is likely one which has been traced by many abstract painters since its maturation in the 1950′s and 1960′s.

For more information about Robert Mah and to see his work visit the Mah site at  Marion Meyer Gallery.




In my paintings I attempt to present a mood or a story for the viewer, and I strive to achieve this challenge in a variety of media. The weekly study of the figure in the studio helps me to see the expressiveness of the human body and gives me an opportunity to experiment with different tools to achieve my goals. Also, the synergism in the studio is essential to my personal artistic growth.

Born and raised in Ohio, I studied fine art at Kent State University. In Texas, where I raised a family, I found my niche in a private studio, working with the figure. When I moved to Huntington Beach, I enrolled at Golden West College and worked under the tutelage of Paul Donaldson.Working with Paul, I experienced my greatest growth in artistic self-discovery. It was through him that I came to the Studio Upstairs and have been working with fine professional artists for 9 years.

View a sampling of Pat’s work.


Shawn-Rietsch_Self-portraitSHAWN RIETSCH

My work is representational based on observation and perception. I have no formal techniques for painting and my process is mostly intuitive.

I want my work to stand alone as a strong visual statement that doesn’t need explanation. My favorite influences are Lucian Freud, Courbet, and Balthus.