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Carl Yoshihara: Life is Art

I love a good medium rare rib-eye, garlic mash potatoes and a nice glass of red. But I’m not having it for dinner every night. Just like my art work, I’m hella not gonna do the same thing every day!

 I’m always exploring different types of media, styles and especially ideas to create unique works. I supposedly have an IQ of 150.8, up from 142 couple decades earlier. I put a lot of thought into my work and it’s not all about creating eye candy fluff.

 My art is for people who think, appreciate originality and don’t buy into what’s “trending.”

 Life is Art

Pretty much how the horizon looks like at Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz. Where I go to surf.

Pleasure Point is one of the places I surf in Santa Cruz, California. 

This is another one of my Horizon Series of works. Distilling the colors, forms and feelings down into two basic colors. Except this one isn’t so abstract, it actually looked like this, but only more brighter. It was so bright this day with the sun light reflecting and saturating the sky, it sunburned my eyes.

I love painting these, collectors like them, but they are hard to do and get right. I could do a whole series just from one spot from the views I get sitting on my surfboard. To be completely surrounded and embraced with color. You should go.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

I got this idea when I first heard the catch-phrase “Weapons of Mass Destruction” during the Bush years. It took forever to fruition because I didn’t want to paint the flag. Then in 2009 while in Boston I got the flag during Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral procession, while I was doing the Freedom Trail. Couldn’t ask for more.

It addresses the fact that the USA is a major weapon of mass destruction. From weapons, economic colonialism, pollution, destruction of and over consumption of natural resources, popular reality mind-fucking tv, media and news.

I love this country, but we are destroying ourselves and the rest of the world.


This is from my Horizon Series. In this series I try and capture and distill landscapes, objects and even people down to two basic colors and their essence. There is actually more colors, often 6-8 that are blended subtly to give it depth.

Baldwin Beach is my favorite beach on Maui and I’ve been going there for more than 50 years. This piece took 4 months to complete. During the process, I did several small painting variations and a number of digital color comps.

I love doing these, but they’re tough to do right. Collectors like them and this one now sits in a collection in NYC.


A pair of doves, one with an olive branch soaring across a blood red sky.

The 1st oil painting I did at the age of 14 while I was living at my grandma’s on Maui. My father was station on Thailand at the time. I went with my mother to an art store and bought my first painting supplies. I still have some of those tubes of oil. My sense of aesthetics hasn’t changed much in 40 years.

The Vietnam War was coming to an end. The troops were coming home. That whole revolutionary youth movement, rock n roll, peace and love was still prevalent, but it was loosing steam and a chapter in American history was coming to and end. I missed Jimi Hendrix by a couple of years playing Upcountry on Maui in a field. It was and exciting and interesting time to be growing up on Maui.

Peace and War. What else can I say… it’s all around us. I hope my art can make a difference for a more peaceful world that we all share.

Flight of the Phoenix

I’ve been creating digital art longer than most people. At first when I worked at Adobe Systems on the very 1st beta version of Photoshop (1989), I wasn’t all that thrilled. It was cool, but I liked getting my hands dirty, the smell of paint, the tactile feel of natural media.

After 10 years I started to loosen up and more so in the last couple of years. I use my creativity and knowledge to create. I try not to let the computer make the art, only the heavy lifting. I’m interested originality, creating a style, exploring new ideas and old.

It’s relatively quick and easy to experiment and explore. You can undo and erase. It’s a definite art form of now and the future. But I still love getting my hands dirty and the smell of paint.


Scream v1 was conceived and created almost 20 years ago. It was quite simple due to computing power being a fraction of what it is today. I’m sure Scream v3 will evolve computationally further into dystopian madness.

I got the inspiration from Edvard Munch’s The Scream. This modern day interpretation has the individual screaming (can you see?) and drowning in a sea of conformity and facelessness. We’re not really “another brick in the wall”, but instead a set of numbers that define who we’ve are. From birth to death and beyond we have become numbers, statistics, analytics and that can be charted, studied and exploited.


Plumeria Dance might seem an odd name for this piece. Not if you saw what it’s original state was. It started life as a blurry out of focused photo of dozens of plumeria flowers littering the backyard of my dad’s house on Maui. The blurriness made it look like the flowers were dancing.

This image has the same digital DNA as an image of the fallen plumeria flowers. I just pushed and pulled and altered the pixels. Like a mad scientist, seeing what would happen, what would be created. This is the result I stopped at. I could keep going and it would keep evolving into some new, something different.

Carl Yoshihara

Born in Hiroshima, Japan to a US serviceman from Maui and to a bank teller from Hiroshima who spoke French and listened to Hank Williams. Being a military brat, my 4 brothers and I grew up all over the US and overseas.



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