Cambrian: Arts & Events

New year equals new directions for Cambria artist

Lana Elmore Cochrun with an example of her plein-air work.
Lana Elmore Cochrun with an example of her plein-air work. Courtesy photo

Central Coast artist Lana Elmore Cochrun will begin 2013 with a robust adventure that signals a creative milestone in her career.

She will be the featured solo artist in two gallery showings simultaneously and each show represents another facet of her painting skill.

Best known for her plein-air work, Lana is making a statement as she returns to her roots and also offers something playful and light.

For five years the Cambria resident has been painting with the Wednesday Irregulars, renowned Central Coast artists who are widely collected and appreciated.

“To be honest, I was intimidated when I was first invited to join them. These are some of the most successful painters in California. There are true masters in the group,” she says about the experience. “Now, it is time to take a new step.”

That new step is Improvisations that will hang at the Windward Vineyard Gallery in Paso Robles from January through March and Wine Divas at the Alegria Wine Bar Gallery in San Luis Obispo from January through February.

“Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and say ‘what am I doing?’ This is a huge effort!”

Improvisations is a return to her academic and creative roots of lyrical abstraction and modernism.

“When I was in school that was the movement. That is what I did for all those years before we came to California,” Lana says.

“We moved to the Central Coast with all of these great and famous plein-air painters. I have learned so much and appreciate these artists.”

“I can see the growth and changes in her work,” observes Bill Moorhous, a Palm Springs and San Diego collector. “She’s always had a great sense of design and color, but her time in the Cambria colony has given her a new confidence. Her work has consistently evolved. It is reminiscent of Van Gogh.”

Moorhous says he is eager to see the result of her new efforts.

“I’ve always been a fan of Kandinsky, and the Improvisations show is inspired by his works. Some of the pieces are biomorphic abstracts. Others are almost musical.”

Titles of the new pieces reflect the new direction; Equipoise, Toccata, Aquacate Cadence and Sonata Duo, a pair of 16 X 20 oils. Gizmos is a variation on toys.

The canvases are bold in color and design.

“I’m not sure what some of my plein-air collectors or friends will say, but I’m having fun.”

The Wine Divas is all about fun. The works in the show are an outgrowth of a series of playful art cards Lana created to send to friends. They became popular and took on a life of their own. She created a series of Women With Attitude Cards and from that came a series of paintings of mirthful women enjoying wine.

“The Divas are just all about fun. They are very accessible pieces and perfect for Alegria,” Lana smiles as she finishes a painting stretched over a wine barrel ring.

“I think people are going to be impressed with how wide her talent is. I’m sure fans of abstract and modern art will make note,” says Moorhous.

Art and wine fans from San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles will be able to judge for themselves as 2013 is rung in. “Right now I’m kind of pulling my hair out, but you know a challenge like two shows at the same time is a real motivator,” she says while measuring a strip of wood for a frame on one of her large canvases.