Guy Wann.

An Ecclectic Artist

Discovering an art studio in an ancient milk barn was certainly serendipitous on my part. While artist incognito, Guy Wann, took me on a tour around his barn; he flung open the milk parlor door and proudly stated, “And here’s my studio!” I’m sure I looked at him entirely stupefied. I had been wandering around the valley snooping out barns for last fall’s article: Barns of Heber Valley. I arrived entirely unannounced and knocked on his door. After no answer, I proceeded to leave the property — slowly — rubbernecking as I went. I was thrilled when Guy startled me by calling out and asking if I was interested in the barn.

As his four resident kittens affectionately meandered around my pant leg, I took in the unforeseen, yet exciting, situation. I couldn’t believe I had landed in an artist’s nook! The spontaneous nature of this encounter hinted at the aleatory story of the man before me
and his art.

In 2008, during the heat of the recession, Guy Wann, a plumbing contractor by trade for 18 years, had been to the doctor six times. His doctor told him, “You have got to get a hobby or you’re going to have a heart attack.” So, he packed his bags and went to visit his mom just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Wann’s mother is an artist; painting with watercolors and acrylics. As Guy and his mother were strolling around an art show he asked if she thought he could make art.

She assured him it was genetic, his grandmother had also been an artist; an oil painter to be exact.   He went home inspired and began to paint. The medium of choice for his distinct style is…wait for it…exterior house paint and beach sand! I know! Right? Who does that? Well, if you live in Heber, one of your neighbors.

Guy didn’t have the financial means to take professional lessons of any kind, so he started watching YouTube videos. He’s been told since what a blessing that was.  Often, professionally trained painters are influenced so heavily by their education that it is more difficult to break through and create their own style. Things tended to just fall together for Guy and his quirky technique that developed in a most original way.

Inevitably, when you visit the beach you bring a little souvenir home…every time…sand. While living in California, after a day at the beach, his wife and kids accidentally scattered sand where he was painting. Guy loved the accidental outcome! Wann came up with this wild idea to lay down paint and add beach sand — and voilà, Guy Wann’s unique style of painting was created! Guy shared the process: as the paint dries the sand adheres, then he paints over it and adds more sand to create a one-of-a-kind relief. Wann chuckled telling me how he goes through brushes like crazy! He’s literally painting sandpaper! When Guy moved from California to Heber, he brought 400 pounds of sand with him. “Every time I go back, I get a bucket to bring home.” Now, the sand spillage is quite intentional.

All that sand on the artwork gets heavy. Thank goodness Guy is handy – and admittedly thrifty. He builds his own framework to stretch his canvases. The frames of his canvases are much sturdier than the run-of-the-mill found at an art supply store. Not only does this provide a sturdier base for his incredible artwork, but it also makes for some pretty dramatic shapes and sizes for his paintings. The long, tall paintings are my personal favorite! They add such drama and maximize otherwise difficult spots to display fine art. Another cool aspect of Guy’s art is that it’s tactile. Wann has had clients purchase his relief-laden pieces for the blind to enjoy fine art through touch. His art really is a feast for the senses.

As an Ojai, California native, Guy began painting oranges at the onset of his artistic adventures. He was invited to sell his art on Saturdays at the 5 Diamond Resort, Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Oranges and high-end California clientele were a magical combination, and Guy’s art sold like hotcakes. He’s been through spurts of quite a range of artistic subject matters. There was a stent of pomegranates that sold well in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Swiss-inspired paintings followed a Viking cruise and a week in Switzerland. After moving from the beach to the heart of the mountains, his focus shifted to aspens, barns, sunflowers, and birds. The vibrant, rich colors hop scenes with him. Wann’s paintings are in 20 different countries.

His life is as eclectic as his paintings. He wheels and deals in crypto, and is currently building a website to mint coins. He also travels the world fishing. His most recent adventure was a 15-day trip to the Philippines, fishing off the shores of the islands. If you’re an artist, a crypto dealer, and a globe-traveling fisherman, why wouldn’t you be an author too? He has self-published a handful of painting books he sells on Amazon.

Guys’s art literally brings pieces of a faraway beach to our mountain valley; each grain of sand combining with the paint to create a visual delight. So, go and and take a random tour of Old McDonald’s Farm, learn about the history of the barn, and peruse Guy’s amazing art! He has a stockpile in the studio where you’re sure to find the right piece for your space.

Discover more of Guy Wann’s work online:  |  @guyawann

Search for: