Cliff Wassmann

AFC Conservation Artist of the Month for August, 2011

Cliff Wassmann has devoted many years working with the Ocean Institute of Dana Point, California. The Ocean Institute has become nationally known for its hands-on marine science, environmental education and maritime history programs. More than 110,000 K-12 students and 8,000 teachers annually participate in the Institute's 61 award-winning, immersion style programs. To learn about oceanography, science, and California history, students voyage onto the ocean, study in labs and live aboard tall ships or in the chaparral, where they can feel and taste the salty sea spray, sort through live specimens, observe migrating whales, collect scientific data and investigate the culture and world around them.

After studying classic landscape and figure painting at the nation's oldest art school, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Wassmann left the East coast and settled in South Orange County. His style is best described as "contemporary traditional", mixing classical landscape effects along with an influence from his photography of which he uses as reference for most of his oils.

But the personal experience of being in the environment is just as important in the way the paintings are created. The work captures something that the mind perceives but the camera doesn't. Wassmann adds his superstition, loneliness and love to that which he views with his eyes. A camera usually only captures what is there. Realists at their best perform the miracle of transferring the spiritual experiences inherent to the scene to people who view the painting. Subtle changes in color, contrast and form create a signature sense of depth to his work.

The past several years he has focused on the western coastline, from intimate depictions of local beaches to the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest. His current series of work is more ethereal, embracing almost mystical lighting and leaving the mind to fill in the details. Many clients comment on the peaceful feeling of his paintings. There is a romantic calmness that emanates from the pieces that set them apart from other contemporary works.

Quietly working away in his 1910 Laguna Cottage home studio his works have been exhibited in New York, Las Vegas, Toronto and for 14 years at the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts. His paintings have won numerous awards including third place in the "Arts for the Parks" top 100 landscape painters' national competition. 

For more on Cliff see

Previous Conservation Artists of the Month

(August, 2018)
(July, 2018)
(June, 2018)
(May, 2018)
(April, 2018)
(March, 2018)
(February, 2018)
(January, 2018)
(December, 2017)
(November, 2017)
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(August, 2017)
(July, 2017)
(June, 2017)
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