Rob Padillo with his paintings on display at Art in the Park over the weekend. Photo by Holly Parsons

Southern California native Rob Padilla’s wicked imagination sees a world awash in color and amplified with near palpable sound. Not what you’d call silent art, his brush literally strokes the senses, rendering and amplifying, scoring harmonics with electric vibrance. “When you understand it (Padilla’s art), your eyes open and the canvas invites you into a world of humor, social commentary, community, humanity and as Padilla sees it, a higher consciousness,” wrote Julie Penray for Art Bastard, November 2016.

“I was a pretty typical beach-hanging sports enthusiast as a teen, always traveling with a sketch book. I made up characters in the form of cartoons, filling hundreds of sketch books that provide reference material and a historical context for my life,” said Padilla.

As an editorial cartoonist in college, Padilla spent his early years as a freelance cartoonist and graphic artist developing his own comic strip based on a rock ’n’ roll, garage-band theme. Prompted by wider markets, he shifted gears, licensing his designs for wearable art and household goods. Padilla was a featured artist for the California gift show in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas for several years.

After the great recession, Padilla was forced to re-think his medium and picked up a paintbrush, capturing scenes on canvas with his signature “cartoonish” style.  “Lots of color, love color,” smiles Padilla. “A trip to La Bufadora, Baja, resulted in an uninterrupted year-and-a-half to finish work, live solo and connect with my own painting style. After Baja, I created a wide-ranging body of work in LA, found an agent and started again. This time my focus was less commercial. I pursued fine-art galleries in Laguna Beach, Long Beach, San Diego, Phoenix and Ensenada.”

Designing and painting murals gives Padilla’s eclectic interpretation an expanded pallet. “I think of myself as an ambassador for the arts whenever I’ve done interactive projects; sharing with others how dedication to art brings me closer to creating visual stories I care about and love.” Padilla continues, “I believe in camaraderie between artists because to support one another and the role we play capturing abstract moments, networking, sharing skills, makes everybody better.”

Padilla’s murals can be seen in Long Beach, San Diego, the Belli-up Tavern in Solano Beach, Taco Mesa Mexican restaurants in Orange County, in Long Beach at The Center and various private commissions.

“My family, always supportive of my creative nature, understood that it’s part of me to process life and the world around me visually; art also allows me to express my contribution to environmental topics, pollution and raise awareness for social justice,” said Padilla.

Once decoded, Padilla’s is statement art. He prefers to exaggerate life, make fun of the human anatomy, adding spice to otherwise tedious scenes. “I amuse myself with my own paintings and my collectors seem to relate. My lens invites their imagination to expand their experience through color and mood. I share a thumbprint that’s unique, and hope to encourage others to express their uniqueness as well.”

“I’ve lived a conventional life many times over my life but it doesn’t seem to be a good fit for me. It’s a privilege to have explored an organic life and soon enough, I envision my journey leading me back to the coast. Idyllwild has been very good to me, yet I’d like my art to have a wider audience.”

You can see Padilla’s and artist Ben Gilden’s work as the set background for Ken Luber’s play “Heaven on the Loose,” staging this weekend at the Rainbow Inn. Padilla also has a show at Town Baker in June, at Art in the Park all summer, or join him for paint-along mural and art projects at the Blues and Brews ARF event this weekend. His work also hangs in the Art Alliances’ Courtyard Gallery.