Capturing the Spectacular on Canvas

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By Torie Hamilton, Special to the Independent

Walk into Trevor Christiansen’s Laguna College of Art and Design studio and your eyes will have a difficult time focusing on one subject. Hanging and leaning on the walls are large painted oil landscapes, theatrical and spectacular in nature. Realistic paintings depicting flying cars and breaking ground overwhelm and entice the senses with feelings of adrenaline and vague familiarity.

Trevor Christiansen relies on a model to depict the aftermath of an earthquake.
Trevor Christiansen relies on a model to depict the aftermath of an earthquake.

Christiansen’s thematic work was recently recognized by the Pacific Art Foundation, which maintains the collection of the private Pacific Club in Newport Beach. At recent foundation event recognizing student artists, Christiansen , who had received a foundation scholarship, was planning on bringing along only one painting, but on a whim brought several others. He sold them all.

“While I’m making the paintings, I’m thinking about where they’re going to be; I’m imagining them in a nice home one day,” says Christiansen.

One of Christiansen’s most recognizable works, “Earthquake,” is a large oil canvas painting of an imagined earthquake occurring on Ocean Street in Long Beach, a view that Christiansen has become familiar with on his commute. Using a hand-made model as reference, the painting depicts a broken road seizing up into the sky as cars are tossed up with the road and down into the gaping crevice. This fantastical scene can currently be viewed at the Emerging Masters MFA Exhibition at Laguna Art Museum through Sunday, July 12, along with works by other LCAD students. It will also become part of LCAD’s permanent collection.

Originally from Santa Cruz and now residing in Laguna Niguel, Christiansen attended LCAD’s undergraduate program from 2007 to 2011 and is now planning on graduating from the master’s of fine arts program in a year.

He is working on his thesis, which echoes the concept of creation and destruction in his canvases. According to Christiansen, the dramatic events featured in his work are meant to be theatrical and exciting, rather than an instigator for fear or panic.

“It’s less about what’s going on and more about how I’m presenting it,” he explains.

Christiansen has been drawing long before he can remember. Now he is looking to a future career in art and is already building a reputation. Even so, Christiansen remains humble, continually pointing back to the influence of LCAD teachers, mentors and students in contributing to his recent successes.

“All of those things manifest themselves into my work,” says Christiansen.


LB Indy intern Torie Hamilton attends Biola University.


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  1. It’s great to read about such a fine, hard-working artist. Besides being so dedicated, Trevor has a wicked sense of humor.


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