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Rushing revisited 

Grover Beach painter Lena Rushing explores atypical themes

New Times Tell me about your new house. Do you have your own studio now? How has it affected your painting?

  • UNCONVENTIONAL: Lena Rushing can be reached via [email protected].

Lena Rushing We recently moved to a house that has a huge bonus room; half of that room is my ‘studio.’ At the old house, I used my little kitchen counter as my workspace, where looming daily dinner obligations limited my creativity but I made do. I steal time away to wander in there and paint because I have more privacy and am surrounded by all of my materials, and I am more apt to dive in on a whim. Typically I paint when my family is asleep, from about 10 p.m. to midnight.

New Times You are a busy woman; you have two small children, a busy husband and social life. Where do you find the time to create art? 

Rushing Art is a fickle thing. In the past two years I have had plenty of time to complete at least a baker’s dozen of fine art canvases ... but I haven’t. When I do paint it’s all consuming; in the spaces between, it’s frustrating. It’s not really something I’m in control of. I have found a way to satisfy my creative needfulness when I am feeling blocked—crafts. Crafts allow me to indulge my imagination and experiment with different media without the pressure of ... well, of anything really. Art exposes me and begs the question of my talent, my authenticity as an artist, it’s something I am passionate and secretive about. I beg my own husband not to comment on any of my paintings. Crafts have become my intermission. I don’t prefer them to my paintings but they are a welcomed affair when my attempt to paint goes unrequited. I can be a danger to my own paintings and have been known to give works away just to save them from myself. In the past two years I have made gourds. 

New Times Excuse me, gourds?

Rushing A few years ago I was flipping through a magazine when something caught my eye. There was a picture of a house decorated for the holidays and on a shelf in the background sat an adorable Santa gourd. I couldn’t wait to get home and try my hand at painting one … or two … or 20. Thank goodness I had a friend who lived on a farm littered with gourds. Each gourd is one of a kind and takes between three and five hours for me to paint. I’d like to think that the purchaser of one of my little guys will give him a good home and that he will be passed from generation to generation like you would a cherished ornament.

New Times What does it mean to you to be an artist on the Central Coast?


Rushing It means being an outsider … an outcast. I love where I live, it truly is paradise, but as an artist I don’t think I fit in. The artists who are successful here paint lovely landscapes, flowers, the ocean, wine and grapevines. I think that my paintings would be better received in L.A. or San Francisco, or so I have been told. I paint for my own satisfaction and could care less if there is a market for me, but I do get a thrill from doing a show and the flattery from a sale is intoxicating. It makes me feel included, like somebody “gets” me. 

New Times Speaking of a gallery show …

Rushing It has been over a year since my last show because it’s a small community and I couldn’t go back with any of the same pieces year after year. I wanted to wait until I had at least ten finished available paintings before I attempted to solicit any venues. I dread that part; I really need a representative to do my booking.

New Times What’s your New Year’s resolution?

Rushing My resolution has nothing to do with art. My relationship with my art is delicate and I would never do anything abrupt to piss it off. Every year my resolution is the same: Learn fluent Spanish and guitar. I have been staring at my left-handed guitar and “Learn to Play Guitar” books for 10 years but my attempts are just pathetic. I need a professional.

Christy Heron can be reached at [email protected].


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