Patterns in Nature with Spencer Reynolds

Last updated:

Spencer Reynolds has two lifelong passions: the ocean and art. Hailing from the southern reaches of Oregon he has pursued his passions with devotion, producing a rich and powerfully energetic portfolio of work. Only a surfer could portray the ocean’s moods and vibrance in the way he does, with flair and drama – sometimes turning the ocean into a sea of flames and sometimes a spiral of symmetrical, barreling perfection.

We caught up with Spencer to talk about life, surfing and artistic inspiration.

Hey Spencer, how are you doing today?

I’m doing well. It’s Monday, and I live on the Southern Oregon Coast in a town called Brookings. Usually Mondays are busy with to-do’s, but today it looks like I’ll have time to paint.

Tell us about your last surf…

I surfed yesterday. The ocean was unexpectedly clean. It’s been really windy here lately. I started at a spot that is normally more of a bodyboard wave, it wasn’t that good. I went out anyways. The water was super cold and my suit is old, so I got cold fairly fast. I got out, stayed in my suit, and tried another spot that wasn’t that good either. That’s what a lot of surfing is like here.

How did you first start the journey toward becoming a surf artist?

I fell in love with surfing around 10 years of age. Once I got to middle school, I started drawing waves on my homework folders. I never stopped drawing waves. I became more obsessed with surfing and art. I eventually studied art in college, still drawing and painting waves for fun. I’ve basically never stopped. It’s one of the main things I paint now. My early surf art influences were Rick Griffin, Chris Lundy, and John Severson.

Who has influenced you both as a surf artist – and in life?

I have many peers that I admire their skills and determination to take their art further and further.
Wade Koniakowsky is a friend and influence. Wade lives and breathes art and the business, and loves to surf. He’s always pushing his skills into new area.
Matt Beard is another friend whom I admire. I’ve watched Matt dedicate a lot of energy to Plein Air painting and it truly shows in his work.
Shawn Griggs is another friend who’s been helpful and encouraging in my art career. I love Shawn’s moody paintings. Shawn is one of the nicest guys I’ve come across in my interactions with artist. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with him.

What have been highlights in your life as a surf artist? What are you most proud of?

One of the many things I’m most proud of is actually being a collector of many people’s work I love and admire. In the area of surf art, I own paintings by Chris Lundy, Phil Roberts, and Matt Beard. I also have a photo by Joe Curren.
I think it feels good to have an art collection as an artist. It’s hard to do at times, because I’ve never made a lot of money. It feels right though.

What does a day in your life look like?

My routine lately is to make my morning coffee (I roast my own). I then do a Spanish lesson (I’m trying to learn). Breakfast. Meditation. I may then check the surf if I have time for that, or go for a run. I like to paint in the early afternoon. Once five rolls around I like an evening beer or cocktail. Lastly, I may later settle into my couch to work on art on my iPad.
My schedule is different everyday, but many of those activities are in it.

Beyond being a surf artist, what are some other activities you really enjoy?

When Covid started I got into running. I had felt like I was going crazy and running helped get out that negative energy. It’s an activity that I’ve stuck with. Surfing here is fickle and inconsistent, so it’s nice to have another physical activity.
I have aspirations of being more of a Plein Air painter. It’s so great to be outside painting fast and instinctive. My studio painting is slow and meticulous. It’s a nice contrast for me.

Who do you most like spending time with? Why?

My son is one of those people. He’s ten. He’s super creative. He’s learning piano and loves music. His drawing is getting better all the time. We like to work on small animations together. We make weird videos. We have a lot of fun together.

What is a place you’re looking forward to going to? Why?

I’m going to Nicaragua in May. I’ve never been there. The place and wave I’ll be surfing looks fun. Out of the blue, I received a message from an old friend who was the first person I used to go to the beach with. We haven’t hung out much since middle and high school. He asked me if I wanted to go on the trip to celebrate his 50th birthday. I didn’t take too long to think about it and said yes. I can’t wait.

Who is your favorite surf artist? Why?

Chris Lundy is my favorite. There’s never been anything like his art out there. If you were to break it down for a technical title, maybe you’d call it Sci-Fi Surreal Surf Art. That’s how I see it. It’s other-worldly and technically astounding.
I was fortunate to meet him at a show he did in Portland, Oregon. The show actually happened because of a conversation I had with the gallery owner. I had done my first solo show in this gallery. While setting up one day we were discussing my influences. I mentioned Chris Lundy. The gallery owner worked for Nike and later met Chris and remembered me mentioning his name. They agreed to do a show. I went, met him and spent some life saving to buy a piece.

Any words of inspiration or wisdom for those trying to pursue a path as a surf artist?

Do it for the love of it. It’s a hard way to make a living. I still paint and draw waves, but after opening my own gallery I’ve diversified to painting local landscapes as well. I don’t have a problem with that. I love painting landscapes.
Everything I paint is influenced by all the years I’ve spent painting waves.

Three words to describe your vision / goals for the next 12 months?

more time creating

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

The song The River by Nomeansno

How can readers connect with you?

Instagram: @spencerreynoldsartist