Scott Yeskel is a SoCal boy through and through. Raised in Orange County, he now lives in North Hills, where his home studio is filled with brightly colored canvases of familiar Valley scenes—historic restaurant interiors, cool pools ready for a dip, and landscapes featuring mid-century modern homes in a style reminiscent of the realist painter Edward Hopper. “It’s not the easiest place to survive, to live. It’s certainly not the prettiest all the time. It’s real,” he says. “It’s authentic. It’s diverse. So it keeps me visually very stimulated all the time. It’s just this imperfect facade of everything that constantly inspires me.”
Always creative, Scott graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2002. He found early success in San Francisco as a landscaper painter. “People embraced the work right off the bat,” he recalls.
But home was calling. After eight years, the artist moved back to Southern California, at first living with his brother in Venice. He found the local art scene a tough nut to crack, but the scenery was inspiring. “The one thing that kept me interested in being in LA was the landscape. I didn’t really want to paint San Francisco trolley cars,” he says. “That did not interest me.”
He soon found success painting the places here that intrigued him the most, from the freeways to taco trucks to lone Airstreams, all lit by the bright western sun. “The light down here and the romanticism of the flat landscape, the faded history, the new, the old, the different styles of architecture, the vast mecca that it is from the desert to the beach and everything in between, gave me a lot to think about,” he says.
“It further reinforced these crazy, ridiculous, mixed emotions that we have about LA. The wonderful mid-century architecture, the pools in every backyard, the tall palm trees, the way the sun kind of hits the water in the morning, and then the absolute cruel grittiness of it all as well.”
Eight years ago, Scott and his young family moved to the North Valley, and he set up his home studio in the back house. He began to explore his new environs, finding inspiration in the area’s dichotomies. “It further reinforced these crazy, ridiculous, mixed emotions that we have about LA,” he says. “The wonderful mid-century architecture, the pools in every backyard, the tall palm trees, the way the sun kind of hits the water in the morning, and then the absolute cruel grittiness of it all as well.”
His vibrant, realist works have become particularly popular with natives of Southern California, no matter what part of the country they currently live in. He has been featured in dozens of solo shows and group exhibitions and is in private and corporate collections including the Microsoft Art Collection and Fox TV in Los Angeles. He also teaches painting to artists of all ages.
During the pandemic, Scott embarked on a project that he describes as both personal and altruistic: painting some of California’s historic eateries, including VIP’s Cafe in Tarzana and Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks. “I donated some of the money to the 86FUND that helped restaurant workers who were out of work make ends meet,” he says. “This city has an incredible array of historic restaurants, and you just hate to see any of them go through something like that.”
Since the pandemic, Scott has shifted to vibrant, large-scale desert scenes in preparation for his upcoming show at Dawson Cole Fine Art in Palm Desert. His nostalgic paintings reflect his deep appreciation for the history, architecture and lifestyle of SoCal as well as its constant evolution. “I’m the guy that walks in LA. I do that. And I like to see things that maybe people don’t think about as much,” he says. “There is love and appreciation, but it’s more discovery and respect. The theaters, the restaurants like Casa Vega—it’s just out of respect. It’s been there. I hope it stays there.”
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