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Russell Hunziker: Plein Air Painter Promotes Preservation

Contemporary, impressionistic landscape painter Russell Hunziker shares his love of the outdoors with others through his unique paintings.

“I try to use unconventional or more contemporary designs to make the ordinary landscapes more intriguing for the viewer and ask the viewer to think about the design and spend time understanding what’s going on,” says Russell, a Pacific Palisades resident. “I also try to involve problem solving in my paintings, like how to use a particular design scheme or color scheme into an ordinary subject to make it more interesting. Of course, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

As a member of Allied Artists, Russell participates in free monthly paint-outs in nature on the second Saturday of each month and enjoys the sense of camaraderie created by spending time painting outdoors with others, hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains and supporting the nonprofit’s mission to paint and protect the Santa Monica Mountains.

Allied Artists members donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of their original works to the Western National Park Association, National Park Service, National Wildlife Fund and Save LA Cougars, among other organizations, such as those supported by Russell: SCAPE (Southern California Artists Protecting the Environment), Westlake Village Art Group and the Tehachapi Art Association. We caught up with Russell to learn more about his work.

Q. What inspires you to paint?

A. “I am inspired by nature and my compositions echo the beauty of the natural world. Rather than trying to paint an exact copy of the scene, I strive to incorporate my vision and imagination into the painting, so it is uniquely mine, not a verbatim photocopy. I build upon the historical tradition of California impressionists and by the design and color theories of contemporary artists David Gallup, Eric Merrell, Daniel Pinkham, George Carlson, Ron Kingswood and Len Chmiel.”

Q. What is your favorite painting that you have created?

A. “It's hard to pick a favorite painting—it’s like picking a favorite child. Currently I’m pleased with a painting I did of the cliffs above the Crooked River outside of Bend, Oregon, where I was fly fishing last summer.

I’m also happy with a sunset landscape up in the Owens River area near Mammoth called “the Clouds were Hung for a Poet’s Eye” and a nocturne painting of the Goleta Slough near UCSB. I like nocturnes, they are a different color palette and a change from the ordinary sunset or sunrise landscape paintings.”

Q. What are you working on now?

A. “So many ideas, so little time! My photo files are filled with hundreds of ideas. I’m working on a springtime piece with lupines in an aspen grove that explores a contemporary design inspired by Ron Kingswood and Len Chimel.”

Q. Have you won any awards for your paintings?

A. “I think I won an award once, but honestly, I don’t think art should be a competition. I don’t have to make a living by painting, so I try not to care what other people think of what I paint. Painting to win awards limits you to painting what other people like, I’d rather paint what I like.”

View Russell’s and other Allied Artists’ work at the Allied Artist Show “Art in the Park” on July 16 at the Village Green in Pacific Palisades.

Learn more about Russell at, and @hunz1234. For more information, visit