POMEGRANATE TREE 60 x 48 inches oil on canvas

November 5 – December 31

The Nature of Art, presented in conjunction with Laguna Art Museum‘s annual Art & Nature community-wide event, will present for the first time the paintings of Orange County/Los Angeles-based street artist turned painter Michael Harnish. These lush floral canvases smash the traditional up against the new in a way that puts the focus on the artists hand as much as the subject matter.  For Harnish, the painting process starts out as loosely as possible, as he scribbles in the initially observed relationships between color and value. From there, it’s a play of push and pull as he uses sensitivity to temperature and tonal shifts, bringing in form that often only hints origins of the shape, some areas never to be fully resolved. This overall process of bringing key areas to resolution while allowing the rest of the painting to maintain varying degrees of softness creates a remarkably sophisticated and yet edgy quality that recalls the works of Sargent or Velazquez.

The space in Harnish’s paintings seem to breathe and undulate, revealing an inner quality that in some areas conveys a deep sense of peace while in others Harnish’s strokes become as violent as a crashing wave, nodding to the unpredictability of nature, his primary subject and source of inspiration.

Michael Harnish earned his bachelor and master degrees in painting from the Laguna College of Art and Design, finishing his education in 2010. Since then Harnish has been developing his craft, exhibiting his work in notable exhibitions in Orange County and Los Angeles. Recently, the artist has taken up residence in Los Angeles with a studio in the Arts District downtown.


In its annual Art & Nature festival, Laguna Art Museum presents special exhibitions, commissioned outdoor works, lectures, panel discussions, films, and family activities on the theme of art’s engagement with the natural world.

The event serves a number of purposes: to provide a festival of art and ideas for the community; to inspire artists; to find and develop connections between art and science; to raise awareness of environmental issues; and to celebrate Laguna Beach as a center for the appreciation of art and nature.