Solana Beach artist’s show offers impressionist view of four beautiful sites

From the California coast to the Swiss Alps, Solana Beach’s John Modesitt captures some of the most stunning settings across the country and around the world.

Starting Sept. 12, Modesitt will unveil a new collection during a five-day exhibit at his Solana Beach home. The exhibit will feature nearly 60 new paintings, inspired by Modesitt’s latest excursions.

“This is the culmination of four different areas,” Modesitt said. “It’s a super show.”

There are seven paintings of Hawaii, where Modesitt and his wife, Toshiko, vacationed for about two weeks late last year. In the spring, the couple toured the California coast, giving Modesitt an opportunity to paint a variety of beaches, including La Jolla, over a 10-day camping trip.

In May, they traveled to Lauterbrunnen, a municipality in Switzerland. Nestled at the base of the Swiss Alps, the valley is surrounded by contrasting mountains and flowing waterfalls.

“It’s beautiful,” said Modesitt, adding that it was his first trip to the area. “The hills around it almost go straight up. From those vantage points, I got some really good paintings done.”

From there, the couple traveled to Semur-en-Auxois, a small medieval town in the Burgundy region of France, where they rounded out their roughly month-long trip. They stayed on the small river that circles the village.

“Timeless gardens and rural scenes of an era long past will be depicted in over 20 canvases,” Modesitt said.

He developed his love of impressionism at an early age. Although his father worked as a nuclear physicist, he was passionate about art and had a poster collection of French impressionist paintings, which fascinated Modesitt as a child.

Modesitt went on to spend decades studying impressionism, a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists.

“I’ve never really taken a vacation,” said Modesitt, who always comes prepared to paint on every trip. “You’ve got to do something with the beauty around you, so that’s what I do.”

Modesitt began studying art at Santa Barbara City College under painter Robert Frame. By the early 1980s, he moved to the East Coast to learn about the work of renowned impressionist painters featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Since then, his work has also been displayed on walls across the world. His paintings have been featured at the Butler Institute of American Art Museum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the auction rooms of Christie’s in New York, London and Paris.

“Every place I find, my wife always says, ‘How did you find this place?’” Modesitt said. “The Internet has really helped this whole process of finding beautiful places. They are really peaceful places. It’s kind of a bubble, and we all need our bubbles.”

About three times a year Modesitt invites the public to view his pieces at his studio, which is located in his Solana Beach home. His latest exhibit, which will feature pieces ranging from 8 inches by 10 inches to 30 inches by 40 inches, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 12-18.

“I hope everybody feels the same thing I felt when they look at the paintings,” Modesitt said. “There’s a longing for something they see in my work, and it’s because I feel that. That’s what’s coming across. That’s the power of art.”

If you are interested in viewing the collection, email Modesitt at For information about Modesitt and his art, visit