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Stoked Sessions with Artist Trevor Mezak

January 31, 2012
From an article blog appearing in San Diego Centric by rwdriver

How do you paint with a palette knife in one hand and a wax comb in the other? Well, first you have to admit that you have no artist training, a thirst to surf everyday and a creative voice inside of you screaming to be splashed on canvas… and lastly, your name needs to be Trevor Mezak.
Mezak riding a wave.

Let’s be honest, Southern California is littered with many of us who long to surf everyday and wished our employment revolved around the tides, but for the majority of us this dream didn’t come true. As the pressure cooker of life began to heat up and spit steam, we found ourselves being pulled further and further away from the beach. But surfer / artist Trevor Mezak fought as hard as any local to keep both of his passions close together by employing, as he puts it, “Never really planning.”

As an eighteen year old teen, Trevor moved to San Clemente with his brother John to live above California’s famed surf break, Trestles. To describe him as a stoked post-grom living far away from home with his big brother would be understatement. When most of their peers were moving away to attend college, the Mezak brothers persuaded their parents into letting them both Major in Upper Trestles Management – with a Minor in Lowers Crowd Control Tactics.

For close to six years the Mezak brothers rode their bikes up and down the Trestles trail, until one day John sat his little brother down and enlightened him about his feelings toward his fiancé and John’s desire to create a life with her. Shocked, the younger Mezak watched his big brother pack-up… move out… and take all their stuff with him (this is clearly written from the little bro’s point of view). “I realized at that point that I owned nothing in that house (laugh)… My brother got engaged, moved out, and I went WOW!

Living Room Painting
Actually, I owned the TV. So (at that point) I had a TV sitting on the floor, no table, no chairs and an old garage sale refrigerator.” “So that’s when I did the first painting (still currently hanging in his living room). I just needed something big on the walls,” to fill the empty space and feelings John left behind.

The artist truth is Trevor always had a creative itch. He would channel this energy into sketch pads where as a boy he would draw “army men blowing up things,” to Tom Curren dominating glorious point breaks. In fact, a few years after Trevor’s art began getting noticed locally, his mother complimented him by stating the obvious: Trevor had finally figured out a way to get paid for drawing “skulls”. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

One in a Million 36x24
One in a Million 36 x 24
For several years Trevor toiled to get his art off the ground by painting in San Clemente’s back alleys. During those years the right lady came into his life and she understood the significance that both surfing and painting played in Trevor’s existence. Heather was probably the first person to see how the two outlets fed off of each other. Each canvas or sketch was a new journey for him that was fueled by every salty surf session. Throughout their marriage and the birth of their twins, Brooke & Cole, the two of them partnered to ensure that his art was given every chance to blossom.

Fast forward a couple of years when Trevor was in the midst of performing one of his Surf Dad roles, buying shoes for his daughter at the mall.

Trevor had a chance encounter with an art dealer. While struggling to get his kids buckled-up in the car, a lady inquired about a painting sticking out the back of his SUV and asked him where he bought it. He flashed a smile and told the lady that he had painted it himself and within days, this random lady / art dealer put Trevor on an accelerated path that would take him from local artist to mentored Laguna Beach soul searcher. His new art world contacts made it very clear to him that his talent was enough to make some money, but if he wanted to stand out from the crowd he needed to find his signature talent. He took some bruises along the way; however with the influence of trained critics he stretched his talent and tapped into a new impressionistic style. Trevor finds it difficult to get across the agony of those years, “Heather is the only person who really understands the torture I went through for four years… I would wake up in the morning, drink my coffee and dread painting.” He would sweat in his garage studio to create new paintings and walk them into his mentor’s gallery only to hear, “That’s nice, but it looks like so-and-so’s work.”…a devastating comment to any artist… When he was almost to the point of giving up, his mother gave him a box of painting supplies she found at a garage sale. In there was a palette knife that felt good in his hand, “It felt fast and loose,” he said, “just like my favorite boards; fast and loose down the line.” By applying his paints with the old palette knife he was able to blend and add texture better than with brushes and the critical eyes of the Laguna Beach art world began taking notice.

From a surfer’s point of view here, it is fun to note that not only does Mezak use a palette knife to convey his thoughts, but he also keeps a wax comb in the tray of his easel (for non-surfers, a wax comb is a small plastic comb used to rough up the wax on a surfboard to gain better traction). Untrained and forever unconventional, Trevor discovered one day that his wax comb was the perfect instrument to fix problem areas on his canvas, but it just can’t be any run of the mill comb. Trevor is constantly searching local surf shops to find the older, smaller style wax combs he use to get for free as a grom (for non-surfers, a grom is a young surfer).

Surfer painting
After surviving his entry into the Laguna Beach elite, Trevor found many other interested parties clamoring for his impressionistic pieces. Collectors and art dealers were blown away by Mezak’s jazzy / smoky pieces that, because of his knife texturing, display mysterious movement. After much consideration, Mezak and his wife decided to partner with Collector Editions, the exclusive publisher of Disney Fine Art.

His enthusiastic reps quickly set about to introduce his work to the world and as quick as Mezak’s own surgical “snaps- off- the-lip”, his oil paintings began to be hung on gallery walls across the planet. Making this artist the most stoked painter you ever met.

Of course, as a surfer, his collection contains inspiring waves ridden by the legends that shaped his surfing skills, such as Curren and Mark Occhiluop, as well as his son’s hero of today, Kelly Slater. Forever addicted to the ocean, Trevor gets great pleasure talking about how his art is also being sold onboard cruise liners. Princess and Carnival Cruises have begun marketing his impressionistic “Playing Card” series and unique “Disney Characters” renditions, like Captain Jack Sparrow, except Mezak’s creation is a much darker “pirate’s life” representation.

Trevor’s style encompasses many subjects, but the works that have brought him the most attention are his paintings of sexy women in provocative poses on large canvases. Most of these ladies are painted in a shadowy style that allows your mind to conjure up anyone you would like them to be. They could be your alluring wife, mysterious girlfriend or desired starlet. Recently, he began pushing himself beyond the shadows to reveal the ladies’ piercing eyes that stare right back at you – owning their sexuality and showing as much interest in you as you have shown to them. While the shadow covered ladies seemed to beckon you, the new series of sexy ladies appear to be checking you out; pondering what could happen next. With these new creations, Mezak has dismissed the wall between the onlooker and the desired, making his paintings an artistic two way conversation.

Lynn 36 x 24
With all the artistic accolades coming Mezak’s way these days, he still remains grounded with his family, surfing and friends. It would be easy to get caught up in the hype of it all, but for Trevor the most important thing to do every morning is help get his two budding rippers off to school. Afterward, he downs his coffee while searching for an uncrowded San Clemente peak. Once he’s surfed out, he makes his way into the studio and focuses the post vibe of his surf session into completing or starting another colorful piece of art. When that is done, it’s back to skateboarding with his kids after school.

Trevor with Son
Some cynical people will read this and say, “Be careful what you wish for in life.” Implying, by asking for and receiving everything you want out of life, invites bad karma. Well, it isn’t that Trevor asked for everything in life. No, he just asked to keep surfing and working; and by staying true to these simple elements, he painted a textured life worth living.

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