The artist says he has an “incredible connection” with the ocean, from the wide-open coastline of his native Ecuador to the populous beaches of Orange County. It’s the throughline for the 51-year-old Costa Mesa resident’s abstract seascapes, such as “Untitled, No. 1000-14,” above. “Something about the peace it gives me—I could sit and watch the ocean for hours,” he says, although his images aren’t instantly recognizable as ocean scenes. Bloch’s work is owned by celebrities such as rocker Jack Johnson and pro surfer Kelly Slater. He has a solo show at SCAPE gallery from Jan. 22 through Feb. 28.
How did your aesthetic develop?
I used to paint in a plein-air style. I called them “pretty pictures.” I enjoyed the process, but I didn’t feel rewarded with the result. I remember once feeling frustrated trying to make something look a certain way. I took a big brush and mixed it all up … and all of a sudden I saw an abstract seascape. Later, I started adding materials, like wood, cardboard, and photos. It started out as more about composition, structure, and color; now it’s much more about what’s inside me.
What’s your method?
It’s a really long process. I build the canvas and then start with different materials—a scrap of linen, or fabric, or canvas—and join them together, and add textures and colors. As I work, I find things and embellish them, and the image comes into focus. I don’t really follow a plan. It’s an intimate and intuitive process, like going into a strange trance. I’m constantly communicating with the piece.
What will be in the SCAPE show?
It’s a mix of old and new work. I’m at a fork in the road. I need to explore new avenues. I’ve looked at some of my older paintings, and I’m going back to visually evolve them. I don’t know where my work is going to go—it’s an interesting time.