Artist: Colleen Gnos

Acclaimed Shell Beach artist Colleen Gnos—widely known for her sumptuous surf-related paintings of mermaids and idyllic waves—takes us on a journey to Wonderland for this year’s Live Oak Music Festival artwork. 

The concept behind Colleen's original oil painting was envisioned by Live Oak Mercantile Coordinator Kelli Reynolds. It features the Cheshire Cat slapping the upright bass in a delirious jam, accompanied by Alice and Joe Craven as the Mad Hatter. Gnos says she enjoys the way the background layers shine through to the foreground, just as the hard work behind the scenes creates an inspiring Live Oak experience.

Colleen herself has been on a wild ride down the rabbit hole for the last few years. Her victory over a rare form of cancer brought renewed creativity, including learning how to play the upright bass. She designed wine labels and murals, then broke away from her formal art training in Florence, Italy, into more abstract expression and primary colors, completing a passionate series of jazz paintings featuring musicians that pulse with color you can almost hear. Colleen’s first solo show will hang at Steynberg Gallery in San Luis Obispo this June.