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Style Magazine

Spotlight on Watercolor Artist David Lobenberg

Beginning his studies in meteorology at UCLA in the ’60s, the horrors of integral calculus and quantum mechanical physics soon steered David Lobenberg toward the College of Letters and Art. With a packed portfolio of drawings at the end of the semester, he was accepted into their art program where he’d earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “I discovered I was smitten with watercolor at the age of 16, after my parents signed me up for a class taught by Richard Yip who painted ‘wet on wet’—a very difficult and lovely technique,” shares Lobenberg. “There are precious few options to correct or make color changes with watercolor; and, when mastered, the medium has a beautiful, spontaneous, and translucent life to it.”

Previously exhibiting his work at Elliott Fouts Gallery and Archival Gallery, the artist now sells most of his work through portraiture commissions and via his online California Vibe School of Watercolor™ art courses and Zoom workshops. He’s also been featured in prominent publications—including Southwest Art and Watercolor Artist—and served as an on-air expert at the KVIE Art Auction since its first broadcast in 1998.

Artist David Lobenberg


HLN: What is your artistic style?
DL: I work in pencil, charcoal, acrylic, and—within the past five years—mostly watercolor. I especially like portraiture and have developed a very expressive, colorful, and energetic style that I’ve coined California Vibe Watercolor Portraiture™. I’ve conducted workshops on this across the U.S. and Canada, which my artistic life revolved around until COVID-19, after which my workshops moved to Zoom and I love teaching my style to fellow watercolor enthusiasts. My favorite definition of the medium, “controlling the flood,” came from the pen of José Montoya—once poet laureate of Sacramento and member of the Royal Chicano Air Force.
HLN: How did you first discover your talent?    
DL: I grew up with a pencil in my hand. When I was in second grade living in Stockton, the school nurse contacted my parents expressing concern that I did all my creations in pencil, shying away from color crayons and paint. Through the years, as they witnessed my talent blossom, the nurse’s concern became something to laugh about. I later realized that at that young and tender age, I had an innate appreciation and interest in controlling my dark, middle, and light values as I drew! During my workshops, I often say “value does ALL THE WORK and color takes ALL the credit.” Value control is the bedrock foundation of drawing and painting.

Flower Power by David Lobenberg


HLN: You began in graphic design. What led you to fine art?  
DL: I entered the workforce as a budding graphic designer in Los Angeles and put my art sensitivities to work to earn a living. I was in this business for about 30 years, through which I met and married my wife, Cheryl. We’re both graphic designers and established Lobenberg Graphics in Sacramento in 1982, but I’d often use my painting talent for clients like Mercy Hospital, the California Chamber of Commerce, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Sacramento Sports Commission, and the Sacramento Kings. I’ve always seen that part of my business, in addition to my part-time teaching gig at Sacramento City College as an adjunct art professor, as the bridge from graphic designer to fine artist.

Photo of David Lobenberg by Dante Fontana
Artwork images courtesy of David Lobenberg