Artist opens new Rancho Santa Fe village painting studio


Artist Don Young has opened a new village painting studio in Rancho Santa Fe, located above Nick & G’s restaurant on Paseo Delicias, with a birds-eye view of the village.

Young believes the studio will offer the unique “personal touch of being able to chat with the artist” and come away with an original piece of art. He is also looking forward to the opportunity to meet and connect with the people who live in Rancho Santa Fe, talk painting and know where his artworks are headed.

Young, a native San Diegan, moved to Rancho Santa Fe a year ago with his wife Jill. He graduated from San Diego State University in 1966 and went on to co-found the Design Quarter in 1970, which became a nationally recognized graphic design firm.

For 30 years he ran the design studio, never leaving for New York or Los Angeles, raising his family in Point Loma and later lived in La Jolla. After he retired, he was able to devote his time to painting fine art full time, something he had always wanted to do.

“I didn’t paint when I ran the graphic design studio and I always said ‘someday I am going to paint again’,” he said. “The minute I could, I picked up a brush.”

As a graphic designer and commercial artist, he was always telling his clients’ stories. Now he is able to tell his own.

The Rancho Santa Fe space is his second effort with a studio space—about 15 years ago he had a little gallery in Point Loma and was very successful. He thinks his paintings of La Playa grace the walls of many a Point Loma home.

“It was a mutual admiration society because I was a boater and all of my friends were into boating and water sports,” said Young, a lifetime member of the San Diego Yacht Club.

A fly fisherman, his fishing art has also been very popular in Utah (where he owned a home for 30 years), Idaho and California, and he said he believes his work is in over 450 homes across the U.S. and Europe. His work is also featured in a gallery in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

He and his wife had always loved Rancho Santa Fe, drawn to the pastoral “quietness, peace and the privacy” of the community. Once he moved to town, Young was looking for a studio and was thrilled when he saw the “for lease” sign on the balcony one day in the village.

“This little house reminded me of Van Gogh’s little yellow house,” said Young of the home of Vincent Van Gogh and subject of the “The Yellow House” painting with its location on the corner, window shutters opened to the street, a restaurant and bar downstairs that he imagines as a Parisian café.

One of the first buildings built in the village in 1928, the building has been owned by Millar Properties and the Millar family for over 75 years. For many years, it was the family home. The wrought iron door on Paseo Delicias leads up a flight of stairs to three rooms—one Young uses as a salon for showcasing completed works and the other two as painting studios with simple white plaster walls and light pouring in from the windows and balcony door.

“It’s perfect, I love it,” he said.

Young said he is essentially a plein air painter, capturing landscapes and views in natural light. He takes photos of things that he likes and brings them back to the studio to put on canvas, often playing with the light for the story he wants to tell.

Many of his works are what he calls “timescapes” paintings that capture the passage of light and time on canvas. Some come in a series of three paintings, showcasing iconic Rancho Santa Fe images like palm trees and hot air balloons cast in the light of typically morning, afternoon and sunset. A pear series captures the fruit in spring, summer, fall and winter in a series of four paintings—another, of aspen trees captures all four seasons and the movement of light and time in one painting.

For the larger piece series, he understands it will take a big home to feature them all—he knows Rancho Santa Fe has some big beautiful homes with wall space to fill. He does have smaller works as well and as he paints the edges of his pieces, they can all be purchased and hung as just canvas or framed with frames available in his studio.

“We’re just getting started, it’s a grand experiment and we’ll see how it goes,” Young said. “It was successful in Point Loma for a long time and now I want to see if it works here.”

“My idea is painting in this village that I love,” said Young of his simple goal. “It’s fun to be able to continue to do what makes you happy.”

The studio is located at 6014 Paseo Delicias. To learn more visit