The ocean is a few miles out of sight at the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas, and feels even further away as you walk up a path flanked by native brush and desert flowers. But if you walk inside right now, the gallery’s filled with water — paintings of water’s reflections and even a mini-marina by Santa Barbara artist Rick Stich.

A few times each year, Lux invites artists from around the world to live and work there for a month as an artist in residence, and people can come in to see the artists at work and ask questions about the decisions they’re making.

Stich, an avid surfer, is the resident artist right now. He’s living in the condo beneath the gallery for a month, creating new works expanding his water series and watching visitors as they gaze into the pool installation he constructed.

I visited Stich on Wednesday with our partners at NBC San Diego for our weekly Behind the Scene TV segment. Here’s the clip so you can see for yourself:

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There’s something really interesting over by that pool you see in the clip. The light hits the water and bounces wavy lines of light back on the paintings on the wall above it. But that’s not the only reflection: The colors of the painting also show up on the surface of the water.

And the circles continue. As students and visitors to the gallery have come to see Stich work, many of them have been sketching what they see. And Stich’s been sketching their reflections as they appear on the water’s surface.

It’s all been making Stich reflect on his work as an artist and on what it means to let kids, especially, into his process.

“It starts with imagination,” he said he tells them. “This is what I think is important.”

You can see Stich’s work at Lux through mid-May or check out the free admission day on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett and at

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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