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“I dropped out and I realized I wanted to draw and paint what I wanted to do, and at that time I didn’t have a clue to what that was.”

The Evolution of Nick Ambriz’s Artistic Journey

Nick Ambriz, soon to celebrate his 73rd birthday this September of 2023, began his artistic journey during his high school years. It was then that he dedicated two years to studying architecture, meticulously sketching plans for each phase of constructing a home.

This foundation led Ambriz to a junior college where his focus transitioned to machine drafting. It was in this setting where he honed his skills, crafting intricate half-section exploded drawings of machinery. Furthermore, his exploration of stark contrasts with black and white ink drawings added another facet to his budding repertoire.

Ambriz’s educational journey continued at Fresno State University. Here, he further honed his technical abilities by studying the art of casting shadows over various structures. By applying mathematical precision and perspective, he managed to convey three-dimensional depth and reality to his work. Additionally, he became proficient in the use of colored paper in various shades to construct and represent structures.

His creative exploration also brought him into the realm of commercial advertising during his tenure at Fresno State. Yet it was in this environment that he encountered a significant realization. He discovered an incongruity between his creative essence and the financial focus often found within the commercial art world. Consequently, Ambriz chose to withdraw from the university setting.

Despite this decision, he remained undeterred in his artistic pursuits. However, he was uncertain as to what form they would take. He knew only that he wanted to be free to express his creativity through drawing and painting, driven by his own vision rather than external influences. This marked a pivotal moment in Ambriz’s artistic journey, setting him on a path of personal expression and creative exploration.

Unconventional Inspiration: Exploring Nick Ambriz’s Journey

In the initial stages of his junior year, Nick Ambriz transitioned into the discipline of Fine Art. This shift proved challenging for him initially, largely due to his past exposure to commercial drafting, which had ingrained in him a tendency towards straight lines and rigid angles. Moreover, conceptualizing ideas for his artwork also posed a unique challenge. However, the difficulty was surmountable, and as Ambriz navigated his new academic pursuit, he experienced a moment of enlightenment that catalyzed a surge in his commitment to both his classes and his study.

The genesis of Ambriz’s inspiration lay in his means of financial support – an unconventional path that provided him not only the funds for his education but also the time to delve into exploratory and experimental classes. These courses, while not contributing to his academic credit, served to unlock a myriad of new possibilities and creative outlets. The luxury of such exploration was a privilege not afforded to many of his peers, whose education was predominantly funded by their parents.

During this period, Ambriz found an unusual yet fruitful means of income in the sale of imported marijuana. This endeavor, which he proved to be naturally adept at, allowed him to fully immerse himself in a particular lifestyle that was somewhat representative of the times, specifically, the year 1972. His journey through school was intertwined with this unconventional existence, shared and experienced alongside a like-minded group of friends.

Influences and Reflections: Nick Ambriz’s Artistic Vision

In the sphere of his artistic journey, Nick Ambriz embarked on a path which delved into the marijuana-oriented lifestyle of a particular era, as observed through the lens of an artist who also dealt in this illicit trade. Such was the backdrop of a time when indulging in marijuana, whether merely as a user or as a dealer, attracted major felony charges accompanied by severe prison sentences. It was in this atmosphere that Ambriz conceived his unique thematic concept.

In shaping his artistry, Ambriz drew profound influence from the works and lives of the French impressionists, with Georges Seurat and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec serving as his primary muses. Seurat’s color compositions left a considerable mark on him, while Lautrec’s black and white drawings, in conjunction with the manner in which he embraced life despite his physical deformity and his father’s treatment, deeply resonated with Ambriz.

In the late 1970s, Ambriz came upon William Homer’s book, “Seurat and the Science of Painting”, a significant discovery that became his lodestar for mastering color theory and creating balanced compositions. The book not only offered a scientific perspective on painting, but it also served as an intense source of inspiration, unveiling the compelling narratives of numerous artists that further nourished his artistic vision.

The Fusion of Artistic Mediums: Nick Ambriz’s Photography

Over the past two years, Nick Ambriz has been immersing himself in the art of photography, initially seeking to enhance his oil painting skills. However, he soon discovered an irresistible allure in capturing the essence of his subjects in their photographic form, realizing the camera could express their innate beauty in a way that brushes and oils could not.

Ambriz’s creative exploration took him to the Delta waterways of California’s San Joaquin Valley. Here, aboard a modest kayak, he navigated everything from intimate irrigation ditches to expansive waterways. The Delta’s waters, flowing with an undeniable sense of life, captivated his artistic attention.

In his work, Ambriz masterfully manipulates the reflections in the water. The colors and structures he perceives, alongside careful considerations of horizontal and vertical perspectives, form the building blocks of his compositions. He employs blocks of varying color sizes with such deliberation that the final product feels akin to a painting, intertwining the two artistic disciplines in a unique fusion.

Previously, the artist wrestled with the water’s currents, but he soon recognized the benefits of harnessing their natural flow. By positioning his kayak appropriately and flowing with the current, he experienced a sweeping, 360-degree panorama. Quick adjustments of his head and hands allowed him to capture the perfect shot, while thoughtful cropping and color grading transformed his works into painterly-like compositions, sometimes echoed in bold hues, sometimes articulated in the timeless simplicity of black and white.

Indeed, Ambriz’s approach to photography clearly displays his grounding in painting and drawing. His ability to transfer the principles and techniques of these traditional forms into his photography creates a fascinating interplay between different artistic mediums, adding depth to his oeuvre. Through this artistic alchemy, Ambriz reaffirms his commitment to continuous learning and exploration within his craft.

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