Nobee Kanayama is a Japanese born artist from Los Angeles whose illustrations, watercolor paintings and oil paintings depict sensory experiences of everyday living. Raised in Tokyo, he became interested in art as a child through comics, cartoons and Disney movies. While working as a graphic designer in his 20s, he came across an American book on illustrations that made him steadfast on becoming a professional illustrator in the U.S.
After taking English lessons and saving money for two years, Kanayama moved from Tokyo to San Francisco in 1977 at the age of 29. He went on to complete an English language course at University of San Francisco and study basic art at Academy of Art University. The artist then transferred to the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, where earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. There, he studied under contemporary impressionist Dan McCaw, who continues to be a great mentor.
Kanayama worked as a freelance commercial illustrator in Los Angeles for more than 10 years. His career took a defining turn when he studied the work of French artist Pierre Bonnard. Fascinated by the oil painting “Vase de fleurs,” he worked under the guise of his former art teacher, McCaw, to hone in on painting techniques.
Characterized by layered textures, varying colors and blurred lines, Kanayama’s paintings depict the sensory experiences behind a subject, object, action or landscape. From a ferry gliding along at dusk to a child gazing at sweets, his subject matters are painted from memory. The artist captures what he feels versus physical reality. Emotion, essence, temperature, mood and lighting are key elements to his compositions. To Kanayama, memory filters out the unnecessary and emphasizes what matters most. His hope as an artist is that his pieces evoke happiness. He believes that by maintaining a positive outlook and gratitude for life, one can find beauty and joy in the simplest of things.
Kanayama has exhibited his artwork in solo shows at Galleria Prova and the department store Matsuzakaya in Tokyo, as well as group shows at Timmons Galleries in Rancho Santa Fe, CA; American Visions Art Gallery in Folsom, CA and Pelican Gallery in Petaluma, CA.