Light & Shadows

An English watercolor artist creates evocative portraits of her Manhattan Beach neighborhood and other South Bay sites.

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  • Written by
    Zoe Alexander

Luisa Millicent, a transplanted British artist, captures the South Bay sunshine in her breezy watercolors. What is especially vivid is the way she paints light; it is uncanny and wonderfully nostalgic. Her paintings are postcard-sized odes to the everyday corners, streets, alleys and, yes, even parking lots that are so quintessentially South Bay.

Luisa was introduced to watercolor painting when she was a child in England. Her father, also an artist, gave her a wooden watercolor box set at a young age. 

She entered Helicopter Studios, a commercial art studio in London, as a junior artist when she was 18. It was there that she met her husband, Mark. They soon made the move to Los Angeles so Mark could pursue a career as a storyboard artist for the film industry. 

Although Luisa and Mark initially thought they would be here for only a year, their love for the South Bay has rooted them here for 20 so far. When they first discovered Manhattan Beach, Luisa says, “We couldn’t believe it. We thought, ‘Wow, what a beautiful place to live!’” 

It was on regular holidays to Yosemite with their children, Caroline, 18, and Zack, 16, that Luisa developed a passion for landscape painting. 

As Luisa’s kids grew older, she had more time to devote to being a “proper painter” in between freelance commercial artwork. And she discovered that her neighborhood held just as much intrigue as a grand Yosemite waterfall. 

“There’s so many streets to paint here; every one of them is different. And the light is always different, and that’s the most important thing for me.” 

That specific quality of light—at the beach and in urban settings—has inspired quite an impressive collection of work. Luisa has an especially charming series called “90266” that catalogs various streetscapes of Manhattan Beach.  Additionally, she has stacks of notebooks filled with finished work, cards and a draft of a children’s book that she and Mark developed together. 

Recently, at Mark’s suggestion, Luisa decided it was time to showcase her paintings. “I’m building a body of work and I’m really excited about that,” she says.

Luisa has taken advantage of social networking and maintains a blog that allows her to interact with the artistic community. She also participated in—and sold paintings at—last year’s Twitter Art Exhibit: Los Angeles. 

Luisa is especially grateful for the support she has received through Twitter. “This has been about me trying to get better in my work as an artist … it’s lovely when people are enthusiastic about my work.” 

This is an exciting juncture for Luisa, who dreams of devoting herself to watercolors full-time so she can refine her skills. While she evolves as an artist, we benefit from her unique view of the South Bay lights and shadows.

For more information on Luisa, visit

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