Valley of the Artists: Lucas Valley - San Rafael - Page 2

Beneath Lucas Valley's hills of inspiration a special creative renaissance is on the rise

Similar to Woodburn, Logan Franklin lives for his art, first bitten by the art bug in 1983. Set back over a cartoon feature he had hoped to syndicate in the early 1980s, Franklin went on a hike shortly afterwards that took him to the College of Marin's campus in Novato. While there, he peeked into an art class and knew at that moment painting was for him. "I knew that's what I wanted to do, whether I made any money at it or not," he says today.

franklin in his studio

Identifying with the Eichler theme of simplicity and openness, Logan points out that "glass and light make the Eichlers particularly well suited for art. If you put artists in a small room, they tend to paint small."

Since Franklin retired from the publishing business in 1981, art has gotten him all jazzed up. Many of his paintings, which stylishly adorn his Eichler walls, feature vivid jazz musician scenes as well as animals and landscapes. Everything is pulsating with color. "I tend to paint in a contemporary manner using simple, bold lines and primary colors," Franklin says. "There was a time when I was timid about color; but when I finally opened up, I really opened up."

Because of the number of artists that have joined the Lucas Valley Artists, and with its open studio's growing appeal, one gets the sense that an artistic renaissance is brewing in Lucas Valley. In this easygoing and tranquil neighborhood embellished with hidden cul de sacs, gabled roofs, swimming pools, and that ever-present muse of the hills overlooking the valley below, something unique is indeed on the rise.

Man in Transition—Pursuing His Passion

In many ways, Terrell Touchstone is a man in transition. Retired for the past two years after a 20-year run as a research engineer for Chevron, Touchstone, 59, is now in the midst of making a vocational shift from being a carefree retiree to a full-time artist consumed with his work.

Touchstone's Lucas Valley Eichler, his home since 1978, recently became an empty nest when he shuffled off his youngest son, the last of four children, to college.

Touchstone's evolution continues at home. Next, he plans to "revamp the house and simplify things," making more modifications to his atrium, which he recently converted into a work studio. He also wants to transform his interior into a gallery to showcase his paintings, mostly oil on canvas of realistic landscapes and marine scenes.

The alternatives to working at home really weren't appealing for the Lucas Valley Artists member, especially after he visited some of the commercial studio space in Marin available for rent. "They're basically little cubicles, and you're just walled off from everything," Touchstone says. With more space, light, and openness at home in his Eichler, the choice seemed easy. "The outside options never appealed to me, never made sense," he says.

Touchstone presently uses a former bedroom as a mini-gallery to showcase his art—complete with gallery-style track lights. Love for the outdoors inspires his work, mostly natural scenes from around Marin County. One of his more compelling pieces is 'View from Conservation Garden,' a portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright's palatial Marin Civic Center radiating with vibrant blue, red, and gold colors.

"So, it's kind of like we're in a transition phase here—converting the house, being self employed," Touchstone says, still seemingly not completely at ease with all of his life's new changes. But his great passion for art, he says, will get him through it all.

For Solin simplicity is what makes the Eichler design work for her as an artist. "The architecture is simple and plain, so you can put fine art, you can put modern art, you can put ceramics [in an Eichler]," she says. "Other artists that are sculptors have huge statues in their houses. How can you put that inside a 'normal' house without it looking
very odd?"

For information on the Lucas Valley Artists, contact Melissa Woodburn (415-499-1655) and Logan Franklin (415-499-0719) or visit

painting of marin civic center

All photos by David Toerge