My name is Nicola. A painter trained
at the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago, Class of ’95.

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1990 -1993 – Have done some paid and free art commissions for friends.

1992 -1997 – Part Time -Freelance graphic designer

1993 – SBCC SFAI Award Winner – I declined because I wanted to go SAIC.

1995 – BFA – The School of the Art Institute of Chicago – Painting & Drawing

1997 – Post-Bachelor and MFA Graduate courses: The Academy of Art College, San Francisco, Computer Arts.

Artist Statement

A Rebirthing of my creative energy. I am Re-focused on painting after not having art in my life for many years and I now have more time, space, and focused energy and will be concentrating on a series of works for now on -” Drawn to Water”, Landscapes with old trucks, painting interpretations of music (see the 1st one in my “Drawn to Water Series” from U2 titled, “With or Without you” and related sculptures and assemblages. I’m first going to revisit, and document my past work, which by the way is turning out to be a very emotional experience because I really don’t remember most of these early beginnings of painting and drawings and all the time and hard work I put into this period of my life.  I’ve lived my whole life steps away from the ocean, or a body of water and I find large bodies of water the most primal inspiration, spiritual, and very peaceful. Art, water, and massage are my sine qua non. Knowing there are many issues and work to be done in the world and I use my artwork to express myself in the most honest way possible (primal honesty takes courage), using my imagination of “What If”,  life’s encounters, memories, dreams, and experiences.  Plus, within me are all my memories of my interactions with water (surfed and skied all my life) which inspire me. I am also very concerned about global warming and the environment and plan to include works on this theme. If one wants to know something about me one should look deeply into my work. I use mixed media and materials that I am drawn to. Will also be putting up my own fine art websites in WordPress and doing social media marketing.

About Me

I began my creative and bodywork journey as a young boy when my mother… a classical pianist, harpsichord player, music, and English teacher, ( plus Mensa Society member) began trying to teach me the piano.

But my fingers and brain did not like the keyboard and it was not to my liking plus the piano did not come naturally to me. It was like trying to teach a young athletic gorilla to play the piano.  My mom then encouraged me to study the trumpet, baritone, and even the flute in junior high school, but those instruments did not work out either. I stuck with the trumpet the longest because I had a very good female teacher at the time. She was very nice and patient. My mother tried really hard to turn me into a musician. Maybe, if I had been set down in front of a drum set…since I’m ambidextrous (a handball player) as a young boy, I might have been a professional drummer now. But, that didn’t happen either. One of these days I still might take up studying the drums (electric drums). Anyway, my mother got me into classical ballet / modern ballet at the Hollywood Dance studio and I really liked that because it was very physical and challenging, plus, I was usually the only guy in the ballet classes. After studying ballet for five years I finally stopped studying because my friends in junior high school teased me a lot while I was carrying my ballet shoes and clothes at school. I did get an audition at a movie studio to dance in an Elvis Presley movie but I was either too short or too tall, I really don’t remember. As far as my beginnings in fine art, I did take some art classes in junior high school, drawing, and a drafting class but I guess I was never really inspired. As far as other art-related classes in high school, I tried printing class, woodworking, and ceramics classes, but I really didn’t take to them either. As I remember the teachers were very mediocre. In fact, most but not all of my teachers in public schools were mediocre. I do remember one good teacher in elementary school, Miss Laurence, and a good teacher in High School, Dr. Desmond.  Anyway, fortunately for me that did change when I went off to college.

I recall as a child (about 7 or 8 years old) I had a dream that I can still remember to this day, which I can still picture in my mind. My mind works in pictures / is very visual (heavy on the right brain). I was at my grandparent’s house and was sleeping in my grandfather’s big, high, dark wood framed bed, and in the middle of the night I woke up…at least I thought I was awake.  On the white wall in front of the bed was a big rectangle of bright blinking colors…like Pointillism (distinct dots of pure color). There was no image in the dots just beautiful colored dots in a rectangle glittering and sparking on the wall. I guess this was some kind of clue as to where I should go with my life but at the time I didn’t understand the dream at all.


Image result for pointillism   Kind of like this!


I was fortunate and friends with them, to go to Jr High School and High School with Bill K. and Rita W. For a short period, in high school, I dated Denise C. who was on Star Trek, and after High School, I moved up to Santa Barbara to go to college with my girlfriend Jayni (who by the way married a very famous comedian and actor).  Well, I was having too much fun surfing. To make money,  I worked at a service station (pump jockey) and spent a lot of time with my girlfriend, kind of going to college classes but did not study very much at that time. Eventually, I got a new job cooking fish at a local fish restaurant in Santa Barbara. I really liked cooking because the restaurant was very busy and I got a lot of satisfaction from making hundreds of perfectly cooked meals every evening. Eventually, I became the kitchen manager at that very large seafood restaurant. I moved on to other large seafood restaurants, Gladstones 4 Fish being the busiest, and then became a chef.  Finally, after working in many restaurants as a chef and working long hours for others, I decided to open up a restaurant of my own with a longtime childhood friend who became my business partner. That was a bad decision. (My so-called lifetime friend took money from the business and turned out to be a liar, drug addict, and greedy cheat). I knew that he cheated in high school and college but I was young, naive, and very naturally intrinsically trusting.

Anyway, for our first big project, in we partnered up with a big developer,  in Huntington Beach, Maguire Partners, at Peter’s landing to develop a new large seafood restaurant concept. They hired George Lange a restaurant consultant from New York to help us come up with a new fish restaurant concept. We went to New York on a business trip and checked out restaurants with George Lang’s assistant David and even got to visit George Lang at his home. The restaurant and concept were just being finished when my (wonderful) partner had some disputes with our contact (the project manager…John) who worked for the developer at Peter’s Landing site. The developer ended up terminating our contracts and the door locks were changed when we showed up for work one morning. I was in my twenties and it was a tough life lesson. We both were still determined to open a restaurant so I finally found a commercial space in Santa Barbara on State St through a realtor friend of mine. We opened and owned that restaurant and nightclub (Hot Spot) for four and a half years in Santa Barbara, Ca. called Carnaval at 634 State St. It was a tough time in my life because I worked 100 hours a week and did not have time for much anything else. After having problems with my (wonderful) partner the restaurant closed and I decided to go back to school. After some soul-searching, I decided to study Fine Art of all things. I guess I can thank my business for that decision because when we remodeled the restaurant I really enjoyed doing all the wall painting with all the different colors that we used for the walls of the nightclub.  I did not know how to draw and knew very little about drawing, color, or fine art. I got a job at a local restaurant cooking because I did not want to work long hours as a manager. After a few years at SBCC, being on the honor roll, and winning a scholarship to SFAI, I declined because I wanted to go to SAIC in Chicago.  After working hard at drawing and painting for a few years I ended up at the Art Institute of Chicago on a half scholarship and finished with a BFA degree in painting and drawing. Then, went on to study in a post-bac and graduate program in Computer Arts in San Francisco. To help pay my rent and school I started taking on small graphic design jobs and eventually became a full-time freelance graphic designer for many years. I was in the post-back and graduate program for two years and left without finishing because I was accumulating a lot of debt. During this period of time in my life, I was working full time, switching different jobs, ( worked in construction, a print shop, and was a low voltage sub-contractor ( this is when I fell off a roof and dislocated and broke my femur and was helicoptered to a hospital), and telemarketer after my accident (see below).  Plus, had many relationships (time and energy) and did all my sports, and exercised ( enjoyed my youthful physicality) a lot so I did not have much time for making fine art.

During all these years, I had been keeping up some sports to stay healthy and sane, mainly handball, surfing, yoga, running, road biking, and skiing ( but also tried many, many others). All these different sports led to injuries, mainly low back, major sciatic problems, and shoulder, and hip pain issues. After seeing many physical therapists, chiropractors, and doctors and not getting any lasting results, I finally turned to massage. After going through a few massage therapists I finally found a guy, a chiropractor, and a massage therapist, who did Deep Tissue and Neuromuscular Re-education. I’ll call him “Dr. Pain.” Well, after five or six treatments my low back issues improved quite a bit. Each massage session was very intense and painful but it worked and helped heal my body. So, I started reading some books on deep tissue massage and practicing with my girlfriends and my athletic friends. I got to really know my body and other people’s bodies and what they really needed from massage to keep them healthy and active.

In 2005 I had a very bad fall off a roof while I was working as a low-voltage subcontractor and dislocated and fractured my left femur. Then, in 2016 due to my 2005 fall, I had a left full hip replacement and completed 7 months of physical therapy. (In 2022 I had right knee orthoscopic surgery and Left Shoulder orthoscopic surgery.  In 2009, I had had enough of freelance graphic design and some other jobs and I started to do it again. I also checked out decorative concrete staining and actually took a class and got a certificate, and went to the concrete show in Las Vegas but decided that I would have to be on my knees too much. So, after some soul-searching, I enrolled full-time at BTI (Body Therapy Institute) in massage in Santa Barbara. I was fortunate enough to study with John Harris while he was still alive. I now have over 700 hours of certified massage training hours and am a licensed massage therapist (LMT) in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca. My massage modalities include Deep Tissue Massage, Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage, Ashiatsu, Shiatsu, Compression Massage, Sports and Injury Massage, Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Massage, Neuromuscular Release, Swedish massage, Relaxing Massage, Reflexology Massage, Chair Massage, Lymphatic Drainage, and some Asian bodywork and others. I also offer Healing Massage for Depression and Anxiety. As soon as I have over 1000 hours of certified massage training I plan to get my national massage license. I now work part-time at a spa and have my own massage practice in Santa Barbara, Ca. located at 827 State St.

I work with a wide variety of massage clients with many different ailments, athletes who want their muscles to perform better with a better range of motion, and clients who simply need relief from their stressful lives. I am personally committed to the care of each of my clients and in each case develop specialized treatments that best meet their needs. I specialize in Sports Therapy, Injury Rehabilitation, Deep Tissue, and the relief of chronic pain patterns. I blend a yoga background with a number of therapeutic techniques from various modalities. My bodywork is often described as a “very deep therapeutic massage with an aggressive/gentle healing approach to the body.”

I have also started making fine art again and have completed over 20 of 30 large mixed-media paintings on the theme of “Drawn to Water” and am also working on a series of paintings with old trucks and landscapes. My “water paintings” are mixed media acrylic painting that varies in size from three feet to seven feet. When I complete my 30 water-themed paintings, I plan to have my first real art show at a fine art gallery in southern Ca. area. I also plan to build and market my own websites for my art as I have for my massage business. Some of my paintings are on view in my studio when you get your massage.

Currently, I am spending some weekends in L.A. to help out my mother who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness. (my mom passed in April 2022 and she would have wanted me to pick up and continue with my right brain development…painting.)

Plus – Recently, I came up with an idea for an App, ( a service ) and am involved with two partners, one is a computer engineer and VP of an energy company and the other is a local lawyer. We have contracted with a local company, Oniracom to do the minimum viable product (MVP) for the App and then develop the App. and then possibly pitch the idea and the app to a large global company.  Some experts suggest that in business-to-business transactions an MVP also means saleable: “it’s not an MVP until you sell it. Viable means you can sell it…hopefully.

Nicola is now available for fine art commissions.

Nicola is also available for massage appointments Monday – Friday and by request, on weekends. Please contact me (805-637-7482) with your preferred appointment times and please go ahead and look at my main website ( ) for more information.



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