The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC painter highlights nature, local environment through art

Marlena Hughes
Artist and marine biology major Havilah Abrego sits in her private home art studio on Thursday evening, Oct. 17, 2019, in Ventura, Calif. Abrego has developed her artistic passion through the inspiration of her father and grandfather’s artwork.

Amongst the crowded, art-filled tents of the Jackalope Art Fair in Pasadena, City College student Havilah Abrego was unwinding after a long day of selling her mixed media prints and paintings.  

Headphones in, she began to work on one of her paintings. Lost in the dashes of color and brushstrokes, she was oblivious to the crowd of fair-goers that had amassed behind her to watch her work.

Taking a break, she removed her headphones and turned around, only to be met with a captivated audience that had grown to such size that it spilled over into nearby booths. 

Havilah couldn’t believe her eyes. 

Story continues below advertisement

Growing up, her family was her audience. 

The youngest of five girls, Havilah felt pressured to find her niche. 

That’s when she discovered the world of painting, guided by the hand of her father Zachary Abrego in the house he built for her family in the small town of San Dimas, California. 

“She just took to it naturally,” Zachary said. “She really latched on.” 

The two would spend hours drawing together. As he drew up architectural plans and designs, she would sit beside him, observing techniques and sketching up her pieces of her own. 

“She had sketches of us drawing together!” Zachary said. Even at eight years old, he knew his daughter had a gift.

Painting runs in the family. 

Havilah’s father was taught to paint by her grandfather Joe Abrego, whose brushes and art supplies she still uses today. 

“I wish he could’ve seen what I’ve done with my art,” Havilah said. It was always a goal of her grandfather to sell commissioned paintings, something she has been doing with her art shop Ocean Crest Art

The store has grown from its humble beginnings as an Etsy shop that Havilah created when she was nine. 

Now, she sells her paintings fulltime on her website. 

As a marine biology major, Havilah depicts seascapes in a good deal of her work. Receiving her SCUBA certification at age 11, the wonders of the ocean had her attention from a very young age.

“I get my inspiration from natural sources,” she said.

Most of her paintings depict the natural world through her eyes, something Havilah thinks resonates with her audience. 

She attributes her unique style of painting to her upbringing. Havilah and her sisters were homeschooled by their mother from elementary school to high school.

“Going to college was the first time I set foot on school grounds,” she said as she laughed.

With freedom from the restrictions a traditional school setting may have brought, Havilah was allowed the space to develop her craft. 

Now, she says her artistic ability is finally at the place she had always imagined it could be. Paintings that took her months in the past now take her weeks. 

She is content with the size Ocean Crest Art has reached and doesn’t plan to grow her business further for the time being. 

“I want my pieces to be real and speak to someone,” Havilah said, explaining that growing her business to a bigger size would detract from the personal touch her paintings hold.

“I really admire her willingness to take on every challenge eagerly,” Zachary said. “Failure isn’t a real concern.” 

More to Discover