Sawdust Oil Painter John Eagle Practices Art Festival Concept Round Year-Round

Posted on August 3, 2009 by Sawdust Art Festival

Media Contact: Cynthia Fung

June 6, 2009

Studio 7 Gallery artists demonstrate and exhibit plein-air painting daily

Laguna Beach, CA – Local plein-air oil painter, John Eagle, applies the Sawdust Art Festival’s concept of “demonstrating and exhibiting artwork for sale” to his own Studio 7 Gallery business. Eagle’s galleries began as a way to continue what the Sawdust Art Festival offered throughout the summer, during the show’s off-season. At both Eagle’s gallery locations, you will find a plein-air artist actively completing a piece of artwork seven days a week, hence the name Studio 7 Gallery.            

Eagle began his official artist career at the Sawdust Art Festival in 1991 and immediately took to the festival’s “workshop” ideals, selling over 65 paintings his first summer while demonstrating at his booth. Eagle went on to exhibit at the Sawdust’s following Winter Fantasy festival and sold 24 paintings during the short four-weekend winter show. Pleased with the public’s receptiveness, Eagle then founded his gallery concept to continue his success as an impressionist artist and to support his family of four. Today, he successfully manages one of Laguna’s four co-op galleries with two coastal locations and 14 plein-air artists, many of which are also Sawdust exhibitors.    

Eagle did not begin his professional career as an oil painter, and in fact started his post-college life as a stockbroker and claims manager. He graduated from San Jose State with a bachelor’s degree in Business and Finance and worked as a businessman for 20 years. Eagle’s business background enabled him to manage his co-op galleries like a traditional business, where “one manager makes the final decisions” and “one genre of product, or art, is offered.”   The goal is to move smaller pieces more frequently, rather than waiting for “that one big sale.” Eagle started his art career with the regimen of “paint one a day, sell one a day.” The 14 gallery artists work out a schedule so that one artist is onsite each day painting and handling the sales. Eagle expresses excitement in being able to “apply this business strategy to any co-op of any art form.”

Rather than a career focus, painting had always been a passionate hobby of Eagle’s, when he commissioned art to his friends, roommates and family, and it was not until 1991 that Eagle relocated to Laguna Beach to pursue painting professionally. A frequent visitor to Laguna and the Sawdust Art Festival since 1965, Eagle was able to immediately assimilate into life at the Sawdust by incorporating what he learned as a long-time visitor. When he thinks back to why he chose to exhibit at the Sawdust, he says, “the Sawdust is where there’s heart. I love seeing people practice their art and having that interactive experience.”

Much of Eagle’s success is attributed to his interest in listening to the public and he has developed his skills as a painter through interaction with Sawdust visitors. Through demonstrating and interacting with Sawdust visitors, Eagle has been able to discover the public’s changing needs and tastes in artwork, and does his best to accommodate. Eagle’s early art career was also greatly influenced by art instructors and classes offered at the Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD), where he acquired the important skill of creating “sellable art.”

To see Eagle and his colleagues paint this summer, visit the Sawdust grounds. The Sawdust Art Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach with free City trolley service to and from the Act V parking lot. Admission prices are: Adult $7.50; Seniors (65+) $6; Children (6-12) $3; Children (5 and under) Free; Summer Season Pass $15; Annual Pass (summer and winter shows) $20. For more information, please navigate to or call 949.494.3030.

The Sawdust Art Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public
and promoting the art created in Laguna Beach.

The Sawdust Art Festival thanks its 2009 sponsors Hoegaarden and Kendall-Jackson.