Central Coast Living

2830 Cedar Ave., Morro Bay

When painter Larry Knapp established his Morro Bay studio three years ago, he had only one requirement: a colorful floor.

“There was no thinking about it,” he recalled “I just knew it had to be orange.”

“Ginger orange” is the official name for the glossy paint-epoxy mixture that coats the floor of Knapp’s workspace. After all, his favorite colors are orange and purple.

A Southern California native, Knapp studied painting and graphic design at Cal State Fullerton before moving to Houston in 1974. Still, he and his partner, Jerry, longed to live on the West Coast.

“Morro Bay happened to be the most affordable property with a beach view, “Knapp said, describing the region as “Santa Barbara without the attitude.”

Since moving to the Central Coast, Knapp has dedicated much of his time in renovation: house painting, landscaping the converting the home’s two and-a-half-car garage to a working studio. There, he creates large, vivid images of flowers and animals -including ducks, pelicans penguins and even a manatee- that blend photorealism with intense colors and abstract brushstrokes.

Knapp’s creativity spills outside the studio as well. While a street-facing yard features low-moisture plants such as dwarf bottlebrushes, lavender and an olive tree, an enclosed courtyard boasts ferns, palms and lush green groundcover surrounding a splashing fountain. Knapp’s inspiration was Palm Springs.

“I didn’t want to feel like I was in a garage painting,” he said.