Artist James Hubbell is best-known for his fantastical organic-architecture house near Julian and the many community and global programs created by his Ilan-Lael Foundation. His artworks — oftentimes mosaics or stained glass — grace hundreds of San Diego homes, churches, and public spaces. 

Many, however, do not know his lifelong devotion to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve as his weekly muse: he and his wife Anne go to the beach below the cliffs most Sundays after church, and Jim paints one watercolor after another. They courted at Torrey Pines over 60 years ago. Since then he may have painted the cliffs hundreds of times … but who’s counting.

The next time you’re at Torrey Pines State Beach on a Sunday, look for James under an umbrella, watercolor paper in his lap, paints by his side, and eyes narrowed in the bright sunlight beneath a giant straw lifeguard hat. Few have looked at our cliffs more carefully, or with more love and admiration.  

This article was originally published in the Torrey Pines Association Newsletter
by Peter Jensen

Photos by Aeliana Hubbell

Available in the online gift shop.

Limited edition glicée print “Cold Sea” of Torrey Pines beach by James Hubbell

Set of Torrey Pines Greeting Cards featuring paintings and drawings by James Hubbell


"Cold Sea" | Watercolor, 2010
Untitled watercolor of Torrey Pines State Beach | 2018
Untitled watercolor of Torrey Pines State Beach | 2013
Untitled pen and ink of Torrey Pines State Beach
"November Afternoon" | Watercolor of Torrey Pines State Beach | 2018
"Torrey Pines, July" | Watercolor, 2018
Untitled watercolor of Torrey Pines State Beach | 2018
"Torrey Pines, July" | Watercolor, 2002
"Torrey Pines, April" | Watercolor, 2008

2 responses to “The Man Who Painted the Cliffs of Torrey Pines”

  1. Marianne Gerdes says:

    The winner was announced on July 1st on the Ilan-Lael Foundation Facebook page. The winner of the painting is Margaret Marston of San Diego.

  2. Patricia McTague says:

    Is the list of winners of the auction for the James Hubbell picture on this page somewhere?! Thanks!

    Pat McTague

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