leaves you wanting Moore

“Ice Cream Man”

When Scott Moore was just six years old, he drew a policeman on a horse arresting a six foot tall intoxicated duck. A sign of things to come? 🙂

Well, Scott didn’t grow up to be a policeman, and as far as I know, doesn’t regularly cavort with quazy quackers, but he is a master of surrealism, or of what he calls, “out-of-scale realism.”

“Milk and Cookies”

A 40-year resident of Laguna Beach, California, Scott painted traditional watercolors before making an international name for himself in recent decades with his photorealistic, fantastical pieces. 


He typically uses two scales in the same painting, placing tiny figures in retro scenes to tell stories inspired by childhood memories, dreams, and his boundless imagination.

He creates these works in a 1,000-foot studio which he built by excavating a second floor beneath his home. He likes having his studio, which resembles an antique store, on a different level. What a cool collection of 50’s and 60’s tin toys, old books, kitchen and household memorabilia! What fun it must be to “shop your own shelves” for a clock radio, milk bottle, cookie jar, or coffee can to add to your pictures.

“Sell Phones”
“Corner Market”

What Scott doesn’t already own, he finds on the internet. His only cardinal rule for painting is “to be true to the light source.” Otherwise, anything goes, as it can, and often does, in dreams: objects float or change drastically in size as they become part of the studied drama.

“Coffee and Donuts”

Artistic talent runs in the Moore family. Scott’s dad was a watercolorist and graphic designer. He encouraged Scott to pursue graphic design in college because it was too hard to make a living as a fine artist.

Scott followed his advice, studying art and graphic design at Cerritos Junior College and at Cal State Long Beach. His formal education was put on hold for a couple of years when he lost his military deferment and was drafted into the U.S. Army. 

“Aloha, Waikiki”

After talking to some Vietnam vets, he decided to join the Marines, where his artistic talents were recognized. He was given an MOS (Marine Occupational Speciality), and so, at age 20, was assigned to Camp Smith on Oahu as an Official Artist/Illustrator for the U.S. Marine Corps. 

“Hula Apples”

His job was to design and build various props to decorate the Hilton Hotel in Waikiki for the Officers’ Marine Corps Ball. He was also in charge of anything art-related that came down from headquarters (publicity folders, illustrations and graphics for servicemen’s books). 

“America’s Railways”

After his stint in the Marines, he moved back to California, resumed art classes, got married, and worked in graphic design while painting watercolors during off hours.

“Still at the Office” (traditional watercolor)

He soon decided to set up his own graphic design business to pay the bills until he could begin selling his art. A 1978 summer workshop at the John Pike Watercolor School in Woodstock, NY, proved to be the most inspirational week in Scott’s life. John encouraged Scott to give up his graphic design work to pursue painting full time.

“Clamming for Chowder”

From then on, things gradually fell into place: Scott entered his work in various exhibitions, showed it at local festivals, and began teaching his own workshops. He’d paint all year, then sell his pieces at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts (FOA) during the summer.

During this time he received many awards for his transparent watercolors (American Watercolor Society, National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West), which depicted genre scenes from everyday life.

“Box Seat”

In the Fall of 1983, Scott completed his first surreal watercolor — an auction item for the Laguna Beach Art Museum. Fifty regional artists were sent a cardboard box and asked to use it in a work of art. This was Scott’s chance to apply some of the whimsical imagery that had been floating around in his head for years. After “Box Seat,” Scott created a few more whimsical auction items before deciding to include a surreal painting alongside his traditional watercolors in his annual FOA exhibit. 

“Evaporated Milk”

“Evaporated Milk” sold on the spot, so Scott began alternating between the real and surreal for a few more years. He also began experimenting with oil, and continued to offer these paintings with his watercolors. He moved away from traditional imagery in the early 90’s. 

“The Big Cheese”
“Milkman’s Here!”
“Coffee Stop”
“California Vegetables”

All along, Scott had been getting more and more requests for commissioned paintings. For these, he interviewed his clients, gathering details about their lives, families, or hobbies. He then free associated with the words he’d jotted down until the words became images. Though he was telling their stories, they were being filtered through his personal perspective.

“Little Italy”
“Grocery Shopper”
“Morning Newspaper”

Scott admires the work of John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper and Joaquin Sorolla, but he doesn’t look to them for inspiration when it comes to his own work. He chooses instead to tell his visual stories from images he’s actually seen throughout his own life. He often uses family members or friends as models for his surrealistic paintings.

“Ice Cream and Candy”

Several years ago he was asked if he had a favorite among his paintings, and he said it was, “The Aloha Motel.”

“The Aloha Motel”

. . . it tells the story of a man who works at a lonely job, surrounded by just a few objects. I have taken those objects, made them larger than life so that others can appreciate the special qualities of someone’s seemingly simple life.

I enjoy the nostalgic tone of Scott’s paintings; so many of the chosen objects resonate and stir up personal memories. I also love all the food-related items, wishing I could be that woman leaning against a giant muffin or that little girl sitting on those red jump rope handles eating a popsicle (did you see that giant Fudgsicle?!).  

“TV Dinner”
“Coffee Time”

Yes, I love all the antique toys and I think it’s pretty cool that Scott was stationed in Hawaii for a couple of years. I like to imagine him riding his motorcycle all over the island while I was having fun in my college dorm. His retro Hawaii posters really take me back, and I’ve always been fascinated with things that are not their usual size. 

“Cop Stop”
“Grocery Checkers”

Scott retired from the FOA summer exhibition in 2018, but continues to work full time on commissions for private clients and businesses. 

“Canned Heat”
“Happy’s Place”
“Flying Fish”

In 2019, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts.

Visit Scott Moore’s official website for lots more, including detailed step-by-step explanations of his creative process, a pictorial biography, and information about purchasing limited edition giclée prints.

Click here to find out about Moore Than Meets the Eye, a 200-page retrospective hardcover book featuring 150 of Scott’s iconic paintings. A Collector’s Edition is also available, which includes a signed limited edition giclée print.

*Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

25 thoughts on “leaves you wanting Moore

  1. Very nice blog! I especially love the Milkman painting. We had milk delivered to our door several times a week in the Bronx until sometime in the 70’s! Some days I yearn for days gone by! Thanks for helping me reminisce today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, having a milkman was definitely something special. In London we had a milkman that delivered in bottles with foil caps, and he also delivered cheese. He never billed anyone — we simply left payment on the front step. 🙂


  2. Yes he does leave me wanting Moore! Goodness gracious how much I love these, and what he does with titles, and you leave me wondering how you know of this person–is he a friend, an acquaintance? Thanks for the eye “Ice Cream and Candy.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have the pleasure of knowing Scott personally; I stumbled upon his work a couple of months ago. Usually with so many images I don’t go to the trouble of including titles, but Scott’s were just too clever to leave out.


  3. Love Moore’s art…and his clever use of puns to title his pieces! I grew up in Orange County, CA and visited the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts (FOA) every summer in the 80’s and 90’s. I totally remember Moore’s “out of scale realism”. So cool! 🙂


    1. Wow, that’s so cool, Bridget!! Good to know Scott’s still painting after all this time, and yes, I LOVE his punny titles!


    1. Glad you like them, Dorothy. All the food products are interesting and bring back fond memories. I’m all for giant donuts and being able to stand on a pile of saltines. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew you loved food, but didn’t know you liked surrealist art or leaned toward nostalgia. Yes, Scott’s art is just right for you.


  4. I think I’ve seen some of his work somewhere, but this is fantastic, Jama. I remember the milkman & we had a breadman, too, who came by daily with pastries & bread! And I had one of those Tom Thumb cash registers! I know that’s the pull of Moore’s work, the dipping into the past but it’s quite exceptional. Thank you for another exquisite sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve shared a couple of Scott’s paintings on FB, so you might have seen those. A breadman would be my dream come true — pastries delivered?!! Yes, please. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Such interesting and creative artwork. I could get lost in them for hours, looking at all the detail.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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