Rodel Gonzalez: Artist with Hilton Head ties paints for ‘Star Wars’ series

Rodel Gonzalez is truly representative of the term, “May the Force be with you.”

While he is not Yoda in the “Star Wars” series, he is very involved in doing prolific art for the genre, including the movie coming up this year.

Gonzalez, who grew up in the Philippines, now calls Los Angeles home and produces Lowcountry art as well as special reproductions from classic Disney movies.

His story starts with his initiation into the art business at the age of 9 thanks to his father, Rick Gonzalez, and grandfather Felix Gonzalez.

“Growing up, my father would always tell me to not be intimidated by the paint and be 100 percent sure about my intentions on my first stroke at the canvas,” Gonzalez said.  

His explorations of color, form and composition ignited a lifelong passion for the arts in its many forms.

He studied painting at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines and went on to earn a degree in interior design from the Philippines School of Interior Design. This early training provided the skills and discipline that would serve him well in the future.

He also began experimenting in the music world, and at the age of 20 he founded Side A in the Philippines. The band is still active today and is the longest-lived band in Manila. Gonzalez was the lead singer, guitarist, saxophone player and the band’s most prolific songwriter.

In 1994, he embarked on a new journey and became a minister. Although busy with his official duties, he maintained his connection with art by doing commissioned portraits, murals and sketches for friends and acquaintances.

In 2002, he began to pursue in earnest a career in the fine arts. In 2005, he started a partnership with Julie Rogers, owner of Endangered Arts Ltd. on Hilton Head, to produce art from the Lowcountry. He participated in the studio’s annual art show last month, just as he has every year.

Their partnership continues today. Rogers shoots photos of coastal Lowcountry landscapes and Gonzalez translates the photos into painted works of art.

“Julie has been a great help,’’ he said. “Her great photos help enhance my art.”

But Gonzalez doesn’t just paint Lowcountry vistas. Some of his work captures scenes from a galaxy far, far away.

Gonzalez had been producing paintings for the Disney Fine Art portfolio — work he enjoyed because of its ties to his childhood — when he was authorized by the company to do paintings for the “Star Wars” series, including the latest “Star Wars” film. His first four original “Star Wars” paintings were purchased by George Lucas, the man behind the original blockbuster series.

While Gonzalez’ limited-edition Lowcountry paintings are reproduced from photos, his paintings for Disney are done from still images from the films.

 “The ‘Star Wars’ material is very cool,” he said. “Art is a very great journey. I’m glad to see people appreciate it and purchase it.”