La Jolla artist not slowing down in her 80s – The world of Peggy Hinaekian is all about


Peggy Hinaekian in her plein air studio. COURTESY PHOTO

Peggy Hinaekian in her plein air studio. COURTESY PHOTO


 The world of Peggy Hinaekian is all about color. But hues mean something altogether different – and more – to the octogenarian La Jolla artist and writer, who continues to productively paint and write from her home studio on Soledad Mountain Road.

“I was born and raised in Egypt surrounded by the Sahara Desert and my first impression of color was the yellow-ocher sand, and I was very much obsessed by it, as well as the turquoise of the Mediterranean,” said the 86-year-old artist, who’s lived worldwide, about her early influences. “Since then my color palate has been blues and red oranges evoking emotion and a sunny place. My brain spews out color.”

Hinaekian’s travels in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa have strongly influenced her work which she described as “nostalgic and lyrical,” consisting mainly of oils or acrylic on canvas and mixed technique on paper. as well as limited-edition original etchings.

“I consider myself a color field painter and am foremost a colorist,” she said. “I put myself in a color mood and apply the paint on canvas or on paper to create a layered atmospheric composition, sometimes with collages.”

Hinaekian, whose father was an interior decorator, started drawing at age 3. “He encouraged me in the arts,” she said while admitting to “doodling in my schoolbooks.”

She fled Egypt during the Suez Canal crisis seeking refuge in Canada before coming to the United States and eventually settling down with her husband in La Jolla.

Her work is mostly abstract renditions of imaginary landscapes in warm earth tones and variations of blues, sometimes with collages and texture. She said quiet, atmospheric, whimsical, dreamy, imaginary and poetic are adjectives describing her paintings, which she added, “have a soothing effect on the viewer.”

A truly international and versatile artist, Hinaekian also does commissions. Before becoming a professional artist, she had a formal career as a fashion designer in New York.

Her award-winning art has been exhibited internationally and can be found in numerous corporate and private collections. Her etchings are distributed by Christie’s Contemporary Art of London and Editions Francony of France. 

The artist works free form by choice and disposition.

“I rarely work with a preconceived vision for the final product, thus allowing the possibility of ambiguity and surprise,” Hinaekian said. “Conceptually, I try to immerse the viewer in the perceptual experience of space, color, and light. Therefore, my paintings actualize perception by carefully balancing these elements. I have a fascination with creative imagery, which is an area of space occupied by floating forms that may join or float independently. Finally, by using color and texture, I try to breathe movement into my ‘abstract landscapes’ to guide the viewer into the paintings making the person wander into a different reality.”

Discussing her outlook on life and art, Hinaekian said: “When you pursue your dreams relentlessly – you eventually get them. But you have to be relentless, and really aggressive in trying to achieve.”

At age 86, she reflected, “Health is the most important thing you can have.”

Returning to art, Hinaekian said her paintings “have a focal point so that your eyes are riveted to the painting.” She added of her artistic preferences, “What I like is big expanses of color. That is the most important thing in my painting.”

She explained her artistic process. “I create an image in my head, then I put it down on canvas.”

Her work also tends to be unorthodox. ‘I like gathering found objects in the street when I’m walking,” she said. “I do abstract photographs of La Jolla pavements and sidewalks. But you don’t know it’s a sidewalk.”

Hinaekian wrote “The Girl from Cairo – A Memoir,” which she recently presented at a book signing at Warwick’s in La Jolla. She added she also wrote a racy book at age 80 that got translated into French and Swiss. That opus drew headlines reading “Grandmother of 80 writes an erotic book.”

Retiring is not in Hinaekian’s lexicon. “My mind is too full of things,” she admitted. “I work every day either painting or writing.”

At work now on her fourth novel, a fiction piece, Hinaekian hinted that it’s “a book with a strong female protagonist. I cannot write about meek women. I like women to be strong.”

Hinaekian’s work is intended for the masses. “I keep my prices down because I want everyone to own a piece of my art,” she said.

She also is welcomes people coming to her studio to view her work.

“Some people think if they come they have to buy,” she said. “But that’s not the point. The point is to make my art known. It’s a product from my heart. Art is my passion. I cannot live without it.”

Contact her at


Oct. 29 – Author talks at La Jolla Community Center, 6811 La Jolla Blvd. 2-3 p.m. A free tote bag will be given to all who purchase one of the two books presented “The Girl from Cairo – A Memoir,” and “A Col
lection of Short Stories and Essays – Of Humans and Animals.”

Oct. 30 – Art demonstration at the Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, 7946 Ivanhoe Ave., in La Jolla from 2-5 p.m. Every visitor will receive four signed prints.

November and December – Exhibition at the La Jolla Community Center, 6811 La Jolla Blvd.

Nov. 6 – Author talk at the Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. in La Jolla from 2-3 p.m. Whoever purchases one of her books will get a free tote bag designed by her.

Throughout November – Exhibition of paintings at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters at 5627 La Jolla Blvd. 


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