Artist Statement

Laura McHugh
Artist and Engineer
Half Moon Bay California


We are all looking for our place in the world – where we fit and the impact we want to make. And, on some level, most of us are a hot mess underneath it all – dismayed, frustrated, and sometimes lacking faith in a greater good.

My work is an examination of the different paths this introspection takes us down – our personal maps of constantly looking for what is around the next turn and under the next rock – the hope and promise that compels us to keep moving forward.

I use maps as a first layer in all my pieces as a touchstone to ground the journey. Each piece involves as many as 20-30 layers of cold wax and oil paint, including intermediate addition of textures that represent the topography and geography of my interior conversations as I am making the piece.

As I continue to build each painting, adding to and excavating from the paint, I have discovered that the answers to my questions often reveal themselves. This archaeological expedition on the paper or panel is my way of exploring emotions associated with finding the beautiful meaning in what would otherwise seem to be mundane, everyday life.

The website, particularly the galleries with slideshows of various bodies of my work, will give you a small peek into my world.


I’ve been working as an engineer for the past 30 years mainly in the real estate/facilities management and environmental health and safety sectors, with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration.  I also have a certificate in personal coaching – I’m a trained coach with a foundation in the co-active coaching model. When not making art, I’m doing my engineering thing, mostly in the bio/pharma sector.

My experience in the business world has been in a variety of consulting and corporate positions. I develop and execute ambitious strategic plans, sometimes including marketing and sales elements. I’ve been a director of a corporate group where it was my job to manage >$25M budgets, sell  organizations on new programs, and inject some fun to motivate people. I love using the creative right side of my brain, along with the practical left side to accomplish objectives. Every year, I set and hit my marks.

I have also studied with Michael Harner at the California Institute for Integral Studies and have used guided visualization consistently to tap into my own creativity and remove blocks that hold back my work. I do this intuitive work in a practical and grounded way to help people find clarity and unstick creative blocks.

Services and Availability

As a working artist, I’m active in professional groups and have served on the Board of Directors for Art in Action as well as the Half Moon Bay Arts & Pumpkin Festival, Colony of Coastside Artists (CoCA) and the Coastside Doctors Without Borders Fundraiser Committee.

I teach art classes as time permits and to give back to my community, I recently termed out in 2023 from eight years as a District 3 commissioner for the San Mateo County Arts Commission. In 2022 I took on supervising the Creative and Home Arts part of the San Mateo County Fair. In 2023 I joined the Masterworks Chorale Board of Directors.

I am available for commissioned work,  art and business workshops, public speaking, and consulting.