About Arturo Thomae

“If it ain’t moving or growing, I’ll paint it.”

Six years in the Marine Corps might not seem like good training for being an artist, but Arturo Thomae said he’s never learned anything more important during his years in art classes.

“All of the training I had has come in handy, especially showing up for work, whether or not it’s raining,” Thomae said.

That’s because Thomae paints murals and does his work outdoors. And whether it’s sunny and warm, or cold and damp, Thomae keeps busy. The Aptos artist has murals in San Jose, Gilroy, Santa Cruz, Aptos, Salinas and, of course, Watsonville. On Thursday, he was working in the bright sun on the corner of East Lake Avenue and Union Street, painting red berries on his latest piece, a mural of a Berry Bowl fruit label.

As he climbed down from his scaffolding, white, curly hair poked out from underneath his sun hat, which shaded his brown face, white mustache and warm smile. Paints of every color speckled his hands as he used them to talk about his love of art and life.

Not really knowing what he wanted to do for a career, Thomae finished his stint in the military in 1969. He was trained in electronics, but didn’t enjoy it.

“I fell in with the wrong group when I got out of the Marines … artists, and I started painting,” he said.

Thomae, who first moved to Santa Cruz County in 1972, said he wandered around between the Bay Area, Mexico and Colorado before finally settling in Aptos. During that time he painted signs, mostly, and as he took art classes at community colleges, he gradually became more skilled and began painting murals.

Currently, his work can be seen at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Aptos/La Selva Beach Fire Station No. 3 and on the Exquisite Designs building on Walker and Beach streets in Watsonville, Ocean Honda, Watsonville Library, Monterey County WIC buildings, Salinas Mercado, Pacific Coffee Roasting Company, Pump’d in Watsonville, among many other locations.