Written by Rob Peterson Photos by Abdullah Alsanea
I walked into Tak Ioka's house and there was a guitar; the guitar was artistically designed out of the house’s ceiling. It was just a glimpse into the mind of the creative veteran studio artist. As I went deeper into his home, I was serenated by jazz music and eventually found myself inside his studio, a sacred place where Tak finds peace and solace. Inside the artist’s studio, there was a cougar, wolf, lynx, dog and even a house cat, as portraits. The small studio held Tak’s drawings but the whole house was a work of art. As previously hinted, the artist redesigned his Burbank house and has been doing so since the 1980’s. His renovations feature a tea-house, a ceiling guitar, and most notably, a hundred year old sanded wooden door handle from his grandfather. Tak is a master painter who has created hundreds of portraits and who has left his watermark on his own real estate.
Hailing originally from Sacramento, this Japanese American artist moved to the San Fernando Valley to attend the Pasadena College of the Arts, capitalizing on the GI bill after serving two years in the army. He worked in television doing storyboards and then, in advertising, retiring in 1992. His artistic hunger had yet to subside. He began to paint as a simple form of expression and nothing more. Tak picked up the brush six years ago and hasn’t taken it off the canvas since. Getting to know this man was an experience in itself. To meet Tak is to know the true meaning of art. According to him:
“You have to draw, draw, draw all day, 24 hours if you can, even in your sleep, you have to study the lines and study the shading and this will slowly develop into color and from there, once you learn the color, start painting.”
When did you decide to paint? "I always enjoyed drawing as a youngster. I didn’t think I could be a good artist when I first went to Arts Center."
What subjects do you like to paint? "I like to do animals because they move around like kids. I like to do pictures with charcoal as far as movements study of animal. Animals painted, or whatever, gotta be from a photograph. The movements are too fast."
How long does it usually take you to finish your paintings? "Some artists say your painting is never complete. I, alla prima(Italian: At first attempt), put the paint down on the canvas, let it down, and that’s it. You have to have a good eye for that, I believe. It takes me a couple days sometimes, but usually I like to finish in a day." Any advice you would give to young painters? "Paint every day because a little color added changes the whole scheme of your painting, the temperature, or whatever. Understand that, study that and just enjoy yourself by drawing."
Why do you not sell more of your work or work with a publisher? "I feel like, I’m still learning and studying at my age. And being in the art business and in art studio work. I’m not into the selling part. If people wanna buy it, I will sell it. I belong to the Burbank Art Association. Every once and a while we’ll have a showing, and I will present a piece of work every now and again." If you were not a painter, what would you be? "I just see myself as a painter. I think this is the reason why I get up and get into the studio so I can start painting right away."
"The most rewarding thing for any artist is to keep trying to see what develops out of a canvas, a blank canvas."