T.J. Darwin, the Propane Tank Picasso

California artist T.J. Darwin's tank murals draw on local scenery and a colorful imagination. (image: interiorinstallations.com)

As we have previously discussed, a 250-gallon propane tank is not a beautiful thing. But just as Michelangelo looked at a block of marble and saw the statue trapped inside, T.J. Darwin looks at a storage tank and sees playful gnomes.

The California artist paints water and propane tanks.

“I like the three-dimensional surface,” he told his local Press-Enterprise this week. “It tells a story.”

The 46-year-old Darwin lives in Idyllwild, an artsy mountain town that relies on propane, providing him with lots of bare canvases. Darwin is a mural specialist, mixing local scenery and a colorful imagination into his work. He has rendered vivid landscapes and Indian villages, nesting raccoons and at least one psychedelic gnome scene.

His website features several more samples of his work, along with contact info for potential clients. (No pricing, though.) Darwin is available for international jobs, too.

Outside his tank work, the painter once turned an entire home into a Polynesian Tiki hut with “Pirates of the Caribbean” flourishes. He previously worked in the art department at FAO Schwartz, the mega toy store in New York.