Amber Waves of Grain

Artist Mac Hillenbrand is a Del Mar native with a very intriguing back story. At the age of 18, Mac moved to Santa Cruz to attend college, studying photography, music, and film. After a snowboarding accident which resulted in a knee injury, Mac found himself on the sidelines. Still wanting to be involved in the sports that he loved, Mac decided to use his cinematography skills. He started to make snowboarding, surfing and skating videos for his friends.

As time went on, Mac shifted his focus to the music scene. He moved to the San Francisco Bay area with some band friends. It was there that he ran a modern-day speakeasy called The French Fry Factory. Mac rented an 8500 square foot warehouse and became an underground rock promoter. After three years of hard work to make ends meet, Mac moved back to Southern California and on to a career as a painter/contractor.

He was looking for greater flexibility and had the desire to have more time to surf. Unfortunately, Mac developed an allergy to latex, which put an end to his painter/contractor career and also made it impossible for him to wear a wetsuit for surfing. Mac kept surfing without the wetsuit and started a job resurfacing cabinets. He sanded down the cabinet doors until the wood grain was visible. Mac would then revarnish the doors and reinstall them. As he worked through this repetitive process, Mac started to see surf breaks in the wood grain.

It was through this process that he solidified his vision to use wood grain to mimic the oceanic texture using memories, ingrained knowledge, and photography. Mac then enrolled in the American School of French Marquetry to acquire the skill of veneer. Marquetry is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative pattern, designs or pictures. Mac has now been creating his artwork, his way since 2015, with each piece he has fine-tuned his technique. Mac uses colorful resins which are nontoxic and hypoallergenic to create beautiful renditions of surf breaks on individual pieces of wood. Every piece of wood is unique making every art piece an original.

Joy is such a consistent contributor to Mac's creative process. He finds fun in selecting the wood, sanding is fun, looking for the ocean in the grain is fun, creating three-dimensional art with a holographic effect is fun. The story depicting the twists and turns in life that brought Mac to this specific time in his life is really fun.


In addition to the waves of grain series, Mac also specializes in custom Marquetry pieces based on any photograph or drawing as well as resin paintings created on plexiglass. With each custom Marquetry order, Mac creates multiple versions of the art piece and allows the client to choose their favorite finished product. His most recent and impressive custom order to date is a 72" long 20" high rendition of Swami's beach, pictured above. This masterpiece is selling for $4500.00. Once the initial client picks his favorite version, there are five additional original Swami's pieces available for sale.

Find Mac on Instagram or and locally at Lotus on Cedros as well as Skylar Home and Patio in Carlsbad and Oceanside Brewing Company in Oceanside. His work inspires to look, touch, and feel the surface of his masterpieces is to want one for your home or office space. For questions or to place a custom order, contact Mac directly by email