Encinitas has long been known as a spiritual center. Legend has it that in the 1930’s an energy vortex was detected in the area and thus Paramahansa Yogananda located his Self Realization Fellowship monastic ashram in Encinitas.Artist Don Doerfler has captured the essence of the local spiritual community in his 2013 Arts Alive banner titled “Lotus Blessing,” currently on display in front of the SRF bookstore. The image portrays an opening lotus blossom, along with an ethereal Yogananda bestowing a blessing of “spiritual unfoldment” beneath the artist’s rendition of the arched tower and gleaming Lotus domes.
Since reading Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” decades ago, Doerfler has been a devotee of SRF and often visits the Meditation Gardens to reflect on his spiritual journey. He says of the monastic center, “I always find great inspiration in its presence… It reminds me of what a paradise we live in.”
Born in Wailuku, Maui, Doerfler moved with his family to Orange County when he was a toddler. After years of vacationing in Encinitas, he and his family settled here permanently in 1973.
As a third generation professional artist, art has been one of Doerfler’s life long pursuits. His grandmother was a founding member of the Whittier Art Association, while his mother worked as a cell and background painter for Walt Disney Studios, contributing to classic animated films such as Fantasia and Snow White. His father worked as an animator for Chuck Jones and Warner Brothers Studio with Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd as his two main characters.
Following the family tradition, Doerfler pursued a B.A. degree in Art and Design at Cal State Fullerton. He became an early adopter of the Macintosh computer and related design programs. Through a combination of talent, expertise, and good fortune, Doerfler was hired to design all of the graphics and layout of “Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia,” which won all top awards for web based encyclopedias. He later designed and built numerous websites, including templates for BMW car dealerships nationwide.
Doerfler later designed multi-format audio CD’s for recording artists such as Sound Garden, The Doors, and Terrence Trent Darby. For three years he traveled extensively to meet with international celebrities such as the Eagles, Madonna, and John and Bo Derek. Although his life was exciting, Doerfler eventually recognized that his work was keeping him away from home and family.
He says of his successful art career, “I’ve positively touched thousands and thousands of people with my artwork in print media, CD, and web. How could it be better for any artist?”
After having grown and collected orchids most of his life, in 2008 Doerfler embarked on a new business venture: Encinitas Orchids, Inc. With hundreds of species of plants from all over the world, he says, “My business is all about making floral sculptures and designs with orchids and other tropical plants.”
He continues, “This is my daily creative outlet. Working with plants and gardening in general is a meditation of its own. There is no way to be closer to the Divine Source than through Nature.”
Each week his live orchid arrangements beautify the lobby areas of both the SRF Temple on 2nd Street and the new SRF Meditation Chapel on J Street.
“Lotus Blessing,” his Arts Alive banner, can be seen currently in front of the Encinitas Self Realization Fellowship Books and Gift shop, located on Highway 101 at K Street.
For more information on Doerfler’s artwork visit painterofparadise.com. To learn more about his exotic plants visit encinitasorchids.com.