Doug David

Page 1




Capturing a Moment in Time

“Roll of the Wave,” oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches



David paints quickly as he begins a new piece, then returns to work out finishing details.


JULY 2020







s he walks along a beach crossover that stretches down to the sea just south of Fred Tuerk Drive, painter Douglas David pauses to set down his paint-spattered, 5-foot-tall easel, oil paints and canvas. He looks out at the expansive view in front of him and says, “Wow!” then, “This is gorgeous.” The early morning sun bathes the scene in a soft glow and David surveys the deserted beach, the aquamarine ocean and the nearly clear, crystalline blue skies and exclaims, “Just look at this ... It’s a perfect day for a painting.” As a series of waves crashes in against the beach and bubbles away into the sand, he spots a trio of brown pelicans gliding gracefully in formation above the sea. “Now this —” he says as his voice jumps an octave or two, “this is going to be fun.” Over the next hour or so he will work to capture this magical seascape onto a 30-by-48-inch linen canvas. David, an award-winning, much-traveled painter whose home and studio is in Indianapolis, Indiana, is no stranger to the waters off Vero Beach. Indeed, for each of the last 11 years he has taught a variety of painting and drawing classes and workshops at the Vero Beach Museum of Art’s Museum Art School. “In the winter, I usually exhibit, sell and teach at several venues throughout Florida, but Vero Beach has a special appeal for me,” says the 62-year-old artist. “First, Vero is surrounded by so much beauty, and the museum has such a sophisticated focus on the arts. Also, I’ve been lucky to have students — both beginners and more seasoned artists — who are enthusiastic, talented and have studied with me for a number of years. Each has their own approach, style and goals but all have grown, improved and seem to be much more

satisfied with their painting journey from our time together.” “Douglas has proven to be one of our most popular visiting teachers, and his Master Artist Workshops invariably fill up fast,” says Ellyn Giordano, the registrar of the Museum Art School. “It’s always

exciting to see the quality of the work his students produce during his workshops. We are lucky to have him among our visiting faculty. He’s as accomplished a teacher as he is a painter.” David has worked as a full-time painter and instructor since 1977

“Great Beach Day,” oil on canvas, 60 x 36 inches and had numerous one-man shows, including the Richmond Art Museum, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Bok Tower Gardens, Captiva Island Yacht Club and elsewhere. His warm, often moody, impressionist landscapes, seascapes and florals/still lifes are much in demand and are featured in both

private and public collections. One of his paintings, “Red, White and Pink Peonies,” (Indiana’s state flower) was chosen by Karen Pence, wife of Vice President and former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to hang in the sunroom of the vice presidential residence, Number One Observatory Circle, in






“Crashing Waves,” oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches


at this stage; work quickly. Don’t be afraid you’ll mess up your painting.’ You can always take a palette knife and scratch out some areas of your work or paint over it.” An impressionist, David admits that he doesn’t like paintings that are overworked. “I prefer a painting that is spontaneous and fresh. And I hope to capture the spirit of a scene, whether it’s a landscape, seascape or even a still life, as opposed to the

Washington, D.C., along with pieces selected from the Smithsonian Collection. As the second lady once told a newspaper reporter, “Douglas David is a talented artist with a gift for capturing our country’s natural beauty.” After setting up his easel in the hard sand, some 20 or so feet away from where waves break onto the beach, David mounts his canvas, which has been pre-primed with an underpinning of a mixture of cadmium red and white oil paint. This produces a salmon-colored undertone for his painting. “I like this won-

derful tone because when I paint a seascape there will be lots of blues and cool colors, and this will produce a soft, rich under glow,” he explains. He pauses for a moment, points out at the sea and explains, “The Atlantic has a quicker, deeper drop than the Gulf so it is darker and we’ll need to use a darker blue and a darker green, such as Prussian green, than we’d use if we were painting on the shallower, lighter Gulf side. The farther north we go up the Atlantic coast the colder and rougher it gets, so we’d need to use deeper violets.”

David works quickly and is soon “blocking in” his composition. He roughs in his seascape’s waves, whitecaps and a horizon and explains, “This is my under drawing that gives me a composition so I know where I am going.” As he loads a light phthalo blue oil paint with a touch of pink mixture onto a large chip brush, he gestures to the canvas and says, “You never want your horizon to be in the exact middle of your painting. And if it’s too low you have a lot of sky; too high and lots of waves. But as I tell my students, ‘Don’t overthink your work

detail. I want my paintings to be like a novel, not a documentary. A novel leaves things unfinished and lets your mind finish it and I love that. That’s exciting” In his classes, David makes it a point to cover the basic elements of painting, including composition, building form, light and shadow and more. He also teaches them “how to see.” For example, in a recent “Dynamic Seascapes in Oil” class, he

explained to Vero Beach students how important it is to study the cycles of the waves, the rhythm and cycle of the moon, the various values and tones and angles of the light, the colors of the sea, the different planes of the waves — everything. Many times, students, including some who have homes on the ocean, have told him, “After your class I can never look at the ocean the same way. Now I am looking at it from a whole new


“Wave Shadows,” oil on canvas, 36 x 24 inches






“He is really the consummate teacher ... His passion for art is infectious.”

“Storm Building,” oil on canvas, 60 x 36 inches



perspective.” No matter how new or advanced they are, he will walk his students through the steps of beginning a painting. “In classes we cover classic painting principles, then move into technique, and finally we mix our unique palette of colors,” says David. “Then I encourage them to dance.” Dance? “Exactly,” he explains with a twinkle in his eye. “I tell my students that I want them to learn to paint the way I learned to dance. I learned on a

dance floor, not out of a book. I made mistakes but kept at it. So I want them to get painting as soon as we’ve gone over the fundamentals. I want to wind up my students and push them to be fearless.” Vero Beach resident Diana Bickford, an accomplished art director, illustrator and painter who has studied widely, has been a student of David’s since he started teaching and holding workshops at the Museum Art School a decade ago. “I continue to learn something new each time I

study with Doug,” she says. “He is really the consummate teacher and has an incredible ability to help an artist produce a better painting, no matter how experienced or inexperienced they may be. His passion for art is infectious.” In his classes at the Museum Art School David will create his own painting as well as move from student to student as they work on paintings, offering advice and counsel. He limits his classes to around a dozen students so he has time to give each of them

In addition to teaching the fundamentals such as composition and technique, David advises his students to paint fearlessly. his full attention. “It can be a very intimate — and intense — situation in that we are all painting and creating” says David. “There is a synergy to being together.” He remembers in one of his workshops approaching a student who he noticed had started crying as she was in the middle of a painting. He walked over and whispered, “Are those good tears or bad tears?” She smiled, wiped away her tears and told him, “Good tears. This class is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thank you.”

“I’ll never forget that moment,” says David. “I was humbled and thrilled.” In only a little more than an hour after he started applying his under painting to his seascape, David has begun adding finishing touches. He stands back, looks out to sea, then to his canvas, and loads his brush with ultramarine and a dark green mixture of oil paint to create contrast next to highlights to the seascape’s series of whitecaps. “See how adding some darks to these very light blue

whitecaps makes them pop?” he asks. “There, that helps make them come alive, doesn’t it?” Soon, after some final touches, David pronounces this painting “finished.” As he wipes his brushes and palette knives clean with a paper towel, he adds, “Sometimes I have been asked how I know when a painting is finished.” He laughs and asks, “Did you ever stay at a party too long? You just know it. And you know when you’ve gotten what you set out to get: capturing a moment in time.” `