“The visceral experience of creating art renews my spirit and I seek to convey that renewal and joy to others.”
What and who has inspired your artwork?
The beauty of nature with its interplay of colours, light, shapes and textures, has always been a source of inspiration for me as a painter. To capture something of this mystery in a painting and through this medium, to be able to express my own gratitude and appreciation for what I have experienced, has provided me with moments of great joy. When others view my work and communicate their experience of this encounter with me, I am gratified and affirmed as an artist, that another has appreciated what I have expressed. I was first inspired by the work of the Impressionists in their use of colours and exploration of the effects of light, which created almost dreamlike interpretations of reality moderated by human experience. Monet’s great water lily paintings are representative of this style, which became studies of water and how it reflects light and the world above it. I encountered the paintings of our own ‘Group of Seven’ and particularly admire the work of Lawren Harris, with his abstracted landscapes, infused with a spiritual dimension. ‘North Shore, Lake Superior’ comes to mind as a painting that represents the stark reality of a Canadian landscape bathed in an ethereal light. Most recently, I have discovered the work of our First Nations artists, particularly Norval Morrisseau, in his use of colour, line and shape to communicate the sacredness of nature. As I came to realize my interest in Canadian landscape painting, I now feel most influenced by these latter Canadian painters, as I develop my own artistic voice.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
All artists’ work begins, I believe, with acknowledging and respecting the internal voice that urges him/her to create, after an experience of living that has engaged the artist’s heart and mind. Thus everyone is potentially an artist if we listen to and observe our experience of this encounter in order to express something of its truth, as the artist understands it. By using the tools and media that an artist favours, he/she creates what is beautiful or disturbing in order to communicate this to others. This personal exploration of one’s creative inclinations combined with a growing knowledge and skill with the artistic medium, become intertwined with the personality of the artist, resulting in the creation of an artistic voice. My inspiration to create comes from a myriad of sources, mainly through travel, observing nature and people, and my own spiritual life. I have discovered that my artistic journey is about honouring these inspirations, listening to my own inner voice and allowing them to compel me to capture on canvas something of their meaning for me.
What role does the artist have in society?
The artist’s role is to convey the truth of the human condition as he/she sees it using the artistic medium with which he/she is most comfortable. This ‘truth’ may be a profound expression of beauty, of sadness, of joy, of anger or some other emotion, which resonates with our human experience. For the artist, it is important to communicate this vision with others; for the viewer, the work of an artist often soothes, comforts, celebrates and/or challenges his/her views of the world, him/herself and others. The communication between the artist and the viewer, through the content of the artistic medium, can be a very effective means to develop and advance the human conversation about how we experience our lives. As an example, Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ comes to mind as a disturbing condemnation of human savagery. As a good friend of mine reminded me, ‘conversation’ is not simply the exchange of statements but often includes questions, unresolved issues, disagreements and incomplete thoughts that can produce some contradictory, confusing and challenging portrayals by an artist. The artist’s role, then, becomes prophetic when he/she is able to reach the hearts and minds of people and compel them to rethink the spiritual and moral boundaries of their life experience.
What art do you most identify with?
I mainly identify with paintings of landscapes and of portraits, old and new. Both painting styles challenge my perceptions of the world and people, the relationship between them, and the contributions each makes to better understanding the nature of the human experience. My landscape paintings, both abstracted and realistic, become a conversation between myself and the creator of the scene I am observing. Portraits convey the subject’s mood and capture something of the beauty of what it means to be human. Van Gogh’s self-portraits with their expressive use of colour and brush strokes challenge the viewer to look into the mind of a genius. The interplay of light and dark in a portrait fascinates me as a metaphor for the dynamic of good and evil in human experience. Rembrandt’s portraits are particularly appealing to me in his use of this artistic style.
From my earliest childhood, I have always found painting to be gratifying and the sensory experience of creating art compelling. The variety of colours, the texture and thickness of paint, and the interplay of colour, shape and form were the vocabulary of another language of expression I found intriguing. I did not understand then that my paintings were my attempt at communicating something of myself to the world, not bound by language barriers. I simply enjoyed the experience as I do today. However, as I began to study painting, I came to realize that visual art is indeed another language of communication; another means to share in something of the mystery of the human condition, our appreciation of life and our role in creation. I decided that I wanted to know more about this language of colour, shape, texture, and form that comes together in an interplay of light and shadow on a canvas. The visceral experience of creating art renews my spirit and I seek to convey that renewal and joy to others.
Through his paintings, David conveys his love of the world’s natural beauty while expressing his belief in the innate spirituality of creation. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram, and also check him out at booth D01 at Trinity Bellwoods Park, as part of the Queen West Art Crawl on September 12-13.