More About Me

When I got into more advanced art classes, and started oil painting, I soon developed a passion for painting that began to overshadow my love of surfing. I finished up my college time at The University of California at Santa Cruz, and graduated with a BA in fine art in 1977. During my time at UCSC I took a class in mural painting, and I painted a mural on the side of the Freeline Design surf shop in Santa Cruz. The mural is 14 feet high and 38 feet long. Several years later, SURFING magazine had a "best of" issue,   and they selected my mural as "The best mural on the side of a surf shop".

While in college in Santa Cruz I would work after classes doing artwork on surfboards for several of the local board manufacturers. I used various media such as airbrushed acrylics, pen and ink, and watercolors which would then be sealed under fiberglass and resin.

After graduation I moved to southern California. My idea was to use the airbrush techniques I had been using on surfboards, and start doing cars. Airbrushed cars and vans were big in southern California in the 1970's. However, I quickly discovered that I just wasn't cut out for airbrushing cars, so I retired my airbrushing equipment permanently.

I began substitute teaching in Whittier area high schools during the day, and trying to develop my oil painting skills in the evenings. At this point I was selling my paintings for a few dollars to anyone who expressed interest in them. Many I gave away. But, I was learning from each canvas whether the result was successful or not. I remember my father's advice about gaining experience in painting. He said "leave miles of canvas behind you".

Because of my surfing background and experience, the subject matter for almost all of my early work was the ocean. This was reinforced by a trip to Carmel with my dad, when we visited the art gallery of Alexander Dzigurski. I was awed and inspired by his exciting depictions of the waves off the California coast. I determined at that time to see if I could make a career out of oil painting. For a week or two I even tried to copy Alexander Dzigurski's style of painting. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

My attempts to paint like Dzigurski were flops, so I decided to try to just copy the ocean itself. I experimented with various techniques, such as painting with a palette knife, but I kept coming back to just the traditional paint brush as my tool of choice.

While living in southern California, I walked past Howard Morseburg's gallery in Los Angeles. This was in 1978. I was immediately drawn in, as he had many beautiful seascapes on the walls. I didn't know it at the time, but Mr. Morseburg had the largest selection of seascapes in California. A week later I returned with a new seascape, and Howard invited me to quit my teaching job and paint full time. That was music to my ears.

The opportunity to paint full time gave me more and more experience, and the quality of my work began to improve. Almost all of my work was seascapes of California or Hawaii. Mr. Morseburg placed my work in art galleries from Honolulu to Chicago. Two years later I moved to Paso Robles, a small town north of San Luis Obispo.

A new art gallery opened in Carmel, Simic Galleries, and the first two paintings they sold were seascapes of mine. Sometime later, the work of another artist, James Fetherolf, who was also showing his work at Simic galleries, inspired me to try my hand at classic California landscapes. The gallery owner, Mr. Mario Simic, encouraged me at this. Since I was living in Paso Robles, surrounded by rolling hills with oaks and barns, I had plenty of material for painting inspiration all around me.

Carmel became my primary art market. It was close enough to Paso Robles, and is a worldwide destination for seekers of fine art. I have now been showing my work continuously in Carmel for nearly 30 years. I've moved around, however, living in various parts of California. I currently reside in the small town of Coarsegold, California, in the Sierra foothills south of Yosemite National Park. I am still showing my work in Carmel, now at the very fine Westbrook Galleries. I still love to paint seascapes, but also the classic California scenes, and other western landscapes such as our National Parks.   

I am frequently asked, "How long did it take you to paint that?"  My paintings do take time, buy I don't keep track of it. I'll just work on a painting until I'm satisfied with it, without any time frame or deadline. Usually I'll have two or three going at any one time, so I can give them a rest, let them dry for a while. Then when I return to a particular painting, I may see it with a fresh eye. The time involved is irrelevant, the finished result is all that matters.

.........  David Dalton