Saturday, February 9, 2013

David McEwen, Artist

From Lodeve, a small town in the Midi Region of The South of France, David McEwen resides with his wife Sally. Together they are the proprietors of the Painting Holiday Center, L'Atelier du Soulondre. Lodeve is about 3/4 of an hour from Montpellier.

David is a world famous artist. Slated to be a “hopeless romantic, believes in Hogwarts and Narnia, has a dry, even sarcastic sense of humor and is gifted clumsy”.

The International Artist named him as a “master painter of the world”. His paintings are vibrant, come alive with emotions, nature and his love for life…

Welcome David!

How long have you been painting?
All my life. I taught Art at High School for some years but in 1995 I decided to bite the bullet and go full-time and the one regret is that I didn't do it sooner.

Where do you like to paint?
I prefer to work in my Studio. There are no bugs, it's cool and there's nobody looking over my shoulder making comments, anyway I always forget something when I do go out. Of course, when I have students with me we go out to one of many small, beautiful villages or painting venues that are close by and we work in the sun.

What is your daily motivation/muse?
On my own, my studio has everything that I need, especially coffee !
Chuck Close once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up for work." I agree with that so much. I'm a Painter, that is my job......Artists can wander around clutching their foreheads and waiting for their muse, I work from 9 in the morning until about 8 at night, 7:7, because I love's the only thing that I CAN do. Anyway if I didn't work Sally would kill me.

Do you have family pets that inspire?
We do have two dogs who spend a lot of their day sleeping in my studio, they don't inspire but they do keep me company, and they force me from the easel to walk through the woods near our house twice a day.

Do you have a favorite indulgence while painting?
Music is important and I have some classical favorites, but the main indulgence are movies which I play while I work. I usually have to watch a film several times as I get carried away and forget that they are on so miss huge chunks. My taste in what to watch is eclectic, from the wonderful David Attenborough, History of Art to Cowboys with a bit of gratuitous sex and violence thrown one can understand why I do this....I suppose it's because I can !

What type of research do you conduct to accurately reproduce the accouterments, insignia, medals and badges of the cavalry men/soldiers in your paintings?
Well, for example, with the series I made of the soldiers of The Garde Republican, I went up to their depot in Paris and during the day I took about five hundred photos. When I saw somebody I thought would be a probable subject I took many close-up photos of every detail of the uniform, medals, embroidered items and tack. The person and the horse got the same treatment and I would take close detailed pictures of faces, hands feet and hooves, all from the same angle which is a really important point to remember. When you know that you're only going to get one day with a subject or client, go for it and take as many photos as possible and that is the beauty of the digital can drop the ones you don't like without having to take them to be developed.

Some people will tell you, "A real painter never uses photos !" don't listen because that would mean that Degas, Manet, Hockney and hundreds of others would no longer be real artists!

The Garde Republican
Do you paint faces under a magnifying glass, similar to the method followed by Chater Paul Chapter, a renowned 19th Century artist, whose medium was watercolor?
I use an illuminated magnifying glass to view the photos which I have blue tacked to a board beside my easel and occasionally I will check the painting with it too. I use a very large easel to which I clip a flood light with a day light corrected light bulb and an illuminated magnifying glass. 

Are the faces first painted on a larger scale to get the features right and then re-painted to the desired sizes?
No. When I'm preparing to work on a portrait I will do a number of small drawings then a full sized version in full detail. This helps me to understand the image. Sometimes if I find that likeness is not right, I will redraw the particular bit that's not working then try again......sometimes if it really won't " arrive " I will hang the offending piece in plain view on my studio wall and work on something else until I'm hit by the understanding of what is wrong?

What are your paint mediums?
For Oil Paintings I use Griffen Alkyds made by Winsor and Newton, they are a fast drying paint and they allow me to work in multiple glazes. I also work in watercolor with Daler Rowney Artist Quality paints. For Acrylics I really like are Golden Open, they are slow drying which is important during our summers. Pastels are a mixture of anything I can find from Lakeland Pastel Pencils to bits of this and that.

Do you have a favorite painting that you’ve created?
Yes. It's a painting that I made many years ago of all the winners of The Hickstead Show Jumping Derby. It was suggested by my late mother-in-law and Sally and I did about three months research then drove all over Europe finding signatures of all the riders for the Limited Edition Print.

Where are you currently exhibiting?
We have a gallery at home but there are three galleries who show my work in the United States. They are Forms Gallery in Delray Beach, Florida; The Dog and Horse Gallery in Charleston, West Virginia; and The Chisholm Gallery in West Palm Beach, Florida. In Europe, I have shorter exhibitions and have shown in Paris, London and Madrid amongst many other cities.

Have you accumulated any medals?
Yes, I've won some Gold and Silver medals.

Who is your favorite artist?
Oh, that changes depending on what I'm working on but the main ones are Corot for Landscapes, Turner for excitement and all round amazingness, for Portraits......Norman Rockwell, who I think was the most under-rated portrait painter of the 20th Century. Above them all is my brother Christopher who was my first and most important teacher.

Do you have advice for newbie artists?
Oh, yes. Learn To Draw and then draw everyday. I believe that drawing is the most important thing, the most vital thing that any painter can do and anyone who tells them differently is doing them no service whatsoever.
"You only learn to paint by drawing. For drawing is is a way of reasoning a place for colour in advance." Andre L'Hote.
      Learn when a painting is finished. 
      Then Stop.

Follow David….

David McEwen has been a professional painter and internationally respected teacher for many years. His formal training began when, at the age of 13 he was accepted into a special group, formed at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, by the internationally renowned painter; Victor Pasmore. Although Pasmore was an abstract painter, he insisted that his students learned to draw and paint in the traditional and classical way .

For the first year of his training, David drew and drew, anything from rocks, found objects, still lives to academy figures. It was from this latter subject that his love for portraiture was born.

During the second year the students were allowed to paint – in a way. Pasmore gave them paints, brushes and paper and then indicated a huge list from which the students were expected to mix matching colors. Not painting – just learning about painting and color theory. It was a hard and sometime tedious apprenticeship.

Over ten years ago, McEwen decided to become a full-time painter. He and his wife, Sally, had many contacts in the world of equestrian sports and commissions began to come in from international and Olympic riders for paintings of themselves and their horses. Between 1992 and 1997 David completed over 700 commissions in watercolor, oil and pastel and was involved in a number of prestigious exhibitions.

Since coming to live in Lodève his work has been included in several magazines and The International Artist named him as a “master painter of the world”. He has been a prize winner in several international competitions and is a member of a number of painting societies.

Following an invitation to visit and paint by the Government of the Falkland Islands he produced paintings of landscapes, wildlife, portraits and marine paintings for a major solo exhibition in London.

Although he has a waiting list for commissioned work, David still finds time to teach and paint his favorite subjects and quietly exhibits them in Montpellier and Orleans in France; Madrid, Marbella and Jerez in Spain and San Diego in the United States of America.

Although David likes some abstract paintings, he prefers classical painting and sculpture. He has absolutely no time for “Installation Art” and regards much of contemporary art as a joke which hides the lack of talent of the so called artist. But he also thinks that the most wonderful thing about art is that it is totally personal so if you like a painting, put it on your wall and enjoy it.

Other than telling you that he is very proud of living in Lodève, he is a hopeless romantic, and believes in Hogwarts and Narnia, has a dry, even sarcastic sense of humor and is giftedly clumsy, there is not much left to say.

David can be contacted on 04 67 44 41 70 

1 comment:

Carmel Rowley Author said...

A sensational artist and insightful interview. Thank you Gina and David.