Biography

Hello and welcome to my website, I am David McCamant. This site and blog are all about traditional painting and technique. Every master painter I have met have one amazing thing in common, they are eternal students! It is a wondrous way to keep the fire burning for improving your work. It does for me too. My blog on this site will cover insights and experiences I’ve garnered for over 30 years now as a professional artist.

A bit about me.

My parents said I started drawing as soon as I could hold something to do it with. As most kids, Saturday morning found me avidly watching my favorite cartoons on television for hours on end. I loved drawing them and continued doing so throughout my formative years. Of course one’s young attention is pulled by lots of subjects, cars, planes and the rest of boyhood fascinations. At the same time my family often went fishing and camping in the Sierra Nevada range. These journeys instilled in me a deep appreciation for the natural world.

My father would on occasion, take me with him to his architectural office. His way to ‘baby sit’ was to sit me at a drafting table and give me drawing tools. I eventually became a pretty good draftsman too. I dabbled in watercolor, pen and ink and of course drawing right up through high school.

After graduating from high school I wanted to learn how to paint so I enrolled in several art classes at the University of Nevada, Reno. It was not the time for a realist painter. All the curriculum was geared toward abstract expressionism with training thought of as a hindrance to self-expression. The only realist painters I knew of were illustrators.

Being untrained as an illustrator I sought to get a job making some sort of artwork. A very sympathetic art director Jerry Stinson, took this sad wannabe on as a paste up artist. So at 19 I started my career as a professional. Within a year I had taken on the guise of art director for a national magazine of flying. Each new position offered more refinement, more learning and more expansion. A monumental event happened to me too; I met the love of my life, Lisa. Within 3 years we were married and I was well on my way to being a trained designer and illustrator. I was hired by one of the best design firms in Reno helmed by a great art director and designer Laurie Vasquez, an Art Center graduate. He was a true mentor and was responsible for polishing my skills as a commercial artist. Eventually I became the lead designer at the firm winning dozens of gold and silver awards.

Yet, cartoon animation still fascinated me.

I learned everything I could about the process and industry of animation. McCamant Productions Animation was born as the only animation studio in the state. We produced traditional cartoon animation at first for commercials and industry, won several big awards too. Then, bang, computer animation hit the scene and took the industry by storm. It wasn’t easy to produce in those days, massive amounts of time, costly computer hardware and software were necessary. The demand for the new computer look pushed us into higher and higher stress levels. With the high pressure of the studio it was hard to keep the fire burning in my heart for painting. Finally the stress of production had taken its toll and I closed the studio for health reasons. During this time I switched gears, yearned to become a better painter. I painted with acrylics as it was the medium I had become accustomed to with illustration.

One of my favorite artists was Maxfield Parrish whom I studied quite intensively. I wanted to understand the underlying power of his compositions. It turns out that he used Dynamic Symmetry, an ancient composition system, for every work. I too adopted the principals of Dynamic Symmetry for my work as well.

Fortune smiled upon me when I met my good friend and mentor, master painter Brian Davis. Brian exposed me to incredible information about the art world and most importantly, great painters. I studied the techniques and works of Nicolai Fechin, Emile Gruppe, Anders Zorn, Ted Kautzky, John Carlson, Edgar Payne, Richard Schmid, Trevor Chamberlain and David Curtis to name a few. Eventually Brian introduced me to his good friend the incomparable David A. Leffel. David was kind enough to agree to mentor me.

Being taught ‘on the job’ through most of my life by mentors has instilled in me the desire to become one myself. For the past twelve years I’ve been working on my fine art. I have sincere gratitude for the joy in creating beauty through my work and to share the insights it brings with my students and other artists.

I love to teach the fundamentals I learned that have been overlooked for so long here in the US. Teaching at the Nevada Museum of Art classrooms has been both an honor and joy. My classes include, Learning Color and Color Theory, Painting 1 – Oils, Painting 2 – Oils, Composition: the basics through Dynamic Symmetry, Plein Air – Capturing the light, Perspective Drawing and Learning to Draw.

Today, I paint landscape, still life and plein air paintings. My still life work are painted in the chiaroscuro tradition inspired by the works of David Leffel and the Dutch masters. Each one teaches me more about painting and seeing. My studio landscapes are about opening space, inviting contemplation and the joy of being much like the Hudson River School works. Nature is my teacher while painting en plein aire. These wonderful studies are my window into her secrets.

My work is in the Renown Health permanent collection and private collections in the U.S. and Europe.

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