Archive for July 2011

New Exhibit in Marion Iowa

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

We arrived from France about a week ago and got very busy with a showing of our pastel work at the Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center in Marion Iowa.

We had everything ready for this exhibit before we left for France. This really helped since we were dealing with the time zone change on our return. There were just a few small things that we had to do before loading the entire 53 pastel paintings into our favored 1981 station wagon. What an effort that was. We were glad we had done most of the preparations before we left, because the time zone (jet lag) was really difficult.

We have had many exhibits through the years, a good example is at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport Iowa last December. Well this is even a better place to exhibit because it shows a more consistent flow of our styles with a large body of work from each of us. Each of us; very different but yet our styles work well together.

I hope you are able to visit the exhibit. There is some road repair going on in the area, so I’ll include some directions that may help:

Take 380 North thru Ceder Rapid and travel about 9 miles past Cedar Rapids. Turn off at the Toddville exit (exit 28) Go east on County Home Road-you will go past Alburnett Road, then turn right on North 10th St. Go South on 10th St (about 5 miles)

The place is the Lowe Park building that is run by the city of Marion for public events and especially exhibits like ours. It will be on your right on 10th St The building seems alone and by its self but there’s housing developments all around that will someday reach the center.

We truly hope to see you at our Grand Opening at the Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center.  More info below:

Faces and Places in Pastel, featuring the works of Cecile Houel and David Garrison

Sponsored by The Marion Arts Council from July 2nd – August 13th.

Artists reception / Gallery Talk is July 14 2011, 6:30 – 8:00 pm.
Workshop is July 16th, 2011.

Location is Lowe Arts and Environment Center
4500 North 10th Street
Marion, Iowa

Please join us!

Faces and Places in Pastel, Marion Arts Council, Lowe Arts and Entertainment Center

Canvas Stretches Worldwide: Local artist commissioned to paint murals for hotel

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

By William Smith (
The Hawkeye

When Burlington artist David Garrison visited Great Falls National Park in Virginia two years ago, he captured the beauty of the flowing rapids through more than 60 photographs.

Next week, Garrison will be delivering a 5-foot-by-10-foot oil painting mural of the rapids to the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites in Rockwille, Mass., right outside Washington, D.C. He was more than a little surprised to land a commission painting a scene he had photographed two years earlier.

“It was a big coincidence,” he said.

The dual brand, two-tower hotel has been under construction for more than a year and will open its doors late next month.

“It’s a new concept they are developing, which I’m proud to be a part of,” Garrison said.

Garrison, who is a member of the Pastel Society of America, is one of the few people in America who can honestly claim to make a living from his art. He sells between 40 and 50 paintings a year, including large murals that mostly end up on the East Coast.

After professionally selling paintings for 20 years. Garrison has murals in hotels, museums and private homes around the U/S. and France. Some of his work also is visible around town including a mural at the Iowa Welcome Center in Burlington.

“I size and prime my own canvas, and this one happens to be on wood. Other times, I put it (the mural) on aluminum, he said.

A pastel artist at heart, Garrison spends the time he isn’t painting for work painting for fun. His studio is filled with impressionistic pieces he did just for himself, including a portrait of his wife and fellow artist, Cecile Houel. He met Houel while teaching in France, and the couple spend four months of the year there.

“I got to painting over there and discovered what (Claude) Monet loved about France. I’m impressionistic like he was, and that was fantastic living,” Garrison said.

As much as Garrison loves painting, he treats a commissioned mural like a full-time job—with overtime. Constructing and painting the mural took about four months, which included a drafting process where Garrison created 10 rough sketches to get the scene exactly right.

Once a rough draft was approved, Garrison worked 10-hour days, six or seven days a week, until the mural was completed about two months later.

“I usually do them (murals) larger.. The largest mural I’ve ever done is 28 feet by 28 feet. That one in Baltimore,” Garrison said.

The waterfall mural is only the first of two pieces the hotel commissioned from Garrison. He’s working on a smaller 4-foot by 7-foot acrylic mural of Washington, D.C. it stands proudly among stacks of his paintings next to his work table, which is covered in mounds of dry oil paint distinctly organized by color.

“This is a collection of paintings that will go in an exhibit in Normandy, France,” he said.

Garrison knew he wanted to be a painter since he was a small child, and likes to joke that he flunked first and second grade because he refused to concentrate on other subjects besides art.

“I just wanted to draw all the time,” he said with a laugh.

Garrison is a graduate of Iowa Wesleyan College and the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He also is a member of the National Society of Mural Painters and has been listed in the Who’s Who in American Art since 1986.

Those who want to see the mural con do so at an open house viewing from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Garrison’s studio at 831 S. Garfield Street.

The Agony and Ecstasy of a One-Person Show

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

by David Garrison

Pastelagram. Pastel Society of America.
Summer 2002

I was asked two and a half years ago to plan for a one-person exhibit in the David Strawn Art Gallery by the Art Association of Jacksonville. This is a museum quality mansion donated many years ago by a strong supporter of the arts, David Strawn. The museum/gallery is located in a beautiful section of the busy little town of Jacksonville, Illinois, which is very near the state capital, Springfield. It is known mainly for producing Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president.

Since I had previous exhibits through the years, I thought little of the discipline I was facing to put together a large exhibit of 50 high quality paintings for a one-month show. The discipline needed became crystal clear when I realized that my artwork had advanced in quality and when I began to understand how much I expected of myself. Slowly, without being conscious of it, I had become my own severest critic in producing a fine pastel. My throwaway pile far exceeded my small “keepers,” and I was becoming a bear to be around because of it. To keep the creative mood intact I moved into my attic studio of the apartment house I own. The 1894 Victorian house is located three miles from the Mississippi River, in Burlington, Iowa. Besides the apartment for rent, I have a fully equipped studio in the attic with living quarters. The main studio room is 35’ by 40’ with lots of atmosphere for inspiration.

Endless hours were spent at the easel. The hours turned into days and then months of creating everything from portrait studies and the nude figure to landscapes with moods of the weather for impact. My painting trips were intense including painting on location in all kinds of weather and migraine headaches I’ve suffered from childhood. Past friends would meet me on the street and not recognize me from my strained look. Seldom was I found without my drawing pad. But I was making headway in my effort to have a beautiful collection of pastels for the show. Total relief and ecstasy would flood my soul when I captured the feeling and beauty of what I was painting. I seldom left the studio except to paint on location and to buy food. I was totally captured in my efforts at painting.

I found I could not sleep when I was satisfied with a painting because of the high it gave me, and I could not sleep when I had a painting go sour because of the depression it caused me. My mood swings were from high to low with very little in between.

My first year came to a close with only 15 works that I was satisfied with. I had destroyed 70% of my year’s work. At this rate I would not be ready for the opening. My efforts doubled! I lost 5 pounds the next six months, and since I have a small-frame body, that was scary. That second winter my mother decided to stop eating. She had been in a care home for several years and so the aides and I worked together to feed her by hand. During the Christmas holidays, she wasted awat in spite of our efforts to give her a reason to live. This took its toll on my ability to create with any strength. But I found my art was healing my pain and I recovered faster than I ever dreamed I could. The discipline I had learned in the past year and a hald was my support and my teacher.

I was producing artwork that gave me peace of mind and had a power that I did not know I could create. My work and sleep habits leveled off, my creative energy increased, with more distinction of style and impact of color harmony than I had ever known. The feeling of being an “artist” had never been stronger, with a collection of work I was looking forward to showing.

At the same time, I was able to send my works to national shows in Texas, New Mexico, California, and on the east coast with the American Artist Professional League, Hudson Valley Art Association and the Pastel Society of America annual.

I was asked to lead pastel workshops, including a series of portrait/figure studies with the Pastel Society of America. I was floating on a high that I never thought possible. But it took going through agony and suffering to reach that hight. I had always heard artists must suffer, must be tested to prove their worth but never understood the “why;” now I understand!

The exhibit was an outstanding success! The opening was well attended—in fact, it had one of the largest gatherings on record. The only flaw was a freak snowstorm predicted for the day I was to deliver the paintings to the gallery 200 miles away. So I called Kelly Gross, the gallery director, about delivery a day early, which was no problem.

Very close friends and collectors of my work attended the grand opening. Friends from another town could see how nervous I was and drove me to the opening and told me to just relax and enjoy the glow of all my hard work. One of my faithful collectors, Dale and Vivian Weber, bought yet another painting, their 34th. Since the exhibit closed, I have been asked by the Prairie Art Alliance of Springfield, Illinois to lead a workshop on portrait/figure study this year. I received several commissions because of the quality of work I had on display. And the best news, the sales were good.

The agony and ecstasy of a one-person show can cause you to think about your life and how you are handling all the trauma and bliss, but then you realize it is worth it.