Color In a Landscape

July 17th, 2017


Blick Art Materials Pastel Workshop by David Garrison


Saturday August 5


ADDRESS: 659 US High Way – 150 E. Galesburg, IL

FEES: $65.00 per student for the day

CONTACT: David Garrison (319)-753-0809

Blick Art Store: (309)  343-1411

Working In Pastel

August 18th, 2016


David Garrison will be in Hannibal, MO hosting a pastel workshop Saturday, August 27 in the Hannibal Art Center, 105 S. Main St.

David Garrison will demonstrate the landscape technique he has become known for in both the USA and France. Using strong colors and bold designs with an impressionist flair. Then there will be personal instruction to help each person understand how to change and have a more exciting look to their art work using brighter colors and the value scale.

  • Class will be from 10 AM – 5 PM with a 1 hour break for lunch
  • Cost for the class will be $60 per student
  • Please bring a pastel set and an art easel
  • Please also bring charcoal and a quality photo of a landscape

Please contact David with any questions and to reserve your seat at or 319-753-0809

Garrison Art Studios Announces a Christmas Exhibit

November 30th, 2015

David Garrison and Cecile Houel will host guests Saturday and Sunday December 12 and 13 from 10 AM through 5 PM for a rare in-studio exhibit of some of their most recent works celebrating the Christmas season.  All are invited to attend and enjoy this rare glimpse into the creative heart of these two internationally renown artists at the Garrison Art Studios at 831 Garfield, Burlington, Iowa.  David may be reached via email at or by phone at 319-753-0809.

Post Card Art Show 12-15 Revised


Nauvoo Opening

July 20th, 2015

You are invited to attend David Garrison’s Gallery

Saturday August 1 

Showcasing David’s and Cecile Houel’s works of art

Light refreshments – while you view their many works in pastel and oil

Hours: 11am to 4pm – 1305 Mulholland St in Nauvoo IL 


June 24th, 2015

For most of the 2014 year I was creating a painting from an inspired dream I had. I woke up not being able to forget what I saw and how beautiful it would look on canvas.

Since I live close to Nauvoo, IL I visit there to paint the river and the interesting homes with trees in the back grown.

In the dream I saw the Mormon temple being built in the hot humidity of the Midwest. An innocent little girl of about 12 years old is carrying a pitcher of water from worker to worker to refresh them with a cool drink.

The image of my painting is of a stone carver, who perhaps had the most difficult job on a hot August day. So much dust and heat and the pouring water is so welcome. The stone he is carving is a sun stone which is massive in size with intricate details of a heavenly face on the stone.

My youngest son, Todd, played the part of the stone carver. Sarah, the water girl, lives in Nauvoo and was 12 at the time. They were a great help with the anatomy that I needed for such a large mural size oil painting. They wore 1840’s clothing. I did research on the carving tools used in the 1800’s as well.

The frame was made in Connecticut and custom made for this painting. It was hand carved with gold leaf overlay. The canvas is the best Belgian linen available. I personally sized and primed the canvas. It will last for hundreds of years. The canvas image size: 42” X 52”. Total frame size 52” X 62”.


Open House print quality 2(2)


Northeast National Pastel Award

August 6th, 2014

David Garrison awarded The Northeast National Pastel Award for his piece Colorado Falls (14″x18″).

“Such a sense of movement in this piece. O have to admit that I am a little envious of artists that can paint water, and water in movement so well.The feeling that you are looking at a mountain stream crashing over the rocks to a mountain pool is very well done.”

– David Francis, PSA


Double Delight: A Two-Day Workshop with Cecile Houel or David Garrison

April 7th, 2014


DATES: Fri & Sat., Sept. 26 and 27, 2014*
TIME: 9:00 to 4:30 (lunch included each day)
PLACE: Florham Park NJ
FEES: $110/1 day, $200/2 days


About the Artists:

Renown artists Cécile Houel and David Garrsion teach many workshops both independently and jointly in France and the United States. Cécile specializes in portraiture and David does landscape to perfection.

“The technique of pastel is very subtle and needs a light hand most of the time, with a fewer
stronger strikes. I paint more portraits because I’m fascinated by humanity, all in a spirit of
tolerance, respect and love for the other. If I can express those feelings in my paintings, I have
accomplished an important feat as an artist.” Cécile

“I believe that a painting is not just an illusion in two dimensions, but it is also a moment in life,
captured on canvas. Painting is a language varying in mood and atmosphere that reflects the
diversities of life itself. I enjoy the challenges of various subject matters, so my approach to
the painting process is to involve the viewer with those subjects as much as possible; not only
through those choices, but also through how I elect to portray those subjects.” David


The Workshop:

Cécile: Participants will learn pastel portraiture using a four-step method:
1) light charcoal sketch in three values;
2) advanced sketch in one color in three values(under layer);
3) full color, creativity”;
4) mystery of the eyes and the background.

David: Participants will learn pastel techniques to give their work a sense of atmosphere, light, spontaneity and freshness through the use of pastel. Learn to allow the viewer to interpret and finish the painting.


Pre-registration required. Register via email or phone: or 973-525-2544 or you can register online at:
You will be notified where to send payment. Check should be made out to Cecile Houel or David Garrison.
Please mark the dates requested in the memo section of your check. You are not registered until receipt of payment.
You will be emailed a confirmation. A materials list will be provided upon registration and some Terry Ludwig Pastels and LaCarte paper will be available for sale at the workshop.


*CANCELLATION: If you withdraw from the workshop, you must first inform us no later than 14 days prior to the first day of your workshop, and we will refund your fee, less a registration fee of $25. No refunds of any kind will be made for withdrawal within 10 days in advance of the first day of this workshop, during the workshop, or for no-shows. This is a rain or shine event.


David Garrison is having a two day pastel workshop in Freeport, IL on April 10 & 11 (Thurs. & Friday). One day for landscape, one for portraits.

March 17th, 2014
Students must pre-register. Contact Nina at: email: or phone:  815-443-2530
Nina will explain how to get to the workshop building in Freeport, IL when contacted.
The hours are: 9 am to 4 pm.  Both days.

Galesburg Blick Arts Pastel Worskhop: David Garrison will be back on March 29th for another pastel workshop!!!

March 16th, 2014

Class size will be limited to 15 students and will run from 10am to 5pm with an hour break for lunch. Class fee will be $55 with a $20 deposit required to hold your reservation.

In the class, David will be teaching three basic principles:

Anatomy – all styles need one basic element and that is good sound drawing

Mood – creating a flow to your painting that is beautiful and pleasing to the eye; a mood that captures attention. This is done by way of technical use of edges, lighting, design and values as well as color.

Finish – how not to over work that painting and when to stop in time and keep that fresh look


This will primarily be a landscape workshop in pastel.
Supplies for David Garrison’s Pastel Class:

-Pastel set: Any size of soft pastel set, a few middle and hard pastels too.
-Pastel paper: A heavy tooth paper is best like La Card Pastel by Sennelier or Art Spectrum. Drawing board
-Vine charcoal: No pencils – the real thing: Vine charcoal

-Masking tape
-Note taking material & camera
-Sketching pad




The 2014 Plein Air Landscape Pastel Workshop is in Normandy, France. Sign up soon to reserve your spot!

October 25th, 2013

A Master of light

Plein Air Landscape Pastel Workshop in Normandy, France
with the assistance of Cecile Houel

Weeks of July 5 to 12 and July 12 to 19, 2014

See Full Details

2014 French workshop plans are ready!

September 19th, 2013

2014 French workshop plans are ready! There will be two separate weeks of David teaching in Normandy: July 6 through 11; July 13 through 18, 2014. Americans & French students welcome. If you’re interested please let us know asap since slots are limited.

David Garrison is honored to be accepted into The Pastel Society of America’s 41st Open Juried Exhibition during September 2013

September 19th, 2013

David Garrison is honored to be accepted into The Pastel Society of America’s 41st Open Juried Exhibition during September 2013. The Pastel Society of America (PSA) promotes the finest examples of pastels to the general public, the professional art world, art students and art collectors. This exhibition of works is of the most accomplished of pastel artists in the U.S. and abroad. More info is available here:

David Garrison & Cecile Houel featured on Art Talks (wvik NPR) at Augustana College

February 1st, 2013

“My life as an artist has been an ongoing adventure and development. At the heart of all this, without a doubt has been self discipline and attitude.

When interviewed on the radio I explained how all I wanted to do in school (and at home) was draw, paint, or just anything I could find that dealt with the art world. First, I needed some self discipline to put it into perspective and apply it to other important areas of my life, which would have helped me to not fail first and second grade.

Much later in my life I learned to use self discipline in the studio. Where I could improve the quality of my work by not letting distractions creep in and destroy my creativity.
 As I go on and on in life as an artist, I have come to realize attitude plays the most important part in everything I do. The success I enjoy is enriched by it. The failures are not really failures, because with an inspiring attitude I can stop any earth shattering weight of discouragement which could cause me to feel nothing will ever work, no matter what I do. I spend 10% of my time on the disappointment and 90% on how to change it and succeed.
With some humor and real life experience as an artist, I sat with my wife, Cecile Houel, and explained what it took to be an artist. As I’ve explained to many people,to be an artist is not a job, it’s a way of life.”

[ Direct link to the audio show ]

Artist Reception and Opening of the Renault Auto Company (Paris, France)

October 31st, 2012

Cecile Houel and David Garrison are proud to announce the Artist Reception and Opening of the Renault Auto Company, 21st Salon International in Paris, France.

What’s so exciting about this year’s exhibition is that David and Cecile are the Special Guests of Honor. The Renault Company hosts an outstanding exhibition of art at their headquarters, which is by invitation only. Every year they have a Guest of Honor from a different country and invite the Ambassador of that country to attend the Opening Banquet. Since David is an American, U.S. Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin is invited and will honor the event by his presence.

Each invited artist (around 50) is allowed two works of art, but the Guests of Honor will have 12 paintings on display. Cecile’s famous portraits will highlight her part of the exhibition, while David’s display will be landscapes that he painted Plein Air in Paris, Normandy, France and the United States. The painting on the invitation, “Fall Colors”, is of a country road in Burlington, Iowa.

The date to remember for the Reception is November 17th, 6pm.
At 27, rue des Abondances, Boulogne-Billancourt. (a close suburb of Paris)

David and Cecile are inviting everyone to attend, to help celebrate this wonderful event together!

To see other paintings and stories of the two artist please look at their Web sites:

Plein Air Landscape Pastel Workshop

October 8th, 2012

A Master of light

Plein Air Landscape Pastel Workshop in Normandy, France
with the assistance of Cecile Houel

Week of June 16 to 23, 2013
at beautiful Chateau Corneille, 15 mn from Giverny, Monet’s land
The total cost for a single bedroom : $ 1750

for a shared bedroom : $ 1500

• 7 nights, Room and Board in a charming Castle with delicious French cuisine
• 1 free day of orientation and demonstration by David Garrison
• 5 days of Plain Air painting in Pastel of Normandy landscapes with demonstrations and personal guidance : We will you take one day to paint in Monet’s garden and one day to paint in Paris, long the Seine river ( weather permitting )
• Main transportation provided for the week

Travel round trip to France at the expense of the student for more information please contact :

David Garrison

tel: 319 753 0809
email :
website :

Cecile Houel

tel : 319 601 6420
email :
website :

Plein Air Pastel Landscape Workshop!

August 30th, 2012

September 16 to 19, 2012

Plein Air Pastel Landscape Workshop

At beautiful Rathbun Lake, Moravia, Iowa

The total cost of $450 includes:
• Accommodations at Whispering Breezes Cabins
• 3 nights lodging, continental breakfast and lunch
• Check in day demonstration and discussion of approach to plein air painting
• 3 full day’s plein air painting while the lake is dressed in autumn glory.  We will consider the challenges of various locations around the lake with an investigation into painting distant vistas and water, along a bluff, autumn color, and at the marina.  Also we will approach painting with spontaneous heart felt joy and flow!

Each evening those who wish can consider as a group the day’s adventure over dinner at either The Landing, The Red Barn, Honey Creek Resort or Louie’s Bistro at the Marina at students own expense.

Supplies needed: Quality pastel set, Quality paper for best results, (Sennelier  La Card or Art Spectrum Paper ),  an easel.  David Garrison will have supplies to purchase.

For Further Information and to register please contact:  Ann Koch
Ph 641-469-6543


July 11th, 2012




Saturday, JULY 21

10:00 AM to 4:00 PM


CONTACT:      David Garrison (319)-753-0809

or :      Catiri’s Art Oasis (319)-622-3969

Demonstrations and personal guidance for your art work by both artists will be provided throughout the day.  The class will also provide one hour for lunch.


Quality pastel set (can be bought from David)

Quality paper for best results, Sennelier La Card  paper

Art Spectrum paper


Sun-screen and a Hat

$55 per student for the day

Also, on Friday night July 20 between 5:00 and 8:00 PM visit the opening of the French Landscape Exhibit by David Garrison and Cecile Houel at the Catirit’s Art Oasis Gallery in the main Amana Colony.  Both artists have just returned from France and will be present for this grand opening.

Another Sneak Peek

June 7th, 2012

I’ve gotten some more painting done -but it’s been a struggle to fit it all in. The first few days I was here I took a picture of a bridge that I thought really captured the essence of what it is to be in France. I made it back to the same bridge and turned it into a painting. Here’s a quick peek at it so far:

And the bridge in real life:

New Paintings

June 3rd, 2012

I’ve started a new painting and I thought I’d show its progression as I go along. I’ve included the first couple of days and I’ll update with more as the painting progresses.

Arriving in Paris

May 13th, 2012

Well, it took a lot to get here but we finally made it and with all our luggage!  And no sooner than we get here in France then we find out some great news back home in the states, we both won awards in the prestigious Northeast National Pastel Exhibition.  Out of around 100 artists competing for one of the coveted 15 spots, we both won recognition.

I’ve included some pictures of our first days here in France.  Tough place to have to come and paint.  I guess I’ll just have to muddle through somehow!

I hope to have some more updates from France soon.


Pas de Deaux

November 8th, 2011

The public is cordially invited to An International Duet-Cecile Houel & David Garrison

Sharing a Passion for Pastel Portraits & Landscapes
October 21 – November 30, 2011
Artist’s Reception-Friday, October 21, 6-9 pm

The Old Vic Art Gallery
131 South Main Street
Alburtis, PA 18011
Phone: 610.967.6618

“My World” Exposition (Paris, France)

November 7th, 2011

This exposition will be held at the à l’Académie du Pastel, Galerie Art et Industrie from December 2 – 27, 2011

The public is cordially invited to David Garrison’s Opening on December 2, 2011 from
5 – 11pm

Pastels, Saint~Aulaye en Perigord (Normandy, France)

August 25th, 2011

“Quite stunning landscapes, colour is something you know what to do with and the quality of the marks made with the pastel was an example to us all, cheers.”

~Ben Holgate

Festival International du Pastel of the french society “Les Pastellistes de France” in Feytiat, France

August 8th, 2011

David Garrison et Cecile Houel participent au  Festival International du Pastel des Pastellistes de France à Feytiat ( 87 ), évènement attendu des amoureux du pastel qui a lieu du 2 juillet au 4 septembre 2011. Cette exposition est couplée avec 2 autres évènements, Les Estivales Internationales du Pastel à l’Abbaye St Florent le Vieil ( 49 ), du 9 juillet au 28 août et le Salon International du Pastel à l’abbaye de Tournus ( 71 ) du 10 septembre au 9 octobre auquel David participe également.
Ces Salons offrent des stages de 4 jours avec des Intervenants français et étrangers pour le grand plaisir des stagiaires.
David Garrison and Cecile Houel show their paintings at the Festival International du Pastel of the French Society ” Les Pastellistes de France ” in Feytiat, France from the July 2nd to September 4th of 2011. In addition, there is 2 more shows going on, Les Estivales Internationales du Pastel at an Abbey in St Florent le Viel, France from July 9th to August 28 and Le Salon International du Pastel in an Abbey in Tournus, France from September 10th to October 9th where David has 4 of his oustanding Paris scenes.
Those shows offers 4 days workshops with great national and international masters in Pastels.

Plein Air painting in Amana, Iowa

August 8th, 2011

A Premier Iowa Art Event:
FRESH PAINT 2011 Brings Artists to Amana for Painting, Awards and Exhibition
Bold, painterly strokes and luminous colors will define the brilliance of the artists at the fourth annual FRESH PAINT-The Plein Air Art Festival at Catiri’s in Amana, Iowa.

FRESH PAINT to be held Labor Day Weekend, September 2 – 4, 2011, combines the strengths of the talented artisans of the Midwest with Iowa’s incredible scenery to produce the most collaborative and comprehensive event in the region.

FRESH PAINT is in keeping with Iowa’s place in 20th century American art taking a cue from Grant Wood, an Iowa artist who created the “American Gothic”, the  second most recognizable piece of art in the world, second only to DiVinci’s, “Mona Lisa”.   He inspired a community of artists in the early 1900’s, establishing that period’s regionalism, and he came to Amana and painted plein air.  He often ate at the Amana communal kitchens and frequently set up his easel outside to paint quick, impressionistic, plein air oil sketches. In these, Wood celebrated the rich color of Amana sandstone and the lush foliage of Amana gardens.
Since then many artists have seen the Amana Colonies as a place to be inspired by the subtleties of  Midwestern landscape.  The Amana Colonies offer stunning vistas, open sky, rolling pastoral scenes, along with 150-year-old brick and sandstone homes.   Catiri’s Art Oasis has created FRESH PAINT to build upon the Amanas heritage and the traditions of Iowa and Midwestern regionalism.

A new and extremely exciting addition to this year’s competition is a “Purchase Award”  for the Ronneburg Castle in Germany! The Ronneburg castle near Frankfurt, Germany,  is at the heart of Amana’s history serving as a retreat and administrative center for the Inspirationist community from 1715-1832.   In celebration of the castle’s 775th anniversary one painting will be purchased for long term exhibition at the castle. “Imagine that on your resume!” exclaimed Catiri.  A painting that best exemplifies and renders the spirit of the Amana Colonies will be selected by a  patron’s committee for the award.

New Exhibit in Marion Iowa

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

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

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.

Make Your Landscapes Glow

July 7th, 2011

Here’s another piece I wrote back in 1998 that I think is still worth sharing today.

By David Garrison
March 1998

Create pastels that resonate with natural light by using a variety of contrasts

Natural light makes every subject vibrate with energy. From the warm sunlight silhouetting a stand of trees to the dusky twilight settling across a winter field, something in the way light falls over a natural setting makes the scene come alive. Whenever I see a landscape like this, I feel as if there’s a story being told—a story I want to share with others. That’s when I want to stop and replicate these lighting effects.

Over the years, I’ve learned to capture the glow of light by focusing on the contrast in both values and colors. In general, contrast—an obvious difference between two extremes—tends to create a subtle, visual energy or vibration. Used in specific ways, various types of contrast appear to glow, mimicking the warmth and vitality in any natural setting.

Taking Advantage of Contrast

Like most artists, I begin each painting by establishing the values in my scene. I give the greatest definition to my main subject bu using contrasting strokes of extreme lights and darks on it. In Country Shadow, for example, I wanted the central tree and shed to be the stars, so I used my darkest darks on these elements and my lightest lights in the sky behind them. Concentrating these vibrating values in one area creates a center of interest and ensures that my viewers’ eyes will be repeatedly drawn back to it. This initial step also lays the foundation for the glowing light to come.

When most of the colors are in place, I start looking for ways to emphasize the light. At this point, I bring several different color-contrast techniques into play. For example, if I’ve painted a rainy day scene in primarily cool temperatures, I’ll add on an opposing warm streak to “disrupt” the somber sky and make the clouds glow. Another favorite technique os to break up the light and dark forms by layering strokes and dots of varying colors in the same value family, such as mint green, pale pink and pale yellow. The “cluster” technique is especially visible in the closer cornstalks in Harvest, where I clustered light colors in the cornstalk tops and warm and cool colors in the shadows. I like to use clusters to bring shimmering color to any area but I have to do it sparingly since this effect can be overdone and needs to be subdued.

Typically the last method I use to bring out the glow is applying pure color, which is best seen in unblended strokes of pastel pigment. It is a technique that takes advantage between light and bright. For example, notice how the pure strokes of light blue and dusky orange in Winter Fields make the bright winter snow stand out.

Giving My Surface Some Tooth

I work on either a 200+lb pH neutral board stock or an 80-lb Bainbridge board because I prefer a sturdy surface. In fact, if my pastel painting surface is bigger than 18×24 , I’ll mount it on a lightweight wood panel, for added strength.

To texturize a board so its tooth is suitable for holding pastel dust, I mix up a gritty primer made from two parts heated hide glue (also known as rabbit skin glue), two parts gesso and one part finely ground pumice. I apply two coats of this texturing medium to the front of the board and one to the back to prevent warping. To create a neutral-toned ground for my work, I’ll either add a little watered-down gray acrylic paint to the medium before applying it to my board, or paint a separate layer of gray on the board after I apply the medium.

Capturing Values on Location

With my prepared boards and other materials in tow, I start scouting for a pleasing landscape. Most important in my mind is an unusual interplay of light and objects and a harmonious combination of shapes and planes. If I find something with a strong center of interest that meets these requirements, I’ll start sketching in the basic shapes in black and white, moving things around until I find the best composition. I may notice a fallen tree that I find captivating, for example, so I’ll create and “entrance” to that center of interest by altering the contour of the ground, or adding criss-crossing grasses to draw my eye up to the tree.

To bring more attention to my center of interest, I place the highest value contrasts in the area of my underpainting. Then I start building up many of the other intermediary values in the scene, using lower contrasts and like values to support the main subject. At this stage in the painting, I don’t worry much about which color I’m looking at or using. Instead, I stick to a limited palette of basic colors to map out my value scheme.

I limit my on-site sessions to about an hour and a half. But before returning to the studio, I make sure the proper values have been established—enough to suggest a mood, and then quickly rough in the local and reflected colors. My goal is to re-create the lighting that first attracted me to the setting.

Developing Glowing Color

Back in my studio, I expand the full range of light and color. Guided by my value underpainting and local colors done on location, I develop the colors that will contribute to the feeling of light, time of day and atmospheric conditions. I find muted tones work best for early morning or evening, brighter colors for midday and, of course, cool tones for rainy scenes. Even as more and more layers are built up over the underpainting, I take care to keep the colors consistent with the original value plan.

While adding color, I use my fingers or a swatch of very soft fabric to soften and blend the edges and intermix the colors. Working over the entire surface, I build my scene slowly, incorporating a variety of color and value contrasts as I go. Finally I add a few final strokes of pure color to make my painting sparkle.

Adding the Finishing Touches

When I think I’ve finished a piece, I set it aside, then come back to it with an open mind. If necessary, I make the most obvious corrections first, then the second and so on until all of the problems are eliminated. When I was finishing Evening Bliss, for example, I noticed that the foreground was weak because it was filled with a vague green mist. To make the area stronger, I wiped out the green with a soft cloth and invented that raw hillside. I applied bold stokes of pure soft blues, crimson, violets and warm burnt sienna—all in the same value range—to break up the greens and bring the rocks and hillside to life.

With each final glance, I consider my outcome. Have I told the story I intended to share with my viewers? Does my composition reflect what first attracted me to the scene? Do the colors harmonize and make the viewer want to be in that place? And most importantly, have I used enough contrasts to make the painting resonate with natural light? Only about a third of my pastels meet these standards, but I persevere, motivated by desire to combine accurate observation with careful artistic enhancement into fresh, lively results.

Less is More: Thoughts on Painting

July 5th, 2011

by David Garrison

There is a very special breed of people who create works of art under all conditions. No matter how difficult it might be, they still must create. If you feel inspired to paint for countless hours at a time, if your painting makes chill run down your spine, and if you feel so intense and can only focus on the painting before you, then you are among this special breed of people that observes life and its beauty like no other.

To bring this magic called art to life, it sometimes requires an extreme degree of sacrifice. Under more relaxed conditions, one might just nod off at the easel. Personally, I have found that a small amount of hunger has a helpful angle to it. I have found I am more alert and my senses to the values and accuracy for color are keener, and my handling of edges are more spontaneous looking and are much more accurate. My paintings have a poetic beauty to them when I am less concerned about my physical needs. When on a painting trip, I have made it a rule to eat only two light meals a day. I have found my body adapts better to a leaner diet and I am able to concentrate my energy on the important task at hand, painting! And when the painting binge is over, I can really put the food away! And it really makes my wife mad because I have only gained five pounds in the thirty-four years we have been married.

On one occasion, I was painting in the beautiful hills of the Flint Hills in eastern Kansas and decided to stay overnight in my car instead of returning to my motel. I could then catch the first rays of sun very early the next morning. I found that time, and the need for food never entered my mind as I painted through most of the day in several locations. In following trips to that area, I located a cattle pen where I could park my car and get a little sleep. I fondly called it the Cattle Pen Inn.

While on these painting trips to many areas of the country, I have found that by eating less and painting more I could bring order to the traffic jam of color, lines, and busy spaces all demanding attention. By concentration with discipline, I discovered what artists mean by the term, “less is more”. Knowing what to paint and what to leave out is an art in and of itself. By keeping the colors and compositions simple, a fresh spontaneous look is developed. When faced with time restraints because of the sun, working on a small canvas or paper is best. With no more than 50 or 60 square inches, you quickly realize you ust keep it simple and ot the point. Incidentally, I have used the same French style easel for the past 35 years n every painting trip, covering many parts of the country and Mexico. We have truly become best friends!

The past masters had a style and look to their work that made it look effortless. But what was really required at every brush stroke was skill from constant practice and a discipline to organize a painting. The masters were able to spot their trouble areas quickly and correct them. They were their own most severe critics. As Michelangelo said when he was in his eighties, “I’m still learning.”

The masters knew how to simplify. They knew the value of a strong foundation of drawing. When painting the model, they used quick lines to capture the feel of posture of a glance of an eye. Often, this can make or break a painting. Keeping it simple but accurate in anatomy as well as values is a concept often overlooked. As you paint, do not think of painting the eye or arm or the background as “background” but with simple directness. Paint the shapes that are in that area as if you were fitting a puzzle together.

I use a variety of surfaces to paint on. For the quick and easy and when you have an idea that just can’t wait, Wallis paper is durable and good. Sennelier offers a fine paper but you cannot scrub it as you can the Wallis.

When I have time and can plan ahead, I create my own surface by texturing either a 200 lb.pH neutral board stock or 80 lb. Brainbraidge board. If the overall size is large, I mount it on a lightweight wood panel for added strength.

The texture process I use is to mix a gritty primer made from two parts heated hide glue, two parts gesso and one part fine pumice stone. Often I will add the dust my easel has collected from previous pastel paintings (my mother taught me to never waste anything!). Most often it will turn the mixture into light gray so if I prefer a different color I add pure powdered pigment of whichever color I am after.

At times, I have found the best surface is not the created textured surface or the pastel papers that everyone uses. For example, “Sir James” was painted on untreated Fabriano Uno watercolor paper that is 100% cotton rag, mould-made acid free with four deckle edges. The possibilities are endless!

There are so many ways to paint in pastel in this day and age that it is truly exciting to be an artist!

Une trentaine d’artistes reunis

June 28th, 2011

This piece appeared in 2007…

La Couture-Boussey/Salon des arts
November 2007

Le 17e salon des arts couturiots, organize par Yvette Tougas et Nicole Dugast-Breval, samedi et dimanche a la saile polyvalente de La Couture-Boussey (Eure), a regroupe une trentaine d’artistes. Les oevres du peintre americain David E. Garrison, invite d’honneur, ont particulierement retenu l’attention d’un public toujours plus ettofe. “La France est un pays ou il y a de la beaute partout et ou je trouve toujours de multiples sources d’inspiration.” A declare David E. Garrison, qui a recu diplome d’honneur de la ville de La Couture, des mains de Bernard Groulier, maire (sans etiquette). L’association Cout’Pat presentait ses travaux: peintures sur porcelaine, sculptures de bois ou debene, crayon de couler. Jean Lebesnerais, 61 ans de creation, n’etait pas venu depuis quatre ans. Expatrie a Rouen (Seine-Maritime), il presentait un tableau avec quatre images dans un meme cadre, a l’encre de Chine et des encres sur parchemins. Monique Manceau exposait des enluminures sur peau de veau ou de chevre, omees d’or 24 carats. Lili Tonnemans a longuement travaille sur le theme des liens amoureaux. Enfin, Christine Touraille etait venue avec ses Quatre elements.

Bringing a Mood Into Focus

June 5th, 2011

Here’s an article I found recently and can share here now.

by Alex M. Joncas
Southwest Art
July 1977

Though he was born and raised in the Midwest and has his home in Burlington, Iowa, David Garrison still enjoys the beauty of the western atmosphere. From his Iowa home, he travels to the Southwest several times a year. And once there, he receives new inspiration for his conte crayon paintings of Indians, adobes, animals and other southwestern scenes and subjects.

Conte crayons, a medium largely ignored by artists, is the specialty of this successful painter who also works in other media. Garrison’s conte crayon style is unique and easily recognizable. Through special care in applying the several layers of gesso (sometimes as many as fifteen) to the panel board, he achieves a characteristic freshness. Depending on the subject matter, the background and overall design is intensified with each application of the gesso-conte crayon mixture. Due to the resultant natural look and earth tones, the effect is complementary of subjects pertaining to the Old West, wildlife, mother and child, and nearly every topic.

“Conte crayon, as I use it, has a refreshing look to it and causes people to wonder how the aged quality was brought out,” explained Garrison. Actually, conte crayon dates back to medieval times. The Old Masters used it for the quick sketching and planning stages of their master works. Yet there are no examples in our past of conte crayon used for and of itself. Garrison decided it was time this was changed, and the success of his efforts is evident in his works.

“I’ve been asked why I work with western subjects considering I live in Iowa. Iowa is not without its Indian ancestry. Chief Black Hawk was one of the better known in my area. I enjoy reflecting back to our settlers and very first Americans in the history of our country, and the Old West offers the most versatile opportunity. I equally enjoy the wildlife because so much of the beauty lies in the anatomy. In my estimation, anatomy plays just as important a part as good design.

“In many cases anatomy is where one separates the men from the boys in the fine arts. Outstanding artists of the past such as Michelangelo, Rodin, and John Singer Sargent realized the vital function anatomy plays. I came to understand that without it, I would be only half the artist I hoped to be, no matter how many years I worked.

“In the years while the style I now have was developing, I was determined to bring my best potential into being, and to perfect my own style. ‘have your own style and don’t copy the success patterns of others’ was my motto. Purposely, my style will continue to mature. I have no intention of becoming locked into my way of doing my pieces. I must progressively improve and expand my mode of working. An example of this progressive development is Michelangelo. The changes in this man’s work are obvious right up to his last piece of sculpture.

“The importance of a unique style is a lesson I consider myself fortunate to have learned early in life. One of the great difficulties for young artists these days is to decide between one’s own impressions and those impressions of someone whom one admires very much. If he can become free from everyone else’s influences, the young artist can work at his own time and at a more natural pace.”

While seeking to achieve this goal of creating his own style, Garrison reflected on the challenges faced by the artists of the Middle Ages. They had to start from scratch in creating a painting. Many had to make their own brushes and even their own paint before they could start a painting. Artists today need only go to the store to pick out their supplies from a variety of merchandise, brands, etc. available. So, to be limited to only one medium in this day and age is foolish.

Further explaining his philosophy, the southpaw painter said, “ If I were to define my work in one word, it would be ‘simplicity’. In trying to tell a story through art, the law to follow is simplicity. I believe in direct approach, eliminating all unnecessary detail and all unnecessary color—unnecessary color is just as much artistic sin as overworking the area with detail.

It is Garrison’s belief that during his four year stay at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, he received “excellent training by outstanding artists who were well known in their fields.” He studied oil painting with Joseph Bandenrouke, watercolor with Irving Shapiro, and anatomy with Bill Parks. In fact, it was Parks who introduced Garrison to conte crayon. Garrison graduated from the academy in 1968.

For this artist, studio work is all-important. After collecting ideas in notebook, sketchbook and slides, He returns from his trip and starts sorting through and creating. “It is not uncommon for me to work ten to twelve hours ata stretch on several works at once. The idea behind this is not to mass produce art, but to keep my mind from settling in a rut by doing only one thing at a time. Variety is the spice of life and it is important to keep each piece original.

“I use abstract art in getting the basic design in my painting,” explained Garrison. “In planning a painting I do sketches with light and dark patterns which generally show good basic design. This is usually called abstract art.”

Where other artists use abstract as a finished piece of art, Garrison carries it one step further in making it realistic art.

“I do my work in rough draft at first, determining as I go what I want the detailed areas to be. Sometimes when I find a subject a little more overpowering than usual, I make up small sketches to determine the center of interest.”

Garrison says his goal is to create a mood rather than to create a pretty picture. “I try to catch a moment in time—for instance, the beginning of the flight of a pheasant or the little duckling’s first swim.” The artist feels that composition and design are vital and that without these, you would have nothing but a mess.

To identify his work as an original, Garrison not only signs his name, but he also places a thumbprint over his name. If this rather unique technique had been used by the Old Masters, perhaps the problem of forgeries would not now exist.

To paint outdoors on location is a satisfying experience for Garrison. The moods and colors are so unlike studio painting. However, the outdoors does have its hazards. For instance there was the time Garrison was painting a scene in a park. His deep concentration was destroyed as a large dog came up to him from behind. Too frightened to move, Garrison froze stiff, a move which proved disastrous for the dog mistook him for a fire hydrant.

The artist’s ability to laugh even when mistaken for a fire hydrant, reflects his daily positive attitude toward life. In large measure this positive daily living can be credited to his Mormon upbringing and the family environment provided by his wife and two sons.

Garrison is an earnest conservationist. This, in part, explains his wildlife paintings. “Many beautiful species are endangered,” he points out. I enjoy painting wildlife and hope, by bringing out the beauty of birds and animals, to create an awareness that they are precious and not just something to hunt.”

A number of galleries handle Garrison’s work and can attest to the artist’s versatility. Among these galleries are Savage Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Scottsdale, Arizona; Hall’s Gallery, Lubbock, Texas; Artists’ Den, Valparaiso, Indiana; Lake View Art Center, Peoria, Illinois; and Images of the Old West, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

David E. Garrison feels that self-discipline is an all-important factor for attaining success at anything a person undertakes. Perhaps this is even more true for the artist, who encounters within himself a constant struggle for perfection. A beautiful aspect of this struggle is knowing there is always something to learn. Age and experience are no exception to this rule. And for this 37-year old artist, to try to capture a mood and to bring it into focus for the untrained public eye is truly a challenge. Whether the work be a Madonna and child or a crusty old man from the 1800s, Garrison captures a spirit of tranquility and creates a mood of peace within.

La Couture-Boussey: Un Americain a La Couture

June 1st, 2011

L’association “l’Art Couturiot” et la municiplalite organisaient ce week-end le 17e salon des arts a la sale polyvalente avec, en invite d’honneur, David E. Garrison, un peintre venu des Etats-Unis. Diplome de l’American Academy of Art, Chicago, Illinois, liste dans le “Who’s Who” de l’American Art depuis 1986, le peintre a expose de superbes huiles et pastels qui ont seduit le public.

Nicole Dugast Breval, organisatrice du salon avec Yvette Tougas, a reussi a reunir un tres beau plateau; pas moins de 33 artistes, peintres et sculpteurs de talent, exposant des oeuvres d’une grande diversite ou toutes les techniques artistiques etaient representees. Elle a tenu a remarcier la municipalite, “pour son soutien indefectible depuis 12 ans,” et salue “la presence d’un Americain a La Couture dont les peintures voyagent entire nos deux pays,” Bernard Groulier, maire de la ville, cs’est egalement felicite de la grande qualite de ce salon. “Nous possedons plusieurs sites d’exposition assez remarquables dans ce canton et c’est tant mieux; le proper des oevres artistiques, c’est d’etre inepuisables et elles ont besoin du regard des autres” a notamment declare le maire qui a remis a David E. Garrison, le certificat d’honneur de la ville.

Aide par sa compagne Cecile Houel, egalement peintre de talent, l’artiste Americain qui s’est excuse “de ne pas avoir eu le temps d’apprende notre langue” a dit son plaisir d’etre en France, “un pays ou il y a de la beaute partout et ou je trouve toujours de sources d’inspiration.” Parmi les laureates de cette 17e edition, Francis Thellier, Philippe Boudequin et Guy Boulme ont a recu le prix du jury pour leurs peintures, les sculptures de Robert Duclos ont egalement ete primees.

Art in the News

October 30th, 2010

Last night, Friday 29th of October, I hosted a small reception displaying some of the art work I’ve brought back from France along with the premiere of a new instructional DVD that I will be showcasing soon.  I’ve included a link to a small article, “Entering ‘Van Gogh country’ stirs artistic endeavor”, talking about the event and will be adding another post soon with a link to an interview I gave at the reception.

I’ve also included a short video below showcasing a few of the paintings that were on display last night.  These are a few of the paintings I’ve brought back from some of my trips to France.

Dupage, IL Workshop: Landscapes and Portraits

October 6th, 2010

DuPage Workshop in Wheaton, IL
Two day workshop:
David Garrison on Saturday, Oct 9. 1:30 – 8:30 PM only. Landscape in pastel.
Cecile Houel on Sunday Oct 10. 9:30 – 4:30 (all day) Portrait study in pastel.
Both David and Cecile will give Demo’s.

Contact person for details is Ellen Rottsolk, 630-660-2442,
To reserve a class space contact DuPage Art League at: 630-653-7090
The cost is $150.00
Address of the Art League is: 218 Front St. Wheaton IL

David Garrison & Cécile Houel featured on Art Talks (wvik NPR) at Augustana College

September 23rd, 2010

David and Cécile were featured on the Art Talks with Bruce Carter program, Augustana College NPR station, The interview is really interesting and I’m sure you’ll learn a few things, even if you think you know everything about them and painting already :-)

September 12 – Painters David Garrison & Cecile Houel
[ Direct link to the audio show ]

Art Talks with Bruce Carter
Sundays at 1:00 pm
A live conversation between artists; featuring painters, sculptors, musicians, arts administrators, poets, and others from around our region.

Bruce’s artistic sensibility infuses his interviews with understanding, making Art Talks a favorite of listeners involved in the creative process. more info:

Four pastels for Festival International du Pastel, France

July 18th, 2010

The Societe des Pastellistes de France is the oldest and best known society in France.

The Society’s board of directors are known to be tough in all areas of its life; which has caused much grief to those trying to enter one of their exhibits. David had been after his French artist wife Cécile, to introduce him to this well known society for two years. At last, in a moment of weakness she gave in. Traveling through the heavy Paris traffic to get to their studio/school caused David pangs of guilt for what he was putting his wife through. But those feelings were soon changed to glee because when the Vice-President of the Society saw his work, which was unframed and fresh off the easel, she got very excited and accepted four Paris landscapes for their next International exhibit.

This unexpected acceptance put both David and Cécile in shock. Never before has this difficult collection of artist in this Society accepted art work this quickly. David stood there thinking, “I can’t be part of this group already and hand these to them, I just finished these pastels last week. I haven’t even signed them yet.  And they’re not even framed.”  But they were accepted and David and Cécile had only a week to get them framed and handed over to the hanging committee. Plus the pressure of needing to prepare for their move to the south of France for David’s international Plein Air workshop in pastel was there.  But some kind of special luck was following them that week because Cécile located a place that did framing quickly.

Less then a week after the teaching trip to Arles, in southern France, it was time to attend the Grand Opening, Festival du Pastel. Cécile looked at David and said, “You’re wanting to go to the opening aren’t you? Most people would be content just to be in the show. Its a 1000 Km trip and our car does not have air, but your still not bending, you’re wanting to go anyway.” The trip was long, hot and a lot of traffic. The hotel had no air and no screens at the small single window. But the Open of the exhibit was truly Grand.

The overall exhibit of 300 pastels on a scale from 1 to 10 would be 8. The poorest example was a 3, and the best was a strong 10! David felt very proud to be part of this exhibit. Three other Americans were in the show, all 10’s. Several from England, Spain and Russia. The Russian’s always prove to be bold in their way of painting. But one stood out to have a soft hand, gentle touch. China had the Guest of Honor place this year. No awards are given in this show. To be in the show is the award. In time the greatest prize of all is given by them: Title of Master.

As David and Cécile walked through the exhibit they were impressed by the intense medium that pastel had become. To view a collection of so many artist together in one medium is a awaking of your creative spirit; giving you a refreshing breath of what this business is really all about.

The trip home seemed less difficult to bear. Lost in their own thoughts and dreams of how to conduct their art life they realized they were doing very well indeed!

Feel free to visit the Société des Pastellistes de France.

Video clip of a demonstration at the Arles France workshop

July 5th, 2010

Below is a video clip of me demonstrating a pastel painting for the students at the Arles France workshop, June 20-25, 2010. We had a huge turnout and it was a great success!

If you’re interested in the official demonstration video containing 5 days of very useful plein air and studio demonstrations and the wonderful cities in France we visited, please let me know. It was shot by a professional, so it’s superior quality compared to this amateur clip. It will be released in Fall 2010 and will have both English and French narration and commentary. If you order it before it is released in Fall 2010 there is a discount, so don’t wait!

Pastel painting The Louvre and The Eiffel Tower in Paris

June 2nd, 2010

Everyday that the weather is good I’m out painting everything I can find…and in Paris there’s alot out there. I spend from 9 am to 6 pm walking and painting by myself. I’ve got a great collection going. And it has been good training for our Arles Workshop in June.

This Saturday, 5/29/10, we move to Normandie to set shows in place and to teach the French students we have over here.

David Garrison stands before the Louvre in Paris and his pastel painting

David Garrison standing before The Eiffel Tower, Paris, with his pastel painting displayed

Delivery of Hilton Garden Inn murals to Washington DC

April 3rd, 2010

Following a hard hitting, difficult four months of intense painting on the commission to paint two murals for a new complex idea developed by the Hilton hotel group; the murals are ready for delivery to Washington DC. The artist and his beautiful French artist wife will leave on Saturday April 3, 2010 with a U Haul over-flowing with two large murals.

On the artist home page you will find the progressive development of the 5′ X 10′ mural capturing the Great Falls National Park in Maryland. The mural is now complete and will be shown on his Web-site. The second Mural is 4′ X 7′ centering on the US Capital in a more modern updated effect. It was painted in acrylic, resticted to  black and white and gray tones. The Hilton designers wanted the mural to stand out from all the rest art work that will be in the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn, Washington DC.

Below is a video of the large oil painting as it progresses from sketch to final mural – ready to be delivered to the Hilton Washington D.C.!

Ten Common Mistakes Made by Beginning Plein-Air Painters.

February 9th, 2010
  1. They don’t establish the big broad relationships of color, shapes and values before moving on to the details
  2. They fail to unify the light side and the dark side and keep them seperate
  3. They paint what they think they know, not what they actually see
  4. They don’t have the proper equipment or too much of it
  5. They don’t stand back enough to really see
  6. They don’t paint what they know and love
  7. They choose too complicated of subject matter
  8. They don’t use enough red in their greens
  9. They don’t see things as mass, but more as lines that they fill-in between
  10. They expect too much of themselves, too soon
  11. They don’t fill their lover’s glass enough times….oops, that’s from another 10 common mistakes!

Workshops By David Garrison — For the students that will be in the south of France Pastel Workshop – June, 2010

February 2nd, 2010

When I give a workshop, I assume that each person wants to learn something about “painting from life” that can be applied to all future paintings. Having taught for the past 20 years, almost without exception, the success or failure of a painting created from life, is based on the foundation and procedure established in the beginning and middle of that painting. Even though people assume their problem areas have to do with the last half of the painting, including style and so forth, it’s not where the problems really are. Based on this idea, my workshops include three basic principles:

  1. Anatomy- All styles need one basic element and that is good sound drawing.
  2. Mood- Creating a flow to your painting that is beautiful and pleasing to the eye; a mood captures attention. This is done by way of technical use of edges, lighting, design values and the use of color. I do not use lines, I use value change.
  3. Finish- How not to overwork that painting, and when to stop in time and keep that fresh look.

These basic principles are explained and taught by way of demonstrations, questions and answers, and not being in a hurry to move on until everyone understands these concepts. No one will be asked to duplicate my style but rather learn where the trouble spots are in a painting and what to do about correcting them. At all times I keep the class cheerful and uplifting, and inspired to paint!

Impressions of Notre Dame

January 2nd, 2010

“As I entered the winding streets of  this section of Paris a different atmosphere became apparent. A feeling; a noticeable re-leaf of pressure.”

Of all the impressions an artist lives with, feelings are the most reliable of his senses. Used correctly it can be a phenomenal tool or lost  to the darkness around him. Walking through those streets helped to clear David’s mind for the painting he had planned. So many others had already painted this outstanding structure that’s nestled on an island in the middle of the Seine river. What’s one more? A feeling of hope and hoplessness together hits David as the Gothic marvel comes into view.

Nearing the island helps David’s spirits gain strength. The noise of the city seems to fade and his pack with paint lightens. Crossing one of the bridges to the island lifts his spirits even more and the packed crowd with their colorful faces and endless words no longer matters. For the past three hours of walking, with his pack of brushes, paint and canvas, he has had time to consider how it would feel to paint one of the most notable buildings on earth. Many times in the past three years of living in France, he and his wife has past by. But more with an attitude of introductory. This was different, this was with feelings, this was with intent to paint.

Passing the building through the gardens and into the street beyond where David can view what is most important for a painting like this. Not the people, they are impressions of noise. Not even the Gargoyles standing watch over the building; perhaps another time, another painting for them alone. What it must have is light bathing the building in glow. David’s paintings have no lines only values of color, the value being the most important of the two. A spray of warm mixed with cool is a must in each of his works of art. All this obtained by the spirit of the moment, feelings of what’s important. David’s  intention is to guide the viewer through the painting as you would guide your lover through the ecstasy of  the night. To be in control of  the viewer and what they look at while standing in front of  the painting. Only by the impact of the view before you can you be impressed and with those feelings you will know what to do.

Painting in France

December 30th, 2009


“The painting trip to France had a special feeling of excitement, I was in Paris to paint. It was a warm December day, and while I walked I had an interesting sight, watching the people moving around me in a hurry to do their Christmas shopping. Here I was walking on the street bordering the Seine river carrying my easel and paints on my back totally lost to the world of shopping.”

The world of painting is what this artist is devoted to, totally. The only other love he feels is to his French wife who is also an artist. Together they find places to hide, to watch the world around them; to express it in paint and feelings. To love often in their hiding places, causing a peace to overtake. The hiding is a wall to protect and be used to offset any devaluations of the night.

The world of David Garrison in Paris in December 2009 held a passion for painting the chapel Notre Dame in all its glory. With the Seine river sliding by on both sides of the island where the chapel is built; it’s a natural setting for an outstanding oil painting.

The chilling breath of air whipped at the easel and brought tears to the artist eyes. Nothing really new. Over the past 45 years of many painting trips he has experienced this and more. Sometimes on what he called “a shoe string budget” he would drive to find an inspiring subject, not with comfort but with inspiration. In this day and age though the budget is fatter and the inspiration comes easy to this artist. Such is the case with the Notre Dame painting. With the afternoon light coming across the Seine river and causing the chapel to glow with rich colors. A masterful work of art in oil.

The oil painting will be on display at the Hilligoss Gallery 520 North Michigan Ave. Chicago Illinois In February 2010.

David wins prestigious Jack Richardson & Co award in New York

November 5th, 2009

David has just won the Jack Richardson & Co. Award in the juried American Artist Professional League’s 81st Grand National Exhibitition exhibit at the Salmagundi Club, New York City.

The award was for the pastel piece – WALK ALONG PARIS. It was painted in Paris in 2008.

Just Announced! Landscape Pastel Workshop in Provence, France

October 28th, 2009

David Garrison will be teaching an exciting workshop in landscape pastels on the week of June 19-25 2010 at St. Michel de Frigolet Abbaye in France.

Total cost is $1,100 US and includes:

–  7 nights room and board

–  5 days of Plein Air Paining in Pastel with demonstrations by the artist

–  1 free day of orientation and demonstrations by the artist

–  Main transportation service provided for the week

(Air faire is purchased separately by the participant)

For further information, contact David Garrison at 319-753-0809, or by email.

A visit to the Met

October 19th, 2009

Workshop in NY City

October 19th, 2009
A good crowd

A good crowd

Art du pastel en France – International Exhibition

May 15th, 2009

PSA Guests of honour:

Rae Smith (MP), Jimmy Wright(MP), Jason Chang (MP)
France Guest of honour :
Maurice Robert, Pierre Lambert

Giverny, France
from june 06 until 14, 2009
Open daily from 10:30am until 06:30 pm

Pastel Society of America – 36th Annual Exhibition

July 17th, 2008

The National Arts Club

15, gramercy Park South
New York – NY 10003

september 5th until 20th, 2008