Dave Santillanes is an award-winning artist who will be in Carmel, CA leading a workshop June 2–4, 2023. More about that at https://www.carmelvisualarts.com/dave-santillanes/ — In preparation for his upcoming plein air workshop, we wanted to ask him to share a few thoughts about his work.
Q: How would you define your style or approach to your artwork?
D.S. I would say it’s a blend of realism and impressionism. Realism in this case pertains as much to a realistic “rendering” of the atmosphere as anything else. But I’m also influenced by the impressionists in both philosophy and technique – particularly the California school.
Q: What is the value of painting on-site for you? And, how does it inform your studio work?
D.S. My goal is to capture the essence of a scene that involves an accurate depiction of color, light, and atmosphere. This is where direct observation comes in and is why most of my paintings begin with a plein air study. However studying the physical aspects of nature isn’t the only reason I paint outdoors; for me, the sensory experience of being there is equally important. I don’t think there’s a better way to get to know a place on earth than to sit for a couple of hours and contemplate it while painting. This intense observation brings intimacy to the scene that can’t be achieved in mere passing.
Q: Once you capture a scene outdoors, do you work up paintings from the field into larger works in the studio?
D.S. Yes. Although plein air painting is imperative in my work, I’m rarely looking to “finish” a painting outdoors (although sometimes that happens). Instead, I use this time to study the physical aspects of nature and gather information to be used later in the studio. In the studio I’ll pull all my resource materials together in a “studio study” and then if all goes well it’ll turn into a larger studio piece.
Q: How important is the “subject” versus the design or composition of your paintings?
D.S. I think it’s all connected and ALL important. Landscape painters are ultimately telling a “story” about the scene and as the storytellers, we get to reveal the main subject in any way we choose. But HOW we reveal that subject and how we guide the viewer through the canvas can ultimately make or break a painting…. that’s the design.
in 2021, Dave Santillanes was awarded the $15K Grand Prize for Plein Air Magazines annual Salon. In JANUARY 2022 his art was featured on the cover of Plein Air Magazine along with a 6-page story about his work and process. Now you have a chance to work alongside him as he teaches a 3-day plein air workshop in Carmel California. Click the link below to register.