David Witbeck by Ric Kasini Kadour
The gull perched on the bollard in David Witbeck’s Harbor Gulls is watching you. They are fighting over chum in Free Lunch. And one is calling out to the sunrise in Morning Gulls. When they are not the subject, Witbeck uses birds in his paintings as a call to action, a source of drama, and sometimes a point of humor. David Witbeck studied art at the Pratt Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design, and photojournalism at Rochester Institute of Technology. He worked as a freelance photographer for over twenty-five years. He took up painting in 2000 and has steadily exhibited his work across New England.
Witbeck paints with the wit and eye of a freelance photographer always on the lookout for the perfect constellation of elements that will make a composition tell a story. Often the birds in his paintings obscure and temper the scenes around them. This allows the viewer to parse the painting in a different way. For example, the prominence of the birds in Morning Gulls distracts the viewer from the fact that the painting is a landscape, a simple rendition of the sun rising over an island out in the water. The quieter of the two birds stares at the viewer, almost daring you to notice what is going on. Look closely at Free Lunch and you will see that the fisherman is sacrificing his chum to distract the birds from the large lobster he holds in his hand. By contrast, when birds are the only subject, Witbeck portrays them with humility, as in the simple rendering of gulls in Conspirators, or with nobility, as in his paintings of cormorants where he shows the birds perching, wings spread, nodding to the heavens.
Click on David’s Artist Page to see Maine Art Painting and Sculpture’s entire Witbeck collection or visit us at 14 Western Ave. Kennebunk, Maine.
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