“Over the most recent months, my studio has been a perfect retreat. I work alone most days, and it is tranquil. Not lonely, but alone. It is an artist’s sanctuary,” shares Witbeck. “The season had a strange beginning. However, due to the pandemic, I was able to take some time to try a few new things. The interesting part, I had a lot of missteps. I did a great deal of ‘unpainting.’ Of course, productivity changed because of this. Still, I am excited about the results. It is a very cohesive show that still has various subjects, sizes, and surprises.”
Witbeck has been kind enough to share some of the stories and inspiration behind a few of the pieces he created for this 2021 summer show. We are so happy to share his insights with you.
“When revisiting some paintings I loved from a few years ago, I created the Fresh Series. Ironic how things happen,” shares Witbeck. “Fresh Paint, Fresh Caught, and Fresh Bait are foreground-focused and meant to show pieces of the process a fisherman must take care of that the rest of us often don’t even think about.”
When you have been painting fish for as long as David has, you understand the need to find the perfect way to make them come to life. He has done it!
“I have been working on a glaze for my fish,” shares Witbeck. “I wipe on translucent layers of color on their scales, and the effect has finally captured the true beauty of these creatures.”
When two is better than one.
“I have painted a few ‘fishercouples’ before. If traced back, the origins come from an old picture of my wife and me. Clarence and Clara Clamming is an obvious part of this series.”
Celebrating the coast has long been a favorite pastime for Witbeck. Here are a few insights that truly give a peek inside of the workings behind the brush. “To me, Bustling Harbor has a fresh feel even though it is an incredibly complex painting. Like many harbors, it has a tremendous amount of activity and is packed full of incredible detail.”
If you look closely at Bustling Harbor, you will find the fisherman from Low Tide at Dawn. What is one of the multitudes of tiny details in a busy harbor, he turned into one of few peaceful moments in a fisherman’s morning.
‘Cloudscapes’ aren’t something Witbeck ever focused too much time on. Yet, like everything else, that has changed. Into the Light is one of those pieces where the clouds became the central focus of the piece. “I spent time working on the boat wake, motoring into the sunrise,” he says. “It is a detail that needed to be added, but I was surprised at the difficulty of such a simple thing. It is a rarity that I paint a ‘pretty painting.’ With the brilliant yellow and the purple clouds, this one is indeed pretty.”
When David and his wife, Barbara, are in Owls Head, the misted ridge islands are often shrouded in fog. It can be eery. The mist gives a softer look in pieces like Low Tide at Dawn (above), Semi-Retired, and Morning Fog. “I don’t love it when I’m on vacation, but the aura of mystery it provides to my painting is beautiful.”
One never knows where inspiration will come from, a piece of real life, a memory, a color, a moment. “Bud’s Bucket of Fish reminds me in a distant way of Andrew Wyeth,” explains Witbeck. “He celebrated the fishermen and their dories but in a way very different from my own. Still, we certainly share the same sense of respect for this demanding career.”
Preview opens Wednesday, July 21. Virtual Tour is available on the evening of Friday, July 23.