Tuesday, December 15, 2009

David Coffin

Spring Rivergold, 2006, 12" x 16"
watercolor and gouache on acrylic-primed paper

David Coffin's art is inspired primarily by his life-long love of pictures, of art history, and of craft and popular-culture traditions and only secondarily by the look of the "World Out There." While he is intoxicated by the beauty of the world, it is the potential of handmade images for giving us unique experiences that keeps him interested in painting. In his words, "I've always been most entranced by paintings built on things that only skilled, imaginative hands can do -- things like invoke non-physical realities, combine ideas and objects that don't meet in Real Life, assemble evocative new patterns, color harmonies and textures, and most of all, generate new feelings in purely visual ways -- that's the enduring mystery of pictures to me. I want to be a part of the exploration of that potential, and if I ever give another person a moment of delight or delicious pause because of something I discovered and brought into existence while painting, it's worth it."

Spring River, 2005, 15" x 22"
watercolor and gouache on acrylic-primed paper

David was a painting major in the late 1960s, but it was only after college that he discovered watercolor to be the perfect medium for his tastes and instincts. He was a transparent watercolor purist for many years and was dedicated to representational imagery in the service of conceptual compositions -- basically a painter with the mind of a collagist, more intrigued with what he might assemble than with what he could find in real life. His work won awards in the Chicago art-fair world in the 1970s and was included in national shows including the National Watercolor Society annual shows; he had a painting published in one of Maxine Masterfield's books and was invited to be artist-in-residence at a community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Spring Riverblue, 2006, 30" x 22"
watercolor and gouache on acrylic-primed paper

Eventually, the need to look for another passion for a living led him to spend several decades as a writer and editor of Threads Magazine, a well-known national publication for fiber arts. Then, in 2000, a powerful dream changed everything. He awoke from his dream of touring a painter's studio and, suddenly filled with an exhilirating enthusiasm for painting again, began to plan his escape from the magazine world. He also decided to let go of all the "purist" restrictions he'd accepted in the past, to allow every possible material, inspiration and impulse, and to let preparation and play merge completely, welcoming abstraction, improvisation and expressive gestures into his work.

Mates, c. 1970, 16" x 12"

Iris Time #3 (part of a triptych), c. 1970, 12" x 9"

Please visit
David's blog and be sure to link from there to see his daily paintings on Eyes & Skies.