Artist of the Week: David Mooney of Grass Valley | TheUnion.com
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Artist of the Week: David Mooney of Grass Valley

Career/title: Artist

Describe your art: Vividly detailed, realistic, acrylic paintings. Now, my subjects are mainly English and Scottish landscapes, churches, cottages – places of meditation and introspection, untouched by human problems. I am also starting some paintings of the Sierras.

How long doing it? Thirty years!



Why do you do it? Expressing myself through art is integral to what I am. It makes me whole. I can’t imagine retiring because I can’t imagine not painting.

What do you hope to accomplish? To involve viewers visually and emotionally, to communicate the world as I see it. I want them to feel the worn, cold smoothness of the cathedral steps, to smell the crisp mountain air of a landscape, and to be moved by the soft light filtering through stained glass windows.




Does your art convey a message? There are two themes in my work. First, praise to the glory of God and for the beauty of His creation. I intuitively feel God’s presence in nature, something more than the sum of fresh air, flowing water and trees. Second, recognition of man-made symbols of faith. God’s greatness has inspired architectural monuments, more than just buildings, be they humble parish churches or desolate abbey ruins.

Where do you want to be with this in the future? I certainly won’t be painting the same things in the same way. I am experimenting with oil painting and portraits, which challenge my technical skills and observational powers.

Any special training required? I taught myself to paint and perfected my technique over years. I study paintings in museums every chance I get, scrutinizing brush strokes. My wife dreads museum guards asking me to get a little farther away from the Rembrandt, please. I get a sense of place by painting what I’ve actually seen, so I travel frequently. I just returned from the Orkney Islands with hundreds of painting ideas, from stone cottages to iron age brochs.

Favorite part? I love beginning a painting, when the fresh white panel has potential for a great new work.

Least favorite? I might have a concept for a painting, but spend hours sketching to work out a problem.

Time it takes? One painting? Two days to two months.

Is it hard to do? Not hard, but challenging!

Other comments: I’ll be having a Studio Open House on Saturday, Aug. 16, 1-4 p.m. at 14495 Manion Canyon Rd., Grass Valley; (530) 477-5545.


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