Trove Gallery will present the unique works of David Dornan |

Trove Gallery will present the unique works of David Dornan

Visual artist David Dornan creates paintings that appear to be still-life works. He paints bottles, shelves, used paintbrushes and overturned vases.

So it’s surprising when Dornan, a retired art professor, says he doesn’t paint by looking at a scene.

"I don’t paint what I see," Dornan said during an interview with The Park Record. "My works appear to be still life, but nothing is set up in my studio. I paint totally from theory.

"I’ll throw some red out or some green onto a canvas," he said. "Then if something looks like a bottle edge, I’ll start to reinforce that look with the knowledge of light and color. Trove Gallery, 804 Main St., will host an artist reception for Dornan on Friday, Dec. 26, and show the public some of these unique works.

not confining himself to set-up objects, Dornan has a lot of flexibility on his paintings.

"I can move around freely like an abstractionist," he said. "So I consider myself an abstractionist who paints real things."

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Oils are Dornan’s medium of choice.

"I like them because they don’t dry quickly, unlike acrylics," he said. "Painting to me is about the manipulation of edges. Oils allow me to keep the edges wet during the time I paint, which gives me the opportunity to go back and soften the edges after four or five hours. It can stretch out the process.

"I paint largely on the theory of light and value," he said. "I understand perspective and how one fills a painting, which helps me know how I can rescue things."

Oils also allow Dornan to create works that move the viewers’ eyes.

"A great painting successfully moves the eye around the work in a way that a Mozart concert or Vivaldi’s compositions moves the brain around," he said. "What I do with painting, which I know now, is move the viewers’ eyes around physically and psychologically."

By physically, Dornan means the eye will look at high-contrast and the sharp edges first.

"Light and dark values are the most important element when I create a piece that works physically," he said.

The psychological element comes in after the physical

"For example, if the viewers are looking at a figure painting, the next place they will look is the face," Dornan said. "That’s a psychological effect because viewers want to see if they know the subject of the painting."

Dornan also considers himself an "indirect painter."

"A direct painter might be someone who goes out and paints a landscape in one shot," he explained. "An indirect painter builds and glazes with thin layers of color on the tops of other colors."

This was inspired by the method known as glazing, which was used by Rembrandt and Monet.

"The old masters glazed a lot because color was expensive," Dornan said. "They would paint black and white and use a little amount of color on top of it."

Glazing allows Dornan to stretch out the creative process.

"I will change a background and see if that makes a difference, or I’ll change something else to see if that works," he said. "This way I can explore more, because what I’m most interested in painting is the process of painting, as opposed to the product."

Dornan usually works on 10 paintings at a time and has 25 pieces up and ready in his studio.

"The hardest thing about starting a painting is setting things up and getting my brushes out," he said with a laugh. "It’s very easy to attack a work when I have 25 of them in the works up in my studio and everything is out and ready.

"Sometimes I’ll mix a color that isn’t quite right that turns a little ugly," he said. "So I’ll go and work on a painting with the ugly color and turn an ugly painting into something better, because two negatives equal a positive."

For the Trove Gallery show, Dornan will show 18 to 20 works.

"Right now I have 11 paintings done and I’ll finish two today and two tomorrow," he said.

Dornan got into art to get cheerleaders, he said with a smile.

"When I was in high school, I did a little golf and football, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice my body, so I gave up hope of getting any cheerleaders and hung out with my buds.

"We held an art day and I was sitting there painting with a friend of mine who made pottery and another who was weaving baskets," he said. "I look up and see four cheerleaders looking at my painting and telling me how beautiful it was. At that point I said, ‘Art is for me.’"

Trove Gallery, 804 Main St., will host an artist opening for painter David Dornan on Friday, Dec. 26, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Dornan, a local artist, is known for his elaborate still lifes. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit .