Artist fishes for the big picture
Dave Hall recently celebrated his 60th birthday. When he blew out his candles, instead of daydreaming about retirement, he was thinking about how he’ll embrace his career until the day he can no longer pick up a paintbrush.
In 2003, Hall left behind a life as a high-school teacher and administrator to become an artist full-time.
"I had a wonderful career in education, but I knew I had to do something else," he says. "I didn’t want to be 65 or 70 and say, ‘I wish I had done that.’"
Since embarking on his new career path, Hall has been featured in numerous shows in Utah, Montana and Wyoming. He published a book, "Moving Water: An Artist’s Reflections on Fly Fishing and Friendship," and illustrated a collection of poetry.
On Friday, May 28, he’ll unveil 22 new paintings at Meyer Gallery on Main Street during the Park City gallery stroll. Hall will be present for an artist reception and book-signing event from 6 until 9 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through June 9.
The artist, who splits his time between Salt Lake City and Varney, Mont., grew up surrounded by artistic inclinations. His grandmother was a working artist for more than 60 years and his father dabbled in painting.
"Art was something I had been thinking about for a long time," he says. "There was a very strong pull toward it."
The transition was relatively easy in the sense that he could relate to being an artist, he says. In the sense that he was giving up his day job and a steady paycheck, it was terrifying – but he knew he’d regret not taking that leap.
He found his inspiration in the rivers and streams he has frequented as a fly fisherman and began painting tonal landscapes of places he’s familiar with – mainly southwest Montana and Yellowstone Park.
"I have no formal training in art, but I knew the feeling I wanted from the start," he explains.
The feeling he speaks of is actually more of a mood. Instead of painting a specific scene, he strives to capture the ambiance of a particular location by painting from memory and experience.
"I paint scenes that move me. I try to follow my heart and I don’t try to paint to the market," he says.
Hall especially likes painting landscapes in low-light conditions such as dawn, dusk, snow or fog. He uses muted colors and a limited palette to create monochromatic paintings that exude a sense of tranquility and peacefulness.
He chooses to ignore extraneous details in favor of conveying the bigger picture. Some of his paintings are created from one color of paint in varying tones.
Hall says he finds himself constantly pushing toward the abstract, but is hesitant to cross that fine line. "There’s a balance between feeling good about what you’re doing and feeling good about sales," he says. While some people are drawn to abstract art, it’s less commercially viable for galleries.
Hall’s show at Meyer Gallery will showcase a collection he has completed in the past four months. The pieces range in size from the size of a photograph (5 by 7 inches) to that of a large wall painting (44 by 55 inches). It is his first solo show in Park City.
Dolly’s bookstore will co-sponsor the book-signing portion of the evening. "Moving Water" contains a collection of vignettes about friendship written by the artist and accompanied by his paintings.
"I’ve been lucky to combine two passions – one from my childhood [fishing] and one from later in life [painting]," he says. "It was a way for me to tie together the things I loved and the friendships that have emerged."
Hall has upcoming shows in Bozeman, Salt Lake City and Ogden. He is working on miscellaneous projects and, of course, has plenty of time scheduled for fishing and painting.
"This is not something I’ll ever retire from," he says. "It’s been a great ride."
His artwork is available at Meyer Gallery in Park City, Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake City and Tierney Fine Art in Bozeman, Mont. His book is available locally at Dolly’s Bookstore. For more information, visit http://davehalllandscapes.com .
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