Gallery Artists > Dan McCaw Biography :

Dan McCaw (b. 1942)  Artworks >>

Organizations* : NWR

One of America’s most highly respected contemporary impressionists, Dan McCaw is known for his city scenes, interiors, and still lifes, done with soft color harmonies and gentle subject matter. He was born in the Irish mining town of Butte, Montana, and began sketching and drawing at an early age. His interest in art was unusual within the industrial environment of his hometown, and in 1962 his individuality and talent as an artist led him to California.

McCaw began his formal art training with a scholarship to the San Francisco Academy of Art in California. He married in 1964 and took a job as an illustrator for a Los Angeles firm while still studying at the Academy. As an illustrator, however, McCaw felt that he was not free to express himself in the way that he desired. He left the Academy and went on to study at the Art Center College for Design in Pasadena, California, later accepting a position there as a painting instructor.

There, McCaw fell under the spell of the great European masters, including Joaquin Sorrolla, whose work has had a lasting influence on his ideas about light and design. Inspired by Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard and Gustave Klimt, McCaw has avoided conforming to the literal representation of the subject and developed a heightened awareness in his work. Although his sensitive figural work is deeply rooted in the romantic impressionist tradition, recent years have seen him moving toward a more individual, expressionist tradition.

A skilled and discerning interpreter of color harmonies, light and mood, the core of McCaw’s work is based on expressing feeling and emotions with the fewest elements; the idea that less is more. “My primary interest lies in going beyond the technique in order to interpret the subject in different ways and expand on the interpretation to make a personal statement. Creativity lies in uncertainty because your solution can be anything!”

When McCaw is not in the studio, he is a constant observer of people, places and environments that stimulate his search for the next painting. A prolific artist who isn’t afraid to experiment or to paint out on the edges of conventional representation, McCaw enjoys frequent field trips to New York, the Midwest and Southeast to gather subject matter and inspiration for his paintings.

After fifteen years as an instructor at the Art Center College for Design, McCaw gave up his post to devote all of his energies to his own art. With the exception of an occasional workshop, McCaw’s drive to stretch the boundaries of his talent absorbs twelve to sixteen hours a day, often seven days a week. He also acts as a mentor to many emerging painters from his home in Torrance, California.

Reference:, Contemporary Western Artists by Peggy and Harold Samuels, Southwest Art magazine

  • NWR = Northwest Rendezvous Group
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