David J. Simpson is making a name for himself as an artist by following his heart and remaining in the moment
With oil paintings of local landmarks that capture the touchstones of French Impressionism, David J. Simpson is a West Ocean City native and rising star on the local arts scene.
He masterfully captures the color of a given moment, from the reds and yellows of an Ocean City sunrise to the verdant vistas that epitomize life in Worcester County.
His work with a palette knife lends unmistakable movement and energy to an open landscape, and it’s not hard to immediately connect with the world he creates on the canvas.
“I have a personal connection to the scenes, most of them,” said the 36-year-old Simpson. “Me knowing the area so well, I’m able to recreate that and paint it extremely well. The lighting, or the texture of the water, or the moment in general that I experience. In some ways, it’s not really different for the viewer, the feeling of the moment.”
Simpson didn’t start painting until a decade ago, while enrolled at Salisbury University, where he double-majored in art and philosophy. He started as an abstract painter, an expressionist, and found himself painting “like crazy,” he said, because he felt such a personal connection to his artwork.
As a student, he won several awards for his work, including competitions for plein air painting. He says the sense of competition that accompanied those events made him a better painter.
Much of his work involves blank spaces: a beach at daybreak, an empty road, an open pasture. That comes from his appreciation of what he calls “the solitude of the moment.” He likes to photograph autumn or winter landscapes and then bring the image back to his studio, where he recreates the moment on canvas.
“My paintings are very open. There’s a lot of depth. I want people to visually, maybe spiritually, fall into the scene and just get captivated. That way, the viewer has an opportunity to feel like they own that moment and make it theirs.”
By day, Simpson’s an art teacher for sixth and seventh graders in Somerset County. And while he loves teaching and sharing his passions and inspirations for the craft with young people, he says he loves painting even more.
Simpson also has been active in the Art League of Ocean City, both as an instructor and an artist-in-residence with his own studio space; this is in addition to teaching private art classes from home. His contracted studio space at the Art League’s 94th St. headquarters gives Simpson a venue to display and sell his work. He hung 20 new pieces there in February.
“I never sold a painting until the new building came along,” he said. “I have people now who say, ‘Oh, you’re David Simpson! My friends own a David Simpson.’ My reputation is building.
“I could be the next Patrick Henry, the next Kevin Fitzgerald. That’s my goal, man,” he continued. “I want to be famous before I die — locally famous. To the point where people are searching out my work, and I have solo shows. Locally famous later on in life would be nice.”
Editor’s note: David Simpson appears monthly at the Art League of Ocean City’s First Fridays from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
DAVID J. SIMPSON
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