By Gina Malone
One of the first things David Eckert wants others to understand about him and his art is that he has ADHD, which comes, he says, with challenges but also with positives, including “many forms of creativity, high levels of energy and the pleasure of living in the moment.” These attributes spurred his lifelong interest in art and guided him to his preferred medium—acrylics, which because of their quick drying time require fast-paced execution.
Eckert grew up in rural Michigan, a child who loved to draw, paint and create, and to spend time outdoors. “I was in awe of the moonlight on the snow or sunrise over the lake or the different colors that would appear when the wind blew the long grass,” he says.
“I could stare at the veins of a leaf for what seemed like a very long time. My family did not know what to make of me.” At that time, his ADHD was undiagnosed and he was adopted—both of which, he says, “underscored my being different.” But being artistic and introspective did not faze him. “I liked it,” Eckert says. “Nature has always given me peace and now gives me purpose through my paintings.”
Throughout his young years, he found a number of teachers and mentors. One, a neighbor who was a technical illustrator and college professor, taught him a lifelong lesson when he became frustrated with Eckert and threw a paintbrush. “‘If you want these clouds to be identical, take a f—— photo,’” Eckert recalls him saying. “This had a lot of impact and directed me to communicate my feelings through my work,” he adds. Painting murals with his high school art teacher, who took him under her wing, gave him more valuable experience in his developmental years.
When it came time to choose a career, Eckert had his heart set on architecture, having won in high school a state competition with an architectural model home he designed. “Sadly, I was intimidated by the math,” he says. There followed studies in print technology and restaurant/hotel management. In his 30s, he drew closer to his love of art by studying cosmetology, going on to open high-end salons and spas in California and Connecticut. During this time, he worked at his art on the side, producing residential signs, murals and paintings on canvas, and learned from other artists.
“As an adult, I have studied with Mary Kass of Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA,” Eckert says. “She had studied at the Art Student League in NY, and with Hans Hofmann. As we grew closer and she trusted me, she showed me some of her collection, including Picasso, Degas and Hofmann. She loved talking about how each piece inspired her work. I also studied with Ilona Royce Smithkin of New York and Provincetown. She studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and at the Art Students League.” She also had several instructional shows for artists on PBS, including the series Painting with Ilona.
“Finally, moving to Asheville inspired me to take the leap to painting,” he says. “I have never felt more fulfilled. I paint five or six hours a day, six days a week. I often lose track of time and have to be reminded, ‘It is time to walk the dog.’”
Eckert’s paintings have found their way into collections all over the country and world, from San Francisco to Slovakia. He is currently in discussion with a regional college about holding an exhibition of his work at its museum.
His landscapes are inspired by the nature that surrounds him and by the places where he has lived and traveled throughout his life. “The mentor who told me to ‘take a photo’ would now be assured I had heard him, as clouds are so much a part of my work,” Eckert says. “Although I am frequently inspired by a landscape that catches my eye, my work quickly goes to a feeling, an inspiration or a memory. Those who are drawn to my work often comment on their feelings that are touched by the work.”
Learn more about David V. Eckert Art at DavidVEckert.com. He currently shows work at Marquee in the River Arts District, and is happy to meet clients by appointment there or at his home studio. For an appointment, email at email@example.com or call 828.273.3374.