Motion & Energy
Painter David V. Gonzales keeps active while creating his art
David V. Gonzales has a knack for capturing motion and energy in his paintings. As it turns out, he spends half of his creative process in motion himself.
Growing up in Santa Fe, NM, Gonzales was surrounded by talent, with a famous wood sculptor relative, an artistic cousin, and his father dabbling in the occasional painting project. Gonzales found himself producing artwork before he realized he was an artist. He helped his dad paint a competition-winning, billboard-sized greeting card when he was about 10. Before that, he collected some paint and crayons and began scribbling on some paper. He stepped back and realized the creation resembled a horse’s head.
“I had no idea what I was doing, just having fun,” he recalls. “I was like, oh my gosh, it looks like a horse. It intrigued me.”
As a youngster, Gonzales depicted detailed Native American renderings and other pieces relating to his Hispanic heritage. When he was in art class in high school, he dove into depicting more personal pieces. He attended a prestigious, two-week art program in Colorado Springs which shaped his decision to be an artist. He went on to study art at a trio of colleges, where he explored drawing, painting, sculpture, performance art and ceramics. He later dabbled in bronze, window painting, and chainsaw carving before landing on acrylic paint as his current medium of choice. Having fallen in love with the town of Manitou Springs, he later moved there, continuing his creative endeavors. He entered and won an artwork competition for the USA Pro Challenge cycling race and entered a new realm of capturing energy and movement in his art.
His strikingly colorful cyclists, runners, skiers and snowboarders in his paintings appear to be moving. Due to unique brush strokes, scratches, and drips, even his wildlife and landscape portraits radiate an uncanny aura of energy.
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“I am capturing life, which is ongoing and always changing,” he says. “Let’s say I’m painting a cityscape in plein-air — there are cars in motion, people moving about, life unfolding in front of me. I recall painting Pikes Peak and seeing all the sunlight playing off the mountain and clouds rolling through the scene. I remember thinking, how many people are seeing this? It was a magical experience.”
Gonzales has created commissioned pieces featuring famed athletes such as Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Greg LeMond and Tiger Woods.
When he is painting, his approach involves an array of physical movements. Recently he began setting a stopwatch for five or ten minutes and applying as many strokes that capture the movement in the scene before stepping away and dropping into a series of push-ups, free weight exercises, yoga or ball dribbling. He’ll then return to the canvas and set the clock for the next session of brush strokes.
“Part of the reason I have integrated exercise into the creative process is that I want my art to be free and loose and, simultaneously, my mind and body healthy. If I feel I’m losing the life in the painting, I will move on to another piece or start doing some exercises to get out of that mushy part of myself.”
Gonzales once had a figure drawing teacher who would instruct students to spend three seconds throwing down lines to represent the movement of their subject. It made a lasting impression.
“My figure drawing teacher always said, ‘begin everywhere at once.’ This ignited a flow state where my eyes and hand would be in sync, recording the motion and energy of the person.”
Much of Gonzales’ work is incredibly detailed and realistic. But even the pieces that are more abstract emanate a rash of movement and energy. He says his proudest pieces take the least amount of time to create. One example is “Fury,” a rectangular portrait of “cyclists coming at you” that took him 15 minutes to paint in a flurry of fast strokes created from the “begin everywhere at once” approach.
“Everything fell into place in moments,” he says. “When I’m doing paintings like that, it’s [tapping into] a primitive nature. There’s just a few brush strokes to state everything that needs to be said.”
Find Gonzales’ work at Raitman Art Galleries in Vail. http://www.RaitmanArt.com.