Artist Statement

As my painting style continues to evolve my goal with each piece is not a literal rendering of the scene.  Instead it is to capture and convey its essence.

In terms of composition, I look for simplicity.  I’ve found that there are many opportunities to simplify a scene without compromising its sense of ‘place’.  Therefore I’ll seek out the big abstract shapes in the landscape and  use them for the underlying design concept.  And because I’ve departed from a literal interpretation, I’m free to rearrange elements to fit this concept.  In this way I am able to describe the scene in my own “words”.

Finally, capturing the essence of a landscape involves a realistic rendering of color, light and atmosphere.  This requires direct observation and is why most of my paintings begin in the field with a plein air study.   But studying the physical aspects of nature isn’t the only reason I paint outdoors; for me, the sensory experience of being there is equally important. There’s no better way to get to know a place on earth than to sit for a couple of hours and contemplate it while painting. This intense observation brings a spiritual intimacy with the scene that can’t be achieved in mere passing and allows me to “speak” with complete sincerity in each painting.

Dave Santillanes
Fort Collins, Colorado 2011

Selected Awards

2011 – Best Painting – Main Street Paintout – 7th Annual Sedona Plein Air Festival
2011 – Best of Show – Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational
2010 – Bronze Medal Award – Oil Painters of America 19th National Show, Scottsdale, AZ
2010 – Judges Award – Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
2010 – People’s Choice – Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters National Show, Crested Butte, CO
2006 – Artist’s Choice – Estes Park Plein Air, Estes Park, CO
2003 – Award of Excellence – RMPAP – Estes Park Plein Air 2003, Estes Park, CO
2003 – Mini 50 – 17th Annual Arts for the Parks, Jackson, WY
2002 – Top 200 – 16th Annual Arts for the Parks, Jackson WY
2000 – Grand Teton National Park Purchase Award – 14th Annual Arts for the Parks, Jackson WY
2000 – Grumbacher Gold Medal – Northern Colorado Artist Association National Show


2011 – “Poetry of Place” – Southwest Art Magazine – December 2011
2003 – “Artists to Watch” – Southwest Art Magazine – December 2003