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

Recent Awards

2020 — Grand Prize Winner – 9th Annual Plein Air Salon Competition
2020 — Artists Choice Award – Quest for the West Show
2020 — First Place – Signature Division – Oil Painters of America – Fall Online Showcase
2019 — 3rd Place Overall – 8th Annual Plein Air Salon – Finalist Awards
2018 — First Place – Oil Painters of America National Show – Wet Paint Competition
2018 — Honorable Mention – 7th Annual Plein Air Salon – Finalist Awards
2017 — William Schultz Memorial Award – American Impressionist Society – 18th National Show
2016 — First Place – Landscape Category – 12th Annual International ARC Salon
2016 — Best of Show – Oil Painters of America 2016 Salon Show
2016 — Landscape Award of Excellence – Oil Painters of America 25th National Show, Dallas, Texas
2015 — Award of Excellence – Oil Painters of America – Western Regional Show, Steamboat Springs, CO
2015 — Honor Hawaii Award and People’s Choice Award – Maui Plein Air Invitational
2014 — Award of Distinction – American Impressionist Society National Show, Denver, CO
2014 — Honorable Mention – 4th Annual Plein Air Salon – Finalist Awards
2014 — Best Landscape and Best Depiction of Water – Plein Air Salon
2014 — Artists Choice Award – Zion National Park Plein Air
2014 — Solo Show – Evergreen Fine Art – Evergreen, CO – September
2014 — People’s Choice Award – Maui Plein Air Invitational


2021 —  Featured on the cover –  Plein Air Magazine – January 2021
2020 —  Featured Artist – Vicki Stavig – Art of the West Magazine – May 2020
2014 — “Getting Out of Your Own Way”, M. Stephen Doherty – Plein Air Magazine – May 2014
2013 — “Art of the National Parks” – Fresco Fine Art Publications – Jean Stern, Susan Hallsten McGarry, Terry Lawson Dunn
2011 — “Poetry of Place” – Southwest Art Magazine – December 2011
2003 — “Artists to Watch” – Southwest Art Magazine – December 2003