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John Davison © 2006-2010 all rights reserved

Kayaking Na Pali coast. Photo by P.Hopeck



Background / Artist Statement / Reviews / Contact Information


I currently live in Asheville, North Carolina. Previously I lived on the island of Kauai, in the island chain of Hawaii for 31 years. I exhibited in numerous local exhibitions, as well as throughout the State of Hawaii. I am honored to have twelve works in the collection of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. I was included in the inaugural exhibition of the Hawaii State Art Museum in 2001.
    Commissions welcome. Crating and shipping are available. Please contact me regarding artworks or purchase inquiries.


Sketching above Na Pali. Photo by K.Ho

Artist Statement

Over the years I have worked in many mediums including drawing, printmaking, photography, and sculpture, but mainly I have painted with watercolor and acrylic on paper or canvas.
    The primary inspiration for my paintings has always been the incredible beauty and power of landscape, whether remote valleys and cliffs, or the view from my front window. I try, however, to do more than just mimic the look of a place. I want to get beyond the surface visuals and express the intangibles of emotion, spirit, and mystery that I sense in this landscape. There is a magic and poetry of sea and stone and sky that I am looking for. I want to know the way a tree grows, experience the quiet knowledge of time accumulated by an ancient stone, and feel the forces that carved these deep canyons. These landscapes become reflections of my own spirit and existence. They are places of growth and erosion, movement and stillness, darkness and light. They are places of mystery and discovery.
    I work in the studio primarily from memory and sketches done on location. I prefer to do my final work in the studio where impressions, remembrance, and imagination can play a larger role. Looking at my sketches I return to these places, and so much comes back to me as I paint, much more than just the visual. For me the paintings become more focused and honed to their basic essence. They have greater meaning for me, I think, than if I had painted them on the spot. I like to think of my paintings as being, at once, realistic, impressionistic, abstracted, and imagined. I hope they resonate a kind of visual poetry.
    Some pieces are very site-specific, while others are imagined and abstracted becoming archetypal landscapes that hopefully speak for many such ridges, valleys, and coastlines. I have painted a wide range of island landscapes, including a series on the eroded patterns of Waimea Canyon and another on the forests and stones of Nounou Mountain, known as the "Sleeping Giant," beneath which I lived for fifteen years. The raincarved ridges of Waialeale and Makaleha surrounding my home, and especially time spent kayaking and hiking along Kauai's rugged Na Pali coast were inspirations as well.
Currently, I am working on a new series, "Trees," based on trees in and around my neighborhood in Asheville, and their interactions both visual and physical with human elements such as the street in front of my house, powerpoles, my driveway and dog.
    For more on "how" a painting is made see
a work in progress.

    My sculptures are an outlet for the more whimsical side of my creative personality reflecting on my relationship to nature, family, and life in general.

OK, enough words from me. If you have made it this far you might be interested in what some others have said about my work. See below.

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"...Davison has pushed into the reaches of color abstraction in seeking out not just the surface of nature but its deepest structure. The color - symbolic, even thermographic rather than naturalistic - seems to respond to a logic of levels of energy felt or perceived in rocks, sky, water. (He) is particularly successful at fusing a sense of expanded space with an overlay of essential forms, and much of this has to do with being in tune with some archetypal formal rhythms. Davison's watercolors display a delight in the very shapes of color, revealing a deep-reaching pleasure in patterns - light broken by the shimmer of water, old striations of earth strata, thoughtful conjunctions of stones."

Marcia Morse, Honolulu Advertiser, 8/21/88

"These paintings are hypnotic in their effect, reaching to a deep level within the viewer - a visual metaphor for a protected inner place of beauty and sanctity..."

Dawn Fraser Kawahara, Garden Island newspaper, 8/19/88

"The jewel-like quality portrayed by Davison is deeply honoring of the spirit of the island, while transporting one, almost viscerally, to the location real or imagined."

Jennifer Roberts, Garden Island newspaper, 10/23/91

"John captures the monumentality of geological time with the great boulder blocks of color that form the masonry of his paintings. These color swaths jostle and streak, skim and glide, nudge up against each other and define the strong contrasts that nature provides."

Evelyn de Buhr, Kauai Magazine, Spring '94

"John Davison's daring abstract watercolors and acrylics capture the panoramic beauty, power, and mystery of Kauai, the contrasts of rain and sun, mountains and clouds, the finite way light touches and transforms all facets of earth's objects, and the patterns and processes of growth and change, interaction and erosion, evident in nature."

Arnold Schuchter, Art and Crafts in the Hawaiian Islands, 1991


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Contact Information



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