For Minnesota painter Derek Davis, mood is key in a painting, and after a piece has satisfied all the formal demands Davis has about art, he looks for that ephemeral trait.
Davis chose three paintings from his private collection to share with PleinAir Today readers. Sure enough, mood plays a large role in his decision-making. But Davis is a strong proponent for all the fundamentals being covered first. “I appreciate anything that shows the artist understands all the basic fundamentals,” says Davis. “A style, on the other hand, is just whatever your personality is. It’s really hard to hide that. The painting reveals that.”

“Spring Bouquet,” by Bridget Ertelt, oil, 9 x 12 in. Collection of Derek Davis
For a painting by Stephen Wysocki, Davis finds all the right components present, plus a mood spurred by an implied narrative. “There’s a little story with the gas can — I’m not a big fan of portraits usually, but I thought this was really well done. It’s not static — it keeps your eye moving around it. The artist is not so insecure that he feels like he has to put much detail in it.” Davis says a big reason he gravitated toward “Out of Gas” was its “spontaneous brushwork.”

“Reflections and Cascades,” by Cheryl LeClair-Sommer, pastel, 6 x 8 in. Collection of Derek Davis

In Bridget Ertelt’s “Spring Bouquet,” Davis sees an artist going beyond “Look what I can do,” he says. “It’s something beyond ego. It communicates. Ertelt understands variety, repetition with variety, values, and the principles of design. I love the way she cropped it — it engaged me right away when I saw it.”
“Reflections and Cascades” by Cheryl LeClair-Sommer draws Davis’s praise for its composition, the way the artist layered the pastel, and how it expresses the moving water. And…you guessed it. “I really liked the mood of this one,” says Davis. “Gil Dellinger once said the mood is what sells a painting, as opposed to detail or something else, and I believe it.”

“Waiting for New Shoes — Colorado,” by Derek Davis, oil on linen, 12 x 16 in. 
All three of the paintings were purchased from acquaintances. Davis feels it is important and enjoyable to support fellow artists and encourage them. “I don’t buy along stylistic trends,” he adds. “I do tend to appreciate paintings done from life. I will not consider anything that is obviously copied from a photo. And I look for the same things I want in my own work.”


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