2018-03-01 / Arts & Entertainment

ArtistSPOTLIGHT: David King captures wildlife with a brush

By Kathy O’Flinn

“Giraffe,” 22"x28", watercolor “Giraffe,” 22"x28", watercolor When Sheila and David King arrived at their temporary home, a rustic cabin 50 miles inside the entrance gate to Denali National Park, they realized this was going to be an adventure. Each had been selected to be an artist-in-residence for 4½ months. Their only neighbors were a pack of wolves, a grizzly and her three cubs.

David King is a watercolor artist and has been enthralled with wildlife from a young age. He wanted to be a game biologist but he was convinced otherwise by his parents.

“My mother and dad wanted me to become a dentist so I became a dentist,” he said. Throughout his 31-year career he painted wildlife. Largely self-taught, King exhibited at outdoor art shows.

Now retired, he can paint full time spending most summers in Central Michigan and winters in Southwest Florida. A fisherman, he has a ringside seat watching the loons land on a lake. “They’re not nervous around people. They’re diving. They’re after that bait,” he said.

Artist David King exhibited at several local outdoor art shows this season. Artist David King exhibited at several local outdoor art shows this season. He studies wildlife, watches every wildlife program on TV, “or I at least listen to it when I’m painting,” he said.

His watercolors start with precise drawings in pencil. All he sells are originals. A diverse selection of bird and wildlife paintings fill his booth at the shows.

His love for adventure and travel spurred his wife and him to apply for the Denali program. Their acceptance meant a long drive from Fort Myers. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is only the halfway point.

At the cabin they were assigned, above the timberline, they had no running water and no electricity. Propane fueled the stove and refrigerator. He described it as a phenomenal experience.

“We hiked all over the place,” he said. But hiking came only after they had carefully closed the shutters over the windows. Bears in the area were plentiful, but trees were not, so the bears would scratch themselves on the building – and without the shutters, the windows would have broken.

With privileges to drive wherever they wanted, they traveled the park on dirt roads. “The roads were horrendous. Some genius decided if you were 400 feet above the ground, you’d get a better view. So you got these dirt roads with no barriers,” he said.

During their stay they gave two lectures and demonstrations of their work and then each donated a piece of work that is on display. “It’s there in perpetuity, all the time in the visitor center,” he said. With 40,000 visitors each year, their work has a large audience.

David King exhibits in season at many of the local outdoor shows. He can be reached at djkingwatercolors@gmail.com or 239-218-7247.

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