WATFORD CITY - He came not just to see North Dakota's Badlands firsthand, but to capture the most enchanting moments on linen. The North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park provided a perfect setting for the pleasing work of artist David Peacock. When the light was right, warm and rich and varied, Peacock dipped his brushes into oil paints and brought previously barren linen to life.
"I like what I see in the West and I like the landscape here. It is very different and interesting to see new things and different forms," said Peacock, Rhinelander, Wis., while stepping back from his easel and carefully surveying the slumping buttes that dominated the landscape around him. "What I like to do is what I'm doing right now, outside, what is called plein air painting."
Plein air is painting in the outdoor light and Peacock would have it no other way. He believes a landscape artist should immerse themselves in their surroundings to get a better feel for what they desire to create.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN David Peacock made a trip to North Dakota’s Badlands to create oil paintings of unique landscapes. Peacock is a professional artist from Rhinelander, Wis.
Small drawings allow artist David Peacock to determine whether or not to pursue a larger, full-color painting.
"Painting outdoors in the natural environment and light is where you get a better sense of colors and forms," explained Peacock. "It gives you a better sense of the outside, the outdoors."
Peacock was camped in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt Park this past week, intending to stay about one week to capture some chosen landscape views with oil. He even hiked into a remote area of the park to get up close and personal with the very land he found so enchanting. He was also caught in a sudden rainstorm. No matter. The likeable artist contends that painting directly from life is the biggest single thing he has done to develop his skills with a brush.
"Every area has its own unique character. You have to be here. You can't just get a postcard or take a picture. I have to hike around and hang around. That just gives me a little taste of it," said Peacock.
While his work demands focus on background, Peacock's own background includes Master of Fine Art in Painting from The University of Texas and a Bachelor's Fine Arts in Painting from Florida State University. He has been painting ever since and has exhibited nationally.
Peacock was lured to the Badlands by his desire to find new subject matter. He found precisely what he was searching for in the North Unit. It was his first trip and he was impressed.
"I've read about it. It looked interesting to me," said Peacock while paging through a small sketchbook containing a few Badlands images. "I've painted Grand Teton a couple of times and other areas of the north woods of Wisconsin where I live. Here, if you hang around long enough, the light really surprises you and does something really cool and special."
Those who visit the Badlands know how the warmth of the morning and evening sun accents the various hues found among the buttes and canyons of the rugged land. Shadows cast by buttes large and small not only create wonderment to the eye, but a depth recognized by those with a keen eye for detail.
With no lack of challenging landscape to capture in the Badlands, Peacock had no difficulty in finding suitable subject matter for his distinctive work. He produced both small sketches in black and white and small format color artwork. Using his personal visitation and field paintings as a guide, Peacock sometimes creates larger paintings in his Wisconsin studio. A sample of Peacock's work can be found at (DavidPeacockArt.com).