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Looking at Painting
Looking at Painting
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Kentucky Educational Television
Dal Macon

Dal Macon Artist’s Statement

My art is of two kinds: a more impressionist landscape and a more well-rendered realism of domestic genre—different approaches to different situations and imagery. Both approaches are thoroughly enjoyed in the medium of oil.

Different styles and time periods have been an influence in my career. Certainly the abstract element of the 20th century, the color of Impressionism, and the genre of Dutch Baroque have all played a significant role in many of my decisions. In these ways, I am unapologetically traditional. Likewise, the rural area and circumstances in which I live continuously provoke visual ideas.

First and foremost in beginning a work is my personal response to the image. As poet/critic James Schuyler is quoted: “The reality of a painting does not lie in the presence or absence of subject but in conviction. Do I identify with the image? Do I like it? Do I see possibilities for a painting in it? For translating it into a pictorial structure? These are the initial questions.”

The more intimate setting of the home has been repetitively used as a subject for a number of reasons. It includes an opportunity to combine geometric and organic shapes, to handle a greater variety of color, and to deal with direct and diffused natural light through doors and windows. Principles much in common with Contemporary Realism—strength of the picture plane, figure-ground dynamic between shapes, value contrast, and intensity of color—are regular goals.

In summary, my art aims for a balance between, first, the personal inspiration of a particular visual experience, and, second, the challenge of translating that experience into a picture of equal strength by using the elements of art, composition, and the medium of oil paint.

Dal Macon, 2001


My point of origin is the Midwest: Des Moines, IA at birth; a suburb of St. Louis, MO through high school; and Vanderbilt University (1971) for a BA in philosophy. During the summer immediately following graduation, I worked for a health care delivery program serving isolated mountain communities of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. This was my main introduction to the area.

After traveling and working for a year in Europe and another year in California, I returned to Milwaukee, WI, where my family lived at the time. There I lived in the inner city and became involved with community programs.

Art, however, had always been a personal priority—I had been painting with oils since the 7th grade—and I entered the local University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the undergraduate curriculum. At the time, Contemporary Realism was making its entry, and I had the opportunity to work under photorealist William Nichols, who was then represented by Ivan Karp at a New York gallery.

After about two and a half years of study, my wife and I (married in 1979) moved to Whitley County, Kentucky. Reasons included my previous experience in the area, friends, community work, the country lifestyle, and the artistic interests of rural imagery.

During the ’80s I continuously pursued my own art—experimenting with ideas and techniques, entering competitive exhibitions, and responding to commissions. With the birth of our children (now 19 and 15), I also became the stay-at-home parent, built our home, held part- time employment as a community artist and a GED teacher, and became involved in opposing a proposed landfill.

With the ’90s, I received my MFA in visual art—studio and art history credit from a low-residency program at Vermont College. Since that time, I have been increasingly productive in my art, more frequently exhibited, and have been continuously employed teaching art in local colleges.

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In Our Gallery ...

(Painting details shown below.
Click on the thumbnail or the
title to see the full work.)

Morning Mountain
Morning Mountain

Back Door
Back Door

Beech Tree
Beech Tree

untitled painting

Above the River
Above the River

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951