David Meikle: Desert Elements, Western Art Collector, December 2020

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DAVID MEIKLE: Desert elements

Published online courtesy Western Art Collector, December 2020

David Meikle is man with several hats. He is art director at University Marketing & Communications at the University of Utah, where he received his BFA in graphic design and illustration as well as his MFA. He is also a freelance illustrator and fine art landscape painter.

His graphic and fine art facets come together in his painting Welcome to Utah. In it is one of the seven "Welcome to Utah" billboard designs he created to be displayed at major entries to the state. They were designed and painted in his simplified "travel  style" inspired by travel posters of the 1930s and 1940s. Here, he has painted the billboard in that style, within a realist landscape expressed in his fine art style. In this painting style, he maintains the crisp edges of graphic design and his sense of prominent shapes, contrasted with soft shadows to show their color.

David Meikle, Welcome to Utah, Oil, 24" x 30"

David Meikle, Welcome to Utah, Oil, 24" x 30"

"In Salt Lake City, if we don't have smoke or an inversion you can see a long distance," he says. "I grew up looking across the valley. I like vistas. In my paintings, I am always looking to show distance and depth using atmospheric perspective. I save higher contrast and intense colors for the foreground.

"October is my favorite month as  far  as color is concerned," he says. " I have a  hard time when all is green. I look forward to  the golds and yellows. In October Cottonwoods rather than  make  everything  too  symmetrical, I looked for something in these trees that made them unique."

David Meikle, October Cottonwoods, Oil, 30" x 24"

David Meikle, October Cottonwoods, Oil, 30" x 24"

Although the trees are centered in the image, the dead branches contrast with the brightly lit fall foliage and animate what could have been a static composition. His use of atmospheric perspective softens the color of the cliffs in the background and creates a heightened sense of depth.

David Meikle, Vermilion Cliffs, Oil, 16" x 40"

David Meikle, Vermilion Cliffs, Oil, 16" x 40"

"I grew up looking at illustrations,"  he says. "They really excited me. In school I saw N.C. Wyeth's book illustrations and admired their painterly realist style. I also admired Edward Hopper's way of seeing. He had a strong sense of design with well-defined shapes and strong shadows. His sense of light and shade made his paintings interesting. Maynard Dixon wasn't in the conversation in school but he showed a perfect combination of graphic design and fine art with cool patters and shapes."

Meikle's latest paintings will be shown at Medicine Man Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, in the exhibition David Meikle: Desert Elements, opening December 4.

David Meikle, Heights of Zion, Oil, 48" x 36"

David Meikle, Heights of Zion, Oil, 48" x 36"
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