Dan was born in Detroit, Michigan and was ten years old when his family moved to the small town of Clinton, Michigan. His father bought and ran a tavern and motel there. During high school, Dan took night art classes and began working in both oils and watercolors, selling his wildlife paintings to patrons of his father’s tavern for $40 apiece; a high price at that time.
In that farming community, Dan came to appreciate the beauty of the land around him, the abundant wildlife and especially the light of early morning and the deep hues of a summer sunset.
In 1969 he graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Design degree. While attending the university he worked summers in the commercial art industry, in the heart of the automotive industry, learning the techniques of the trade from many of the best in the business.
Drafted into the U.S. Army after graduation, Dan served a tour of duty as a medic and ambulance driver in a M.A.S.H. unit in Panama and as Command Artist for the Southern Command, Panama Canal Zone. While in Panama, he did several historical paintings for area museums.
Returning to the United States, he worked in several major commercial art studios in Detroit. He met his wife, Rhonda, and was introduced to the Western fine art market when co-workers showed him Frank McCarthy’s work in a western magazine ad. Moving west in 1975, Dan and Rhonda settled in Scottsdale, Arizona, and began a love affair with the rich history and the warm climate and people of the American West.
As an artist, Dan focuses on what he perceives as a simpler time – the 19th century American West frontier. Dan is a representational oil painter of Native Americans and cowboys, both historic and contemporary, and is considered one of the best in this genre.
Dan has a wonderful, somewhat mischievous sense of humor. Anyone would be hard-pressed not to find themselves chuckling regularly during a conversation with him. But when it comes to his art, he is very serious and exceptionally demanding of himself.
Dan’s work has been featured in such important venues as the Prix de West Invitational show at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Masters of the American West exhibition at the Autry National Center. His art has been featured in numerous major western-art magazines.
Gussie Fauntleroy of Southwest Art Magazine wrote, “His masterfully rendered scenes are known for dramatic lighting, vibrant color, and a sense of authenticity that comes from accurate postures, gestures, and historical artifacts.”
The most challenging and compelling aspect of my paintings is capturing the warmth of the sun, the vast expanses of space and the moods and feelings the atmosphere imparts on the people, animals, and geography.
First and foremost, no matter what the subject, it has to be well painted. The water has to look as good as the horse.
With a sly grin, he adds, “My aim is to take a lot of the hayseed out of this genre.”