December Art in the Café Artist: Neil Davis

In early 2016, the Co-op launched our Art in the Café program to showcase the work of our member-owner and staff artists in our café seating area. Our month-long local art exhibits are geared toward creating a pleasant dining experience for café customers. Read our interview with December Art in the Café artist, Neil Davis, below.

Neil Davis Like Night and Day painting

Describe the art you are presenting in the Co-op café this month.  (What inspired it? What does it mean to you? What do you hope the experience will be for people who view it?)
My acrylic paintings develop organically as the first mark on the canvas leads to the next and on and on. I’ve heard the process described as continually fixing what doesn’t look right until ultimately a pleasing version emerges.  Another way of thinking about it is that I just start painting and keep at it until I happen on to something good enough to make me stop. The only inspiration is wanting to create good art. It takes a lot of experimentation to result in a “keeper;” for every painting I deem worth framing and showing, there are many that are not kept. I’m proud of most of the keepers and hope whoever sees them will think they were worth a look. That’s what being an artist means to me. 

When did you first start making art and how has your practice changed over time?
I did my first serious painting, a small drip canvas in a Jackson Pollock wannabe style, during the first week in October 2018. It wasn’t half-bad and ended up at the William Rugh Galleries in Lancaster NH. Bill Rugh currently is displaying a broad selection of my work. As I have become more experienced, I have developed my own style by noting what I like in my painting and trying to do more of that. Not always, of course; sometimes I am just spontaneous and something new appears.

Neil Davis Sunset painting

Name 3 artists who inspire you or who you would love being compared to.
I collect art and love to visit museums, so there are lots of painters I admire. If there were one that I particularly would aspire to be like (in spirit if not in ability), that would be American Joan Mitchell. She applied paint in brave action strokes and yet the results were always harmonious and lovely. I also admire American Franz Kline and Frenchman Pierre Soulages, both of whom painted with thick bold slashes of black or other colors. 

What is a fun fact about you that many people don’t know?
A few years ago I spent part of a summer single-handedly digging a 4-foot-wide, 5–foot-deep outhouse hole through dense clay soil at our camp. At the time, I couldn’t have imagined that horrible job becoming a fun fact, but it does seem kind of funny now.