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About David

Self Portrait smallMy name is David Rourke. As an artist, I am mostly self-taught. For as long as I can remem­ber, I’ve liked to draw and paint. Over the past ten years, I’ve worked at becom­ing as good an artist as I can, within the lim­i­ta­tions of my other respon­si­bil­i­ties. That’s included lots of prac­tice, as well as two years of study with Den­nis Cheaney at the New Eng­land Real­ist Art Cen­ter in Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts. Den­nis is a stu­dent of Ted Seth Jacobs, one of the great mod­ern real­ist mas­ters, and I have ben­e­fited greatly from his instruc­tion. I cur­rently work mainly in oil and egg tem­pera, as well as draw­ing with graphite. In my own work, I’m mostly inter­ested in the nature of ordi­nary things, peo­ple, and places. I want my art to be unpre­ten­tious and sim­ple, but not sim­plis­tic. We’ll see over time how well I achieve that.

Beyond mak­ing art, I freely admit that I am an art geek. I am very inter­ested in most kinds of rep­re­sen­ta­tional visual art. One of my main inter­ests is Renais­sance art, as well as the mate­ri­als and meth­ods of artists in var­i­ous peri­ods. I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of early Nether­lan­dish art (Robert Campin, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Wey­den, Hans Mem­ling) and slightly later Ital­ian art (San­dro Bot­ti­celli, Gio­vanni Bellini, Michelan­gelo Buonar­roti, Raphael Sanzio). I’m also a big fan of Albrecht Durer, Hans Hol­bein, and Diego Velazquez. I like some 19th cen­tury painters, such as James Whistler and John Water­house. I love the great illus­tra­tors such as Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, and J.C. Leyen­decker, and some 20th cen­tury real­ists such as Pietro Annigoni and Andrew Wyeth.

Why this weblog?

Largely because it helps to keep me focused on things I want to focus on. I like to com­mu­ni­cate about art. As some­one with an inter­est in art mate­ri­als and meth­ods, I think I can be help­ful to the many artists who don’t like to read and research the tech­ni­cal details of how to make paint­ings, but do want access to prac­ti­cal knowl­edge of how to best do their work.

What I do other than art

I live in Auburn, Mass­a­chu­setts (in the United States) with my wife Kirsten, our son Bren­dan (born August 2006), and our cat Pasha. I was born and raised in Rhode Island and have also lived in Penn­syl­va­nia and New Hampshire.

I am not a pro­fes­sional artist. I have a bachelor’s degree, major­ing in psy­chol­ogy, from the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, and a Master’s degree in psy­chol­ogy from Vil­lanova Uni­ver­sity. I have worked in clin­i­cal treat­ment set­tings for the past 20 years. I’ve worked with adults and chil­dren who present with devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, trau­matic brain injuries, psy­chi­atric dis­or­ders, and behav­ioral prob­lems. I now work for a small com­pany called QBS Inc., pro­vid­ing con­sult­ing and train­ing on dif­fi­cult cases to schools, res­i­den­tial pro­grams, reha­bil­i­ta­tion facil­i­ties, and other places. It’s not the eas­i­est kind of work to do, but every day it feels like I’m help­ing peo­ple who really need it, and that makes it worth­while to me.

Aside from art, my other big hobby is the Soci­ety for Cre­ative Anachro­nism, a Medieval re-creation group. Within the SCA, I par­tic­i­pate in the full-contact sword-fighting mar­tial art the orga­ni­za­tion has devel­oped, and I teach Medieval and Renais­sance paint­ing methods.

I also like to read about his­tory and art, as well as sci­ence fic­tion and mys­tery novels.

22 Responses

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  1. Susan Flockhart says

    What a fan­tas­tic web­site! So full of inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion. I was read­ing your renais­sance work­shop thread on wet​can​vas​.com and I’m so glad I clicked on your home­page. Keep up the good work.

  2. Anna Rhodes says

    Thank you for cre­at­ing your won­der­ful and infor­ma­tive web-site which I will for­ward to my stu­dents and my artists com­m­mu­nity. I greatly appre­ci­ate your research and shar­ing all of this valu­able and inspir­ing infor­ma­tion.
    Seat­tle Wa.

  3. TK says

    Hi David,

    Thanks for an excel­lent and well writ­ten resource! I added a link to you on my blog, and hope that is okay. I did notice I could not get your .com by itself, but all the arti­cles come up fine. I am read­ing a few arti­cles at a time, you’ve helped me out, and I am grate­ful. :D

    I have also enjoyed read­ing your posts on WC!. All best wishes,

  4. Jock Young says

    Hi David, con­grat­u­la­tions on your web­site. I would like to buy some Doak Fra Angel­ica blue from Robert Doak but he is in US and I am in Aus­tralia. Any sug­ges­tions. Does he have a web­site to order from. regards, Jock Young

  5. David says



    Robert is not a 21st cen­tury kind of guy. He does not have a web­site; in fact he only began accept­ing credit cards a cou­ple of years ago. So far as I know, this email address is current:

    If that doesn’t work, you will prob­a­bly need to make an inter­na­tional phone call to his shop. The num­ber is (718) 2370146. He should be able to work with you on the least expen­sive way to get his stuff to Australia.

    Good luck.

  6. Augusto Vyhmeister says

    Hello David: Great Site !!! Congratulations.I have already read your pro­file. I am Elec­tron­i­cal Engi­neer, but inter­ested to become a good artist and arranged to leave this pro­fes­sion as I become more good painter and artist. I am inter­ested on your thoughts you expose here. About psi­chol­ogy, I have expe­ri­enced good per­sonal, fam­ily and pro­fes­sional growth with some tech­niques , look at http://​www​.vlad​hu​ber​.cl site, he works in Chile with some advanced tech­niques in clinic psi­chol­ogy. Tell me back at my mail augusto.vyhmeister gmail​.com.
    Have a good day.

  7. Margret Short says

    Dear David, I feel as if I have found a kin­dred spirit with so many shared inter­ests, espe­cially a pas­sion for pig­ments. I also love the his­toric col­ors and have been involved in a project of exper­i­men­ta­tion over the past many months.
    Your diary is very inter­est­ing and infor­ma­tive. I love all the images of palettes and color swatches.
    All the best,
    Mar­gret Short

  8. Kathryn says

    Hi David, I love your art geek! I am another kin­dred spirit with a very sim­i­lar back­ground as you being that I am an orga­ni­za­tional psy­chol­o­gist — so trained in psy­chol­ogy albeit to dif­fer­ent ends and am rais­ing a child with mul­ti­ple dis­abil­i­ties. I just started paint­ing again to regain my san­ity and heart and my friend Troy sent me you blog link. I am so glad he did. I hope you don’t mind if I link to your site on mine. thanks for all this valu­able infor­ma­tion on oil paint­ing — which is what I am doing. You really know your stuff and we live in the same area so i can take advan­tage of some of the same resources.

    GReat blog! Thanks for sharing!

  9. David says

    Thanks, Kathryn.

    Good luck with your daugh­ter. In my work I’ve encoun­tered many fam­i­lies who sim­ply amaze me with the ded­i­ca­tion they have to their hand­i­capped children.

    Of course I’m always happy to get links.

  10. Minjung Park says

    Hi, David !! I’m South-Korean girl. I’m uni­ver­sity stu­dent, my major is art-education.
    I can’t do well eng­lish. ^^ ;;;; So you can’t read easy my writing .

    I pre­pare a prod­uct for grad­u­a­tion, and work to oil paint­ing I hap­pened into your blog. And I read your arti­cle about oil paint­ing.
    It was very use­ful for me. But I need study eng­lish very hard ;;;;;;;;;.

    I will visit soon once agein your web­site next again~~. bye ^^

    ps. You’re so handsome!!

  11. Ellen Eades says

    Hi David,

    I just dis­cov­ered your site while googling. Great thoughts, nice paint­ings. You’ve obvi­ously spent a lot of time and energy think­ing about and work­ing on your art. I’m impressed.

    I’m cur­rently on my third (or is it fourth?) career move, study­ing paint­ing at Gage Acad­emy in Seat­tle, http://​www​.seat​tle​fin​eart​.org. Your blog’s very infor­ma­tive. I look for­ward to read­ing more about what you’re up to.

    We also have sim­i­lar inter­ests, although my SCA years are in the past. I enjoyed your pho­tos of Pennsic.

    Cheers, Ellen

  12. alex s says

    I came here to read about sol­vent free oil paint­ing, and wound up spend­ing my after­noon here!

    Thanks for the great info and your won­der­ful humor. I will make sure to duck when those lead bul­lets start flying. :-)

    p.s I love the M. Gra­ham water­col­ors, so I am going to start there, but, I won­der: Can I use lin­seed oil with them as a brush cleaner with­out degrad­ing the qual­ity of the wal­nut oil? (Lin­seed is SO much more cost effec­tive.) Thanks in advance.


  13. David says

    @alex s -


    I’m glad you like the site. As to mix­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of oils, I’ll answer in my next blog post.

  14. jill metcalfe says

    Hi David,

    I did try send­ing a com­ment but got in a mud­dle so you prob­a­bly didn’t get it. Any­way, many thanks for help — have com­pleted 6 pan­els and now must wait for 3 days before sand­ing them.

    My art inter­ests range from the fayum por­traits, the medieval and renais­sance to mod­ernism, min­i­mal­ism and abstract, and find close cor­re­la­tions between these groups.

    All the best, and I shall con­tinue to watch your space with great interest.


    • David says


      I did get the other com­ment and just now replied to it.

      What medium do you plan to use on your ges­soed panels?

  15. PeggyDuf says

    Hello David, I just end up — land on your web­site that I search for prop­erly use — exactly use dif­fer­ent between oils and acry paints. Search­ing for some more infor­ma­tions from yours/Louis, That’s inter­est­ing… I like your com­ments, again, still search for right mix­tures for acrylic paint­ings. Need more infor­ma­tion before I go ahead to do them. Truth­fully, I had not paint­ing for many years, last since I was about 14 yrs old. Never paint since after I have ‘lost’ my paint­ings at the dor­mi­tory where I lived there (alike orphange home). Plus the art teach­ers kept “deceived” that they “can’t find” our paint­ings, Then ‘force’ to get few friends and me to work on my paint­ings (water­colour, oil paint­ing.) The teach­ers brought some more paint­ings for us to work on with­out telling us the truth until my friend and I caught the teach­ers brought out my paint­ings plus other stu­dents’ paint­ings in the teacher’s car, drove away. We have asked Teach­ers where our paint­ings. 3 of them keep denied the truth. One of them con­fessed to us that they took our paint­ings and sold them. We decided dis­con­tinue our work for noth­ing. Sev­eral times, I hap­pen stop by ‘scan­ning’ the paint­ings of peo­ple, per­son, nature, plants, espe­cially strange or mys­tery paint­ings that I have sen­si­tive to under­stand their ‘inner’ mean­ings etc, why they paint these pic­tures. so forth. Crav­ing to paint some­thing to keep me away from end up eat­ing some­thing food! Try­ing to lose weight. Ah That Paint­ings would keep me busy, for­get­ting food! any­way, I hope you can under­stand me. Oh By the way, Eng­lish is my sec­ond lan­guage, doesn’t that include paint­ing ‘Eng­lish’ con­cept?! Which paint­ings that i should have try at first? I just bought lit­tle by lit­tle of acrylic paints, what’s dif­fer­ence? Teach­ers have not teach­ing us wha’ts that etc… just move on my own, paint­ing with­out draw­ing, first… etc.

  16. PeggyDuf says

    Me again, I see way too many ‘junk’ books, mag­a­zines, etc = some of them aren’t telling me much WHERE, How, Which, etc. so forth but yours/Louis have good infor­ma­tion above here. Went over libraries, search proper ones but I will check out other web­sites that yours/Louis/others rec­om­mend about paint­ings. Part 2 of my com­ment that I went up far North to visit my friend that also is artist, fab­u­lous jobs despite his hand­i­cap — ceberal palsy, he has amaz­ing works on nature, ani­mals plus few peo­ple. We had kept each other post about paint­ings. He does want me to move up there, work up my paint­ings while he does his. I’m not com­fort­able to go any­where else afar from my ‘key’ home in Lower Main­land. He doesn’t sell his paint­ings, not to his par­ents, his fam­i­lies still per­sue him to sell them to his fam­i­lies! He would let only pho­to­copy them to his fam­i­lies. that’s it. Of course, I under­stand how he felt that hap­pen to our paint­ings in past. I will ask his mother, she has mag­a­zine about him and his paint­ings. Fab­u­lous jobs! Now about yours, self-painting… Not sure if it’s really dif­fi­cult to do self-painting? by mir­ror? or pic­ture of your­self, expand it then you painted on ? Any­way, you may see ‘duh’ ?! any­way Hope you may answer me in my email addy? Thank you P

    • David says


      It’s done from a mirror.

      Best wishes,


  17. Rob Howard says

    Hi David, I just swung by to wish you a happy new year and encour­age you to keep painting.


    P.S. swing by and visit us at the Cen­nini Forum

    • David says

      Thanks, Rob. The encour­age­ment is much appreciated.

  18. Gail H says

    Hi David, are you still posting?

    • David says

      Not cur­rently. I hope to be back at some point.

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