David Nash Contact
Contact David Nash
I was a geneticist, trained at University College London and King’s College Cambridge, before joining the University of Alberta in 1965. I retired in 1997, having been Chairman of the now defunct Department of Genetics for eleven years.
My history of painting is much longer; I was painting several years before entering Elementary School and have been doing so more or less ever since. I have always used water medium of some kind: early on poster paint; then true acquarelles (which most of us refer to as watercolour), in my teens until my thirties, then gouache from 1980 on. In recent years I have usually used acqarelles, although I commonly employ white gouache over-painting.
When I was a teenager, my mother worked at Reeves, an English company that produced all type of artist’s paints then available. (Acrylics hadn’t been invented yet.) Up to that time there was no possibility of switching to oils, which had been suggested by my teachers; money was in short supply after the war. Now my mother could get an ample supply of ‘seconds’ and I started on oils. Canvasses were not, however, free! So I produced many of my early oils on a deliciously weird variety of boards and things. Linoleum, for example, which didn’t last too well (I had never heard of jesso, but, homestly, even it may not have helped.) Things slowly got better and I considered myself an oil painter through my student days.
Around the time I moved to Canada. I switched to acrylics, the only medium where I ever had training. The discipline of having an instructor (Alfred Schmidt at the Edmonton Art Gallery) was invaluable. It never did occur to me to repeat it. I am inherently a loner and like to work things out for myself, I suppose.
For nearly forty years, now, I have worked exclusively with water based media. I paint what I want. Most of my work is landscape, albeit often highly abstracted. I am neither a scholarly nor a schooled painter. It never occurs to me to ask myself what I am trying to achieve. Nor indeed do I start from a clearly planned concept, even when I have a sketch or a photograph in mind. I am intent on what the paint is doing on the paper. Indeed, as I get older, I find greater delight in abstraction. The marks I have made on the paper must satisfy me as an object; that is really all there is to it.