Larry J. Davis, a native Iowan, grew up along the Mississippi River. After attaining a BA in Fine Art at the University of Iowa he completed a four-year tour with the USAF in England before returning to the Midwest to begin his professional arts career. In 1986 Davis moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he took a position at what is now Florida State College at Jacksonville, serving as both a full time Professor of Art and for many years as art department coordinator. During this time he finished Masters Degree studies at Jacksonville University while also pursuing an active artistic output and exhibition schedule. His 2010 retirement from academia saw a long awaited return to full time studio activity. The 2012 relocation of Davis Studio to Knoxville, IL was an opportunity to reunite with the Midwest culture and landscape that has long been inspiring to the artist.
My main artistic interest centers on the exploration of subtle color and tonal relationships, gestural marks and complex paint surfaces across a range of subject matter. I maintain a comparable inclination for both objective and nonobjective approach.
Like many beginning artists, my initial works followed Alberti’s idea that creating pictures was like looking through a window at the world beyond. Thus, my early ambitions centered on a highly naturalistic narrative style. However, later exposure to Abstract Expressionism resulted in a growing appreciation for works that simply celebrated the intrinsic qualities of shape, color and line without the need to represent an narrative subject. Be it traditional or digital, I do require a final product that is tangible. For that reason I do admit to harboring less of an interest in works that are wholly conceptual in style.
My art is inspired by an eclectic list of factors as diverse as Canadian Shield geology and Arabesque dancers. The decades of figure drawing have encouraged gestural lines that find their way into many of my drawn and painted subjects. At this stage of my career, I also find that pursuit of complex color relationships has become an overriding interest.
The visual gazetteer of references assembled over years of travel are another important influence. This collection of sketches, photographs and notes includes destinations in the US, Canada, UK, Japan and Western Europe. They continue to provide a wellspring of inspiration both for specific subjects as well as more subjective abstracted themes. One remembers the spring flowers of Liguria, the Red Bridge at Nikko in Japan, the rocks and sunsets in Northwest Ontario , and images from the South West Coast Path in Cornwall and Dorset.
As with most visual creators, the works of other artists and their styles have been a strong influence over the years. Seeing the work in original form has been critical in my attempts to truly understanding the genius of it. A short list of artists and individual works that have left their mark on me would include: The yellows from Andre del Sarto's The Madonna of the Harpies at the Uffizi, the technical genius of Thomas Wilmer Dewing’s figures and Whistler's Nocturns in Washington's Freer Gallery. Similarly, my early exposure at the University of Iowa to Mauricio Lasansky’s The Nazi Drawings left a permanent appreciation for the power of mark making. Later I was to discover the incredible complexity of Bonnard’s color and layering of paint. Somewhere along the way I also developed an abiding regard for how Richard Diebenkorn could walk the tightrope between realism and abstraction.
The latest, and perhaps most important influence on my recent painting has been the addition of cold wax medium to my oil painting technique. The efforts of Rebecca Crowell and others have helped propel a growing interest in the unique properties of this method. I find the colors and surface textures a wonderful new avenue for expression.