Steven Datz Biography
I was born in Denver, Colorado in 1968, and spent my younger years as a suburban kid on the eastern outskirts of the city. My father exposed me to fine art at a very young age, taking me along on his regular trips to the Denver Art Museum and introducing me to classical music.
In 1980 my family moved to Loveland, a small town on the northern Front Range.
Drawing has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. I was drawing constantly throughout my primary and secondary school years, always receiving encouragement from my teachers. In high school I began illustrating freelance, and was the staff artist and cartoonist for my school newspaper.
Though I had always excelled in my artistic pursuits, I was never encouraged to make a profession of them, and this led me to enter college as a student of applied mathematics rather than a student of art. It didn't take me long to figure out that this was a mistake, and that my true calling was to pursue and develop my natural artistic talent.
I enrolled in the arts program at Colorado State University, and was exposed to a wide range of media. I found my tendency towards realism discouraged in favor of a more "modern" approach, so I tended to eschew the fine arts curriculum, taking as many figure drawing, design, and illustration courses as I could.
It was during my time at CSU that I began backpacking with my wife in the desert country of southern Utah. The staggering beauty and power of the canyon country inspired me deeply, and transformed my interest in the landscape from passing fancy to driving passion.
I graduated from CSU in 1992, setting aside my nascent design career and resolving to pursue a career as a fine artist. I enjoyed little success in those first few years, and my father, concerned by my career impasse, offered to pay the tuition for a workshop taught by an old acquaintance of his - successful and immensely skilled artist Skip Whitcomb. Skip introduced me to the practice of plein-air painting and got me working in oils - a medium that I had all but given up on after my dismal experience with it in college. He also opened my eyes onto the art world that I had never glimpsed in college - a world of artists both in America and abroad who had continued in the traditional ways of painting long after the "modernisms" of the early 20th century had taken root. That week long workshop was nothing short of a revelation.
Armed with new tools, knowledge, and renewed enthusiasm, I dedicated myself to painting on location every day - in all seasons and all weather. I seldom reached the end of a day without having painted at least one field sketch. During those early years I also took additional workshops with Skip, Ned Jacob, and Michael Lynch, and enjoyed going out painting with Dan Young, a plein-air painter who lived near me in Glenwood Springs. I began to build a book collection, picking up monographs and exhibition catalogs whenever I could, and would take in museum and gallery shows at every opportunity. I felt I had finally found my way, and the opportunity to earn a place in the long and distinguished line of consummate craftsmen who have held to time-honored traditional methods and have enriched the world with the enduring beauty of their creative vision.
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