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Interview with Catholic artist David Myers

Lisa M. Hendey

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla / Credit: David Myers

Recently, I was surfing around online in search of an image of one of my favorite saints, Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. Somehow by chance, I came across the work of noted Catholic artist David Myers. From the first time I glanced at his website, David’s art spoke straight to my heart — perhaps it’s the beauty with which he has captured some of my favorite saints (and even living saints) that keeps me visiting his blog regularly for a dose of inspiration. Today, I’m thrilled to share my recent interview with David Myers and hope you’ll take time to visit his blog today and consider a purchase of his art for your family.

Q:  Hi David and thanks so much for agreeing to share about your art with our readers. Could you please begin by briefly introducing yourself and your family?

My wife Emily and I have been married now for four years and live in Morrisville, North Carolina. Emily is an AIG (Academically and Intellectually Gifted) Specialist teaching at AL Stanback Middleschool in Hillsborough, N.C., and I work as a Patient Advocate at Duke University Medical Center. Last year God blessed us richly with the adoption of our son Evan, who is now 14 months old. He is our joy, and to some extent my artwork has had to take a break as we have been absorbed with our little man. I am a two-time cancer survivor, and adoption was our only option. This seemed a difficult cross at first. However, Evan has shown us how incredible a blessing adoption can be, and we would not change a thing.

Q:  How did you get started with your art and how would you describe the style of art you are currently creating?

I began drawing when I was very young, and was inspired by the ability of a babysitter I had who lived next door to us. Her father had been a great painter and had taught her much before he passed away. I was always very impressed by her ability to copy almost any image. She encouraged my desire to draw like her by giving me tracing paper. I began with that and continued to improve, graduating from tracing to copying myself. In middle school and high school I wanted to be a comic book illustrator, so I spent a lot of time copying comics. However, in college, despite unfortunate laziness on my part in other disciplines, I did manage to gain a good level of ability in life drawing, and had a very good instructor. In the more recent years of my life I felt that I should pour myself into that style of artwork, because I felt that I could truly produce pieces of fine art with it. I would call the work that I currently do naturalistic, inasmuch as it is obedient as possible to what is seen, but I endeavor (particularly in my Catholic work) to produce something new and spiritually revealing of the subject.

Q:  Have you had formal art training? Who are some of your favorite artists and influences?

Yes. I was educated in art at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. Professor Donald Furst taught me how to draw from life and to be obedient to what my eye saw. He also gave me the very best advice I have ever received in the area of art. I was blessed to receive a scholarship to study in Rome for a summer, and Professor Furst told me: “Take a sketchbook with you. Resist the temptation to snap photos and move on. Each day pick something, a statue or other work of art, that you will commit to sit down in front of and draw. You will forget so much about the photographs, but you will remember everything you experienced when you were drawing.” He was so right about this, and this experience of drawing for a full month in Italy taught me more about drawing and what was possible for this medium than any of the classes I had attended. My favorite artist of all history is Michelangelo, but I must qualify this answer. For the “Michelangelo” I refer to are actually two Michelangelos, one being the most famous, the other being Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. I believe that both artists have deeply influenced my own work and my made me aware of the subtleties that make for meaningful, compelling art, as well as the more verbose elements that give it fire, passion, and the ability to expand the horizons of others. I am most recently indebted to the work and the advice of Cameron Smith, a great Catholic artist, who, in one conversation, completely revolutionized my drawing technique. It is as “clear as the summer sun” to anyone who looks that my work owes as much to Cameron as the work of Raphael did to that of Michelangelo.

Q:  I’m particularly interested in your wonderful portraits of the saints. Your lovely rendering of St. Gianna Molla literately brings tears of joy to my eyes!  Why draw the saints, and what has this done for your faith life?

Saint Augustine once said “The difference between the Gospel and the Lives of the Saints is the same as the difference between beautiful music written on a page, and music that is played for an audience.” The lives of the Saints are deeply important to me, especially as a convert to the Catholic faith. I almost felt that these heroes of the faith had been hidden from me unfairly for a long time before I discovered the Church. Many times, when I work on a drawing of a particular saint, as I did with Saint Gianna, I listen to an audio recording of their biography, or one of their written works on tape. I have learned a great deal in this way about our elder brothers and sisters of the Church. At the same time that I drew my portrait of Saint Gianna, I also drew images of Blessed Miguel Pro, the Jesuit Mexican martyr who is so beloved by his people. I was overjoyed to learn that Blessed Miguel also liked to sketch, and would often use his sketchbook to plan the many disguises he used to hide from the anti-Catholic government of his day. To me, art is an echo of the reality of the incarnation, and the saints are artists themselves, incarnating Christ over and over again in their lives.

Q:  You have some amazing portraits of noted Catholics, including Immaculee and Fr. Larry Richards. Are these commissions and how did you come to create these works? Do you accept private commissions?

The drawings of Father Larry and Immaculee were actually both produced for the same event, at which both of them were scheduled to speak. “Ignited by Truth” is a Catholic Conference held here in the Diocese of Raleigh on an annual basis. That year I drew portraits of Immaculee, Fr. Larry, our Bishop Michael Burbidge, Joseph Pearce, and NFL Quarterback Philip Rivers. I used these portraits to produce a poster for the event, and was able to give each of the speakers a print of their portrait. It actually led to a wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Professor Pearce, and I was featured in his quarterly cultural magazine, Saint Austin’s Review. Unfortunately, at this time, my responsibilities to my family have forced me to decline private commissions. Art is my secondary work and it would be unfair to take commissions because I could not guarantee when they would be completed. However, I do produce prints of my work and accept requests for these through my personal email. [email protected]

Q:  What are your hopes and dreams for the future of your art career?

My main hope and dream is that I can pass on to my son my love of art, and encourage his own creativity, whatever form that may take. I hope that the body of work I have amassed to this point (as it may not grow very much moving forward) will continue to inspire my fellow Catholics and Christians throughout the world. I have been very happy to track the popularity of my website and to see that it has been viewed by people in every continent of the world.

Q:  How can readers learn more about your art? Do you sell your work?

Yes, I do sell my work, and my personal email address and information about my work is available on my website at www.artisservant.blogspot.com. Each piece of work includes a detailed description, and my personal philosophy of art is also explained in the content of the site. Everything that I have drawn since 2005 is available on my website.

Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

I am just very grateful for the continued interest my work has inspired. Your prayers for my family are greatly appreciated, that we may grow in faith, hope, and love, and raise a good Catholic boy. Thank you.

Visit David Myers online at www.artisservant.blogspot.com.

Topics: Faith

Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of http://catholicmom.com/ and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at LisaHendey.com.

View all articles by Lisa M. Hendey

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