Artists on the Hill: David Campbell

By Carol McCracken

For oil painter David Campbell, his favorite place for creating landscapes of the city is at the juncture of North Street and the Eastern Promenade. In that area he sets up his easel, places his huge canvass on it and breaks open his paints and brushes. There he paints in detail the dramatic panorama before him – summer and winter. Campbell lives in Cape Elizabeth with his wife, Patty, who is a painter as well.

Originally from Maryland, Campbell studied at the prestigious League of New York in New York City. His studies were interrupted after almost 2 years by the draft. He served in Korea. His tour of duty was one year. Although he still had inactive duty time left, he went to Italy where he lived for seven years. Campbell painted non-stop. It was where he became a landscape painter – a turning point in his painting careeer.

“If I hadn’t gone to Italy, I’d have been called back to duty in Korea. I applied to be a conscientious objector. There was no church to back me up,” Campbell said. “These days I’m a pagan. That means I don’t have a deity. Life and earth are sacred. We do harm to no one,” he said thoughtfully. “The natural earth is the church.”

Tom Crotty, owner of the Frost Gully Gallery, calls Campbell one of the great atists in Maine – living or dead. Clearly disgruntled, Crotty says “no one is doing anything to focus the attention of people on those who deserve attention – like David Campbell.” When MHN asked Crotty what distinguished him from other artists, he responded: “That’s not the question. It’s about teaching the public to segregate the great stuff from the horrible stuff.”

Because “painting sales are infrequent” these days, Campbell finds other ways to  to supplement his income. He does carpentry and paints houses. Also, he teachespainting and drawing for seniors at the Maine College of Art in Portland.

Campbell’s works of art are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Museum of Fne Arts, Boston,  and the Art Institute of Chicago. According to Crotty, his work has appeared in major shows in New York City, Boston and Chicago. He has taught extensively elsewhere.

A number of Campbell’s oil paintings are displayed at Frost Gully Gallery on Route 1- just north of Freeport. The gallery is open 12-5 Monday though Friday. 865-4505. Maybe you’ll also be fortunate enough to meet him at his favorite painting spot on the Hill – that is if you are lucky.