A painting has the ability to capture a moment in time, bringing to light a subject’s true essence. South County artist David Schock believes that if he can peel away his own perception of what he is looking at, a truth will be shown.
“If you can show up without any preconception whatsoever about an object, time freezes, and the object has a story that it will reveal to you, which is purely loving,” the artist said.
Schock, 50, grew up in Lexington, Mass.
“It was a very academic, plugged in kind of place,” he said. “We were brought up with the idea that we were supposed to change the world for the better.” He met his wife Shirley while working summers at The Larchwood Inn in Wakefield. The couple resides in the town with their son William.
Design was in Schock’s blood, and though he grew up in Massachusetts, his Rhode Island ties date back to the 1630s. His grandfather Edson I. Schock was a boat designer in Kingston, a professor of engineering at the University of Rhode Island, and a Naval architect who worked on the famed Black Pearl, as well as designed a popular sailing class that was raced for years on Salt Pond in Wakefield, know as the Pt. Jude 15s. His grandmother Mary Schock was an accomplished amateur painter in Kingston as well.
When Schock was just 7 years old he attended an art show in Boston where he saw renowned portrait artist Andrew Wyeth for the first time. A painting entitled “The Patriot” caught his young eye.
“This piece was so amazing,” Schock said. “The medal on his chest, it totally blew my mind that somebody could paint that! It probably had more influence on my being amazed by the magic of art than anything.”
Schock dreamed of becoming a comic book artist, and even considered a career in politics. But, when the time came, he chose to pursue a degree in Fine Art from The University of Massachusetts. Schock has also studied at Exeter College of Art in England, and the Art Students League in New York.
Education is important for an artist, but Schock’s life experience may have played a larger role in shaping his style.
“Just going to Europe and seeing so many new and amazing things, that had more to do with my education than anything,” the artist said.
He also credits his mentor, British painter Michael Mayer, with having a huge impact on his work.
“Mayer once told me, ‘When you’re making a decision, decide with all your heart and all your head, and if you get it wrong, at least you learned something,’” Schock said.
Like many artists who have made a career of their work, Schock took a risk and it paid off. In 1987, before leaving for Europe to travel and paint with his friend and established landscape artist Patrick Gibbs, Schock rented out a gallery space in Boston on Charles Street. The business was actually about to close but Schock convinced the owner to allow him to sublet the space for the last month of the lease. After returning from Europe where the friends painted images of England, France and Italy, Schock and Gibbs hosted an art opening in the Boston gallery, and sold more than 20 paintings. Schock followed up with shows in London, Florida, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, California and Rhode Island.
The artist said his work draws attention to spaces where nature and man interact well, something he learned to look for during his time in Europe.
“It was this merging of people and the land,” he said. “[In Europe] they build things in such a way that the things themselves are beautiful.”
Schock’s landscapes are characterized by man made structures that blend with natural scenery, lighthouses tucked into sand dunes under moonlight, sailboats tacking through calm water, and downtown scenes with old world charm, as well as some pure scenery.
“My work has become more about color and field, and less about image and form,” he said of his landscapes.
Portraits became another of the artist’s strengths. During his time in England, Schock had a chance run in with actress Phoebe Kates. A bit star struck, the painter told a little white lie. “The only thing I could think to say that would guarantee I’d meet her again was, ‘I’m a young portrait artist. Can I paint your portrait?’ and she said yes!” Schock then trained in that style, but when the opportunity arose to paint Kates’ portrait, the artist chose to focus on subjects of true love instead of Hollywood lust.
Schock’s portraits have a timeless quality, but it’s more than just figures he attempts to capture. He believes that there is a vision of life that is based purely on the reality of love.
Commissioned family portraits are a specialty of Schock’s. The artist digs deep by sitting with the family, drawing sketches, and flipping through photos until he finds the essence of his subject.
“To find the truth of life, based on the illuminating perception of love, is my deepest aspiration as an artist,” said Schock.
Schock creates about forty paintings a year. He works mainly with oil and acrylic on canvas. A finished work usually takes about a week but can vary greatly depending on size and detail.
“If it’s a portrait or something like that, sometimes a little square inch will take almost the same amount of time as the rest of the painting,” he said.
Recently the artist became certified yoga instructor, and has now begun rendering portraits of yogis practicing in pose. These paintings, along with some of his newer landscapes will be featured at his next show in his gallery located at 47 Conanicus Ave., Jamestown. Open studios are scheduled for Thursday May 23, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., as well as Saturday May 25, and Sunday May 26, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information on David Schock visit www.davidschock.com .