His middle name should be “Art”. Bill Denham – award-winning painter, avid art collector, 2014 Art-A-Fair exhibitor and Summer Workshop instructor – is as consumed by art as one can be. He has actively pursued his passion since childhood, cultivating a special affinity for early California impressionism. His work is greatly influenced by the hundreds of paintings he’s acquired over the years that now make up a vast personal art collection he maintains in the southern California home he shares with Donna, his wife of 54 years. What began with the purchase of a small William Wendt has grown to include 150-200 fine art acquisitions.
The artist works his magic at “The Cottage Garden”, the Orange, California, studio he’s occupied for the past 21 years. Much of Bill’s work space is occupied by volumes of art books and towering stacks of his own framed paintings. Why store his own work in-studio, when he could proudly display it at home? It’s a necessity, Bill explains, because virtually every inch of his in-home wall space is needed to display his collected works.
The man paints four hours a day, seven days a week. Bill is as comfortable applying detail to a tiny clayboard as he is painting a mural – like the massive, 17-foot canvas commissioned by the Balboa Bay Club. The mural, depicting the Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race, required no less than three easels and the full length of Bill’s studio to complete!
As for technique, Bill simply “sees things in the paint”. Rather than work “plein aire”, or from photographs, Bill prefers to simply block out basic areas of sky blue, earth tones, and foliage colors on a panel; he then moves the pigment around on the panel using a wad of scrunched-up cellophane. Eventually, he will spot a recognizable composition taking shape. At that time, Bill begins meticulously blending the emerging scene with a feather. Finally, he’ll apply the detail with a paint brush.