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Artist Profile: David McKean

Turning Over a New Leaf

By Heike Hellmann-Brown

Where does one discipline end and another begin? Is a drawing just the marking of lines and areas onto a surface, or can it cross the boundary and be considered a painting?

For artist David McKean, a pencil used to be a tool of his trade. Born in France and raised in Texas, McKean studied architecture, but later switched to landscape design. “Since childhood I enjoyed the outdoors,” he says. “It just never occurred to me that I could use my drawing ability to produce a piece of art — much less one that reflects my love for nature.”

McKean’s life changed dramatically when he found himself at one of the lowest points in his life. “A friend challenged me to reproduce a painting we saw in an Art of the West magazine. The result amazed me. I never knew I possessed this artistic ability, and wondered why God sent me on this journey at a time when I expected it the least.”

This blessing prompted McKean to hone his skills and use his talent to honor Christ. Inspired by the simple things in life, his favorite subjects are landscapes, wildlife and Western topics. In 2010, McKean had the opportunity to show his work to Larry Dyke, a fellow Texan and one of the nation’s greatest painters. “Larry Dyke looked at my pencil drawing for a long time. Then, he turned around and said, ‘I am asked to look at a lot of art, David, and yours is really good.’”

With this reassurance, McKean relocated to Ball Ground, determined to pursue an artistic career. In only a few years his talent has taken him far. Currently, McKean’s drawings are on display in the Georgia State Capitol, as well as in the Booth Western Art Museum. “I am honored to see my creations along with the works of renowned Western artists, such as Alfredo Rodriguez, Tim Cox, and Martin Grelle,” McKean says. “Admiring the work of other artists spurs me on. I am still a learner, constantly trying to improve.”

McKean cherishes how his art touches and inspires others, and in turn is inspired by them. “People begin to take note of what I do and start recognizing my style. In a world of oils, acrylics, and watercolors, I want to take colored pencil art to a place it has never been before!”

When he is not at his drawing board, McKean heads up the men’s ministry at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hickory Flat, teaches Sunday School and Bible Study, and even cooks at fellowship events.

“My pursuit of art has been a God-given course for which I am very grateful and from which I have received many blessings,” he says. “I have come to know many wonderful people and have had many unexpected opportunities open up for me. In a way, my talent symbolizes forgiveness and shows that we don’t have to be held back by past decisions and setbacks.”