Contemporary realist, David William Mueller, creates paintings which evoke a sense of antiquity, with landscapes and figural work offering a synthesis of the best aspects of late 19th and early 20th century art. They evince the melancholia and romance of the late Pre-Raphaelites; the tonal control, quiet interiors, and Japonisme exhibited by the Boston Painters; and the expressive brushwork of the Naturalists. Mueller's color palette, however, is his own, and where others might struggle to portray the same sentiment in their paintings with such a predominately warm palette, Mueller expresses himself with ease.
David Mueller was born September 23, 1963 into a family of artists. His mother taught ceramics, needlepoint, and macramé; his uncle worked for Hana Barbara Studios on animated projects such as Spider Man; and David's father, Robert, was a largely self-taught cartoonist who had a natural gift for touching people through his work and imagination. Despite this environment of artistic nurturing, David didn't decide to really pursue his own art until he was enrolled in a course of liberal arts classes at a local college, and finally realized that his true passions lay in drawing and painting.
Having been born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, it was natural that David would head to the Windy City to further his art education. Of the schools available to Mueller, his first two choices, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where David had previously studied for one summer on a scholarship won in high school, and the Ray-Vogue Fashion Design College at the Illinois Institute of Art, proved to be imperfect fits for the young artist. His third school, however, was The American Academy of Art, the institute founded by advertising legend Frank H. Young, Sr. in 1923 as a place of intensive learning, where all of the instructors were required to keep working studios alongside their classrooms. In the halls of this school, where students like Haddon Sundblom and Gil Elvgren once walked, and Andrew Loomis once taught, Mueller finally found the inspiration for which he was looking.
For the next two-and-a-half years, Muller diligently studied figure drawing from the live model, while working on all of his other practical skills to enable him to be a successful commercial artist. Though he finished his course schedule on time, and had a portfolio to present, Mueller decided to stay at the school an extra semester in order obtain further training from oil painting instructor Ted Smuskiewicz, watercolorist Irving Shapiro, and from artist Richard Schmid, who would often come into the classes to give painting demonstrations.
After graduating in 1987, Mueller spent the next couple of years working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, before seeking out a position in a Chicago-based advertising agency. This position proved to be a disappointment to David, who ended up being nothing more than a "gopher" and not the "illustrator's apprentice" for which he thought he had been hired. Luckily for David, a job offer from Gibson Greetings in Cincinnati soon presented itself, and he happily accepted their offer.
For the next three years, Mueller created paintings for Gibson Greetings. Though he feared he might end up painting cute little scenes and comic characters for the card company when he was first hired, David found himself in the enviable position of exclusively painting impressionistic landscapes, still lifes, and figural work. He had found a job for himself, or perhaps it had found him, where he was creating the exact kind of art he had wanted to paint since his classes at the American Academy.
What happened next to Mueller is the stuff of which all artists dream. A benefactor of the arts approached David and offered to match his salary plus benefits for the coming two years for David to leave the card company, and begin his career as a fine artist. David has not looked back once. His work has been in great demand since, garnering him many awards and commissions, including the official portraits of Ohio's Governors George Voinovich and Nancy Hollister, the first woman to hold that position in the state.
When not traveling on painting excursions, Mueller makes his home in Northern Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, where David is very active in the Cincinnati Art Club. The Club, which is the second oldest continuously running art club in the country, boasts such founding members as Frank Duveneck, Henry Farney, and Edward Potthast. David has often lent his skills there as a guest speaker and demonstrator.
David Mueller's palette consists of the following colors:
- Cadmium Yellow Medium
- Lemon Yellow
- Cadmium Red Light
- Alizarin Crimson
- Ultramarine Blue
- Cerulean Blue
- Raw Sienna (which is very dominant in his work)
- Indian Red
- Sap Green
- Raw Umber
- Black (for cooling flesh)
Illustration Magazine, issue number 26 has the first part of a two-part essay on Chicago's American Academy of Art, which is currently available at major bookstands.