Darwin Duncan Biography

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Darwin Duncan (1905-2002) Some of the following biographical material is courtesy of Mr. Anthony P. Menditto of Sun City, California, a friend and painting partner of Darwin Duncan's for the last ten years, painting en plein air at least once every week.

Darwin Duncan, a painter of the California landscape, was born in St. James, Minnesota, on July 28, 1905. His parents brought him to California when he was five years old because of his asthmatic condition. As a child, Duncan developed a love of drawing, which stayed with him as an adult.

At the age of 29, he met the painter Karl Albert, who said to him, "You draw better than I do. Maybe you should start painting." With that encouragement, Duncan did his first desert painting in 1934. He and Karl Albert soon met Edgar Payne who stopped at the Albert's mom and pop grocery store in Oro Grande, California to outfit himself for one of his trips to the Sierras. This encounter was the beginning of Duncan's development as a Plein-Air painter under the tutelage of Payne, which lasted until Edgar Payne's death in 1947.

Duncan was soon to also start lessons with Samuel Hyde Harris and they developed a close friendship that lasted some 30 years. During the 1940's, Duncan also studied figure painting at the Los Angeles Business Men's Institute with Christian Von Schneidau.

Starting in 1957, he instructed art for 17 years for Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, followed by 7 years at Palomar College in San Marcos, California.

In 1985, Duncan was commissioned by the Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller to paint several large landscapes for the famous Baldwin Manor on Maui Island, Hawaii. His paintings are included in many collections in the United States and abroad. A fine diorama of the desert is included in The Living Desert Museum in Palm Desert, California.

Duncan's paintings include scenes of the California deserts and ranch lands, for the most part. He has lectured and demonstrated throughout the Southwest, Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico.

Darwin Duncan holds life memberships in the Laguna Beach Art Association and Museum in Laguna Beach, California, the Paramount Art Association in Paramount, California, Huntington Beach Art Association in Huntington Beach, California, and Southland Art Association in Montebello, California. Duncan was president of the Long Beach Spectrum Club.

He has been featured in "Forgotten California Artists," February, 1989 issue of "Antiques & Fine Art." He is also mentioned in "Artists in California, 1786-1940" by Hughes, Edan Milton, 1989, "Art and Artists" published by The Desert Art Center, 1964 (Palm Springs, California), "Widening Horizons" (Painters of the Western Desert) in "Western Woman, 1952," Treasury of Living Art," published by The Desert Art Center in 1975 and "Artists of Southern California, Vol. II" published by Mountain Productions Of Texas, Inc., 1991.

Darwin Duncan and his wife, Marge, reside in Ramona, California.


The following is courtesy of Ruth Lepper, author of the article:




Ramona Loses Noted Artist Darwin Duncan

By Ruth Lepper

Noted artist Darwin Duncan passed away at his home in Ramona on July 12. He was 97.

Duncan was a well-known painter, specializing in plein air art typical of 19th century French impressionistic landscape paintings.

"I'm so considerate of what I paint, I guess that's why I'm called one of the plein air painters," Duncan said two years ago in an interview with "Ramona Home Journal". "It's only the important things that you see that are beautiful to you. That light against this light, this color against that color. I get all charged up from working with a beautiful landscape."

Plein air artists are an elite group of painters who specialize in a style of 19th century French impressionist painting utilizing the effects of outdoor light and atmosphere to its fullest advantage.

Retired from a 32-year career as an oil company draftsman, Duncan painted professionally for more than 70 years. He found more time to devote to his painting following his retirement. He taught art classes in adult education at Palomar College and prior to moving to Ramona, at Orange Coast College when he lived in Garden Grove.

Duncan traveled to locations to paint, including Hawaii where he was commissioned in 1985 to do a series of 18 landscapes for Baldwin Manor, a retreat on the island of Maui owned by Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Duncan considered his Maui series to be the best work he had ever done.

"I may not be the best Christian in the world but I believe in God," he said in 2000. "I felt that was a marvelous thing that God arranged things that I was able to go over there in the first place... I'm proud of those paintings."

Duncan's paintings, whether his subjects were landscapes, seascapes, barns or desert flowers, showed the pride he had in the workmanship in every piece of art. He often spent weekends in Palm Desert where he painted desert scenes. His art was displayed at galleries in Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Palm Desert, Idyllwild, Newport Beach and New Mexico.

For several years, he participated in outdoor art festivals in Santa Ysabel and Borrego Springs.

Duncan is listed in several reference books on artists, including "Artists in California" by Edan Hughes.

Duncan often painted with renowned artists Edgar Payne, Sam Hyde Harris, Karl Albert and Don Miles. "These fellows were famous for the painting campouts they went on in Utah and the beautiful paintings that resulted," said Annie Rowley, director of the Santa Ysabel Art Gallery. "Darwin hung out with the best."

Biography courtesy of AskArt.com

California Watercolor