It was 1970 when artist David Arsenault first saw a reproduction of a painting by American Realist Edward Hopper. Called “Gas,” it depicted a rural gas station at dusk with three red petrol pumps; he’d found it in a grade school library book. More than twenty years later, a professor in a graphic arts program reintroduced him to Hopper’s work and Arsenault decided to study painting. It seems fair to say that “the rest is history” when it comes to the artist the Wall Street Journal once referred to as someone whose “paintings could pass for works by Edward Hopper.”
Arsenault studied painting at the University at Albany and began showing his work in 1993. Since then, his work has been exhibited in hundreds of local, regional and national exhibitions. It is also included in private and corporate collections across the country and beyond.
Arsenault’s love of light and landscape have resulted in paintings that draw viewers into them in both subtle and
startling ways. His love of earth, sea and sky was inspired by Martha’s Vineyard and, in particular, by Cape Cod, where “there seems to be drama everywhere you turn, and the light is simply magical.” Inspired in new ways since living on Cape Ann, his work — featuring interiors and figures — explores the “intrigue and mystery inherent in contrasting interiors against exteriors,” and his paintings of landscapes and buildings examine “the relationship between the objects of the natural world and those created by human beings, focusing on the play of light on organic and geometric shapes, color variations and times of day.”
Despite his work being realistic and detailed, his goal is not to have viewers focus on specifics. Rather, it is to have them see and feel the play of light across the surface of objects, both natural and man-made. “That’s the magic,” he says. He strives to infuse each painting with “the purest sense of what [he] is feeling and thinking about the scene.” Rather than using a lot of paint, he opts for three or four thin layers of paint so the brush marks are not particularly noticeable. “If I’ve done my job well,” he explains, “you’ll feel as if you’re at that setting just the same. The best of my art provides a sense of peace as you witness a moment of time bathed in spectacular, transformative light. Hopefully, you won’t feel like you’re looking at a painting, but rather having an experience.”