Bringing nature's colors to life


Last updated 7/25/2023 at 11:30am

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David Mensing's art is featured in galleries and in major art shows.

David Mensing has made a living as an artist for more than 20 years.

His professional trajectory included working as an architect in Redmond, a camp director, and a certified white water rafting guide. Back in the day, he was also an accomplished pole vaulter. Like most people, at first he didn't understand how his previous jobs and experience were preparing him to pursue his passion for painting.

Like pole vaulting, making a living as an artist has many high bars to get over. Along with talent, an artist has to be organized enough to balance marketing your brand, selling your work in galleries or through a website, as well as having a good eye for subject matter that's captivating and appealing to customers while staying true to your creative aesthetic.

Mensing put all those pieces together, making him an inspiration for aspiring artists.

Mensing's artistic style evolved through his longtime appreciation for paintings with intense colors.

"When I go into a gallery, generally the thicker paint and more impressionistic approach are my favorites," he said.

To achieve the desired effect, Mensing uses oil with a palette knife.

"The paint gets thicker as I go. Once I've got the composition, and the lights and darks, I start laying the thick paint over the top. That's when it really gets fun... building up and moving the paint all around produces more intense color," said Mensing. "It's the highlights that transform it from something flat into something that pops. It's really rewarding. I like the result I get from painting with a palette knife."

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Patrons have been appreciating and purchasing his work around the nation, including in Sisters at The Rickards Gallery (formerly Clearwater Gallery). Mensing says he's had all kinds of experiences in galleries over the years. Once he found the Rickards, he knew he was home.

"It's so important to be in a gallery where you can trust them. The Rickards family are awesome people and I love working with them," said Mensing from his studio in Tollgate.

Juggling all his commissions and art shows can be a challenge, but it's worth the effort. Mensing's work will be featured at the Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD), Old West Museum from July 22 to August 15. The art show and sale is a fundraiser for the museum and part of the CFD rodeo and concerts held July 21 to July 30.

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The CFD is an outdoor rodeo and western celebration that's been held every year since 1897 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Billed as the "World's Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration," the event draws over 100,000 attendees annually. Because of Mensing's successful sales at Deselms Fine Art & Custom Framing in Cheyenne and at the Western Spirit show through the Deselms gallery, he was invited to take part in the CFD art sale. This will be his sixth year in the show. Because of a busy summer schedule, he won't be able to attend this year, but he has in the past and loves the event.

Mensing, his wife, Tina, and their three children moved to Sisters five years ago. Ever since his time working in Redmond, Mensing had his eye on Sisters and wanted to move his family there.

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"We love the art program at the high school. When we decided to move, our daughter was in high school, and loved art, so we saw it as a chance to go to a place with a great art program. We have one son still at Sisters High School," said Mensing.

When asked where he gets his inspiration, Mensing said it's all about what he sees when he's out. He finds some of Central Oregon's sunsets are so intense and vividly colorful, viewers may find it hard to believe.

"Sometimes a sunset is so unusual, you can't just paint it that way. It can be inspiring, then I have to come back and ask myself how I can relate that to another person in a believable way. In October, I'm out every day photographing so I have material throughout the winter. I believe by experiencing creation we can really get a sense of God. That's really what I'm trying to do. To draw people closer to God for everyone's benefit," said Mensing.

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Several large, framed pieces leaned against the walls of his studio.

"All of them are going places soon," he explained. "Three of them are going to Missoula, so I'll start getting them ready to ship."

Mensing has eight galleries featuring his work across the U.S. but mainly in the Western states.

"Museum shows and auctions are some of my favorite ways to sell and feature my work," he said.

In a couple of weeks, Mensing will be in Missoula, Montana for a plein air paint-out with 25 artists from the Dana Gallery, where his work is shown.

"We spend five days painting together," he said. "I look forward to it every summer. It's a great group of people."

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When he's not painting on-site, Mensing takes photographs and uses them for inspiration back in the studio.

"The good thing about painting in the studio is there's no bugs; people don't come up to you, and the lighting stays the same," he said, chuckling. "I can go back into a painting that's in progress and slightly change the composition. When you're outdoors there may be things in the image like a telephone pole or fence post that really don't need to be in the image. When I have a photograph, I have more time in the studio to make those decisions before I even start painting."

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Mensing and his wife, Tina, with their children Josiah, Micah, and Anna at The Rickards Gallery.

Some of Mensing's favorite painting locations in Sisters Country are the Metolius River, aspens in the fall wherever he can find them, and Pole Creek Ranch for the sunsets. He says some of the best aspens are off Indian Ford Road. Each time he finds a new site he takes notes on the location and visits them during their most beautiful, peak times of year.

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Mensing's work will be in a show at the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls and at the High Desert Museum for their upcoming art sale and fundraiser. To see some of Mensing's artwork in Sisters, visit The Rickards Gallery. Reach him by email at [email protected];;


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