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 David Jonas  (mid 20th century)

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Lived/Active: California/New York / Mexico      Known for: studio artist, plein-air painting, illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Beginning his career as an illustrator in New York in the 1950s and then as a member of the Disney team as well as other studios, David Jonas was born in Los Angeles. He has become known for his plein-air landscape paintings and is a member of the California Art Club.

He was raised in Los Angeles, and after a brief stint in pre-med at UCLA, he enrolled at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. There he became an illustration major. Wishing to become an artist involved with subjects more romantic than commercial art, he worked as a logger in Oregon to earn money to go to Tahiti in the tradition of Gauguin. But he never made it because he couldn't compete with the itinerant laborer's physical stamina. He returned to Los Angeles where he enrolled in the Jepson Art School as a student of Rico Le Brun, whose style combining Realism and Cubism had much influence on him.

In 1949, Jonas went to New York and got a job with an illustration firm. In 1950 he returned briefly to Los Angeles, and then went back to New York where he worked in illustration for Monogram Art Studios. Eventually he set up his own commercial art studio. In 1959, he and his family moved briefly to Mexico so he could study painting in San Miguel de Allende and then he, divorced, returned to New York.

In 1964, he was hired full time by Walt Disney in California where he did story boarding and portraits and maps. In the 1980s, he worked for Steven Spielberg, and in 1989 retired from the movie business.

During these years, he had begun plein-air painting in watercolour and later oil and also took figure classes from Sergei Bongart and Joseph Mendez. Today (2002) he lives in Los Osos on the Central Coast of California. There on his home property, he has a new studio with a skylight and plenty of space.

Source: "California Art Club" newsletter, April 2002.

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