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 Don R. Birrell  (1922 - 2006)

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Lived/Active: California/Utah      Known for: design, watercolor landscape painting, museum director

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Donald R Birrell
An example of work by Don R. Birrell
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is the obituary of the artist, published in The Reporter, June 30, 2006

Don R. Birrell, 83, a Vacaville resident for more than 50 years, passed away June 30, 2006. He had been in declining health for the past year.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 12, at Nadeau Family Funeral Home in Vacaville. A reception will follow at the Vacaville Museum.

Born December 6, 1922, in Corona, California, Don grew up in Sacramento and he attended Sacramento City College. He served three years as a staff sergeant in the Eighth Air Force during World War ll and was based in Alconbury, England, where he worked on early radar warning systems for the Allied Forces.

After the war, he attended the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles where he was trained in graphic and exhibition design. Upon graduation, he was hired to teach design at the University of Alabama from 1950-1951. He served as the Director of the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento from 1951 to 1953. In 1953, Don became design director for the Nut Tree restaurant in Vacaville, a job he loved, and he remained there for almost 40 years.

A world traveler, Don painted watercolor landscapes from his many journeys. Since retirement in the early 1990s, he continued to paint in and around the Vacaville area and coastal California.

He also created several logos and designs for the city of Vacaville, Vacaville-Dixon Greenbelt, Raley's supermarkets and numerous private labels for winemakers and other food products.
In 2003, the Vacaville Museum recognized the tremendous influence Don's work had on and around the community of Vacaville with a retrospective exhibit of his work.

Married twice, Don is survived by a daughter, Lynne Gough of Sacramento; son, Dean Birrell of Windsor; stepdaughter, Nancy Ford of County Wexford, Ireland; and a stepson, John Mack of Roseville. He also has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Submitted by Fred Van't Slot

Biography from The John Stewart Gallery:
Don Birrell studied at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California. Don executed drawings and sketches while serving in the U.S. Air force during World War II.

Known mostly for landscapes of California scenes, he created paintings that tend to be sharply focused works, done in a flat wash and then defined by black ink lines. This style is probably evoked by his early illustrator and graphics training.

Early influences: Grant Wood and Maynard Dixon.

Resident artist/designer for 50 years in Vacaville, CA. As a free-lance designer, he did projects for The Nut Tree, Solano Bank, City of Vacaville, Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre and The Coffee Tree. Also known for his designs for the Vacaville/Dixon Greenbelt signs on CA Interstate 80.

He was featured in a museum show entitled: "Don Birrell by Design" at the Vacaville Museum which opened Jan. 25, 2003 and ran through August 10th, 2003.

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