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 Donald H. Curley  (1940 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: Nova Scotia/New York / Canada/England      Known for: landscape, wildlife, animal and regional history painting

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Biography from Adelaide Fine Art:
DONALD H. CURLEY  (Canadian, 1940-2009)

Donald Curley was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he fell in love with his surroundings and the country.  As a teenager, he was compelled to read about Canadian history.  His heroes in art were C.W. Jefferys and Frances Ann Hopkins. As he and his talents grew, he expanded his historic repertoire to include his other interests, animals and wilderness, along with figures. Donald has been referred to as an "academic artist" because of his wide interest in subjects. He expanded and sharpened his technique and skills as a painter as well as mastering many media including watercolor, oil and gouache, until he became the accomplished artist he is today.

Now, he has plunged into creating wonderful maritime paintings, including both historical and contemporary compositions. Donald calls his art "objective realism" because he constantly strives to represent the infinite varieties of textures he sees in his subjects. His paintings are combinations of imagination and his own experiences.  He wants his subjects to be believable and he often asks himself if he could pass into the painting without effort.

Donald graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in 1958. He attended classes at the Art Students League in New York from 1959-1961 and again in 1966-1968. He traveled to London to study at the Royal Academy from 1969-1970.

He is a member of the Society of Animal Artists, and has been included in Who's Who in American Art, Who's Who in International Art, and Outstanding People of the 20th Century.

In 2002 Donald was recognized by editors of International Artist Magazine as one of the Master Painters of the World, and in the next issue he was chosen to be the Grand Prize Winner, the first artist to be honored twice in the same competition.

He has completed many commissions, including those for Commemorative Stamps, Switzerland, and a gold portrait coin of Alexander Graham Bell for The Royal Canadian Mint.

He also has works in many fine museums and venues including the Delaware Museum of Natural History, The Neville Public Museum in Wisconsin, the Carnegie Museum in Pennsylvania, the Yawkey Woodson Museum, Wisconsin, the Witte Museum, Texas, Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom, Florida, The Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, New York, and The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and the Algonquin Museum in Ontario, among many others.

Donald's paintings are collected in Canada, United States, Mexico, Hawaii, England, Italy, France, Australia, India, and Spain. His paintings can be seen in museums, corporations, private collections throughout the world.

From www.Southshorenow.CA, October 2009
Remembering Don Curley

My copy of the Bulletin for October 6 just arrived, and in it I found a death notice for Don Curley of Chester. This saddened me greatly.

Way back in 1989, when I was editor of the Bulletin, I wrote a feature on Donald Curley, one of the great artists of our time.  He is listed in Who's Who of North American Painters, and his work hangs in corporate and government offices in many parts of the U.S. and Canada.  Donald Curley's painting style is the realism genre and his subject material almost entirely nature and history.

When I interviewed him he was working on a painting of a voyageur paddling down a river in a birch bark canoe. When I asked him where he got the model for the high, rocky bank beside the river, he asked me if I was familiar with the ramp to Highway 103, outside Halifax.  When I told him yes, he said, "Well that's it. I saw it, thought it would be great, pulled off the road and sketched it."

The interview took most of an afternoon because he was in no hurry to have me leave.  He was preparing for a trip to China to look for subject material, another of his many trips to various parts of the world.  He gave me a print of one of his paintings - a sailboat battling another in heavy seas, entitled Force 7.  That print, framed now, is autographed and hangs in my home.  When the interview was published, he sent me a note of appreciation.

That was typical of the man - generous with his time, kind and thoughtful.  I have never forgotten Donald Curley.  Last June, I wrote to him because I had come across another of his paintings in a local mall, up for auction to support Ducks Unlimited.  I wrote to him, reminding him of the interview and generally expressing pleasure at coming across another Curley painting.  I received a most gracious letter from his wife telling me of his illness.

I don't believe the majority of the people of Chester realized the great man they had among them and he was happy to keep it that way.  He once told me the story of being at a party when someone asked him what he did for a living.  When he said he was a painter, the person asked him, "Do you get much work in the winter?"

That was Donald Curley, able to laugh at himself in his enjoyment of living. May he rest in peace.

Jim Newell
Waterloo, Ontario

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