When Dan Young took his fly rod and backpack into the high country while growing up in Colorado, his angling success came from learning to read lakes and streams with a fisherman’s eye, and to cast and retrieve a line so as to present the lure as part of the natural environment. Little did he know then that he would return to Colorado years later, again to read nature and try to replicate it, but this time with easel and oil paints and the eye of an artist. Just as fly fishing is an acquired skill, so is plein air painting. Over the years Young has mastered the techniques of painting on location, in all seasons, and in the process building a following among art collectors and a reputation as one of Colorado’s premier landscape artists. His education as an artist continues to this day.
No different from the fishermen who discovers new thrills and joys each day with the discovery of each new fishing hole and effective fly pattern, Young continually delights himself in finding new subject matters in familiar surroundings, and new ways to paint them. While his evolution continues to propel him in new directions artistically, first it brought him full circle geographically, back to the mountains he grew to love as a child. Young was born in Denver, and grew up in western Colorado. He attended Colorado Institute of Art, hoping to find his direction in art. After graduation he moved to Dallas to pursue the commercial art field. Even with a successful illustration career, the landscape was always calling him back. In 1989, he returned to Colorado to begin painting full time.
Though he had been a successful commercial artist, Young quickly learned he had a lot to learn as a painter. He spent the first few years working from photos in the studio, unaware of the limitations. He felt his paintings were hard edged and the colors quite frightening. On the advice from artists he respected, he abandoned the studio to work from life. As he soon discovered, it was the perfect adjustment for him. His work improved dramatically, acquiring a more natural feel, and it allowed him back out in nature, the one place he always hoped to be. Young admits he occasionally has those days of conflict between fish or paint.