By Janice Elizabeth Berte, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Southborough resident Dustin Neece has been painting since he could hold a paint brush in his hand. He first began painting after his grandfather passed away leaving him gifts of brushes, a canvas, some paints and an easel.
“When I picked up those gifts and began my first composition, it was quite simply, natural,” Neece said.
Neece, 32, earned his formal degree from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), but his real painting education took place in the studios of the working artists where he lived and apprenticed. There were several people who inspired him, one of which was Israel Zohar, who was the official portrait artist of Princess Diana. Neece had the incredible opportunity to study with him at the age of 17. When Zohar first saw his work, he immediately began referring to Neece as his colleague and had invited him to paint with him in London. Neece also gives praise to American painter Andrew Wyeth, Claude Monet and his mentor, Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum.
When Neece was about to graduate from RISD, he received a lifechanging email from two New York art collectors who wanted to hired him immediately to work full time.
“It was like a dream come true and it definitely gave me the confidence I needed to really go for it,” Neece said. “Their passionate encouragement and belief in me was what I needed and it changed the course of my life.”
Typically, Neece said he will paint for four to five hours in the early morning or late afternoon hours each day.
“The lighting at those times is perfect in capturing the essence of my pieces, and it is a hypnotic process where I lose all track of time,” he noted.
He has a clear vision of what he wants the piece to evoke and then he captures that feeling or vision.
“When I paint landscapes, there is no need to impose my interpretation on it, but to attempt to capture it as it is,” Neece said.
He also finds that painting has a soothing energy and focuses on the scene in front of him.
“It becomes almost magical and energizing all at the same time,” he remarked.
A lot of Neece’s clients feel that his style of painting is reminiscent of Monet and other impressionists, but feels he adds more detail and uses a more natural palette. He said he loves to work with clients when he can create something that brings them happiness, but to also create an image that not only communicates emotion but physically emanates it. He feels nature gives him that emotion whether it is a portrait, a figurative work, a landscape. It is very important to Neece that “whatever brings an emotion to the viewer is what interests him at the end of the day.”
Sometimes being an artist can be difficult in this economy, but Neece supplements his artistry with being a teacher at the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham. He also teaches at the Post Road Art Center in Marlborough a couple of nights a week.
“The challenge with painting is that you absolutely must truly and deeply believe in the value of what you are creating, and with dedication, clear focus and hard work, anything is attainable,” Neece said.
In 2002, Neece received the Scholastic Art Award for his self-portrait, “The Bowler,” the highest honor for oil paintings in the national competition. The piece was hung at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Neece recently completed an Iwo Jima Memorial painting which is now in the collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He has also done a commemorative painting of Rick and Dick Hoyt honoring their 30 years running in the Boston Marathon. Other work includes a series of paintings for the historical Wayside Inn in Sudbury called, “Portrait of a Wayside Inn.”
For more information visit www.dustinneece.com.