Serenity and Solitude in the High Sierra
For CA member David Halbach, the serenity and solitude of the High Sierra perfectly mirrors his work style. Halbach lives in Graeagle, Calif., north of Lake Tahoe. This small town, nestled in the valley and protected by pines, is where he both lives and creates.
Halbach’s home is situated in this picturesque setting, which is characterized by mountain vistas, a sparse population that shrinks further in the winter, and only four stop signs, without a traffic light for miles.
His studio, which shares a common wall with his home, has aspects of both the front yard and the back. Through its windows he sees a broad array of wildlife and often enjoys views of raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, deer and the occasional mountain lion. The studio, which is on the small side, has its own entrance.
“Being a watercolor painter, I am not in need of a great room,” said Halbach.
The windows through which he enjoys the landscape also provide ample natural light for his work, which he supplements with regular candescent lighting.
In keeping with his surroundings, Halbach works best alone.
“I resist having people in the studio,” he explained. “I stay very low-key and prefer solitude while working.”
Halbach’s days often begin with a morning walk, after which he settles down to work at the studio in the late morning. In a professional dominated by deadlines, he works through the day and into the night, often in his studio until 10 p.m. or later, depending on his work commitments. On those days, work trumps other pleasures, such as dinner with friends or an outing on the lake.
Halbach, like other CA members, collects Native American and western artifacts. He relies on those pieces, along with books and photographs, to help him maintain an accurate portrayal of the American West in his work. Though he lives in a rural area, he has access to three libraries in neighboring communities where he can continue his research, as needed.
“I also bring in models occasionally,” he added.
Now and then Halbach relies on the quiet of his studio to get him out of a challenging spot with a painting. “As an artist, sometimes what you are doing goes off in the wrong direction and you have to bring it back,” he admitted.
And if his numerous awards are any indication, he has mastered just that.
~written by Julie Wilson, JFW Communications