Donald Purdy American, 1924-2016



There is a certain peace found in Donald Purdy’s paintings—one often characterized by solitude and reflection. His work reflects a desire to portray how he would have liked life to be. When asked about his thought processes and his method, he explained:


I just paint from the inside. I paint what I think not what I see, and I have to do what I want to do. It would be almost impossible for me to paint under the instruction of another.


His surroundings served as inspiration only; the results were pure invention. Purdy’s design and composition are instinctive rather than calculated. When asked for the source of his inspiration, Purdy noted:


Ideas just come naturally when I have time for reflection. One thought will usually trigger a host of others enough for a whole series of pictures.


Self-taught, Purdy was influenced by many artists, including the Barbizon School, French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, and American 19th Century Painters. No particular artistic influence was evident during his childhood. After high school, he enlisted in the army air force and entered Germany as a foot soldier with the 9th army. After the war, Purdy pursued a degree in Psychology, graduating in 1949 from the University of Connecticut and from Boston University with his Master’s in Psychology in 1950. While in Boston, Purdy worked in an art gallery, performing tasks such as framing pictures. It was here that he first became art-conscious and was surprised to learn that individuals actually chose art as a profession.


Purdy lived and painted most of his life in New England. He exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, including: The Britain Museum, Connecticut; The Butler Institute, Columbus, Ohio; Colby College, Maine; The University of Kansas; The Chrysler Collection; and Bernheim-Jeune Galleries, Paris. In addition, he has been honored with numerous awards including a Gold Medal from the Allied Artists. He was a teacher of painting at the Silvermine Academy of Art in Connecticut and is listed in Who’s Who in American Art.

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