Oil on Canvas
Commercial Art
In January 2012 David Stuart MacLachlan Hoornstra began oil painting full-time. He had worked in commercial art in Ann Arbor since dropping out of the University of Michigan School of Art in 1974. In the eighties, he was creative director of a small Ann Arbor “art house.” From 1989 to 2011 he mixed freelance and in-house work and still does a little graphic design for select clients.

David’s Upper Michigan family was economically poor but culturally rich: the house was like a book club. David’s first hardcover was by Howard Pyle, who along with his student N.C. Wyeth, was David’s first art inspiration. Some of David’s work looks a bit like that of N.C.’s son Andrew, but he actually idealizes the dash and verve of the father.

While taking three years of art in high school, David was steered away from art into a more “practical” journalism career. He edited his two-year college paper and won a journalism scholarship to Michigan, but after a junior year discovered he’d rather be a doer than a reporter. He wanted to be an artist, but, as for many, the Vietnam war draft and economics stood in the way. He returned to Lake Superior State to stay in school.

Majoring in English, minoring in theatre, he never stopped being an artist. Freelance work helped pay his way through school. He did theatre design as well as portraits of his fencing master and drama director, and sold two paintings in a one-man show.

Four years’ active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard (two in the West Pacific) released his drive to “go for it.” He took an early out for art school in September 1973. This third junior year was great, but the savings and GI Bill weren’t enough to finish the degree.

With no clue how to make a living in fine art, he worked his way up in print media to commercial art jobs. Over his thirty-year career, he put a lot of time into sport fencing and medievalist hobbies. They cut into his advancement, but brought special rewards: he still teaches fencing (Annarborsword.com) and is a published medieval-studies scholar.