Dan LaVigne

About the Artist- 

From an early age, LaVigne saw art as a natural career choice in a family that had

produced artists sporadically across generations. ‘Growing up, I would see art being

made. I would catch the smell of paints and solvents and know that something was

going on that didn’t happen at my friend’s houses. If I had an idea in my head, there

were materials at hand so that I could make it real. Before I thought much about it,

I was exploring the possibilities.’

LaVigne followed this path into college, receiving a degree in Illustration from Cal State

Long Beach in 1981. But he wouldn’t discover his love for oil painting until he took a

class at Art Center called, Oil Painting for Illustration. The medium changed his work

permanently. His freelance career became characterized by an impressionistic style;

a desirable solution for products wishing to promote a breezy, up-tempo attitude. The

Playboy Jazz Festival, Architectural Digest, and KLM Airlines all became clients. He

continued in commercial art through the end of the decade before a desire to teach brought him back to Cal State Long Beach to earn a

graduate degree.

While conducting his search for a teaching post, he got a tip from a friend about a part time position as a graphic designer for the District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. What was intended as a temporary job turned into a seventeen-year association, preparing evidence for trial while also designing printed material for various crime prevention programs. A list of projects he worked on would stretch from the O.J. Simpson murder trial to a mural depicting the 150-year history of the D.A.’s Office, and include dozens of pamphlets, diagrams, and logos. Throughout his time in county government LaVigne continued to develop his own work, finding inspiration in painters like John Sloan, Frank Benson, and Anders Zorn; artists who he thought represented a bridge between Illustration and a deeper personal narrative. Their pictures weren't just of something, but about something.

In 2010, he left the D.A.’s Office to pursue his own art full time, working and showing with other artists in Ventura County’s thriving arts community. He picked up the idea of teaching again and began conducting classes for the City of Ventura Cultural Affairs Division, Ventura College, and The California Art Institute in Westlake. Currently, he teaches ten-week classes at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo and publishes a quarterly newsletter about his artistic journey. He is straight forward about his creative process: ‘My job as an artist is to communicate visually, but painting employs a wonderful paradox: as the pictures become more accomplished, they also become more personal; equal parts moment, flavor, and memory. They draw from a well of common experiences for which there are no words, but which we all recognize and feel. My goal is to make pictures that the viewer has, in some way, lived.’

While past affiliations have included LAAA, California Art Club, Oil Painters of America, and  American Watercolor Society, LaVigne believes organizations of this type are inherently divisive and political.  The joy of art making does not comport with efforts to rate or monetize it. Instead, he encourages artists to seek supportive relationships with those who value art because it is a way of life and necessary to the human spirit.