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David Fairrington

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Texas Tech University


David Fairrington

Known for


David Fairrington httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Full Name
David Fairrington

Fort Lewis, Washington

Official portrait artist for the Pentagon

David Neal Fairrington (born October 18, 1940 in Fort Lewis, Washington) is an American artist living in Cherry Valley, California. Although mostly associated with his realistic portraits, Fairrington paints a variety of subjects including landscapes, still life and western art in a range of styles including abstract, conceptual, fantasy, figurative, impressionist, pop art and romantic. He attributes artist John Singer Sargent and famed illustrator Norman Rockwell as significant influences in his work.


David Fairrington FileVietnam Combat Art Radio Operator by David Fairrington CAT VI

Early life

Fairrington was born into a career military household in 1940 at Fort Lewis, Washington. His father, Ralph W. Fairrington was a career soldier in the United States Air Force. His mother was Grace L. Fairrington. Inspired by the popularity of an older brother who could draw, Fairrington tried his hand at sketching airplanes but soon discovered he could draw faces well enough that people were willing to pay him for their portraits. His used this talent to help pay his way through Texas Technological College, now known as Texas Tech University. While at Texas Tech, Fairrington also served as a staff artist for the 1961 La Ventana yearbook. (9) He graduated in 1964, with a bachelor's degree in advertising art and design. That year he was also selected as a winning artist in the Motorola National Competitive Exhibition. Then Fairrington spent the next spent two years working for different advertising agencies.

Vietnam Combat Art Program

In 1966 Fairrington was drafted into the U.S. Army. He completed basic training at Ft Polk, Louisiana then was assigned to the Postal Department at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. During his off-duty hours, he took art classes at South Eastern College in Lawton, Oklahoma.

After a year at Ft. Sill, Fairrington received orders sending him to the 43rd Signal Battalion based in Pleiku, Vietnam. While there he heard about the Army Combat Artist program and submitted an application along with a collection of drawings and paintings. He was accepted into the program and assigned to the Army Combat Artist Team VI in Saigon.

"Combat artists were given carte blanche to follow combat units in order to photograph and later interpret, through art, the images, people, places and events for the Department of the Army."

"Most combat artists recorded battle, villages burning and death. I found myself painting faces, this time the faces of Vietnam: soldiers, villagers, children, old people, the wounded, and the orphaned. I was heart-struck by the suffering. I was moved by the quality and depth of the human spirit reflected in their faces."

After 60 days of temporary duty capturing his impressions in preliminary sketches, Fairrington flew to Hawaii to put the final touches on his paintings. His work was exhibited at Ala Moana Center and Schofield Barracks before being shipped back to the Army archives in Washington D.C. With the artwork complete, he found he still had three weeks of service left and returned to Vietnam to finish his tour of duty.

The art completed by Fairrington during his assignment as a Vietnam soldier-artist is now in the permanent U.S. Army Art Collection, maintained by the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH), Washington, D.C. Some of his work was selected for "The Art of Combat: Artists and the Vietnam War, Then and Now" exhibited at the Indianapolis Art Center from October 2000 to January 2001.

Fairrington's art was included in the exhibit "Art of the American Soldier", organized by the U.S Army Center of Military History that was displayed at Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA in 2010 and is now maintained online.

Post-Military Art Career

In 1968, following his military service, Fairrington moved to Oakland, CA where he attended the San Francisco Art Academy. In 1969, he secured a position with Jack Wodell Associates, a movie advertising agency. In 1972, Fairrington moved to Los Angeles when Wodell Associates opened an office there.

In 1978, Fairrington and partner, Tami Masuda, opened a small design studio named New York West that produced graphics for the movie industry. They did concept and design for over 150 posters for such movie studios as Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, Sony and MGM Studios including:

  • Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  • A Boy and His Dog (1975)
  • Farewell My Lovely (1975)
  • The Driver (1978)
  • Game of Death (1978)
  • The Seduction of Joe Tynan(1979)
  • The Big Red One (1980)
  • Fade to Black (1980)
  • The Howling (1981)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
  • Ms. 45 (1981)
  • The Road Warrior (1981)
  • The Burning (1981)
  • Evilspeak (1982)
  • Never Say Never Again (1983)
  • The Neverending Story (1984)
  • The Black Cauldron (1985)
  • Blue Velvet (1986)
  • License to Kill (1989)
  • State of Grace (1990)
  • Untamed Heart (1993)
  • Benny & Joon (1993)
  • In 1995 Fairrington closed the design studio so he could concentrate on painting although he continued to do occasional freelance work. His commissions included former Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, California Senator Alan Loenthal and Democratic U.S. representative for California's 36th congressional district, Janice Hahn.

    During this time he also taught design at the Los Angeles High School for the Arts for two years and met his wife, Lilly. The couple had a son, Nicolai. Fairrington is now divorced and living in Cherry Valley, CA

    In 2004, Fairrington and his family moved from Los Angeles to Beaumont, CA where he took over the Banning Center for the Arts in nearby Banning, CA for a year. As director he promoted community outreach by arranging the exhibit of artwork by young developing artists with older established artists in such shows as “New Skool Art”. He also supervised and collaborated with artist Lucy Blake Elahi, under the direction of artist Lori Escalera, to work with Culver Park High School students, who produced a mural titled “Rivers of the World” funded by a Los Angeles County Graffiti Prevention Competitive Grant.

    He teaches oil techniques at the Desert Art Center in Palm Springs, CA. He also conducts two day and week long painting workshops on the principles of portrait painting, including color, composition and design theory as well as multiple styles and techniques in oils, acrylics, colored pencils and charcoal on different surfaces.

    He has exhibited his paintings in a number of shows including:

  • 1995 "People and Portraits", Santa Monica CA
  • 1996 "Ballets' Future", Westside Ballet Company, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2000 "Native Americans," Mammoth Gallery, Mammoth Lakes, CA
  • 2003 "Expressions of the Soul" The Works of Heart, West Hollywood, CA
  • 2007 Group show at the Riverside Museum of Art, Riverside, CA
  • 2010 Maxine Piester Show "Best of Show" Corona Art Association, Corona, CA
  • 2011 National Orange Show San Bernardino CA Honorable mention
  • 2015 BJ Longo Antiques and Art Gallery, Redlands, CA
  • Fairrington has also served as a judge in the 2009 Plein Air Exhibition at the Riverside Arts Museum. In 2007 Fairrington was the featured artist for three months at the Edward-Dean Museum in Cherry Valley, CA. In 2010 his work was exhibited by the Arts Council of The Temecula Valley (CA).

    His commissioned portrait of Arthur Ashe, painted for tennis star John McEnroe, appeared in Sports Illustrated magazine. He also occasionally produces celebrity portraits for the Walt Disney Company's ABC television shows. He has portrayed the stars of Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, Extreme Makeover Home and Legend of the Seeker.

    Fairrington was named "Master Artist" by "International Artist" magazine in 2001. Other awards include First Place at The National Orange Show's 2010 All-California Juried Art Exhibition for his still-life of an orange and The National Orange Show's Board of Directors' Purchase Award.

    He has also been chosen by the U.S. government as one of the official portrait artists for employees of the Pentagon and other government agencies.

    Fairrington's artwork is included in numerous corporate and private collections and is on exhibit at Jack’s Fine Art & Frame in Beaumont, CA.

    Sometimes referred to as a modern Degas, Fairrington has been commissioned to paint dancers from the School of American Ballet New York City, NY, The New York City Ballet, NY, Westside Ballet Academy, Santa Monica, CA, The Studio Ballet, Fresno, CA, The Sacramento Ballet, Sacramento, CA and the Peninsula Ballet, Palos Verdes Estates, CA. Some of his ballet-themed art is featured on the website of Alva's, a ballet performance academy in San Pedro, California.


    David Fairrington Wikipedia

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