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Davis Perkins

  • 1325 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA
  • 3

About The Artist

Artist Statement

The experience of nature in its rawest form first inspired my paintings. As a smokejumper it was critical for me to pay careful attention to the terrain, weather and all the elements of nature. As an artist I try to use that observation in my painting to capture the look and feel of movement in the clouds and to convey the mood and atmosphere.

I start a painting by blocking the essential values from dark to light, while keeping the source of light consistent. I try to capture the basic essence of the subject matter so that it reads as a realistic image.

I work in plein air and in the studio. I like to paint rather loosely. I often start by brushing on a wash of color, and then use a palette knife to add texture and detail. The palette knife helps me to work quickly, to stay loose and spontaneous so that I don’t overwork the subject.

Many artists have inspired me, including the legendary painters Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Frank Wooten and Robert Henri. I have also been influenced by contemporary artists Richard Schmid, Matt Smith, and Lynn Boggess.


Davis Perkins is a California landscape painter with an unusual background. He has had a long career as a smokejumper, firefighter, paramedic, and professional artist. After serving as a paratroop sergeant (first with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and later with the 12th Special Forces Group of the Army Reserve), Davis worked 13 summers as a smokejumper, parachuting into forest fires with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. During the winter he attended art school, graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in fine arts. His early work was featured in solo exhibitions at the Alaskan State Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Air & Space Museum. Both museums selected his work for their permanent collections. In addition, one of his paintings hangs in the Pentagon with the United States Air Force Art Collection. In 2015 Davis was selected as a Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America. Davis exhibits his work in galleries and other art venues in Northern California, while continuing his life of travel and public service. In 2007 he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and created paintings from his view at the summit. He remains active as a paramedic, and as a member of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team of the Department of Health and Human Services. Since 2010 Davis has served on medical relief missions to Haiti; Ethiopia; Cambodia; Liberia (Ebola outbreak); Vanuatu; Nepal; Lesvos, Greece to aid with the recent refugee crisis; and Mosul, Iraq, working with trauma patients in the current conflict.

Art Medium(s)

Oil Paint

Studio Information

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Exhibitions & Press

Group Exhibitions


Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.
Alaska State Museum, Juneau, Alaska
U.S. Air Force Art Collection, The Pentagon
National Park Foundation, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of the Interior, Fairbanks, Alaska
U. S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C.
University of Alaska, Juneau, Alaska
University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon


2019 ‘Landscapes; A Moment in Time,’ Rasmussen Art Gallery, Angwin, CA
2016 ‘A Purposeful Life,’ Dominican University, San Rafael, CA
1995 William Lester Gallery, Point Reyes Station, CA
1994 Maxmillian Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1989 ‘The Modern Landscape,’ Vorpal Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1983 Smithsonian Institution, National Air & Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
1981 Alaska State Museum, Juneau, Alaska
1981 University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska


2021 Best of Marin – Artist of the Year


Oil Painters of America, Signature Member
Salmagundi Club, Artist Member
California Art Club, Artist Member


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