Dan Voss paints what moves him after career in classroom
Josette Keelor -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Local artist Dan Voss had reached the end of a long a career teaching others before he realized his own passion for painting. Anticipating retiring from teaching art at Montgomery County Community College in Maryland for 38 years, Voss, 80, began painting in the late '90s.
His art work, which lines the walls of his Woodstock home, is representative of his interests, and his style is varied.
Along the walls of his basement are paintings of lighthouses, dancers and images of cars and trains. He paints what moves him in the moment, and he often works on several projects simultaneously.
"I guess my specialty is not having a specialty," he said recently as he prepared for an upcoming show at the Strasburg Town Hall. His work will be featured in the August art exhibit as part of a 15-month series of artists that began in April, according to Marcy McCann of Shenandoah Art Works, who has been coordinating the series.
Voss said when he started painting again after many years, he did not want to focus his work on any particular topic.
Talking about area artists who do specialize their work, he mentioned friend Wolfgang Neudorfer, who collaborated with Voss on some calendars of images from Woodstock.
"If you want Wolfgang, you can get it," Voss said.
"That's not what I do," he said. "Right now, I do what interests me."
Indicating a painting of a train he photographed in Cass, W.Va., he remembered vacationing in the area numerous time with his family.
Until he retired, he lived in Fairfax and taught in Maryland.
"I taught it all," he said, ticking off graphic design, photography and painting-related courses as examples. "It was a pleasure to be teaching people to do something that you do."
After retiring in 2004, he kept teaching two mornings a week but moved to Woodstock to be near one of his daughters, both of whom now live in Woodstock.
Production-wise he's been slowing down in recent years, but he said he has so much artwork compiled at home, that his collection will last him a while on the gallery circuit, which so far has included the Shenandoah Art Works in Strasburg, 7-East Gallery in Mt. Jackson and some locations in Fairfax.
"I've tried a bunch of different things," he said. The variation keeps things interesting.
"I decided trying abstract work," he said. Covering tissue paper with acrylic liquid, he added texture and an aging quality to the image of a woman in a party mask decorated with feathers.
"It just gives you a different feel to it," he said.
Voss stresses that his is a collection of original artwork.
"One of the things about an original is that it doesn't look like a print," he said. "So when you have the original, you get a different feel."
As a child, he loved song and dance and since has incorporated the passion into several paintings depicting dancers.
Moonlight reflecting on a surface of water came from a photograph his son shot in Maine one time. Another painting shows the remains of an old saw mill.
"We had a theme down at the gallery at 7-East -- 'Fur and Feathers,'" Voss said. For the exhibit he painted the faces of three cats alternated with three faces of young women.
"I really enjoyed doing the cats' faces," he said. "The girls, not so much."
He estimates he has about 100 paintings in his downstairs gallery.
"This one dates way back," he said of two working locomotives in a repair area being used for spare parts. "It was done in 2002."
A painting of New York City at night was something "just to fill in a wall," he said. It hung between two other paintings in a show he did. One painting sold, but the other mysteriously has disappeared. When Voss went looking for it after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, he couldn't find it, though he said it's probably in the basement somewhere.
"This is the Anne Frank house," he said. He painted the scene from a black and white image he found in the Washington Post. "It turned out to be an exercise in painting windows," he said. Relying on experience drawing up real estate ads years ago, he added color to his depiction, guessing the likely colors that would have appeared in that photo.
"You know it's brick, and the skies in Amsterdam are never blue," he said. "It was an easy guess."
Dan Voss' artwork will be on display at the Strasburg Town Hall in August. An artist's reception will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 14 before the town council meeting. For more information, call 465-9191.