How much can one learn about an artist by looking at her work? A review of painter Dawn Rivas’s latest pieces reveals a great deal about the artist’s skills and passions. City streets from places we’d all like to visit, still-life paintings with dramatic contrasts of light and color, people caught doing what they love in life. Each scene conveys a sense of peace and solitude, while at the same time Dawn’s bold use of color and strong compositional elements convey the intense beauty the artist sees in the world around her and invites the viewer into this beautiful scene.
Dawn Rivas’s personal journey as an artist began in her childhood. Born in the early 1960’s and growing up in San Diego, California, Dawn was surrounded by original artwork in her home. Her paternal grandmother, Lois Upham, was a well established artist in the Sacramento area who owned her own gallery and art school. Whenever possible, Dawn would visit her grandmother for private lessons and long discussions about famous artists like Van Gogh, Gauguin, and other masters. She took art classes in High School and College, and workshops from other private art schools in San Diego County, but found that a smaller class format from a private teacher worked best for her. Since 1988, Dawn has been taking private lessons off and on from Lela Harty. Lela is known as one of the most respected oil painting teachers in San Diego to this day. Over the years, Dawn has flourished under Lela’s tutelage.
Dawn Rivas has experimented over the years with various mediums of art from watercolor, to collage, to ceramics, but, she has found that oil painting will always be her first love. She finds oil paints to be the most expressive of all the mediums and that the colors available and resulting mixtures are endless, which helps her to express whatever mood she is trying to convey in her painting, whether it be a cloudy landscape scene or bright, colorful flowers. Dawn has developed an innovative style that blends precise realism with a soft dream-like impressionism. She finds her inspiration for color and style from some of her favorite artists like Joaquin Sorolla, Georgia O’Keeffe, Anders Zorn, and renowned artist John Asaro who is a good friend of hers and has been a great source for advice and critique.
During the majority of Dawn’s adult life she had worked full-time as an Office Manager and in Accounting while at the same time trying to pursue her art. She found this very difficult to do and often failed at maintaining a painting schedule. In early 2008 Dawn’s husband Tony saw how frustrated she was that she was not able to pursue her art and appreciated that someone with her talent should be painting as her art was such a big part of who she is. He proposed that she quit her job and start taking lessons again from Lela and pursue a full-time career as an artist—they would find a way to get by. And get by they did! Dawn has been painting full-time since and exhibiting her work in various juried shows and selling to private collectors.
Dawn has lived in Escondido, California for the past 20 years with her husband Tony and son Cole. She also enjoys giving private oil painting lessons from her home in Escondido introducing young artists to the beauty of oil painting.