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My paintings are a representation of everyday life in urban and rural places.  I’m inspired by simple elements of community living and the small, day-to-day activities that define our existence. I spend hours walking the streets and alleys of North American cities and towns and find inspiration in the small gestures of life – umbrellas during the storm, the hustle and bustle of a nighttime scene in the busy city, the quiet reflections of the morning commute. 

My passion for painting began with pastels. Pastels offer the painter a pure medium, with immediate, intense colours and the ability to blend, express, and soften with complete freedom. My oil painting allows me to work more deeply ‘into’ the painting, and gives additional freedom over size and space.  

Light and its interaction with colour defines my work. Starting with a dark, textured canvas, I build on expression and meaning with bold tones.  My pastels are defined by short, dramatic impressionistic strokes, while my work in oils is more precise and determined.  In all my paintings, I strive to bring life and vibrancy to scenes that may otherwise seem ordinary.



Dave Denson was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia and became interested in art as a teenager, illustrating the scenes and figures from television, books and his own imagination. After graduation, Dave was intrigued by the film industry which was just starting to make its mark in British Columbia.  Dave enrolled in the Professional Film-Making Certificate Program at Camosun College in Victoria, where he learned how storytelling can be transformed by visual imagery, light, and sound.

Dave moved to Vancouver, BC in 1989 and worked in the film industry for 10 years, primarily in the area of lighting design. This experience provided a strong foundation in understanding elements of tone, light, and contrast which continues to influence his work to this day.  After the birth of his daughter in 1999, Dave left the film industry to focus on his pastel painting.  Life as a stay-at-home dad afforded Dave with many opportunities to find beauty and meaning in the small day to day rituals of family life.

He began his artistic career working primarily in pastels, painting cityscapes and intimate urban scenes from Canada and abroad.  Soft pastels provided the opportunity to express his vision in an immediate way.  More recently, he has begun working with oils and exploring British Columbia landscapes, with a focus on Gulf Island representations from his cottage on Mudge Island, and on remote destinations from his travels in Northern British Columbia.  His work in either medium favour a bold palette with intense colour, strong contrast, and an invitation to explore deeper within each painting. 

Largely self-taught, Dave is inspired by the work of contemporary pastel painters Andrew McDermott, Desmond O’Hagan, and Richard McKinley. He is also strongly influenced by the work of renowned Vancouver photographer Fred Herzog, whose photos motivate Dave to create authentic and thoughtful representations of urban life. Dave’s current exploration in plein air painting has been hugely influenced by classic Canadian artists Lawren Harris and Tom Thompson, and by work and mentorship of fellow Portside Studio artist Dennis Brown.

Dave regularly shows his work at the Eastside Cultural Crawl and is a member of the 901 Artists’ Co-operative, located at Portside Studios in East Vancouver.  He is a Signature Member of the Pastel Artists of Canada and an Active Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. His work can be found in numerous private collections and he has presented his pastel and oil paintings in juried and popular shows in Vancouver and other parts of Canada.

Life in Technicolour

An observation of colour in the urban landscape.

I’m intrigued by the ways light and colour is expressed in our everyday lives. The urban environment offers us a wealth of visual stimuli. Reflections of light on a rainy day, umbrellas in the street or even graffiti. In this series of paintings, I explore our relationship with colour and how one can find beauty in the grit of a city. 


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