The Artist

David R. Van Lanen

    A casual remark from a friend provided the spark for David Van Lanen’s career in wildlife art.
     David, an architect, was drawing and painting landscapes in the 1970’s when a friend asked, “Gee, you’re doing all of those landscape paintings and drawings. Why don’t you put in a duck?”

     David took the suggestion, and started “putting a duck” in his landscapes. One duck lead to more ducks, then herons, moose, bears and other animals.
     Wildlife art comes naturally for David, who grew up on a farm west of Green Bay. As a youngster, he enjoyed being outdoors, hunting and fishing. He also showed artistic ability. “I was always doodling and drawing pictures at home and in school,” he recalls.
     That artistic ability led him to a career in architecture, where his first employer recognized David’s talent and encouraged his drawing. David’s landscapes in pencil, charcoal, pen-and-ink and watercolors were applied to perspectives and building elevations for clients. On his own, he continued drawing and painting landscapes.
     Ducks Unlimited was the first beneficiary of David’s wildlife art. He donated painting and later limited edition prints for their fund-raisers. Over the years, he’s been recognized as a major donor, and has received Ducks Unlimited’s Conservation Service Award a number of times. He’s been named “Artist of the Year” numerous times, and his submissions to the Ducks Unlimited Sponsor Print program have consistently placed in the top five. Ducks Unlimited has also commissioned David to paint the waterfowl labels for Ducks Unlimited Wine.
     Wisconsin Waterfowl Association recently awarded David “Artist of the Year” for his painting of mallards as a sponsor print.
     He has also been honored for his contributions to Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and Whitetails Unlimited. As an architect he designed the national headquarters for Whitetails Unlimited. David has submitted works to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, for its annual “Birds in Art” exhibit.
     In 1998, David started wood carving, and now has a year-long waiting list of commission work. Carving everything, like songbirds, fish, animals and his favorite “ducks”. He has received local and national awards including numerous “Best of Show”. The International Wildfowl Carvers Association has awarded Dave, for 2004, Novice Waterfowl “Carver of the Year” and Fish “Carver of the Year” also for 2005 intermediate “Carver of the year”.
     His approach to wildlife art involves being outdoors, taking photographs, always concentrating on natural materials. “I’ve been known to haul a branch into my art room to paint in on a picture,” David says.
     With the full-time operation of his own architectural firm in Green Bay, the painting, carving, and picture framing business has been on a part-time basis.
     You will find David’s carvings, paintings, and limited edition prints in galleries, studios, and private collections throughout the country including Japan.
     David, his wife Nadine, and their children live in the Green Bay area.