David Paulson

"The abstract quality of my work is often troubling to some viewers who are looking for objects that are recognizable and therefore has a name. I remembered as an art student when I first “let go” of the contour of an object it was like jumping off of a cliff. But it was the beginning of everything else that’s still evolving in my work. As a painter you slowly perceive the reality of forms as process. How a form is made becomes more important than what it is-and what it does. The expression becomes the reality.

I work in a few directions. One way is to hold an image in my mind- say I’m going to paint a seated figure, or a head. I don’t know what it will look like or whether it’s male or female or if it’s large or small- all this evolves in the process- what’s important to me is that there is recognition of an aspect of self. Many people see my work as expressionistic. That’s not something I necessarily strive for – I see myself as a formalist. My concerns are always about composition; how one shape acts with another, positive, negative space- depth and weight and most important- what kind of space the forms exist in. I believe that the emotion comes from the fact that I can never get what I’m after because I don’t know it till I see it.

Another way I work is, to me, even more difficult because I have no anchor. I start from a gesture and react to it. Without an object in mind I hold onto whatever knowledge I’ve acquired as to constructing a picture. The openness places me in a space that is uncomfortable and I grasp for meaning and content. I search for poetics- an encounter again with an aspect of the self. It’s like being a composer. Melody, harmony and rhythm carry the internal content to a certain form.

If a picture suggests the natural world, I force my mind to concentrate on developing its weight and its placement and light – anything but the overwhelming desire to name it. That way I can suspend the moment of recognition and live in its mystery."

Recent Drawings on Paper

Works on Paper

Medium Sized Paintings

Smaller Paintings

Large Paintings

Exhibit Installations

Other Works


David Paulson was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1955. He is an alumnus of the Swain School of Design and the Parson’s School of Design Graduate Program for Painting. While at Parson’s, Paulson studied with Leland Bell and Paul Resika, both of whom were strongly influenced by Hans Hoffman’s work. Paulson’s work was also strongly influenced by David L. Smith, who was a student of Hoffman’s in the 50’s.

During his fifteen years in NYC, Paulson made hundreds of visits to view the great paintings housed in the City’s museums. He engaged exclusively in figurative painting. He taught at the Swain School of Design, New York Studio School, Parson's School of Design, Sarah Lawrence College, New York Studio School, and IS183

Eventually, the desire for a physical change from the campus of NYC led Paulson to the Hudson Valley region in 1994. Paulson was recently awarded the Purchase Prize for Painting at the National Academy of Arts and Letters in March, 2014. He now lives and paints in Ghent, NY.

Selected Exhibitions:

2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters: 2014 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, NYC
2011 Carrie Haddad Gallery Hudson, NY 20th Anniversary Exhibit
2010 Brik Gallery Catskill, NY Painting, Drawing, Sculpture
Crowell’s Fine At Gallery Bedford, MA Recent Work
2008 Sideshow Brooklyn, NY
2007 Verdigris Art Hudson, NY Figurative
2006 Sideshow Brooklyn, NY War is Over
2004 The Painting Center NYC Recent Works on Paper
2003 Morris Arlos Fine Arts Gallery, NYC
2002 Morris Arlos Fine Arts Gallery, NYC
2001 Morris Arlos Fine Arts Gallery, NYC
AFA Gallery, Scranton PA Five Figure Painters
Hudosn Opera House Hudson, NY Recent Works
1999 New York tudio School NYC 100 Drawings
1998 The Painting Center NYC Paulson/Eisenbeis Recent Paintings
1997 The Painting Center NYC Figure Painting and the Reasonable Lie
Rising Tide Gallery Provincetown, MA Invitational
1996 Warren Street Gallery Hudson, NY Solo Show
1995 County College of Susssx Newton, NJ Solo Show
1994 Ute Stebich Gallery Lenox, MA
1993 The Bill Race Gallery NYC Three Emerging Artists


1979-1981 Parsons School of Design NYC MFA in Painting
1981-1983 New York Studio School NYC Independent Study/Sculpture
1976-1979 Swain School of Design New Bedford, MA BFA in Painting
1977 Yale University Norfolk, CT Summer Program


1977-1978 Swain School of Design Children’s Drawing Class
1986-1988 New York Studio School Painting Instructor
1990-1992 Parson’s School of Design lecture Series/Art History
1996 Sarah Lawrence College Visiting Artist/Sculpture Instructor
2002 New Your Studio School Visiting Artist/Drawing Insructor
IS183 Drawing and Painting
2003 IS183 Drawing and Painting