RAYMOND NEWTON DUSHANE
Born: 1900, Carnegie, PA
Died: 1975, Arcadia, CA
Studio Locations: Pasadena, CA & Sierra Madre, CA
Awards: SGFAA First Place 1974; Third Place 1974, 1973, 1970; Honorable Mention 1973
Affiliations: SGFAA, AIFA
Raymond Newton DuShane was one of eleven children born to Isaac Newton DuShane, architect of the Carnagie Library in Pennsylvania. At an early age, Ray would inherit a similar career using his creative eye as designer and painter. As a student in Carnegie, DuShane revealed such proficiency in art, that he was recruited to draw murals in various classrooms. Word spread about his talents, and DuShane was soon earning money by painting backdrops for store window displays.
By the 1920s, the modern impressionist movement from the east and Europe had become well-established in California. In 1924, DuShane moved to Pasadena with his family, marking the beginning of his lifelong love of painting outdoors. Pasadena and Laguna were two regions which attracted many artist like DuShane, looking to make use of the area’s unique topography and light. DuShane was determined to pursue his passions as a landscape painter but given his financial hardships was largely self-taught. As a young man, DuShane was a very good draftsman. He took his sketchbook everywhere for he understood well that the basis of good painting depended on a firm mastery of drawing and constant practice in recording the visual information of everyday life.
As his interests in painting and architecture grew, he employed his many talents in a studio-shop in Pasadena, designing machinery for building furniture and cabinetry. He worked for Alfred Millard, making sets and props for budding Hollywood studios, helping to make ends meet. During this period, DuShane invented some artisan’s tools, resulting in a patent on a power saw which he later put to good use on one of his biggest projects: the construction of his own home and studio in Sierra Madre. The success of the patent allowed DuShane to buy additional land behind his home, so that his view of the San Gabriel Mountains would remain quiet and unobstructed while working in his studio.
There is no doubt that outside influences impacted DuShane’s career throughout his life. He had close associations with many who gave shape to the 20th century, such as Ray and Charles Eames, evolutionists of modern design. Eames hired DuShane to design and build Mathematica, one of the first major ‘interactive’ science exhibits at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles. DuShane was also hired to design numerous floats for the Tournament of Roses Parade. His clients happily took home top prizes thanks to his original flare for mechanical engineering.
Although his full-time vocation would always be in commercial design, DuShane continued to follow his passion for easel and paint. His life’s work shows a wide range of outdoor subjects and stylistic approaches. His earliest landscapes reflect a “plein air” style, using the loose brushwork and palette of impressionists. However, his later landscapes and seascapes take on a photo-illustrative quality, making it the overriding characteristic of his paintings by the end of his career.
While he stayed connected to the familiar images of California, he portrayed a variety of scenes from a wider region of the Western United States. Many of his scenes of the Grand Canyon and Smoke Tree have been compared to James Swinnerton, the already well-known artist who had been painting desert scenes since the 1920s. DuShane’s wife, Anita, would reminisce about their travels to see the Remington Family (Frederic’s son Al and grandson, Michael) who shared Ray’s inspiration for his favorite subjects, particularly the High Sierras and Jackson Hole, which he referred to as “God’s Country”.
Though he liked the society of fellow painters, there is little record that DuShane actively pursued the spotlight, which many of his contemporaries enjoyed. There is evidence that he joined art associations, occasionally winning prizes at various shows, but it could be said that DuShane primarily produced for his own personal pleasure. Much like his friend, Sam Hyde Harris, DuShane decried the notion of painting to please the public. Occasionally, he enjoyed a commission or two. One he was particularly proud of: a Texan Senator approached DuShane as he painted on sight in the Grand Tetons, asking him to produce a 4’ x 6’ version of the same subject he was painting at the time.
A quiet, reclusive man, he was happiest outdoors, in the solitude found in nature. Approaching retirement, he devoted his time to travel, fulfilling his lifelong desire to express in oil on a grander scale his impressions of water, clouds, and varied terrains. An old hand at trout fishing, DuShane’s affinity for water is reflected in the details of his mountain lakes and streams. His seascapes could be frankly observed as the most realistic of all his subjects. Yet Raymond DuShane saw his work more as the expression of the spiritual element in the beauties of nature, and it was important to accurately portray these details. DuShane might be considered one the first environmental activists, with his portrayals of the unspoiled west. His work reminds us of how nature’s diversity and beauty is a powerful inspiration for artists and non-artists alike.
Contact Peggy Flynn (granddaughter) at 626/826-9425