David Boyd, Jr: Artist's long road home

by Bradley Hartsell

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David Boyd Jr. in his studio standing in front of his painting of The Continental Club in Austin. 


When someone asked David Boyd Jr. why he paints from the “perspective of a child,” something he hadn’t thought of before, it jarred him.

He thought about this new perception and remembered all the times as a child he played with his families’ old cars in tall fields near his home. Boyd considers that he may have connected back to the early years — without even knowing it — when he picks up a paintbrush.

Six years ago, Boyd was battling a kidney stone, an all-around miserable experience for him. At that time, he was teaching at The Heritage School where he had been employed since 1996, but Boyd was doing little else with art. The trauma of the kidney stone prompted him into self-reflection, which involved giving up smoking and working toward a healthier lifestyle. The trauma also led him where he knew he always wanted to be: behind a canvas.

“I wasn’t doing anything for my spirit,” says Boyd of his life before realizing he needed to be painting. “Which is probably why I was miserable,” he says with a slight chuckle.

“My 20s were the ‘decade of decadence.’ I didn’t do anything. I felt lost.”

In 2007, Boyd attended a workshop conducted by artist Millie Gosch where she turned him on to painting every day by suggesting an artist only becomes great after painting 1,000 acres of canvas. So, Boyd stopped putting it off and began painting before work, after work, sometimes even during work. Every single day.

In the six years since, Boyd has become one of the most respected artists in the region. His southern impressionistic landscapes and antiques are emerging as staples in regional art. Last week, when Boyd walked in to attend an art exhibit at the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts, where one of his paintings hangs in the permanent room, a patron of the Centre remarked to me what a talent he is.

“He’s great, isn’t he? It’s wonderful to have that kind of talent in the community,” she told me.

Don Nixon runs the Coweta County School System’s Centre and recently held a show for Boyd. Nixon received “The Washington Truck,” a classic Boyd piece that he says is a favorite for those who’ve visited the Centre. For Nixon, he’s taking pleasure in watching a home-grown product find his stride.

“It has been my joy to watch David explore, excel and now evolve into an incredibly gifted artist,” says Nixon. “A daily commitment to his creative expression has contributed to this successful rise as a desired name for collectors. He sensitively captures for us disappearing treasures from the American landscape. Give him more paint and brushes.”

After spending a few years in the countryside of Georgia, Boyd and his wife, Julie, moved back to Newnan. The experience helped him find his bearings as an artist and as a person (Boyd admits to having to find an emotional calm that escaped him in his 20s). When he returned, he was primed for his rightful homecoming.

“Coming back [to Newnan] got me closer to the people who have known me my whole life and known that, eventually, I was going to be doing something like this,” Boyd says. “I think that’s a unique opportunity. I love it here. I grew up two blocks away. Ten years ago, I was not okay with that, I wanted to be as far away as possible. But now it feels right.”

Boyd is finding ways to further incorporate his home into his work. This month, he’s working on “30 Paintings in 30 Days,” a series focusing on the bridges, steeples and alleyways that inspire him as a painter and are unique to downtown Newnan. He’s also helped start up The Society of Seven, a local painting collective including Millie Gosch and Newnan’s Martin Pate that plans on coordinating some events later in the fall.

For Boyd, the highest compliment he can receive in his work is that one of his paintings looks “loose,” or not tied to any rigid formality. In the six years since he started painting in earnest, he’s found that peace. Life is freer and more vibrant than ever before and one of the best things about the new David Boyd Jr. is that he’s loosened up.



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