Dragonflies and Bull Ants
David’s father was also an artist who had a fascination with insects. Pro’s portrayal of insects, ants, and dragonflies in particular, extended from the joyous to the macabre both in paintings and sculpture.
Growing up on a sheep shearing property in the outback of central NSW, influenced Pro’s work significantly, especially in regard to his study of local insects. It was Pro’s fascination that also fostered David’s interest in dragonflies and ants as well. As a child, David would spend hours drawing these now iconic images in sketch books, and watching his father paint and draw. Unfortunately, Pro passed away at his home in Broken Hill, NSW, in March 2006 from Motor Neurone Disease. Briefly, before Pro Hart’s passing, David made a promise to his father that he would keep his secret techniques and styles alive after his death; this promise has pushed David to further develop the series into his own unique expression.
David remembers that in his later years not long before his death, his father Pro would quite often set up a video camera in front of his easel and videotape different techniques and styles as he painted. Wanting to teach and mentor David, Pro would talk to him on camera as he explained what he was doing and the purpose behind certain processes and techniques he was using. Pro would then send the tapes to David for safe keeping. The objective behind these instructional videos was not for Pro to recreate himself in David’s work, or for David to copy him, it was purely because Pro saw a unique gift on his son’s life from a very early age. Pro invested his most precious knowledge into David to ensure his lifetime of painting discoveries and techniques would never be lost, but continue on through David’s own expression.
Carrying on some of those secret techniques is a great honor, and David feels that it’s up to him now to keep them alive. More than that, he wants to push through the boundaries of experimentation and growth as he adapts and integrates those secrets into many of his own varying styles.
David’s interpretation of the Dragonfly and Bull Ants series may follow a similar subject and theme, but they are quite different to the images painted by his father Pro Hart. As an extension to his fathers technique, David uses acrylic bases for his background, and then creates a shiny, slippery finish using various oil mediums. After laying down the basic composition, he then continues to build the image using multiple layers of glazing which are applied, rubbed away, and then reapplied, allowing the image to gradually emerge like light from the darkness.
In the final stages of painting, shadowing is added to create the illusion that the insect is floating above the canvas, giving the completed work a wonderful depth of field. The Dragonfly and Bull Ant series will remain among one of the most identifiable and iconic series in David’s diverse body of work.