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Etsy Feature: davidburnssmith

Davidburnssmith is one of the first artists that I met when I first joined Etsy back in the spring. He’s the kind of Etsian who knows how to use the promotional threads for networking; he comes in, says hello and chats with you about your work. I fell in love with his paintings immediately. They have a wonderful texture to them that comes through even in the photographs on his site. His style is minimalistic–he uses mostly muted tones and simple, elegant patterns. I finally had an opportunity to purchase one of his paintings when I was buying presents for my bridesmaids–His style was perfect for my best friend from junior high. I got her one of David’s Baldr’s bits paintings, which he describes as exploring “small, but potent subjects on a bite size scale.” This is the painting I bought:

Baldrs Bits by Davidburnsmith

Buying from David was a great experience. Even though I’d procrastinated on shopping, I got the painting in plenty of time to give it to my bridesmaid. And of course, she loved it. David agreed to do an interview for my blog so we could get to know more about him and his wonderful art work.


Your shop sections are named after exhibitions of art that you have done. From reading your profile and the descriptions of various paintings, it seems that each section/exhibition relates to a particular mythology: Ragnorak–Norse, Tzolkin–Aztec, and Arcana–Tarot. Can you tell us more about the meanings of your section titles and the importance of mythology in your work

For years I thought of myself as a student of History. In college I was keen on considering the time line of many societies. However, given a time machine, I suspect that my main interest in time travel would be to consider the motives behind popular beliefs of a given society at a given time.

My paintings follow those observations under an umbrella title The Mythos Project. The Arcana explores the passion individuals have for their future. The Tzokin investigates a fixation societies have with their own history. Ragnorok peers into the fascination we all have with our own mortality. In the form of paintings, my attention distills complex narratives into symbols.

As my work progressed, it became clear that I am more of a novice Anthropologist with a painting studio.

Thursday from Davids Ragnarak series

Your work has a marvelous texture to it. Can you tell us about the process you use to achieve that?

Sure, I’ll give it a try!

My paintings are built on hollow wooden panels. A mixture of marble powder and acrylic polymers form the initial texture. This surface is refined using a bench sander. I cover that layer with blue painters tape, carve shapes through the tape, adding more of the above mixture, after which I remove what’s left of the tape. Between each layer I apply acrylics, clear gel medium, and finish each painting with a few layers of gloss medium.

How long does it take you to complete a 10×10 painting?

10” squares (or snackers) typically take 8 days from start to finish. Keep in mind, I usually make 7 at a time. Drying time varies from 30 minutes to 8 hours between one step and the next. It all made a series based on the 7 days of the week inevitable.

According to your profile, the Ragnorak Exhibition was scheduled for May 2009. How did it go? Are you continuing to work on the Ragnorak series or do you have another project planned?

Every two years I put together a solo exhibition featuring a new mythos. The basic schedule of my 2009 exhibition, The Ragnorak Project, is the end of May through the end of September. Initial exploration into Norse mythology & the Gregorian calendar began in October of 2007. While I never really end a series, my mind starts to wander after about two years. Currently, I’m kicking around a few plans. I’m tempted by Greek or Roman mythology. The challenge is to be contemporary, avoid total obscurity, while researching myths that are novel & uncanny to me. I have really started to develop Ragnarok, so as a series I will probably continue it despite any new projects.

Friday Wild Flower Series, part of Davids Ragnarok series

How did you discover etsy and why did you decide to start selling here? How does Etsy compare to other communities of artists and artisans you have been involved with?

Dionna Raedeke had an exhibition in the gallery adjacent to mine back when I did The Arcana in 2005. A few years later she encouraged me to check out Etsy. I was making big pieces & selling well out of a gallery. Texture is a challenge to translate to an online venue, so I was apprehensive. I had a five-year plan (2005-2010) where I would renovate a house & the proceeds from my art would account for more than 50% of my income. To accomplish the second half of my goals I started looking for new markets.

Muluk from Davids Tzolkin series

Besides painting, what other interests/hobbies do you have?

I write The Studio Chronicle, which is growing in popularity. The house is a substantial hobby. I like to build stuff, so I into carpentry projects. I’m fond of plumbing. I enjoyed doing electrical work until recently. A few weeks ago I electrocuted myself; nothing serious.

Baldrs Squirrel from Davids Ragnarok series

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Be sure to check out DavidBurnssmith.Etsy.com! You can also visit David’s website www.davidburnsmith.com, which he is in the process of reviving. You can also follow David on twitter.

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