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Autumn near Elk Bend

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Painting a Memory: Art in the Park

Celebrating his 50th year of painting at the open-air Boise Art Museum’s Art in the Park event, artist Dan Looney had plenty to reflect on

Dan Looney has braved heat, rain, and the occasional windstorm to share his art at Boise Art Museum’s Art in the Park. Celebrating his 50th year of painting at the open-air cultural event, Looney had plenty to reflect on.

“When I got involved, there was probably 30 or 40 of us,” he said. “It was a little local show, and we would all sit around, and people would bring homemade cookies. And then it just kept growing.”

The 78-year-old sells originals and prints of his works in a style he categorizes as ‘fantasy realism.’ One of his inspirations for starting to paint, aside from his creative mother, came from his own visit to Art in the Park in the 70s.  

“I was a banker for 35 years,” he said. “But back then I was just not fulfilled. So I went to Art in the Park, and then started taking some evening painting classes.”

Three weeks later, Looney decided he’d found his fulfillment. Since then, he’s painted around 3,000 paintings, selling most for around $400 to $500.

“I've averaged 1 1/2 a week for 50 years. I like people to like my work and I like them to have it. And it inspires me to do more if people 'adopt' them.”

Idaho is a popular subject for Looney, with pieces ranging across locales like Boise State University’s Blue Turf, McGowan Peak, and McCall’s Winter Carnival.

“There are a lot of things that happen around Idaho that I pick up on and then create something.”

Looney works in multiple mediums, particularly collage, watercolor, and acrylic.

“I just finished a four-part acrylic on four different canvases,” he said. “They're Idaho’s four seasons running all the way from north Idaho over through eastern Idaho. And that's hanging in the Idaho Supreme Court building.”

Looney’s wife, Julie, helps him run the business side of his art, aided by his own financial background. His paintings hang for admiration across the world, in far-flung locations like Croatia and Australia. And some folks know just how to show their appreciation of Looney’s talent.

“Best compliment I ever had was a lady told me, ‘I love your art. It makes me feel wonderful inside,’” he said. “What could be a better compliment than that?”

The artist shares his skills through workshops. For aspiring artists, Looney offered the following: “Put away the electronics. Observe, read, interact, and create from your own inspirations. And then you will help yourself, and you will help others, and you will complete yourself.”

Looney also supports a variety of local nonprofits, such as recently doing a live painting on KTVB for Idaho Gives.

And with each painting added to his growing list of masterpieces, Looney stays true to his passion.

“My motto all my life is a line from a Longfellow poem called ‘The Psalm of Life,’” he said. “And the line is “Art is long, and Time is fleeting.’ In other words, get off your butt and do something!”

You can find Looney at Art in the Park September 6-8 or across various social media platforms under Dan Looney Art. BoiseArtMuseum.org

“Put away the electronics. Observe, read, interact, and create from your own inspirations. And then you will help yourself, and you will help others, and you will complete yourself.”

  • Autumn near Elk Bend
  • Winter Carnival McCall