Join our Email List!





David Niec: Artist in residence at Lake Twelve Preserve

June 12, 2019  |  Topics: featured artist, Spotlight

David Niec is one of 12 artists participating in a year-long residency program called ARTservancy, a collaboration between Gallery 224 in Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. Each artist has selected an OWLT preserve to spend time in and to engage with. To read more about the artist in residency program, click here.

Artist statement by David Niec

Wild uncultivated spaces have long served as a source of inspiration. I frequently place myself in such places, using perception and invention, to make paintings from the surroundings.  I find clarity in wild places.  If, for instance, the moon is rising and I’m in a natural setting, every part of me knows it. Furthermore, I’m surrounded by habitat that responds to the moon in its’ own way.

55% Moon Appearing through Clouds; oil on panel, 9×10 inches, 2018

In wilderness, cyclic activity is more obvious. There are a number of annual occurrences that are specific to season or time of season, time of day and or time of night, which I’ve become familiar with. In spring, at sunset the combination of noises—from frogs, sandhill cranes, geese, ducks and various other birds—is almost deafening. After a winter storm or during many winter nights, the silence leaves me awestruck. On summer evenings the flickering of fireflies has a fleeting kind of magic to it. Patterns of growth and decay, from the unfurling of ferns in spring to the yellow-orange glow of tamarack trees in late fall, are mesmerizing.

The artist at Lake Twelve. Photo by Eddee Daniel

The more I place myself in environments where I’m exposed to such happenings, the more I experience a kind of rhythm. Connecting to this rhythm simultaneously calms and stirs my mind. This is the impetus for most of my artwork.

Winter Forest under Full Moon;  oil on panel, 11x 10 inches ,  2016

The opportunity to spend time on and engage with a piece of land from the OWLT preserve is one that I welcomed. I can’t spend enough time in such places. As part of the ARTservency project, I chose to work at Lake Twelve in Farmington.

Tamarack Tree Towering above Swamp in Moonlight, Autumn;
   ink on paper, 11x8in, work in progress

There is a sizable swamp on the western shore of the lake. Muckigwatig, meaning swamp tree, is the Ojibwa word for tamarack tree. There are a number of these “swamp trees” in the Lake Twelve swamp. I am observing and interacting with these trees throughout the four seasons. Their presence, character and the way they change from season to season is of interest. My residency work will feature several drawings that I’ll call portraits of these tamarack trees.

The artist at work in the swamp. Photo by Eddee Daniel


45% Moon Set over Swamp, Winter;  oil on panel, 9×10 inches, 2018
75% May Moon Rise and Span;  58×48 inches, oil on panel,   2018
Moon Cycle over River, Summer;   60×48 in, oil on panel, 2015
95% Moon Rise over Lake Michigan; oil on panel, 25×19 inches, 2018
June Moon Cycle over Lake Michigan, Panel 2, The Waxing Moons;   oil on panel, 72×36 inches,    2016-18
June Moon Cycle over Lake Michigan, Panel 3, The Fullest Moons;  oil on panel, 72x 36 inches,  2016-8
Swamp Tree (tamarack) dusk, Winter;   ink on paper, 19x11inches, work in progress
Swamp Tree (tamarack) under Moonlight, early spring; 13×8 inches, work in progress
Swamp Tree (tamarack) under Full Moon, early spring;  ink on paper, 13.5×9 inches, work in progress


David Niec received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 1989. He has been active painting and drawing ever since.  For many years, until Dean Jensen retired, Niec exhibited with the Dean Jensen Gallery in Milwaukee.  He now exhibits in Milwaukee with the Alice Wilds Gallery.

This is the latest is a series of featured artists in The Natural Realm, which is intended to showcase the work of photographers, artists, writers and other creative individuals in our community whose subjects or themes relate in some broad sense to nature, urban nature, people in nature, etc. To see a list of previously featured artists, click here. An exhibit of the work of ARTservancy artists in residence is scheduled to open at Gallery 224 on September 13, 2019.

All images courtesy of the artist, except as noted.