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AFC Flag Expedition #2:
The Sacred Source - A Portrait of the Ganges
Expedition Artist: David James Rankin
Purpose: To create a body of artwork that captures beauty and ecological complexity of the Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas with an emphasis on documenting the ecological and conservation challenges facing the Ganges River system.
Location: Ganges headwaters region, India
Scheduled For: May-June, 2007
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About David Rankin
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Artist Acknowledgments
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David Rankin is a professional watercolor painter. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art and a successful author and lecturer. His watercolors have been featured in numerous watercolor books & magazines and in many one-man exhibitions and over 60 museum exhibitions across North America as well as in Japan and Sweden.

David is one of the true modern-day masters of transparent watercolor and he exudes a dynamic passion for the medium in his lectures, demos, and class instruction as well as in his own studio or field work.

He is one of the most effective watercolor teachers in the world today. When teaching, his main emphasis is to get watercolor painters to pay more attention to developing good sound watercolor technique in order to rapidly upgrade their skills.

As he states in his lectures, "The artists I meet and train do not need more "passion." They don't need to "free themselves up." And they don't need to come up with "new ideas for paintings." They in fact already have more ideas than they could ever paint in one lifetime. And they all come into classes & workshops with hundreds of dollars worth of equipment and loads of enthusiasm.

But the problem I see the most and that keeps them from progressing is that most have simply never been taught precise watercolor brush handling techniques for creating washes, blends, values, and textures using correct technique. So they do not possess the ability to create perfect washes, or build an image using correct values. And they resort to over-using "frisket" to create effects that should normally be created with "better brushwork." What this means is that they tend to make the same simple mistakes a thousand times over and over, year after year."

It has been David's experience that what these artists do need, is to rapidly upgrade some of their basic imaging skills that they already have. With just a little precise training in correct procedure & technique they are then better able to actualize the creativity and ideas they do possess.

David's painting style is based on what he calls "natural abstraction," in which he likes to develop realistic subjects using abstract design principles that he finds in Nature.

"I perceive the world around me through a type of mental watercolor filter. I see a wet reflection on a street, the fractured glint of sunlight on water, sunlight off the surface of a peacock's neck or grasses in a field and I instantly try to visualize how I would recreate that effect on paper… with the fewest possible strokes. If you study my paintings closely you will see that what may appear as complex detail from a distance, is in fact created from very simple brushstrokes using the natural impressionistic roughness of the painting surface to create the illusion of detail and form."

His book "Fast Sketching Techniques," published by North Light Books, is one of the top books of its kind in the country. He is presently working on a series of 3 new unique instructional books detailing his approach to transparent watercolor.


  • ANYTHING INDIA - David is considered to be one of the most celebrated American Watercolor Painters to ever focus such a major professional effort on India. David has traveled all over India and used to live all summer in Kashmir until the political trouble between India & Pakistan got worse. He has been travelling in India regularly since 1970, speaks a little Hindi, is a life long practioner of Yoga ( was co-founder of the American Yoga Association and author of books on the subject), and has been a strict vegetarian since 1967.
  • In 1985 he began a major ongoing artistic project to paint India's remarkable diversity of wildlife beginning with her birds, (the world's 2nd largest variety of species), especially her magnificent storks & cranes. And this soon led to another major effort to paint all of India's big cats, ( the world's largest diversity). His unique theme is try and paint these species in their most natural habitats.To achieve this he and his wife, Deanna, have traveled extensively throughout India on a regular basis studying all of India's wildlife.
  • LANDSCAPES- It is realy David's love of nature that keeps him painting, whether it is landscapes or animals. He now has numerous landscape themes that he pursues, not only in India but here in America as well.
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