Illustrator David Klein was born in El Paso, Texas in 1918. Moving to California as a young man, he studied at the Art Center School, which later became the Art Center College of Design, in Los Angeles. Klein’s career in art began as a painter, exhibiting regionally as a member of the California Watercolor Society in the 1930′s. At the time, the California Watercolor Society was dominated by a new subgroup of American Regionalists working in what is now known as the “California School Style.” As Gordon McCelland states in his book The Califonia Style from Hillcrest Press, 1985, these artists used “a large format, free broad brushstrokes, and strong, rich colors,” while painting the everyday activities of a nation in the midst of the Great Depression. They worked “boldly and directly, with little to no preliminary pencil sketching, while mastering the technique of allowing the white paper to show through as an additional shape or color.” Well known members of the Society included Charles Payzant, Millard Sheets and renowned Disney artist Mary Blair, whose husband Lee Blair served as president for a time. Though paintings from this time offer little resemblance to his later work, the impact of this period upon Klein’s method should not be overlooked. As a commercial illustrator working for advertising clients concerned with the bottom line, his ability to rapidly produce color comps which addressed the challenges of each assignment in concise detail, surely helped secure his place at the forefront of his profession.
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