Meet the Artist: David Buttram

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The City of Cleveland depicted in a beautiful light.

By Kelli Comer

The City of Cleveland is in a constant state of change. Local painter David Buttram’s pursuit is to portray the inner city of Cleveland in a beautiful light through his paintings, depicting the hopefulness in this area through a local’s eyes.

“The inner city is a place of confinement and a place of hope,” David explains.

“It is the place where I was raised. Much of my inspiration and style as an artist comes from the likes of Van Gogh, Henry O, Tanner and Rembrandt, as well as the works of the Impressionist movement and the Ashcan School.”

David starts his creative process by roughly sketching his subject on canvas in pencil. He then completes a value study in oil using one color of his choice. David then loads his palette with all of the selected colors for the painting and begins to work from dark to light tones. He repaints in glazes and layers until his work is complete.

“As a painter, my aim is to allow the viewer to explore the evidence of toil and strife, and of beauty and peace in the inner city by creating images of natural and manmade objects through various combinations of light, shadows, reflections and color,” says David.

“These elements reveal a range of human emotions and moods.”

A Vietnam veteran of the United States Marine Corps, David is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He completed his master’s education at Kent State University, holding a Master of Arts degree in Fine Arts. David is retired from the Cleveland Municipal School District, where he was an art educator. He continues to work and paint out of his home studio.

David’s work has been exhibited in many places across Northeast Ohio, as well as locations throughout the Midwest. He has exhibited at The Cleveland Institute of Art, The Cleveland State Art Gallery, the Karamu House in Cleveland and the Kettering Government Center in Kettering, Ohio.

His work has been shown on several occasions at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. David’s painting “Mrs. Brown” is currently on display in the Spotlight exhibition at the Ohio Governor’s Residence in Columbus, which highlights African-American artists.

“To capture the right moment in the inner city—the one with a certain light, shadow, and mood—is quite an interesting challenge,” David smiles.

“Even as time moves forward, people and images present different looks and attitudes. Time, space and life are precious. To begin and complete a painting is a joyful celebration.”

To reach David, you can email him at or call 216-321-3804. Visit his website at to learn more about the artist and his work.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment