Daniel K. Tennant was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1953 and raised in New Woodstock, a small village in Central New York State. At age 7 Dan knew that he wanted to become an artist. He remembers going out on his own and sketching at the age of 11. Each year in high school he won the most outstanding art student award in his class. His high school art teacher for four years was Merrill A. Bailey, who exhibited his watercolors alongside Andrew Wyeth at the Robert Macbeth Gallery in New York City in the early 1930s. Mr. Bailey introduced Dan to watercolors in greater depth and Dan was hooked on watercolors.
As a senior a still life he painted was awarded the Hallmark Honor Prize (Best in Show) beating out 2700 other pieces of artwork in the annual Scholastic Art competition. This was a strong affirmation he should continue to study painting in college. He attended Syracuse University on an art scholarship where he earned a BFA in painting (magna cum laude) in 1975. From 1976-2008 he taught high school art and photography.
In 1979 he discovered opaque watercolors, also referred to as gouache. It is the most brilliant of all paints and one of the oldest. The day he tried it was the day he fell in love with them. He liked the opacity of the paint, its quick drying time, its capability to be used in a very linear manner and it was perfect for fine detail work.
In 1990 he started to exhibit his gouache paintings at Gallery Henoch in New York City. He then moved to Bernarducci-Meisel Gallery (where he had two two man shows) and his last gallery was Hammer Galleries (where Andrew Wyeth also exhibited) on West 57th Street. He left New York City for good in 2010.
Dan started exhibiting with Settlers West Galleries in 2016 and has been active in all of its shows for the past 4 years. Although living in New York State he at heart is a country person, never living in a city except for his years at Syracuse University.
Tennant paints on 8-ply museum board. He also works vertically on an easel, the same way oil painters tackle their paintings. This requires many weeks of patient application of paint using small watercolor brushes. After completing a painting it is displayed behind Plexiglas and left unvarnished. A gouache painting will last longer than an oil painting as it will not crack or yellow if properly framed and kept out of direct sunlight.
Tennant has said of his work that the things he puts in his still lifes are often chosen because they have personal meaning or they are a challenge to paint. Often too he selects items that are simply interesting to look at. He is always trying to stretch the capabilities of gouache and he said it is a very easy medium to use but extremely difficult to master. Gouache has a pronounced color shift from its wet to dry state and it almost dries to touch. Many artists find them frustrating but he relishes these characteristics of the paint.
Tennant's book Realistic Painting (Walter Foster Publishing) sold over 35,000 copies. It is basically a handbook on using gouache. His work is found in two museum collections: The University of New Hampshire's Art Museum and the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut.
In 2019 Tennant won the Gold Medallion (Best in Show) at the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors. It is considered one of the top five watermedia competitions in the country. Over the past thirty years he has won the People's Choice Award in that show a record six times. His work can be found in the corporate collections of Winchester Repeating Arms, MONY, Hallmark and Radio Shack. His work is in hundreds of private collections. His work has appeared on book covers, in magazine articles, jigsaw puzzles, calendar art and limited edition prints.
Tennant has been married to his wife, Karen since 1977. They now live on the outskirts of New Woodstock. They have four grown children and five grandchildren.
More of his gouache paintings can be seen on his website: www.danielktennant.com.