Dave Choate is a self-taught artist who didn’t get his start until he was living in California while in his late 20s. Choate majored in finance in college, but if he had the chance to do it again says he would have attended art school.
“I started out as an abstract expressionist,” says Choate, “but found that my abstracts would end up as portraits – funky portraits, but still portraits. As an avid sports fan, it made sense to paint portraits of celebrity athletes that I admired, so here I am today painting portraits and loving every minute of it.”
Choate works with acrylics and uses photography books or images downloaded from the internet as his models. The Connecticut native’s work has been described as whimsical.
“I’ve found that my best paintings are the ones where I have the most happy accidents, so I really try to tap into my subconscious or right brain and not analyze every stroke. It reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote, ‘How the hell are you gonna hit and think at the same time?’ I stay loose, try not to think, go with the flow and have faith that I’ll eventually discover something that I couldn’t have created on my own, at least consciously.”
BaseballArt.com caught up with Choate recently for the weekly Q&A.
Baseball Art: When did you realize you wanted to become a baseball artist and did you have anyone help push you along the way?
Dave Choate: I started out painting abstracts with lots of cutting lines and angles. Halfway through the painting I would see a portrait within shapes. I saw a documentary on Andy Warhol and he was taught to paint a subject that you love. For him it was painting money. Baseball was my love and the rest is history.
Baseball Art: Have you ever had the opportunity to share your artwork of a particular player with the athlete.
Dave Choate: Jason Motte of the St. Louis Cardinals owns a giclee that I had done of him from their last World Series victory. I think that most of the players that I’ve painted are no longer or alive or aren’t on social media.
Baseball Art: Can you share an experience or interesting story about being a baseball artist?
Dave Choate: I had the opportunity to meet my all-time favorite Actress, Winona Ryder. I display my work in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn on the weekends. Last August she stopped by and bought a Sandy Koufax print for her Dad and a Lou Gehrig for herself. We talked about baseball for about an hour. Her prize possession is an autographed ball from the Los Angeles Dodgers 1970’s infielders (Steve Garvey. Ron Cey, Bill Russell, and Davey Lopes).
Baseball Art: Are there any athletes that you haven’t drawn that you would like to capture with your artwork?
Dave Choate: My all-time favorite athlete is Mark Fidrych of the Detroit Tigers. I was lucky enough to meet him before he died. We sat next to each other at a game in Fenway several years ago. I said, “Has anyone ever told you that you resemble Mark Fidrych?” He gave a big smile and said in his Worcester accent “I am Mahk Fidrych.”
Baseball Art: Who throughout the history of baseball would you like to have the chance to watch a game with?
Dave Choate: Mark Fidrych. So nice, I chose him twice.
Baseball Art: Could you describe your “Studio Space” and what we would we see if we visited you during a project? (your table, what is on the walls, what music is playing or TV shows?)
Dave Choate: It measures 25×35 and totally disorganized. I’m surrounded by 100 unfinished paintings strewn across the room. I listen to Nirvana or Macklemore and Ryan Lewis when I need a boost of energy. Sometimes frustration sets in and I need to take it down a notch and will put on Bob Marley or Death Cab for Cutie. Sometimes I’ll listen to podcasts from Rich Eisen, Bret Easton Ellis, and Pete Holmes.