Writer's new book focuses on local artist

November 30, 2008|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Jack Shagena bought his first Dave DeRan painting in 1976.

Over the years, Shagena, a resident of Bel Air, has added another 60 DeRans to his collection.

"He's very talented," Shagena said of DeRan, a 61-year-old self-taught artist who grew up in Pylesville.

DeRan has made a living selling watercolor and acrylic paintings of farm scenes, woodland vistas, American Indians, forest streams and animals, including cows, horses, sheep, birds and turtles, in a style often compared to Andrew Wyeth.

Shagena, a 71-year-old retired defense contractor, was so impressed with DeRan's work that he made the artist the subject of his 16th book, Dave DeRan, the Nature of his Art.

The artist and the writer will share their talents at a book signing and art exhibit Sunday, Dec. 7, at DeRan's home, 318 Pikes Peak Road, in Delta, Pa., just across the Pennsylvania line from Cardiff. The event starts at 1 p.m. and lasts until 5 p.m. There is no admission.

"I've always thought that Dave was an outstanding artist," said Shagena. "I have been fortunate to know him. We have walked in the woods and gone on canoe trips where we talked about life.

"That's Dave's environment," he said. "People outside of a small geographical area of Harford and York counties don't know this guy. He's so quiet and laid back. I did this book to draw attention to his work. The world deserves to see Dave's talent."

The 121-page book features a review of DeRan's career with photographs of about 150 of his paintings. It sells for $30.

Most of Shagena's books have had a Harford County setting. He has written about barns and springhouses in the county, and about mills and the blacksmith industry.

DeRan estimates that he has done about 4,000 paintings over his career. About 80 percent, he said, are scenes in Harford and York counties.

Last month he completed two murals in the gym of North Harford High School, from which he graduated in 1964. They were paintings of hawks, the school mascot, and replaced an earlier work destroyed during the recent renovation of the school.

In 1990, DeRan teamed with his childhood friend and another North Harford graduate, Linda Lowe Morris, on the publication of a children's book about growing up on a Harford County dairy farm. The book was called Morning Milking.

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