Professor's real-world experience benefits students Crismon's work showcased in numerous galleries

Walls painted stark-white. No furniture or distractions. Just one easel in the middle of the room. This is where David Crismon spends his time after his 8 to 5 job as an OC art instructor. He doesn’t just teach art, he creates it.

In fact, this plain white room is where he has created more than 30 paintings in the last five years.

Although he’s not anti-technology, David loves it when his students have “no excuses,” just them and their pencil and paper. If you visit his drawing class, you’ll see his students engrossed in their work, in complete silence. David, a self-professed low-tech artist, says that’s when he knows things are going well.

“I just totally strip away a lot of stuff,” he said. “I often remind them … do you hear this? There’s nothing going on. They’re not complaining that they’re bored. They’re simply totally engaged in what they’re doing. And I like that. So I try to get that in every class.”

David teaches art and design history, along with his painting and drawing classes. He loves “combing through history” and instilling that knowledge in his students.

“I think everything that gets done, paintings included, in some way kind of reflects the time that it’s done in. Sometimes it’s the only thing we have from a particular time period to go back and piece together,” he said.

The professor’s medium of choice is oil paintings. For five years, he has pursued an idea he calls “Dislocated Histories.” At least 30 paintings resulted from this idea. David looks at an actual painting from centuries ago and recreates it through the eyes of today’s technology.

“What would something from the 15th century or the 17th century have to look like today? It wouldn’t look the same. It would be seen with an X-ray machine, video monitors, chemical tests,” he said.

With his work showcased in several art galleries around the country, this art instructor’s real-world experience has proven beneficial to his students. He acts as a liaison, introducing galleries to his students and getting them their first professional shows. He sees the dual purpose in his painting.

“I think it’s very valuable because it shows the students that we’re not just doing these things and kind of tucking them away under the bed. I don’t do that,” he said. “I think that the focus is to get the work out into the world and make it do something.”

To see David’s message-infused paintings for yourself, you can visit Mainsite Gallery in Norman or Craighead Green Gallery in Dallas (

By Rachel Yeakley