This Local Artist’s Paintings Look So Real, You’ll Swear They’re Photos

by | Apr 2019

"Cottagewood" by local artist David Holmes

Artist: David Holmes

Local artist David Holmes pursues his passion for large-scale paintings.

There are not many people who can (or would) give up a successful career in the business world to pursue their artistic passions in painting, writing or music. But award-winning Minnetonka painter David Holmes has done just that—making a name for himself for the last almost 20 years in the world of hyperrealist art.

Painting is a second career for Holmes, as he spent the first 20 years of his career working as an art director and creative director in various advertising agencies. While these positions were certainly in a creative field, because of the demands of the job within the agency world, Holmes had very little time to pursue his passion of painting that he began developing as a young boy.

“At the end of the day, it was hard to find energy to do my own art and I missed it,” Holmes says. “After 20 years, I began to feel the itch to get back into my art. I had never considered painting on a full-time basis until then.”

Painter David Holmes

Photo: Tate Carlson

After evaluating whether he could make a living as a full-time artist, Holmes took the enormous step to make a career out of his art. “I gave up a very successful career in the agency world to follow my passion,” Holmes says. Living in San Francisco with two young children at the time, Holmes and his wife decided to move to Minnetonka for a more family-friendly place to raise their children. They had done extensive research on the best location to raise a family, and Minnesota won out.

“My wife was able to get a good job that would help support us while I worked to establish my career as a painter,” Holmes says. And establish, he did.

Today, Holmes is a celebrated artist in the Lake Minnetonka area who has made an impact on the art scene, both locally and beyond.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to make things look as good as I could,” Holmes says. “I strived to make it look as perfect as possible. To me that was always the way that I drew. I wanted to draw realistically from an early age. That was the challenge, and so it felt natural, when I began painting, to gravitate toward realism and pushing that to the extreme, which is hyperrealism.”

Holmes’ hyperrealism painting technique means the image produced looks as perfect and real as possible—with no visible brush strokes. “It tends to be seen as a photograph, and so it’s surprising to people when they see a piece in person—when they realize that this was created by hand with a brush,” Holmes says.

As part of his process, Holmes takes photographs of the subject matter that he’s interested in painting. Because hyperrealism painting is so detailed and intricate, it is a long process from start to finish, with most paintings taking Holmes about three months to complete.

“When I am trying to find something that inspires me, I need to be engaged with it for the entire process and not get burnt out,” Holmes says. “So I take the time to find scenes that truly jump out at me.”

The images that Holmes gravitates toward in his painting often include complicated urban environment scenes that boast a lot of textures, colors and mediums, as well as people in motion, cars and buildings.

“You can see a progression in my art—from my earliest pieces to today—that I continue to get more detailed and more complicated in my work,” Holmes says. “I always need to challenge myself that way.”

In addition to doing commissions for clients, Holmes also features his work in various art galleries throughout the country.

To learn more about Holmes’ art and commissions, visit


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