Dan A Deegan (1948-1999) was a Watercolor Artist who lived in the Seattle area most of his life. His work depicted all things coastal scene and wildlife from orcas to seagulls, fishing boats, landscapes, and mountainous scenes. He sold only original watercolors primarily from Pikes Market before his passing. He was known for visiting and staying at Oceanshores WA and painting plein air and selling his work there as well.
I had the pleasure of studying under Dan’s mastery for almost two years until his passing in August of 1999. In those two years as I reflect twenty years later I can honestly say he was the most influential and meaning kindred spirit I’ve had the pleasure of studying under.
I was employed by Dan in 1997 after meeting him at Pikes Market. It was totally by chance that he was in the market that day as he had an employee that sold his work there. I was fresh out of work and was on the fence whether or not I was going back to pursuing a digital art career. At this point my confidence was low and my tail was tucked under like a beat dog.
So on a whim, I mustered up the courage to ask about Dan. His salesman told me that he was around the market and to hang out a second and he would be back. Eventually, this brutish well-pronounced lumberjack of a man filled the market isle. Going on with another veteran vendor he was clearly one of the leaders of the pack at Pikes. If you looked at this guy you never would have had guessed that he was an artist. A commercial fishing boat captain, foreman of a concrete company, maybe an oil rig worker. This guy was a tank. So I make my way up to Dan, introduce myself and ask him what it takes or what I would have to do to sell my work at Pikes. He says to me “Do you want to do artwork to make money or do you want to make money doing artwork?” My reaction due to my current employment circumstances was pretty clear that I was looking for a job! Dan ended up giving me a business card and told me to call him the following weekend after the holiday.
Dan lived alone in a fair-sized home atop a more elevated area south of Alki peninsula. Amidst many homes with barely a yard at the end of a culdesac, I arrived there to the first week of my role as an apprentice. That first week Dan had me doing basic underpainting. Learning the process of beginning a large scale wash that would be the sky for one or more ocean seascape paintings. Eventually, he would teach me the methods of layering paint and building the environments that would end up being an amazing original work of art. Before that really took place Dan put me through trials beyond that of an artist. I learned Dan was a Marine and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a no-bullshit character when It came to being productive. He got to the point with everything and if there was an obstacle he hit it head-on and didn’t waste time.
It was shortly after I helped him move a few blocks North to a new house where he had me doing everything from chores to painting the fence, mowing the lawn. We even refurbished a complete boat, cut the roof off his garage and built a two-story studio on top with an extended deck to the main house. This regiment of artwork and grunt work occurred 5 days a week. All while painting artwork, framing it and delivery it to Pikes market for two years. It’s was a beautifull balanced blur of life lessons and creative drive. Unfortunately, in late June of 1999 Dan informed me that his health condition was not good. That he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic and liver cancer and by the end of August he had passed.
I watched a giant dissolve under the guise of that damn disease. I miss my friend a great deal. He was a great teacher, brother, father, and friend. So I feel like I owe it to myself and Dan to at least share my story of what I learned from him. As before Dan painted hundreds of original works and never any prints. His work exists strongly from the Washington area and reaches worldwide.