a painting of a red and white trailer parked in a field
‘Sunrise Beach Camping’ by David Bader.

The Upper Keys are beautiful. Take a look at the ocean or bay and you have an instant postcard.  

Living here day to day, we often ignore, or become accustomed to, the beauty constantly surrounding us. Leave it to artists to help show us the beauty of our home. David Bader is one artist who helps remind us of how unique a place we live in.  

“Blue skies. I grew up in Ohio and always painted skies that were blue-gray, purple-gray, pink-gray, warm-gray, always something-gray,” he said. “Bodies of water were every shade of green and brown. In the Keys, the sky really is blue, and the turquoise of shallow waters is idyllic.”

Bader doesn’t have a distinct single style; rather, he creates a work of art from a mood. If you look at 10 of his works, perhaps no more than two look like they are from the same artist. He used to bemoan he didn’t find “his style”; he instead has six or more styles. Bader uses this as an advantage. He approaches the image from the vibe and feeling he wants to create. This helps give him a reasonable approximation of the image he wants to form.

Much like his styles, Bader paints in several different mediums. His go-to mediums are oils and, more recently, acrylics. He has also adopted a plein air style fitting perfectly with the acrylics because of their quick-drying nature.  

“They exhibit a narrower style of quick bold strokes and a limited paint palette brush-mixed as needed for plein air,” Bader said, adding he also works in watercolor, photography and ink.

Some of his favorite artists are Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and other grandly detailed romantic painters.  

“While visiting the Kobe Art Museum in Bergen, I saw a fantastic painting by Adelsteen Normann set in a fjord so immersive you could breathe in its clean, crisp air,” he said.

Bader, whose family comes from an artistic background, is related to Eddie Gifford, a well-known artist in northeast Ohio from the 1970s and ’80s. As a child, Bader thought to himself what he sees, he must create. What he saw in his imagination he had to document. Bader’s main career was that of a mechanical engineer. One does not usually associate being a mechanical engineer with art, but his artistic ability helped him.  

“My creativity was helpful compared to my peers and I figured I could do art as an engineer, but not the other way around,” he said.

Bader now focuses on his artwork.  

“I always knew art would be a part of my life. You never make it, at least I haven’t. It’s the journey, not the destination,” he said

Purchase Bader’s art work at the Key Largo Art Gallery and by visiting

William DePaula
William DePaula is an artist, designer and gemologist who believes in the power of art. From his early childhood onward, he has never stopped drawing, painting and creating. He envisions a world in which beauty is as important as function, where culture and history are respected, and where nature is at once powerful and vulnerable. Infusing an essence of life in all his paintings, DePaula understands beauty is accessible to all. DePaula's art has been featured in select art museums around the world.