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Donald Blake, watercolor, 20 by 14 inches. Signed lower right, Donald Blake. 

A Florida native, Donald Blake was born in Bushnell in 1889, moving to Tampa at the age of 6, and later, graduated from Hillsborough High School. Blake studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art for five years and, after graduation, worked for eight years as a commercial artist in New York City doing illustrations for Colliers, McCall’s, and other national magazines. He returned home to Tampa in 1922.

In 1923, when Tampa’s Students’ Art Club, a division of the Tampa Women’s Club, left the all-female club to allow men to join, Blake was the first male member. The Art Club would over time evolve into the Tampa Museum of Art. Blake’s paintings were described in the Tampa Times (February 15, 1927), “Donald Blake, a Tampa artist, studied the moods of Hanna’s Whirl, a beauty spot of Tampa, and sought his brush to prove he understood them. The first, a morning scene of the whirl, done in lavender and green and gold, is winner of the Students’ bureau award. Another of his pictures is an artistic as its name—‘A Little Green Picture,’ in which the mystery of the river in late afternoon has been brought to the canvas with all the tranquility of deep, green water at rest under grey, old trees.” In March 1928 Blake was a delegate to the 1st Annual Convention and Exhibition of the Florida Federation of Art in Gainesville, representing the Tampa Art Institute. In 1928 he was elected the second president of the Federation, succeeding Emmaline Buchholz.

Donald Blake, watercolor, 18.5 by 13.5 inches. Signed lower right Donald Blake.

 Blake was an instructor at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota from 1933 to 1954, in charge of the commercial art department. The Bradenton Herald, April 29, 1934; Donald Blake, head of the commercial art department of the Ringling School of Art was recently elected by the faculty of the school…as a member of the board of administration. Mr. Blake, who is very popular with both faculty and students, received his art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts….”

Blake continued as a leading force for art development and education in Central Florida until his death in Tampa in 1964.

Born: 1889, Bushnell, Florida. Florida. Died: June 28, 1964, Tampa. Education: Hillsborough High School. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts awarded Cresson Scholarship to study abroad; with William Merritt Chase; Henry McCarter; Daniel Garber; Cecilia Beaux; Thomas Anschutz. Membership: Tampa Art Institute, president, 1931; Sarasota Art Association, Chairman Exhibition Committee, 1940; Florida Federation of Art, president; Southeastern Art Association; Art League of Manatee County, 1952-56. Exhibits: Hillsborough County fair, February 1920, first prize, oil from nature, first prize, landscape from nature; Students’ Art Club, Exhibition of Florida Art, Tampa Public Library, May 2- May 9, 1922, Rocky Point, Hanna’s Whirl No. 1, Hanna’s Whirl, No. 2; Tampa Art Institute, 7th All Florida Exhibit, November 1927, A Little Green Picture and Student Bureau prize for Hannah’s Whirl; American Association of University Women, Tampa Branch, February 1931, Tampa Chamber of Commerce; Tampa Art Institute, Annual Dinner, June 6, 1931, a landscape; Tampa Art Institute, January 1932, Hanna’s Whirl; Sarasota Art Association at Ringling School of Art, February 1935; Florida Federation of Art, Annual, December 1937, St. Augustine, Best Florida Subject, professional, Myakka Jungle; Sarasota Art Association, 10th Annual Members Exhibition, March 1938 (exhibiting from Tampa); Florida Federation of Art, 12th Annual, Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, December 1938, Canal at LaBelle; Sarasota Art Association, Ringling Museum of Art, February 1939, 2nd prize, watercolor, North Georgia House; Tampa Art Institute, Tampa Municipal Auditorium, One Man Show, January 1944, exhibit then traveled to the Art Club of St. Petersburg Gallery; Sarasota Art Association, South Palm Avenue, March 1944, Mountain Range; Tampa Art Institute, Municipal Auditorium, October 1945; Sarasota Art Association, 221 South Palm Avenue, Members Exhibit, January 1946, watercolors, Sentinels, Early Settlers; Ringling School of Art, Faculty Exhibit, February 1948; Art Club of St. Petersburg, November 1948, six Ringling School of Art instructors exhibit, Davis Causeway, Tarpon Springs, Rapids of Hillsborough River; Sarasota Art Association, at Ringling Museum, 1st exhibit, 1949, Hillsboro River Rapids; Art League of Manatee County, 1952-53.

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