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Den Latham: Artist, Musician, Writer, Teacher

New Anderson Artists Guild member Den Latham is a man of many talents.

He studied at Oxford University in England and has a master’s degree in English from Middlebury College in Vermont. He taught at Tamassee-Salem High School and the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics before taking a position in Hartsville to manage three historical buildings, including a museum, performing arts theater, and fine arts center. “It gave me a lot of freedom to write,” he said.

He has written a lot of natural science articles and is the author of Painting the Landscape With Fire: Longleaf Pines and Fire Ecology, a book of literary journalism about the benefits of fire. Also a musician, he is the drummer for a rock fusion band called Not 27. “It’s hard to find a good name for a band,” he said. “Not 27 refers to the fact that none of us are 27 and to all those rock and roll geniuses who died at 27.”

And he used to compete internationally in America's East Coast surf kayak team. At championships in Ireland and Costa Rica, he participated as part of a team as well as individually.

He and his wife retired to Central, drawn by their love of the outdoors and the opportunities for kayaking, backpacking, and hiking. And about 12 years ago, Latham started painting. “Like some other things, I don’t know why, but I had the desire to do it,” he said. He tried acrylics and watercolor but fell in love with oil. “It’s so malleable, so forgiving,” he said.

He is inspired by nature and by other artists such as Matisse, whose work he admires for its use of color and simplified shapes. He honed his craft by auditing several art classes at Clemson University.

He often starts with his own sketches or photos. “I’m happier when I use a photo as the basis for composition values, then lay it aside and see where my mind runs with color and brushwork,” he said. “I’m not interested in realism.” He describes his style as expressionistic and experimentational.

He has gotten involved in the local arts community, especially at the Blue Ridge Arts Center in Seneca, where his work will be exhibited in July. He thrives on interacting with groups of artists and musicians. “I love the socialization,” he said. “It’s too easy to stay in the studio by yourself.”

For more information about Latham, visit


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