Fr. Luke (Rolland) Dingman

About The Artist

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Picture of the artist taken on Mt. Tabor, Israel.
Fr. Luke, in front of The Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, Israel in 1998.

His life-long fascination with art and wildlife began in the Arizona desert, where he grew up. Born in Mesa and named Rolland Ellis by his parents (of blessed memory), Rev. James was, at different times in his life a pastor, photographer and restauranteur, and Vera, homemaker (with a very capital "H"!), author and the 1970 "Arizona Mother of The Year." He is now known by most people as Fr. Luke Dingman since his ordination as a priest in the Orthodox Christian Church, he is a priest in good standing in the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

He grew up (along with his 5 and 9 year old brothers and nearly 1,000 other children!) in a Christian children's home for homeless and abused children, that his parents founded in 1954, when he was 7 years old. Sunshine Acres Children's Home is still filled with children of all ages and his mother continued to keep busy having weekly devotions with separate groups of children, speaking engagements about Sunshine Acre's and God's blessings and writing letters (thanks to those who send donations and to keep in touch with as many of her "children" as possible) until her last few months. She went to be with the Lord in 2005, and join her husband who had died 24 years earlier, shortly after her 94th birthday. May their memory be eternal!

As a youngster Fr. Luke had many wild pets - a fox, an owl, skunks, and numerous scorpions, snakes and lizards. He often sketched his menagerie, selling his first wildlife painting of his pet Screech Owl, at the age of 14 . He can't remember a time when he was not sketching or painting, even as a toddler his mother kept him busy scribbling with crayons on paper placed on the kitchen floor.

A picture of the outside of the artist's studio
Fr. Luke's studio, to the right, in their back yard in Brookdale, set up for "Open Studios".

Fr. Luke became proficient in many art mediums through early work in an advertising agency, which helped pay his way through Arizona State University, where he graduated with a major in Fine Arts. After graduation he spent the next five years as an illustrator-Art Director with Campus Crusade for Christ in Southern California, where he met his wife, Nancy Willman. They married and had their two sons, Joshua and Aaron while still on staff, Sarah came along later; she was born in their home in Brookdale, California, where they still live.

They left staff in 1974 and moved to the little town of Brookdale in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he worked in a variety of art forms, from book illustrations, cartooning, caricatures, and newspaper ads to wildlife and landscapes in oils and watercolors and where he began his study of Iconography, which continues to be a major part of his life.

Oil painting of the San Lorenzo River near the artist's studio.  
He has painted the San Lorenzo River in its many seasons and colors. This view is near his studio where the family has spent many pleasant summer afternoons cooling off, especially when the children were young. Now it's just as much fun with the grandchildren.

Fr. Luke began to research, study and paint Icons during his journey to Orthodoxy and considers himself primarily an Iconographer, continuing his studies partly through the pilgrimages he has been able to take to Russia, Greece and Israel; where he was excited to be able to study some of the oldest known Byzantine Icons in existence. He has a blessing from Metopolitan ANTHONY -of blessed memory- of the Greek Archdiocese of the West Coast to paint holy Icons for churches and individuals. He has painted Byzantine-style Icons for churches and individuals in many states including Alaska, Florida, Oklahoma, Utah Virginia, New Jersey, Tennessee and California and in Canada, Japan and Israel, and is well into the task of filling his own home Church, Saint Lawrence Orthodox Church , in Felton California, with holy images.

His earlier love of working with oils and creating landscapes and wildlife paintings has, in recent years, returned so strongly that he takes a few days each month, when his schedule allows, to pursue this artistic expression. It has become a welcome change from the precise and detailed techniques of iconography, and after a few days of painting Impressionist-style landscapes he returns to his icons more refreshed.

Oil painting of Loch Lomond reservoir, Ben Lomond, California.   Fr. Luke and his Godson, Stanley, spent a day fishing, getting sunburnt and taking photographs at the nearby Loch Lomond Reservoir in Ben Lomond. This is one of the oils he painted from those photos and the inspirational beauty of the day (The fish was to small, they had to throw it back).

Oil painting of a country lane He usually takes a break every day to get exercize and clear his head with a 2 mile walk to our Post Office. Some of the scenery on the way has inspired a series of "pathway" paintings, this one is of our driveway where it connects to the country road on which we live.




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Brookdale, California

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