Father 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. He was born in Mesa and named Rolland Ellis by his parents (of blessed memory). He is now known by most people as Father Luke Dingman, since his ordination as a priest in the Orthodox Christian Church. He is a priest in good standing in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Fr. Luke's Dad, Rev. James was at different times in his life, a pastor, photographer, and restauranteur. His mother, Vera, was a homemaker (with a very capital "H"!), author, and the 1970 "Arizona Mother of The Year." 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. His mother continued to keep busy having weekly devotions with separate groups of children, speaking engagements about God's blessings, and showing tours around Sunshine Acre's until her last few months. She went to be with the Lord in 2005, shortly after her 94th birthday, joining her husband who had reposed 24 years earlier. 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 laid out on a portion of the kitchen floor.

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. He spent the next five years as an Illustrator-Art Director with Campus Crusade for Christ in Southern California, where he met another staff member, Nancy Willman. They married in 1970 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. In the early 80's he began his study of Byzantine Iconography, which continues to be a major part of his life.

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

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 Metropolitan 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 returned, in recent years, so strongly that he tries to take 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.

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

Oil painting of a country lane
For most of the years that he has lived in Brookdale he has taken a break every day to get exercise 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, to the right is one of our driveway where it connects to the country road on which we live.
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 home and studio where the
family and friends have spent many pleasant summer afternoons cooling off, especially when the children were young. Now it's just as much fun with the grandchildren.
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