David George Rose was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1936, the second of three children to George Linney Rose, a commercial artist, and Aubrey (née Trevelyan).
Educated at Melbourne Grammar School, Rose displayed ability in, and love of, art at an early age, entering and winning various juvenile painting competitions. As a young teenager, he saved up all his pocket money to purchase books about his first major artistic idol, Paul Klee.
Rose went on to study a Forestry degree at the National Forestry School in Canberra. At the 1957 Forestry School Ball, on the night of his 21st birthday, he met Jennifer Mannigel, the daughter of an ex-serviceman orchardist in Griffith, NSW. They moved to Sydney together in 1959 and married in 1960. Jenny, a teacher working with disadvantaged children, took the unusual (for the time) step of supporting them both while David, self taught, began to establish himself as a full-time artist, painting, drawing and printmaking. The couple worked long hours together during the 1960s producing handprinted greeting cards under their own label, Dajer. With joyful, striking designs and a clean, modern aesthetic, these cards were screenprinted, cut and folded by hand, then delivered to retailers on the couple's Italian motor scooter.
As a result of their labours, David and Jenny were able to fund passage on the Marconi line to Spain in 1964. Rose produced a series of lithographs at the commercial lithography studio of Señor Sales in Barcelona, and the couple travelled in Europe. After their return in 1965, Rose taught printmaking part-time at the National Art School, East Sydney, and continued to produce screenprints in his home studio.
In 1971, their daughter Kirsten was born, followed by a son Campion in 1973. The family had a holiday cottage at Bateau Bay, then three hours' drive from Sydney. Rose's subject matter began to shift away from abstract imagery and the human form. Increasingly, his work began to reflect his interest in the beauty of Australian trees and landscapes, with impressions of Bateau Bay and its eucalypts a dominant focus. (See the 1978 interview with Rose.)
The family bought an old farmhouse, 'Hillside', at Ourimbah, NSW, moving there from Sydney in 1976. A derelict fruit packing shed on the property was converted by David into a studio capacious enough to be the home of his printmaking for the next thirty years, with areas for etching, painting and ceramics, and one section later converted into a studio gallery.
In 1978, Rose was commissioned to produce a range of designs for Australian postage stamps. These were the first "special issue" stamps produced by Australia Post, and featured a series of four Australian trees: the Illawarra Flame, Ghost Gum, Grass Tree and Cootamundra Wattle.
During the same year, Rose was featured in an educational filmstrip series "Australian Artists", produced by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and narrated by Margaret Throsby. (See the transcript here.)
Personal tragedy struck Rose's family with the death of Jenny in 1982. Subsequently, Rose met Hannelore Berry, the mother of two children, Susan and Ron. They married in 1983, and the newly combined family began living together at 'Hillside'.
Rose continued stints of teaching, including at the City Art Institute, Sydney. The 1980s marked an exceptionally productive period in Rose's printmaking career. It also heralded Rose's fruitful foray into ceramics, supported and encouraged by potter friends John Kemety and Peter Rushforth.
Rose's exceptional technical skills as a printmaker enabled him to express a fine intuitive understanding of the Australian natural environment, and his work received much international acclaim.
In 1996, he and Hanne travelled to Europe, where he made a series of drawings in southern France, in particular around Arles, in tribute to his much admired Vincent van Gogh.
Rose endeavoured to elegantly convey his appreciation and love of the natural beauty he saw in the world around him. This inner drive compelled him even beyond the time when physical illness rendered new editions of prints an impossibility. After a printmaking career spanning half a century and forty-five solo exhibitions, David Rose passed away in 2006.
Sunrise Bateau Bay, 1993, gouache and watercolour