Denver Bar Association
November 2005
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by Dick Ott

Dick Ott is a trial lawyer who has been practicing in the Denver area since 1989. While his legal record speaks for itself, Ott is also well known for his contributions to the art community.


What kind of artwork do you do?

I’m a painter. What I’m mostly interested in is watercolor and oil, portraits, landscapes and figures. Generally, I’m kind of a realist. I paint toward a purpose. I like Plein Air, a French term for outdoor observation painting. Most of what I do is draw. Most people see me drawing a lot in court, but I’m a very serious painter. I think of drawing as a workout to keep sharp.

How long have you been doing it?

I started painting when I was 20 years old and traveling in Australia.

• Do you have any formal training?

I studied at the Art Students League in New York and then I got my masters from the Pratt Institute in New York.

What is the Art Students League of Denver and why did you start it?

I had to go to New York because there wasn’t anything here in terms of professional art schools. It was the same for my friend Phil Levine, so we put our heads together and started an Art Students League in Denver. It was the same week I was starting law school and working full-time in the psych ward at a hospital.

I’ve been on the Board of Directors in the past, but I went off the board last year when I was Chairman of the Denver County Cultural Club for Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which was a conflict of interest. Now, I’m not on any boards, so I have time to paint more.

What motivates you to create?

Beauty. Sometimes it’s the sheer difficulty. I like painting difficult things because they challenge me.

How does your love of law and love of art coincide?

My father is a lawyer, so I always knew what it was to be a lawyer. It’s a very versatile degree and I knew it wouldn’t restrict me. I never understood why I enjoyed the two (being a trial lawyer and an artist) so much. One is very introverted and one very extroverted. After 30 years, I realized that what I love about being a lawyer is what I love most about being a painter. I’m super-focused during both of those activities. It’s just like trials. I don’t like preparing, but I love trials and I don’t like preparing to paint, but I love to paint.

How involved is your family with the artsy side of your life?

My daughter is eight and is very arts-and-crafts oriented. She also loves to paint. My wife is supportive.

What does the future hold for you?

I’m starting a daily blog. My blog site is and I’ll sell art at I’ve done art shows around town, but I like the immediacy of what I’m drawing now and getting it out there to hear comments.

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