David William Cummings was born and raised in Eastern Oklahoma. After a tour of duty as a combat engineer with the United States Army from 1957 to 1959 he was fortunate to receive a scholarship from the Kansas City Art Institute where he received his first formal training and acquired a deep appreciation and love for the French painter Paul Cézanne. He was his most important influence.
After graduation from art school and receiving a B.F.A. degree, Cummings moved to the Bay Area of San Francisco where he was able to study the then popular Bay Area figurative movement. Both the painters of that movement and the light itself of Northern California were a great influence on his thinking of color but he decided to abandon any literary or graphic reference to color in nature and pursue a more violent expressive use of color in his work.
At that time Cummings also decided to return to school and work for an advance degree and was accepted as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Nebraska. He worked for the next two years at the University of Nebraska as a teaching assistant and in his third year received a Woods Foundation Fellowship to complete his work for the M.F.A. degree that he received in 1967.
In 1968, Cummings was one of the early pioneering artists who moved to New York City into a loft in SoHo. Working with his ideas of color he was included in a group show at the O.K. Harris Gallery and in a major museum show “Lyrical Abstraction” that was first shown at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut and then traveled to several museums across the United States with it’s final exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City where it became part of their permanent collection. He also had his first solo exhibition at the Henri Gallery in Washington D.C. He also exhibited in shows with the Allan Stone Gallery and Gallery Alexandra Monett in Brussels.
Cummings continued to work and pursue his ideas in New York City until 1983 when he gave up his loft in SoHo and moved to his studio-home in a converted factory building in Jersey City. Although he continued to exhibit in New York City and Brussels, Belgium he started to seek dealers and exhibitions in the state of New Jersey and had several personal exhibitions, and received two New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grants.