David Stirling was born to a pioneering family in Corydon, Iowa, in 1887. Born into a large family with 8 children, Stirling was the youngest and the first to graduate from high school. He went on to study at the Cummings Art School in Des Moines, Iowa, from 1906 to 1907, and then furthered his education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago from 1908 to 1909.
During the years that followed, Stirling traveled to the Northwest to visit his brother, passing through Estes Park, Colorado, along the way in1916. He married Kitty Wolf in Corydon and they alternated their time between Corydon in the winter, where Stirling's studio was over the local bank, and Estes Park, where his studio was inside the Rocky Mountain National Park. He focused his painting on views of the Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as scenes from other parts of the country. But, he remains best known for his splendid interpretations of aspen trees, which he painted exclusively in oils on board. In the 1920's, however, the Stirlings moved to Denver and David worked at Meininger's Art Materials store, where his was able to afford buying canvas, and so at that time he did produce a number of works on canvas.
In 1919, the Stirlings built a studio they named "Bugscuffle Ranch" in the Rocky Mountain National Park. He soon became known for his "cultural lectures on art", which he gave daily at his studio to a large audience of visitors. David was also an author who wrote books of stories, myths and lies about the mountain west. He became known as the "youngest of the old masters", a title given to him in an article. David also received many awards and citations for his art and his community involvement. The governor of Colorado presented him with a congratulatory sheepskin outlining his career on the occasion of his 50th anniversary as a resident artist of the Rocky Mountain National Park.
David Stirling died in Longmont, Colorado, and is survived by 1 great grandchild and 4 grandchildren, one of which lives and works in Estes Park.