Thursday, June 6, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Mike Daymon

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Mike's painting, "Egg for One" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing his interview.

From Mike's DPW Gallery page:

Art is my life. As a kid I arrived at the idea that I'm an artist because I make art, and I make art because I'm an artist.

I'm drawn to a variety of styles, media and subject matter. I work primarily in acrylic on MDF.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I was in 3rd or 4th grade when I watched my mother draw a picture, and that totally fascinated me. I recall thinking, I want to do this. That was when I began drawing. A 5th grade girl showed me how to draw a squirrel using just one continuous line.

I started using oils early on. One day, in the 6th grade, I'd done a painting of the Flintstones and brought it to class to show my classmates. A few days later, a classmate also brought in a painting of the Flintstones, and it put mine to shame! It turned out that her father had painted it for her, and he was a commercial artist. I asked her what a commercial artist was. When she told me, I knew that was what I wanted to be.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

One. I developed a tremor that became so bad I could no longer paint. I quit painting for 10 years; the only time in my life that I quit. Last January I decided to try again, but I have to work differently now, and much slower, than I have in the past.

Egg for One
(click to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Mike's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Almost all of the usual favorites: oil paint, acrylic, pencil, colored pencils, pen and ink, oil pastels, pastel chalk, charcoal, gouache, watercolor, felt-tips, and silverpoint. I've also worked in collage, mosaic, clay and welding.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

I've stayed with oil and acrylic. I recently did 3 large charcoal works, my first in years. Welding is dangerous and requires a safe area to work, which is not in your garage (I still love welding but can't do it without a handy welding shop). Gouache was standard in commercial art, which I did for decades, but not lately; computer technology has replaced it. The tremor (focal hand dystonia) keeps me from doing any refined drawing, such as pen and ink, or colored pencil.

Eggplant and Fig Jam
(click to see original image)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I'm excited to learn more about working with acrylics, more in the way of technique. And collage is a medium that I'm sure I'll come back to at some point.

Who or what inspires you most?

Fascination with art inspires me continually. When I see a work of art, or a interesting technique, I want to be able to do those things. Great painters, with Van Gogh being at the top of the list, continue to inspire me.

What does procrastination look like for you?

I don't think I procrastinate very often with art. But if you see me doing domestic chores, cleaning, housekeeping, or even paying bills, then I'm probably procrastinating, and should be painting instead.

Paris Street Singer
(click to see original image)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I have been doing art daily for nearly my whole life. I've been a commercial artist for decades, which kept me not only doing graphic design, but also doing quite a bit of illustration work. Doing art is my default habit.

The primary underlying art of graphic design and advertising art used to be the ability to draw quickly, with style and precision. "Roughs," "layouts," and "comps" all required artistic skill. New technologies have changed commercial art, so that the recent generations of commercial artists (designers), typically can't draw at all. I saw this change in the industry firsthand, because I taught commercial art and visual communications for over 30 years as a part-time instructor at two colleges.

Anaheim and Fresco
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Ideas come from anywhere at any time. Sometimes I see something in the world, or in a photo or painting, that challenges me to attempt to paint whatever I'm seeing. Other times I'm inspired by a movie or novel, or a person in history, and I do paintings that relate to that inspiration. And I'm inspired by things that I like and that matter to me. The "Greek Fisherman's Cap" and "No Tea," are personal items that I'm fond of.

And, of course, being a commercial artist, I've often been asked by clients to do illustrations that I never would have thought to do myself. Such as a painting to promote the opera, "Carmen," or 36 ink drawings of hearing aids. My problem is not finding ideas, I generally have too many ideas.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

Making sure to look at a lot of art. Daily Paintworks makes this easy to do, with so many artists represented. But before the Internet was around, I had collected a lot of books about art and painters, and explored art continually. Seeing a new show at the Fine Arts Center almost always gets me to try something different.

Put Me In, Coach!
(click to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Right now, I'm learning how to paint with a tremor. Things I used to be able to do easily, I find are more difficult, or worse, impossible. So, I'm rebuilding my skills. Also, I have not done many still life pieces, so I'm making an effort to understand some of the best practices involved in still life. My favorite part of still life is lighting. I'm enjoying using light and shadow in a controlled way.

What makes you happiest about your art?

Robert Frost says in "Two Tramps in Mud-Time": "My object in life, is to unite / My avocation and my vocation."

For me to have made my way in the world, through doing art, still amazes me every day. When others are affected by my art, it's icing on the cake. What more could a 6th grade kid wish for?

Thanks, Mike!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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