Thursday, May 4, 2017

DPW Spotlight Interview: Andrew Daniel

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

To enter to win Andrew's painting, "Chicken Head #8" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Andrew's DPW Gallery:

We are often too busy and preoccupied to tune into nature. Also, we are so used to seeing our
environment that we grow numb to it's appearance. I am numb to it as well. It isn't until I have gone through the ritual of pulling out my painting equipment, prepping my surface, deciding on my compositional approach, quieting my mind and settling into the process of actively reproducing the object of my gaze, that I start to see it better. All I can offer the viewer is a record of what I saw during the process, along with my best attempt to use paint in a way that is dynamic and interesting according to my personal tastes." - Andrew Daniel

Andrew Daniel lives with his wife and daughter, in the small coastal Northern California town of Arcata. He has been painting as a professional artist since 1992. He received his Bachelor degree in Fine Art with a painting emphasis from Humboldt State University California. (click to view gallery)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

Well... That question takes me back to my first years of community college in Maine. Initially, I had wanted to be a photographer, loved the darkroom process and walking around seeing things in a creative way. Then, I started looking at the printmaking department, thinking I wanted to have more creative control to work with symbols. Finally, painting made more sense because I didn't have the patience to run prints with any kind of accuracy, wanted a medium that was maximally creative and minimally rote process. The professors were probably a big factor too. I had a tendency to be too heady, over intellectualizing, weaving concepts in my mind that didn't really come across in the work. Painting helped to ground me.

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

I often can't tell whether I'm stopping or starting. It does seem to be a momentum thing. Just keep moving, making adjustments in career and craft. I have a tendency to switch styles a lot, right when I am finding some success. I start thinking, "Is this the kind of work that I want to do for the rest of my career?" Then I'm off on another road. I think I'm finally figuring out my direction now. Landscapes... gonna double down on landscapes, see if I can just maintain that focus for three years. No divergent ideas. At least that is the point I am at in my decision making cycle.

Chicken Head #8
(click to view)

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

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Besides the aforementioned, I really felt a calling to figurative sculpture. That is super fun. It makes sense on a body level vs. an analytical level, shaping things out of your hands! I've done acrylics for a few years, watercolor... Lately, I am mainly an oily dude. Though Casein paints have been a fun distraction and I think I'll still use them for quick small sketches. They are really fun!

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

Oil appeals to me because the paint stroke is so immediate, it feels tangible, substantial. Also the colors can be so subtlety shifted, and lately I'm really enjoying playing with blending and blurring strokes. The brush stroke that oil has can be so subtly manipulated. Acrylics felt clumsy by comparison, I feel like I'm painting with the end of a stick I found on the ground. Watercolor does not provide the room for indecision and reworking that I like. I like to take a painting on a journey, with watercolor I feel like I have to stop working before I've walked a block to keep it "fresh". Casein paint is my favorite alternate medium, because it is really user friendly, I taught six painters in a workshop recently and they all had great results, from beginning painters to more advanced. You can just keep layering, that helps a lot. I highly recommend it to people who don't know how to paint.

Mattole River Bend
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am sick of exploring mediums actually. A couple years ago, I had told myself that it was time to stop buying new art supplies, either they sit around unused and taunting you for being impulsive at the store or they take you off on huge tangents! Casein gobbled up my time for five months but now I'm back to oils, the prodigal son returns again.

Who or what inspires you most?

Light! Glorious natural sunlight shining on glowing spring leaves! The way the coastal atmosphere of Northern California obscures items in the distance to make mysterious somber silhouettes. The melancholy expression a model's face shifts into when they have been posing for hours... No NO! Stop that, you are doing landscapes! It's important to stay focused!

Abby at the Pool
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Obsession with side projects. Designing businesses I'll never get around to running, binge watching every episode of Cheers, which was like seventy of them, I think. Stupid games on my phone. I love to research things, that can really pull me down the rabbit hole. It seems like things that take about fifteen minutes are the worst, because I always think I can afford another fifteen, until my whole painting time has been used up. Maybe what is a more productive question might be how do I get out of a creative slump. It almost always starts with calling up friends and painting with them. Setting up next to them in their studio, or out in nature or sharing a model. The camaraderie is so helpful to get past a block.  Eventually, I get sick of the various constraints that go with painting with others, then I'm ready to work alone again.

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

Painting at the same time every day really helps, for me it is in the morning for 3 hours or so, then life catches up with me until my family goes to bed, then I try to get some more in.

Cosmic Pigeons
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I hoard images, taking photos constantly, or finding fun ones on the SKTCHY app or on the image library. I go out and paint nature or meet with friends like I mentioned earlier, I've got at least fifty unfinished pieces, the ones that inspire me get the extra treatment to be completed. I just hooked up a big flat screen to to my laptop so I can rework my plein air paintings in the studio. It really makes it so much more easy and fun!

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

I try to challenge myself a lot. Give myself parameters for a series. By repainting the same subject over and over, I have to push myself to try new things to stay engaged. I often deliberately start paintings that are so technically confusing that I'll have to learn something in order to finish them. I think I use a scientific mind process at times, coming up with goals, researching how others accomplish them, trying it, analyzing my result, adjusting my approach, trying to fail forward and learn from my mistakes. Meanwhile, I try to listen to my intuition to help guide me through what the art needs...

Pink and Black
(click to view)

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

I kinda stumbled across a few things recently that are really interesting to me. One is forcing myself to take a lot of time with my thin underpainting. I realized that I like the luminosity of thin paint and the amount of control that is possible, so I'm trying to drag out that stage, using Gamblin Solvent Free fluid. I have also been really interested in wet on wet layers that utilize blurriness to unify things. Another thing came from my time with Caseins, I used to use really textural strokes on my last layer to build depth and atmosphere. Imagine a lock of hair painted with a splayed out brush that has thicker paint. It grabs the eye as if light is reflecting of it. Finally, the big thing I'm excited to get into is larger multi session landscapes. My favorite paintings I've done from the past involved visiting the same location six times to apply more layers. That is really a lovely way to paint, because that certain day at that certain time is so familiar it starts to feel like a home away from home. So I really want to push myself bigger.

What makes you happiest about your art?

I guess the happiest I get with art is when I have been working on a larger work, revisiting the same beautiful spot in nature and I'm learning what it is like to be there every day, the same way the plants or the critters are, that spot becomes my neighborhood, and I get to know how the sun angle influences the scene during that time of day, the pond starts out placid and reflective, then an hour later the wind picks up and creates shimmers on the surface, at the beginning of the session the reeds on the left side really light up from the sun and by the end the effect has moved the dramatic light to the right. Meanwhile, I'm getting to know the dog walkers and the bird watchers and the photographers that show up every day. A community is building around this place and time. Brotherly love is in the air. And, I'm collaborating with nature, the place is beautiful, the changes are inspiring, and as my piece evolves and reflects the beauty that I see around me I get that warm feeling in my chest, like I'm at home in nature, and I see God in everything.

Thanks, Andrew!

© 2017 Sophie Marine

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