I studied illustration at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus Ohio. loved painting in school, but fell out of practice after college. I always wanted to get back into painting some day, I thought it would be a nice thing to do when I retire, but after finishing "Tracy", the feature film I was working on after work and on weekends for the last 6 years, suddenly that time opened up. I knew I wanted to paint from life, and I knew if would be hard to get an actual person to sit for me each week, so I choose still lives. The dog toy aspect just came out of wanting to paint something that still had character to it, and the fact that our apartment is littered with over 20 ravaged stuffed animals owned by my 6 pound Japanese Chin, Carol.
Drawing is an easier thing to sit down and do just for the fact that you don't have to deal with all the extra mess, and materials. Painting and drawing are very similar, except that painting has the extra added complication of color, something I've tried to avoid struggling with by limiting most of the paintings I do to only one color. In school there is this rush to try to master every aspect of something. Now I get to allow myself the luxury of truly wallowing in the basic for as long as I want, I get to study in my own time.
Every Saturday, I eat breakfast with my wife and then give myself from around 11:30AM to 6:30PM to start and finish a full painting. I choose a dog toy and set it up in the kitchen of our tiny apartment, because with exception of the bathroom it's the only place in the house where I can control the light. I do a simple drawing on tracing paper to get the proportions down and transfer that to wood panel or canvas. After that I draw over that simple drawing rendering the basic light relationships with a black prisma color. I then paint an acrylic tone wash over that drawing, usually a brown, or red. I coat it with matte medium and then take Carol for a hour walk around the park. it's usually around 2:30 or 3:00 at this point when I start the painting, but now I have a great blueprint to work from as I block in the darkest darks, then the lightest lights and then everything in the middle. I take a photo of the painting and then post it on my blog at around 6:30. I think it's important to feel the reward of immediately sharing your work with others, a very different experience from working on a movie and having to keep everything you do each day a secret for 6 years.
Three stages of one of Dan's paintings.
I think I do a bad painting every 2nd week, but I just keep at it. I plan on going back now and taking another stab at some of the dog toys that didn't get a fair shake and painting them again now that I've run out of new toys.
My friends in the industry have been very supportive. I work with some amazing painters, so it's a little intimidating putting this stuff out there, but it's been really great getting so many nice comments from them on the paintings.
Six of the paintings are going to be in a show called "Tiny" from November 4th through December 3rd at the Studio Gallery in San Francisco. I'm really excited to see what was essentially a hobby, turn out to be something worthy of being in a show with a lot of really great artist. The paintings in that show will be for sale and I've also done some commissioned paintings of people's chewed up pet toys. As long as the toy has a face (or at least part of one left) and can be given to me to do from life, I'll do it. I've had a lot of friends show me their pets beloved gnarled toys. It's a cool way to hold onto a moment in that pets life forever, without having to actually hold on to their mauled, slob covered toy forever.