Dara Daniel

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"I decided in the early '80s to move from my hometown in rural Michigan to study art in Northern California. My education includes an MA degree from Humboldt State University, Arcata, California, and a BA degree from Chico, California State University, Chico, CA. I also attended College of the Siskiyous, Weed, California, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, California, and Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, Michigan. While attending college, I gained extensive experience in figure drawing and most painting mediums but, my focus was mainly on sculpture techniques and the female form. My graduate show consisted of life-sized, expressionistic, figurative sculptures made of cement and steel. After I graduated in 1989, I continued to build sculptures from the same materials and also in wood and clay until 2009.

Then after a year hiatus, I transitioned, left sculpting behind and began to paint first in Pastel then, in oil and Acrylics. Also, at that time my subject matter changed from the human form to nature and included: landscapes of wildflowers, trees with birds, marshes, and creeks. Then, in 2016 I began painting the horse, and this brought a renewed inspiration and excitement to my creative process. I discovered that I loved the bold shapes of horses and capturing the horse spirit and horses in motion. Consequently, since my first horse painting, I have dedicated much of my creative time to horse paintings along with previous subject matter. For this year my goal is to continue my series of horse paintings while adding other animals to my portfolio and the first new subject I chose is the bear. I have always admired bears and consider them an excellent totem animal, so I am finding they are great to paint.

My love for all mediums has made my path as an artist a meandering one. But, I still feel a sense of continuity because it seems my propensity has always been to push my art to that line between representation and abstraction. More specifically, when looking at my paintings compared to the early figurative sculptures I find; although I embrace representing my subjects, my subjects are more about shapes, angles and curves and the abstract elements that create each form. Also, much like my sculptures my paintings are expressive, interpretive and archetypal portrayals of the subject matter and not entirely realistic. 

For all my paintings, regardless of the subject or medium, I simplify and idealize my compositions and arranging elements to accomplish visual balance. My color choices are inventive, often complementary and contrasting. I usually choose to exaggerate color to convey moods. While I paint, I rely on my innate sense of design and orchestrate all the available visual element: form, shape, line, and color. As each painting evolves, I become open to the accidents that happen and will often expose each layer of color here and there to give the viewer a sense of my process. As each painting becomes lively and emotive, I discover what I need to do to bring each one to completion. And although my best work often begins with a sound structure, I find my process to be intuitive and often playful much like my sculpting process of the past. I also love exploring textures and often apply generous layers of Acrylic mediums to the canvas using palette knives and sometimes incorporate mortar and sand with a binder for a gritty look. Sometimes I use molding paste to build up forms like horses or birds to achieve a sculptural relief effect.

Finally, it is important to me to paint paintings that have personality and delight the viewer's visual sense, and I have sincere gratitude to those who find my artwork evocative. I see my artwork appreciated by those that share a sense of connection and wonder to nature and love for our natural surroundings and the life within. Here is a quote from one of my collectors: "The painting is wonderful and arrived in perfect shape. We will be enjoying it for many years. Keep seeing the world so imaginatively and letting the rest of us have a glimpse of that vision."