lundi 17 septembre 2007

First artist interview : Daniel Colvin,When sensuality gets mystic and art melts into poetry

The first time I took the time to navigate through Dan's art stream I felt it resonated with my soul, my inner world and places of my art.
I felt I knew him because the landscapes of his work were the one I had in my mind for so long and it was really fascinating.
We had sort of the same kind of philosophy of life,deep ideas and the same gaze for the beauty in everything.

Dan's art is so fascinating, an enchantement for the eyes and we just can't help but asking for more!There are wizzard magic and mystic wisdom, we feel we're walking in another world full of enigmatic energies.
We could almost get lost in those creative and sometimes strange paths!
Everything from his painting to his digital artworks has something to tell and inspiring waves to share.
I am discovering something/someone quite interesting and I wanted to share this with you all.

I'm very glad and honoured to have had this opportunity to meet him and become his friend and so it is with pleasure and enthusiasm I am sharing here with you this first interview of him and I hope you will be inspired!

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1)Tell us more about the landscapes of your digital art? what is these realms? how do you create this?
what "Digital Alchemy" means to you?

I chose Digital Alchemy as a title for this type of work because when I started doing this in the early 1990’s digital manipulation was very new and people did not know what to do with the work. Was it graphic design, Paintings? was it photography…what? Of course it’s a little of each, and more! I liked the idea of Alchemy with it’s concept of spiritual recipes for describing esoteric hard to know things. People always associate alchemy with mad-hatter types trying to turn lead into gold, but it was also about spiritual transformation. The idea of turning common things to gold resonates with the art process very much don’t you think?

2)Would you mind showing one of your favorite pictures of your digital work and sharing the story the musical landscape that would be perfect to it?


I’m choosing a piece called Cosmographicon, mostly because it is sort of a classic early digital piece for me. And in creating this piece I sort of figured out what I was trying to do in a lot of my art. This piece, and so many others deal with trying to depict the unseen. To give some visual expression to those things which are usually felt but not seen. If you go to a place on the earth and experience a landscape, you not only see that place as it exists with your physical eyes but you overlay your knowledge of history and perhaps your intuition of future history. If you get a cell phone call you might be reminded that thousands of unseen voices are swirling around you at any given time. And an educated human always brings so much meta understanding to what ever they look at. You see stars in the sky and you begin to think about geometry and astronomy. Its endless. I tried to capture a sense of all those hidden and implied things in this image. As for music I would have to call attention to someone like Robert Rich who sort of does sonically what I’ve been describing here on a visual level. In fact we’ve just finished a collaboration together. It’s a feature length film of my art animating and evolving to his music. Its called Atlas Dei and if your resonating with my art you will probably resonate with this film big time. ( you can learn more about Atlas Dei at )

3)What makes the striking uniqueness and originality of your works ( photos, digital art and paintings)?

Well with my paintings there a couple of things. I was partially trained in a sumi-e Asian brush style and this has had a big effect on how I handle paint with a brush. A Sumi brush painting quite often evolve very quickly so it is an exciting way to work. The other element I mention is that I tend to not paint from models or photography. Instead I try to paint from memory and imagination. There are practical as well as artistic reasons for this. It is hard for me to get good models where I live, but the real reason I work this way is that I have found that when I “copy from my minds-eye” so to speak, the result is always tweaked in a way that could never happen if I was being true to a model or photo. In this way pieces of me—who I am , how I’m feeling that day, any flaws I have in my memory or conception–– all get blended into the mix and the result is often very unique and satisfying. I get a lot junk too!

4)What are your artist rituals? How do you begin a painting?( the atmosphere, the surrounding, the material)

I’ve been very lucky to have a nice studio where I can control the atmosphere to a high degree. I usually have inspirational music going. Robert Rich (with whom I just made a movie) Arvo Part, Cocteau Twins, Japanese Flute Mozart… I try to match the music to the mood I’m feeling. And then it’s getting all the paint and materials ready. I work a lot in acrylics these days and they dry fast so I’ve developed techniques to allow me to move fairly fast through the steps of a painting once I’m ready to start. So there is this calming ritual of getting all the material ready and choosing the colors. Of late I’ve been experimenting with complex gradations in my ground. Where I’ll use a very large brush (I built one 20” wide from two ten inch décor brushes”) For this brush I have a big ceramic plate on which I lay out the colors out in the order I want them on the surface, So I’m composing with color even as I lay my palette out.

Now quite often I’m starting a painting with a feeling rather than a image or subject matter. I’ll make a random first stroke and then pause and make another in answer to that. After a few of these I’ll get a sense of what should be painted and then follow that sense. Again doesn’t always work but it keeps me very fresh and spontaneous. Nothing kills the energy of painting for me like over careful struggle and preciousness in the brush stroke. I like free and loose. I like that energy in my physical movement and how it make strokes breath and real.

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5)There is a big sensuality to your work, how would you describe this closeness of art and erotism?

in works like :

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Well as we are humans, the sensual and the sexual energies play a major role in our psyches. After all it is the desire of the life force in us to continue, a very strong drive indeed. In my interpretations of the landscapes around us, be they a mountainside, a flower petal, or a beach, I strive to bring forth the sensual aspects of the form and content in the frame. It is inevitable that we project a human frame of reference onto the shapes and processes that surround us. But I also feel that the sensual connection to nature goes deeper than this. I think we will eventually discover that there is universal language of form in nature from which all the subjective interpretations are born. So the curve of erosion in sand and the swoop of female body all come from the same root language somehow. But these connections must be underlined and pulled forward in the process of making the painting or photograph. It’s about what you choose to emphasize or leave out. That is a big part of how an artist makes a statement. So you can choose at the beginning to make a sensual statement about how the trunk of tree wraps upwards into the sky and after making that goal for yourself all your choices from then on are defined. The sensual interpretation is at once deep and profound and quite often is an excellent choice for defining how the work of art should evolve.

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6)How long have you been interested in art? why do you need to make art?

You are correct to connect these question together I think. Looking backwards I see that I have been an artist all my life. I was always praised for my artistic work, even as a child. But I did not really claim an identity as an ‘Artist’ until around the age of 40.
That’s when I sort of said:
" I’m going to go for this life of trying to create art".
From youth to that was a series of steps where it became more and more clear to me that this is what I’m meant to do. Part of making that final decision to commit to a life of art was realizing that creativity and art were an essential part of my personality and to go down any other path would have been a denial of self, really. And that should answer the second part of the question as well.

7)How do you define your role as an artist? are there messages in your work?

My role as an artist is to take my perceptions of the world around me
and transmute the feelings and longings that arise from that perception into tangible forms of expression that can be shared with other people. I see my self as sort of instrument in this way. The world around me, the spiritual feelings I get from it channel through me and I end up making things that echo and give form to these energies. As for messages in my art, I’m sure they are there but I don’t often think this way when I’m working. I work very intuitively, sort following little threads of ideas and sensation and then eventually end up with a finished piece. Its only later that my rational mind kicks in and begins to make connections and derive deeper meanings in the work. Its usually a disaster for me to approach an artwork from an intellectual foundation since it does not allow for this intuitive process of discovery to take place.

8)What is your greatest fear?

Probably having some event that would stop me from being able to make art, either physical or economic or whatever. I worry there might be not be any going back to ‘normal life’ once on this path I’m on. But I try not to dwell too much on the fears, because an artist in this world of ours today has so many barriers and challenges… Its much better to just surf the emotions of excitement and hope and forget the fears altogether. In fact I think this is essential.

9)what is the sentence that makes you feel uncomfortable?

Any sentence that includes both the word marketing and art. I find it very difficult to combine the worlds of commerce and Art. In my perfect world I could give away my works as gifts because they are gifts to me in the first place.

10)tell us about the women of your life?

Well I’m very happily married to a wonderful woman who supports my choice of this type of work in every way and I have two amazing daughters. I’m very lucky.

11)How do you encourage others to follow their own artist's path?

The main types of advice I have would be to cultivate your passion and your vision. Fall in love with the act of creating and always be open to how to improve this flow of energy from the universe through you to the work itself. That is the magic key to it all. Most of the rest is study and learning and hard work. Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice would be not to expect that your work will instantly be successful or satisfying. Be open to the idea that your work will evolve over years and decades. While in the moment we might be impatient for wanting it all to come together quickly—well, life doesn’t always work that way. Be patient and keep doing it. One day you’ll look up from your work and realize you’ve come such a long ways and you’ll realize there was no other way to get there really.
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see more of Dan's art here:

2 commentaires:

Jen a dit…

I really enjoyed reading this..thank you Helene and thank you Dan....

I like to follow an intuition with art...sweeping gesture type drawing and then try to see the details from there...this is much more free than how I remember thinking about art as a child..trying to get everything "just right"...made it difficult to inject feeling into a painting or drawing...

I think too, that art is an opportunity to "turn common things to gold"...Dan creates art with energy...with a glow...very inspiring!

Looking forward to reading more from your Zine, Helene : )

Hélène Deroubaix a dit…

thanks so much Jen for your comment :)
really means a lot :)
it's just the beginning of this zine, so I don't expect thousand comments :-)
but I'm sure people will see and have a look and be inspired ^_^
many blessings