Curious Dreamers Wander Thy Solitude
the man at work
Nathan Spoor So tell us a little about what you’ve been up to since your last mention in Hi-Fructose (vol.9).
Dan May: Being a part of Vol. 9 was a huge and unexpected honor. Can’t thank HF enough for including me in their amazing magazine. Since the feature I’ve been painting… and moving! It’s funny, the end of 2008 was a complete blur. Around the time of the holiday’s while preparing for my show we were hit with the news that we’d have to pick up and relocate to Florida. Moving is never fun or timely, but I would not recommend moving during the holiday’s while preparing for a show! Thankfully, I have awesome family & friends, as well as a wife who deserves more thanks than I can express for her endless support and patience. All in all, the move was a success, and I think the change of environment will bring forth new and exciting inspiration.
His Discovery Would Change The World
Because Of April
NS: And what do you feel has made the biggest or most influential impact on your work?
DM: The more I paint, the more I learn about the world I’m creating and how it relates to ours. I think this new body of work is more personal than past works and delves deeper into the emotions of the creatures inhibiting my world. I’ve always thought of my work as a sort of growth process, if it’s not continually evolving, then I’ve made a wrong turn along the way. Though I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, I consider myself to be at the very early stages of my professional career as an artist… I’m sure there will be many twists and turns as time goes by. Moments such as this, when I actually take the time to stop and reflect are great because they allow me to really evaluate what has just occurred. It’s definitely a great time to refresh, before gearing up for the next body of work. I definitely try to embrace growth within my work and I hope that I never stop growing as an artist.
What Comes Down Must Go Up
The Moment Before Waking
NS: Have you found yourself influenced by anything new or unusual, perhaps even outside the usual art books common to most of us?
DM: Prior to the show I spent some time up in our nations capital and found myself at the National Art Gallery… I had been there years ago, but going back at this point in my life was definitely inspiring. They have such a beautiful collection of works there to get lost in. I was actually told several times by the guards on duty to stand further away… all I was trying to do was inspect the fine details and stunning brush strokes in each piece… geesh! Additional inspiration for this show came from my passion for the creatures and environments of the sea. The creatures in my paintings share many distinct similarities to those which live beneath the surface of our worlds oceans. And aside form the plethora of music I listen to while painting I find myself tuning in to various science and paranormal podcasts… two areas that have always peaked my interest!
That Which Connects Divides Us
NS: When do you feel the most creative? That is, when do you prefer to work and do you have any particularities involved in preparing to paint?
DM: I’m definitely a night owl. I’ve tried painting during the AM, but it just doesn’t work for me… too many distractions. I love the calm and quiet that nightfall brings. Other than that, some good tunes, an espresso or maybe a tea depending on my mood and it’s off to getting lost in my world!
Will O’ the Wisp
NS: What is one area that you would like to see yourself expand into, or feel that you would be amazing in?
DM: Hmmmm, not sure that I would be ‘amazing’ at it, but I’ve always wanted to bring some of my creatures into our world… literally. I have some plans to explore ways of conveying my work through sculpture. We’ll see how it goes… stay tuned!
NS: Being a full time artist, is there anything you feel you’ve learned along the way that might be useful to artists interested in pursuing the fine art path?
DM: Never take ‘no’ for an answer. Stay dedicated, patient, and humble. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try new things in your artwork… you may just surprise yourself. Embrace personal growth…
NS: Do you feel that your ideas come from your actual life, dream worlds, books, random sketches, media, etc?(talking about influences and how the work actually starts to appear, then becomes the finished piece)
work progression of “What Comes Down Must Go Up”
DM: My ideas are a blend of my personal experiences, dreams, my surroundings, and the state of our world in general. Elements of my life and things that go on within my world are constantly seeping into my work. It may not even be a conscious effort, but it’s definitely present in the work. Overall, I would say that I avoid having a direct ‘message’ with my work and I tend to lean more towards the mysterious. I think we all have that burning desire to escape reality and melt away to some alternative dream-world… I’d like to think my paintings provide a jumping point for the viewers to step outside their universe and get lost in another world.
NS: How do you feel commercial work affects your fine art work? Which seems to be more free or constrictive?
DM: The commercial work is definitely more constrictive. You have to be willing to work as a team, usually with an art director. Some art directors will let you have free reign and say ‘just do your thing’… I love these jobs, but unfortunately they are few and far between. It can definitely be difficult to go from creating ‘what ever you want’ to executing an often times watered down piece for use on a specific project. If anything, projects like this serve as inspiration for my personal work… it’s such a joy to have the ability to go back to painting whatever I want. No matter how you look at though, I’m still painting, which is what I love to do, so I can’t really complain too much!
NS: So tell us about your new body of work (opening Feb.7 / CoproNason). How did you come by the exhibit title, Slow Collision ?
DM: The title for the show, came to me when recalling not only the images that were coming into my head, but what was going on in my life at the time. The past year has been filled with highs and lows and turbulence of varying degrees. I began to take a deeper look not only within myself, but within the world that I have been creating. There seemed to be a collision of sorts going on between the world I was building in paint and the one I live in day to day. There’s also the technical elements that I’ve been known to use throughout the past few years… grassy flora filled landscapes, transparent figures, amorphic creatures (both smooth and furry), sweeping brush strokes and fine details. In this series of paintings I tried to mesh these elements together creating a cohesive, poetic landscape of colliding worlds… thus, a Slow Collision .
NS: Do you feel that there are any major advantages or deficiencies working in your current medium of acrylics?
DM: I love working in acrylic… I’ve experimented with just about every medium I can think of, but I always come back to acrylic. I use a lot of dry brush, so acrylic is perfect for achieving many of the textural elements in my work. I often think about working with oils, but I’m not sure I have the patience for it… although, you never want to become too complacent, so maybe I’ll switch it up one day!
NS: Tell us about your take of being an East Coast artist showing primarily in West Coast galleries.
DM: Ahhhh, the age old debate… East Coast vs. West Coast! The only thing I find difficult about living in the East and showing out West is shipping art all the time… I’d love to be able to swing on by and drop it off for a change. Otherwise, it’s kind of nice to be away from ‘the scene’ if you will… I just get to create art with little very distraction, I definitely stay focused. It would be cool to attend all the openings and hang with all of our friends out West… we constantly toy with the idea of moving… not anytime soon though, and not while preparing for a show!!
NS: Do you have ideas in your mind that you feel need to wait, or do you run with each idea to its painted conclusion each time out?
DM: Some ideas are just not ready yet, they need time to marinate… and some might not ever make it out of the pot. All in all, there are plenty of ideas to go around, I just hope they never dry up!
2525 Michigan Ave., T5
Santa Monica, CA 90404
-Brought to you by the goodness of Nathan Spoor