Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Artist Interview With Danielle Daniel

My next interview is with a lady who is so inspiring to me. I felt a connection with her art, words & humour as soon as I discovered her online. The characters she paints have so much personality, interest & soul- I would so love to be able to jump into her paintings & talk to her characters!

Danielle Daniel speaks from her heart, is true to herself & encourages us all to trust in our inner wisdom & follow our hearts.


Hi Danielle, can you tell us a bit about yourself & how long you've been painting & illustrating professionally for?
I started painting on canvas for the first-time in January of 2010. Before that, I had dabbled for one week in watercolour. And before that, I was an elementary school teacher for six years.

When & how in that journey did you discover Mixed Media?
Mixed Media found me at a time when I needed it the most. I was finally ready to rediscover JOY again. My husband Steve had had a serious parachuting accident in 2005 that rendered him paraplegic. Five years later, I realized that both my husband and son were thriving in their new environments while I was still struggling to find my way. One thing led to another. I bought a Somerset Studio magazine; I started visiting the artists’ blogs and ended up signing up for my first mixed media workshop in San Jose, California. Presto! I didn’t stop painting. I couldn’t. It was EXACTLY what I needed to help me move on at the time. The process of creating new things allowed me to move forward in my life and get excited again about the future.

When starting a new piece of work, staring at a blank canvas or piece of paper can be daunting. What is your favourite method you use to create your backgrounds for your paintings?
I usually cover the whole background with various new and vintage papers. Then I start to add the paint. White first, with my brayer, then a multitude of colors, using a variety of paintbrushes and tools. I also love to use paint markers and oil pastels. I complete the background with stamps and words cut out from vintage books.

Like myself you are a mother and someone who is self-employed. We have to wear many hats & take on many roles! It's a juggling act & most of the time I struggle to fit in anything creative into my day! Can you give us any tips on how you organise your days to ensure you have time to create & what percentage of your time is 'creative time' during the week versus everything else?
Hmm, this varies depending on what projects I have going on, but you are so right, being a mama changes everything. I used to get down on myself when I saw how much so and so would create in a week and compare myself to their output. But I stopped doing that. While being a mom is my first priority, that doesn’t mean I put my art career on the backburner. Never.

I’m a REALLY early riser: 5am. When I was working on my memoir it was more like 4:30am. I also go to bed early. I’m not one of those people who can get away with five hours of sleep. It’s all about prioritizing, everyday. I rarely meet people for lunch and coffee during the workday, because I’m working. An hour in town turns into half a day and then your whole day is pooched. Every few weeks, I will schedule some time to get together with a friend. I take my work seriously.

When I first started my art business, I was creating 80% of the time while doing admin and other ‘businessy’ stuff 20%. Now that has totally flipped over. I would say I create 25% of the time and do admin 75%. However, if I have a specific deadline looming, I just get it done. I leave the dishes in the sink and the laundry can wait another day too. I work from the (dark) early morning until 2pm everyday. At 2pm is when I throw the laundry in, do the dishes and think about what I’m making for supper. Once my son arrives home from school, it’s supper, homework and basketball duties… I usually don’t do any business/art work at night. I try not to answer emails until the morning. It’s important to have boundaries when you work from home. But it takes time to figure out what schedule works for you.

Are there any words of encouragement you would like to give to creative Mummies out there who are feeling run down & frustrated creatively. In other words when you are tired and don't have much time spare, how do you keep yourself ticking over creatively?
I like to surround myself with inspiration. Either with images tacked onto my bulletin board or a magazine that I look over while I’m having lunch. I also always keep a notebook in my purse and if I have to wait for more than five minutes for anything (for ex. an appointment or a meeting) I take it out and start writing or drawing.

If you can do ONE small thing for your art business everyday, then you are moving forward. Sometimes it’s as small as sending an email. It’s the BIG PICTURE we must remember. Nobody gets anywhere good overnight. Just keep swimming…

For anyone trying to turn their creative passion into their career, it can be very daunting. With the internet, it's way too easy to compare ourselves to others which can leave us feeling very depleted & insecure. Most of us will have these thoughts & emotions at some point on our paths. How did/do you overcome any negative thinking about your career as an artist?
I struggle with this every second day. Sometimes I go from ‘I’m a freakin Rock Star to I totally suck and hate everything I make’— all in the same hour. I don’t think this will ever change for me because I’m always trying to grow and push forward which means I’m constantly putting myself in uncomfortable situations. I NEED to grow, therefore, I always feel like a newbie. For me, this is the most difficult part about being an artist. I’m in a constant state of vulnerability. But the alternative of not doing it is not possible for me either. So, I just keep on trucking. I’m not going to lie. It’s a struggle to live a creative life. It’s crucial to have at least ONE TRUE FRIEND and/or PARTNER who can help you see who you really are during these times of insecurity. I also go on social networking/blog fasts. This helps too. In the silence you hear the loudest truths.

For anyone just starting out in their career what do you think is the best way to get your work out there & seen? For example, an Illustration Agent? Approaching possible clients with your portfolio? Facebook? Instagram? Blog? Website? Or a combination of all?
The best way to get your work out there and be seen is to BE YOURSELF. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t copy their style; they will always do it better than you because it’s theirs. Find your own. Do the work, do the work, do the work and you will find your voice. Trust your intuition. Take chances. Forget about the agent. Do good work and they will find you. And yes to sharing. Share it on Instagram and Facebook. When you are able and ready, invest in a professional website. When you blog, just tell the truth about whatever you are talking about. Be real. Be you. Who cares what everyone else is talking about, writing about, painting on their canvases. Listen to your own voice. You already have everything you need inside yourself. You know what you need to do. Show the world what you are made of and shine on. I am cheering you on all the way!

Thanks so, so much for taking part Danielle. Please tell us where we can connect with you.


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