Staten Island - yes you must take a ferry ride pass iconic statues, skylines, waterways and landscapes to get to this New York "bedroom community", a seemingly unchartered island with strong undercurrents of yet to be discovered art, food and culture. And while more and more Staten Island is being recognized for its music and performance jewels, it would seem about time that the Island’s visual artists receive “some love” for their creations born of intrinsic talent. Abstract painter Diana Daniels is among artists who call Staten Island home. With her art now offered on 1stdibs.com, we caught up with Daniels to learn about her motivation and challenges as an artist and what inspires her art creations, which ooze nebulas and blood plasma - as if fusing her passion for nature with her long-time career as a lab technician. You decide.
What motivates you as an artist?
As an artist what motivates me the most is my desire to express the beauty I see in the colors of nature. When I see a flower, an animal or when I look up at the sky. Nature produces a beautiful array of color combinations and textures. Think about the Northern Lights, WOW.
What’s your process in making art?
I usually have an idea in my head of what I want to try. So, to start I choose my canvas size. I then prepare the canvas with gesso if it hasn’t been pre gessoed. I choose my paint colors, I mix the paints that need mixing and then I start.
Why do you paint?
I paint because I truly love playing with colors. As a child I would color with crayons and pastels. It was always a happy time. Pastels were really my favorite as a child. As an adult I am still at my best when painting, it gives me great pleasure and I do believe I may have a smile on my face at some point during the process. When I am painting (creating art) I can strip away the outside world and lose myself in the process. It becomes just myself and the canvas, I literally lose track of time.
Do you remember the first time you took up a paint brush?
The first time I put brush to canvas, I was excited and afraid both at the same time. I thought to myself. “ this isn’t going to come out right - relax just do it”. I really liked spreading paint on the canvas. So I felt the fear, but I painted anyway, it wasn't perfect, but I was eager to do another.
Why do you choose one type of paint over the other?
I like to use acrylic paint because it is very versatile and dries quickly. You can add mediums to get different textures and finishes (matte or gloss). There is a lot of room for experimenting. Working on my voice as an artist I am still learning, discovering and trying new things. I love color, light and shadows. I love color mixing on the canvas (sort of controlled chaos). I love painting.
Where are you from?
I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana raised in Brooklyn, New York and now reside in Staten Island, New York.
What can you tell us about the art community there?
Staten Island has a few art galleries, cultural centers and community centers that provide classes and hold exhibitions. There are also a few theatre companies on Staten Island. I would say that whatever your interest is in the arts are, you could find a place to learn and express your creativity.
What are some of the challenges you face as an artist?
My studio is in my home, I am a grandmother of 6 so for me the challenge is finding time and space to paint when I want to rather than when I can.
What artist do you admire and why?
Claude Monet –I admire him for his use of light and bright colors, also his use of shadows.
Henri Matisse – I admire him for his use of bold colors and shapes, and definitely his cutouts.
Jackson Pollock –I admire him for the way he played with color on his canvas, and his determination to try something different and stick with it in the face of criticism and rejection.
Is there an anecdote or quote you’d like to share about your practice, the art world or in general?
I like this quote by Jackson Pollock-“The modern artist- is working and expressing an inner world- in other words- expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces”
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from a desire to create art that sparks the imagination of the viewer.
Collect Diana Daniels art on 1stdibs: https://www.1stdibs.com/search/art/?q=diana%20daniels.