Wednesday, May 12, 2010

[Un]Discovers: Danielle West

Starting from today, for the next 7 weekdays, this blog is going to feature 7 talented painters/illustrators whom you should keep an eye on. Danielle West is the first artist in this series.

It is my honor to meet Danielle back in January during her group exhibit in Sleeping Giant Gallery. When I look at her paintings, I have a very complex feeling about them. "Beautifully Sad Fairy-tale" is probably the best description I can come up with to describe her paintings. From that moment on, I absolutely fall in love with her style.

Today, you are going to have a better understanding on her style and influence by reading this interview.

Where We Belong
Acrylic on Canvas.
30 x 40 inches. 2010

First of all, thanks so much for answering my questions. So when you were small, were you planning to become an artist? Are you planning to make this as your life time career?
There were brief times in my childhood when I thought that I would be an artist, but I never fully considered it as an option until the past year. Even while attending OCAD, a career as an artist never felt like a real possibility.

She spotted a red feathered egg, nestled in moss at the top of the darkest and steepest woods. 
Acrylic on Wood. 
24x30 inches. 2009

You just have to keep this as a goal and I do believe one day you will be a successful artist. Would you mind telling me who have influenced your painting style?
Salvador Dali and Sandro Botticelli are two artists who have greatly inspired me, but my greatest influence in developing my style came from my cousin James, who taught me as a child how to 'properly' render a face. A lesson that would forever shape the way I would draw.

She was lifted up into the air, talons piercing her stomach. 
Acrylic on Wood. 
12x16 inches. 2009

I think I need to ask James to teach me a lesson because I can never 'properly' render a face! When I looked at your paintings, somehow they reminded me of some terribly gone wrong fairy tales, are there some hidden messages in some of the paintings?
I’ve always been interested in narrative, and like to think of myself as a creator of narratives, so it’s great to hear that my works are reminiscent of fairytales. Many of my paintings are based on stream of conscious writing, which, incidentally is how they come about their titles. As for a hidden message, I wouldn’t say that my narratives have an intended moral, as you would normally find in a fairy tale. Instead I hope that they evoke emotion, that the awkward circumstances and strangeness of limbs will tell the story of a mind in turmoil instead of a lesson to be learned.

Dropping to her knees, she pulled out a thick strand of soiled yarn. 
Acrylic on Wood. 
12x16 inches. 2009

Your paintings definitely evoke emotion. Sometimes I really feel pity for the girl. I see a lot of your paintings have a lot of abstract white patterns, how do you make them? Do you think this has become your signature?
The pattern on a lot of my paintings is a lace stencil that I made myself, from designing a floral pattern and cutting it out from a thin piece of plastic. It's often the most time consuming part of creating a new piece, but I always find that it brings a level of completion to the piece, as well as ties it into the rest of the works in a series. Although a lot of people do comment on the pattern I hope that it doesn’t become my signature. I would rather be recognized for my style of rendering figures, or for the feelings they evoke.

She picked the lamb up by its tail, looking eye into eye, then quickly dropped it into her mouth. 
Acrylic on Wood. 
24x30 inches. 2009

I do believe the viewers will remember the mood of the painting more than the white patterns. The white patterns are like the icing on the cake. Out of all the paintings, which one is your most favorite and why?
At the moment I think To her chest she took it in a hug, to her face with a stroke and a kiss is my favorite painting. The mood of this painting is completely different from that of most of my works, while I find them all to be whimsical, this one has a playfulness and a sense of hope, which I think makes it one of my more inspiring pieces.

To her chest she took it in a hug, to her face with a stroke and a kiss. 
Acrylic on Wood. 
24x30 inches. 2009

That is actually one of my favorites too. Last but not least, if you can make your paintings into shirts, who do you want to see wearing these shirts? Why?
Although I don’t wholly like the idea of turning my images into a brand or line of consumer products, it would make my day to see anyone wearing something with an image that I dreamed up. Having someone appreciating what I do is a high that will never fade.

Bruises won't be left behind. 
Acrylic on Wood. 
11 x 14 inches. 2010
By now, you should have a good understanding about her as an artist. Below are some fun facts that will reflect what kind of person she is in real life.

Cat or Dog?
I could never choose.

Snow White or Sleeping Beauty?
Neither, Beauty and the Beast will always be my favorite.

Red or Blue?
Always red. Crimson to be precise.

Water Color or Acrylic?
Acrylic, far more forgiving.

Canvas or Wood?
By far I prefer wood, the natural grain as opposed to the tooth of the canvas.

Futility of Flight. 
Acrylic on Canvas.
30x36 inches. 2008

Van Gogh or Picasso?

Apple or Oranges?

Winter or Summer?
Love them both.

Rock or Classical Music?

Horror or Comedy films?
I’m frightened wayyy too easily to watch Horror films. Comedy for me.

8.Friends with Fangs. 
Acrylic on Canvas. 
14 x 18 inches. 2009

Thank you so much to Danielle for answering the questions I have. I am looking forward to see what she will have in store for all of us in the future and wishing her all the best in the future. All the painting photos are courtesy of Danielle West so if you want to use them, make sure you ask for her permission! You can visit her official website to see more of her works!


  1. Amazing Artist! Cant wait to see what the future brings you!

  2. Great work! Love your style


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