“My work demonstrates a quest for beauty, its guiding principle. It reflects moments of silence and peace inspired by life away from tumult. I often paint “the eternal feminine” that I know inside, the one that best displays the emotions I favor. The mediums used are pastels, acrylics and oil paint. My work follows the Realist movement and aims to be optimistic, poetic and timeless.”
Artist Danielle Richard is the winner of the first BoldBrush Award. Danielle’s BoldBrush entry, a pastel piece titled Quelque Part, was selected by BoldBrush Painting Competition judge Carol Marine. The BoldBrush Award has an estimated value of $2,600 – which includes $1,000 in cash. The award was introduced with the June 2013 contest and is sponsored by FASO. I set up an interview with Danielle shortly after she won the first BoldBrush Award.
Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. Sherwin is the Editor of The Art Edge. His articles are featured on the FineArtViews newsletter — which currently reaches 24,000+ subscribers. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, FineArtViews, Myartspace and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY, artnet, WorldNetDaily (WND) and Art Fag City. Sherwin graduated from Illinois College (Jacksonville, Illinois) in 2003 — he studied art and psychology extensively.
Brian Sherwin: Danielle, you are the winner of the first BoldBrush Award. Can you tell are readers how you feel about that experience?
Danielle Richard: When I looked at the numerous paintings and the quality of some of the works in the BoldBrush competition, I almost abandoned the idea of receiving any award! I was really glad to receive the BoldBrush Award!
BS: Your artwork often focuses on scenes involving young women and children. Can you tell us about that choice? Is there a specific theme that you strive to convey with those subjects in mind?
DR: I am related to the world of women, children and water. I paint women because I know them from the inside and I realized that they can be the perfect ”support” for the feelings and emotions that I want to communicate with my art. Also, as a mother of five, I felt that I had more to express about femininity. We are strong and vulnerable at the same time. These are the two poles, if you will, that I like to visit when I talk about the feminine world.
As for my connection to water, lakes and rivers have always been in my environment. I love calm water, I love summer houses with lakes, I love the reflection produced by the end of the day Sunlight, no rush…the day is ”tired”. In many of my works, the water is used as a metaphor, an element that sets the figures apart from their surroundings that also seems to embrace and protect.
BS: Can you go into further detail about what motivates you as an artist? For example, are you making a social statement with your choice of subjects?
DR: It might sound a little too simple or too general to say it this way — but I am fascinated by the harmony and balance of beauty. My intention is not to tell a story or make a statement… I would rather say that it’s a poetizing; my poetizing of reality and its magic moments… without focusing on a message under the surface.
As an art student, I was swimming against the tide. I was more interested in notions of beauty than ”concepts”, provocation, and innovation at any price. I humbly choose to express a more poetic and optimistic view of a potential world…
BS: You mentioned art school… can you tell our readers more about your academic experience?
DR: At secondary level, I began to be fascinated by ”making art”. I soon develop a passion for drawing and painting. It slowly brought me to choose the visual arts as my concentration. I studied for 2 years at College (CEGEP) in Plastic Arts. I then spent 3 years completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Laval University in Quebec.
To be honest, I really preferred my years at College in Arts as it was more centered on the technical aspects of making art, without the philosophical art theories which prevailed at the University. After receiving the Elizabeth Greenshield’s grant I and II, I followed a summer session in Oxford studying the watercolor in the English Landscape. I also painted in France with C.W.Mundy in the summer of 2006 (En Plein Air Masters). I learned a lot from these experiences.
The art school (University) didn’t bring me what I was searching for in technical and traditional art instruction. I therefore decided to alternate my school semesters with traveling to Europe and the United States. I visited museums in order to learn from masters. The observation of the work of Sargent, Zorn, Larsson, Klimt, Carrière, to name a few, was the best form of instruction that I could find.
BS: You work with a variety of mediums. Do you favor one medium over the others? Tell us more about your choice of mediums — and the process of utilizing them within the context of your painting practice.
DR: I like to work with different mediums and supports. I work with acrylic, oil and pastels. To pass from one to another is almost like playing music with different instruments… each medium brings its own vibration to the subject. I appreciate them all.
With mediums like oil and acrylic, I usually work in an under-painting made of Transparent Sienna and establish the values…values… I continue to realize how important they are. I work with very thin layers of color, and that’s why, sometimes, I prefer to choose acrylics for the facility of not having to wait for the layers to dry for days before I can add a new one. Pastel is also interesting when you don’t want to prepare your colors in advance. With pastels you can have only a few minutes available in your studio and still proceed!
Danielle, can you tell us a little about your art studio… and offer some more thoughts about your artistic process in general?
Danielle Richard: I rented a large studio where I worked from 9 to 5 for years. The space was great due to the privacy and the discipline of working with a regular schedule. As I mentioned earlier, I have five children… once my children had grown I decided to set up a studio at my house. It is a smaller space — but I no longer have to drive in order to work. Everything is there. I mostly work during the day hours.
I don’t have a definite idea when I start the creation of a painting. That said, composition is a major starting point for me. I find myself attracted to the composition first. I try to achieve the strength and impact of that composition. Working from a certain distance to always keep the big picture in focus, is major for me. I take time to really look at the painting as I work… a process that is extremely helpful in order to see if it all works together.
BS: So you don’t have a specific image in mind when you start a painting, correct? In a sense, you work out the composition as you go, right?
DR: I trust my instinct and imagination to bring my work to the final result. Indeed, I think that a good artist should have confidence in his or her own perceptions and tastes. The questions that I often ask to myself are: ”What do I really like?” and “what really moves me?”… that is very much a key part of my process as a painter.
BS: I’ve been asking various artists about their experiences with art associations and art societies… have you been involved with any specific art-related groups? What is your opinion of professional artist groups in general?
DR: Affiliation with an art association is certainly a plus. It gives you support and insures a form of presence on the art scene. I have had the opportunity of showing my work at The Butler’s Institute , Chicago via the Portrait Society of America; I can share tips with members of Cécilia Beaux Forum as well. I am informed of major contest and become eligible for awards. It’s important these days to stay informed with what happens in the art world… these groups can help an artist to stay informed.
Art associations have also contributed to a better sharing of technical knowledge which was harder to obtain in the past. I am able to access to a world of information; I can observe the artworks of brilliant contemporary artists too!
BS: Would you suggest that artists should strive to join as many art associations as they can?
DR: Not unless they want to spread themselves thin. I must stress that it is important not to be involved with multiple groups at once. You will place yourself, and the various groups, at a disadvantage if you are not able to take information in efficiently. I would suggest being affiliated with at least one that you truly respect and that will bring you tools that will help you to go further with your work and career.
BS: You have a lot of experience with art exhibits. Do you have any tips that you would like to share with our readers?
DR: When possible, try to concentrate on a theme for your art exhibit. Having a dedicated exhibit theme will help you to develop the deepness of your perception and contribute to establishing a new ”repertoire” of ways to express yourself. It will also help to facilitate new angles of view, if you will. The impact of your exhibit will certainly be stronger if you have a theme in mind.
BS: I agree with you concerning the importance of having a clear exhibit theme. That kind of solid focus can also be helpful with marketing the exhibit AND artwork. Speaking of art marketing… do you have any art marketing suggestions that you would like to share with our readers?
DR: I think participating in art competitions can be helpful with art marketing. For years I didn’t participate in any art competitions or contests. I’ve only recently started to explore the potential. I realize now that art competitions, especially if they are won, bring recognition to my career. That is something I can use to market my work in addition to exhibiting and other factors. When your work is included in a group of serious painters, it is very stimulating. I should have started exploring this a long time ago!
The best art marketing tip I can offer is to make sure that you have an online presence. You certainly need a website with nice photographs of your artwork. Linking your website with your blog and social networking sites, such as Facebook, makes for a good art marketing recipe!
BS: I agree that having an online presence is important — at the least, it serves as a form of ‘here and now’ documentation about your life as an artist. With that in mind, how do you want to be remembered as an artist?
DR: I don’t want to get too ‘cliché’ but, I would like to testify of the beauty of the world and try to contribute to embellish it. I want future viewers to be moved as I have been moved. I translate into images the singular moments which I witnessed during my passage… and hopefully that may help others with their life journey.
BS: In closing, do you have any final thoughts that you would like to add concerning your artwork?
DR: I would like to share these sentences written by a gallery owner and art critic, Brian Marshall Schieder, talking about my artwork:
”It is her consideration for the inner life of a subject, the spirit of the painting, which breathes life vividly into the final work setting Richard apart from other mere realists. These are paintings of great intelligence and sensitivity and importantly works of compassion and understanding. Nowhere is this more evident than Richard’s studies of children and of motherhood.”
”Her works serve as a reminder that great strength has its beginnings in tranquility and that the most lasting dialogues we will have are those within ourselves.‘