Interview with Artist Danny Galieote

February 11, 2013 Art, Featured, Guest Spot 3 Comments

I first learned of artist Danny Galieote at the 2011 L.A. Art Show at the Arcadia Gallery booth. His beautiful oil paintings and style resonated with me. When I saw his work again at the 2012 L.A. Art Show, I had to learn more about this artist and his work.  Danny graciously agreed to an interview for Pastimes for a Lifetime’s blog.

Q.  Danny, I understand your style of painting is referred to as New American Regionalism. For my art students, what does this style mean or represent?

A. There are many layers to the time period in the 20ʻs, 30ʻs and 40ʻs when the original Regionalists were active. Basically “The Regionalists” was a term given to the artists (figurative), 20-30years before WW2, who were recording the lives of the typical American, from the small town to the big city. In the midwest, was Thomas Hart Benton, John Stuart Curry, Grant Wood, etc. There were the Ash-Can artists active at this time as well, like John Sloan, Reginald Marsh and Paul Cadmus, who captured life in the big city, from the shabby slums to the wealthy art patrons. Basically, the Regionalists captured everyday life of the American. And that is what we are doing now in a very contemporary setting. We are recording ʻour timesʼ, ʻour thoughts and idiosyncrasiesʼ and ʻour modern societyʼ in a contemporary way. In other words, New American Regionalism is not capturing ʻnostalgiaʼ but rather timeless themes of human nature in this modern society.

Q.  Much of your recent work shows women in feminine garments, hiding menacing objects like brass knuckles or a hedge trimmer. What is the story or hidden meaning behind these recent pieces?

A.  Basically, I love the idea of painting peoples’ secrets or secret thoughts. I think we all have thoughts that we may/may not say aloud or have thoughts which are acted out in some way. Of course, these “intrusive thoughts”, as they are called by psychologists, remain only thoughts that no one ever hears about and remain with the person as secrets. With my paintings, I try to touch this nerve that everyone can relate to in some way. So, they arenʼt necessarily about ʻgirl powerʼ or any kind of political statement, but rather the meaning hopefully exists in the viewers mind, and that will vary from person to person. I feel that is where the ʻartʼ exists. (By the way, I wonʼt mind if the paintings connote ʻgirl powerʼ or some political statement inadvertently.)

Q.  My students are interested in the latest tools of the trade. May I please inquire what brands of oil paint, brushes, grounds and drawing tools you prefer to use or recommend? Do you ever make your own paint or have custom pigments made to order for any of your products?

A.  I like to use Gamblin® and Old Holland® Oil paints. I use Gamsol as a thinner to clean my brushes or lay-in my base composition in a sepia tone. When I get into the thicker paint, as I am figuring out the work, I use a little bit of Liquin, because it helps the paint to dry quicker (my impatience shows). With Liquin, just make sure you have good ventilation and only use a little at a time. Sometimes I will bring my painting outdoors in the sun for a clear vision of the color (and if I am glazing with a mixture of linseed oil and Liquin, I will have good ventilation) For brushes, I am not very picky. Basically I start with big broad brushes and get smaller and softer as I come to a finish. The smaller and softer brushes allow for more detail. I used to make my own rabbit-skin glue ground, and I tried mixing my own pigments, but I always go back to what I’m most comfortable with. I like working on heavy duty canvas as it comes from the dealer on heavy duty stretchers. At this point, I donʼt add any extra ground to the canvas because I like the texture as it comes. I donʼt like adding any extra acrylic gesso ground because the oil paint floats on top for too long and doesnʼt absorb. On small pieces I may work on wood panel with a smooth sanded ground of rabbit skin glue gesso. But overall, as I paint bigger I prefer canvas not only for the texture, but also its weight is lighter than wood panels and easier to lug around my studio. For drawing, I prefer 2B Conte Pierre Noire with White Carbothello pencil for highlights on Fabriano Paper

Q.  At what age did you realize you were an art spirit?

A.  I remember drawing from my earliest memory (3 or 4 years old). I was always drawing or making something. When my family would go camping, I always had a sketchbook in which to draw. I always seemed to have an imagination for film and entertainment, also. I loved movies as a kid. Of course, I still do and I think about my paintings in a Cinematographic way, in terms of lighting and narrative.

Q.  Did anyone try to talk you out of fulfilling your dream as an artist? If so, how did you handle it?

A.  Yes, I do remember some people telling me as a kid as I was drawing, “Youʼre gonna make $10 and hour for the rest of your life, doing that kind of work”. I never let it bother me because I always felt this deep desire that nobody could take away. I just kept drawing and painting. Overall, my parents were supportive of my artistic desires, sending me to art classes as a 7 year old, etc. It was an evolving story. During college/art school, I started getting into animation because I needed to make a living. I got into Disney and learned a ton there with all the figure drawing and painting classes through the 1990ʼs. I always knew I was going to be a ʻfine artistʼ and that it was a matter of time, but the commercial art definitely helped me along the way. I had a lot of people telling me to “not” go into fine art or galleries in the past while working in commercial art, but my deep desires always kept leading me to paint with a ʻfine arts mentalityʼ and thatʼs what I’m most attracted to. I just kept following those passions and I still do.

Q.  How did Arcadia Gallery and you become acquainted? Did you seek them out or did they find you?

A.  I met Steve Diamant at the LA Art Show a few years ago. He had heard of my name before from a mutual artist friend. I asked him if I could show him some of my work. Steve told me to send him some images of new works when they were ready, and he will let me know what he thinks. He made it clear that there were no promises and that he usually has to refer artists to go elsewhere, because he has an eye for specific talents. Three or four months later I sent him pictures of 5 new paintings with a beach theme, which I was working on at the time. He loved all 5 of them and they were exhibited at the ʻNew Faces of Realismʼ show at Arcadia Gallery. Since then my work has continued to really grow, evolve and improve greatly.

Q.  What tasks does a gallery like Arcadia handle on your behalf?

A.  Well, Steve Diamant is a very special art dealer and gallery owner. In my opinion, he is the best out there. It is a mutual-respect relationship between him and his artists. But believe me, as an artist with Arcadia, you have to do great paintings. There is no in-between as far as quality goes. He only wants top notch works and as an artist making the work, I personally wouldnʼt want it any other way. A great gallery owner like Steve handles so many things that itʼs hard to describe in this interview. But to name a few: he maintains/creates contacts and collectors of your work, he creates ads and interviews for upcoming shows, he handles all the financial situations which occur and has a team of workers that he takes care of and who help him handle everything that is going on. This is just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of all the things Steve does to run a top-notch gallery.

Q.  I understand you currently teach at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena.  What inspired you to become a teacher?

A.  I actually taught at Art Center in Pasadena for 7 years, from 9-11-2001 through December of 2008. I now teach at Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art and with a great new online school, New Masters Academy (www.facebook.com/NewMastersAcademy) I became a teacher because I wanted to start handing down all the information that I had learned up to that point in time. As we all know, we never stop learning, and teaching is a way for the teacher to learn, also. The teacher learns from his or her students and from the studying and articulation of information that they do along the way. I always felt like I needed to teach art and figure drawing  to get to the level that I wanted to be.

Q.  Why Art Center College of Design versus other art schools?

A.  Originally I wanted to teach to Art Center because of the fact that the majority of my most influential teachers had gone to Art Center and went on to teach there. Also, Art Center is a great, internationally known art school.

Q.  What advice do you have for art students?

A.  Well, I would say “Follow your passions and donʼt let anyone stop you from following them”. Try to be around people who are supportive of you and who build you up, spiritually. Also, “learn to trust your gut feelings!!!!!!!!” Thatʼs a big one for me. Trusting your gut feelings works in life and also with your art. Of course, it takes time to see what your real passions are. So my advice is to be like a sponge. Be aware of what work is around you and which work you are most attracted to. If you get that tickle in your stomach that says” ooohh, i wanna do that” ….Follow THAT!!!

Some interesting background on Danny is that he is a native Angeleno and has been working professionally out of his studio for over 20 years. To learn more about Danny and see more of his work, visit his website.

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For more on Pastimes for a Lifetime’s Art Curriculum and founder/instructor Linda Wehrli, visit the website or Facebook page.