A few weeks ago, we asked artists through the Pacific Standard Time Facebook and Twitter pages to share their thoughts with us. To highlight some of Southern California’s up-and-coming talent, we’ve spoken with a few of these artists and asked them about their work, how they draw inspiration from Southern California, and their thoughts on Pacific Standard Time. The sixth artist in the series is Danny Heller, an oil painter who views Southern California through an endearing baby booming eye.
Can you describe your art for us?
I am a photo realistic painter who captures the mid-century architecture and car culture found in Southern California. I play with dramatic perspectives, angles, and the golden California lighting to bring attention to the distinctive design aesthetics in the region. In doing so, I hope to bring attention to the often overlooked Modern architecture in the area and build an appreciation for it.
What media do you focus on to express yourself?
Currently, my work is oil on canvas. I love the feel of oil paints and I think capturing a scene in oil can give an image a greater impact due to the craftsmanship involved. On that note, I’d like to get into more three dimensional representations of mid-century architecture, such as models, to give people something physical that they can interact with.
What is your process?
I start by taking photos of what I’d like to paint. I drive around or visit homes and snap practically a million photos. Then I go through them and correct/crop/morph the best ones on Photoshop. When I have a solid image, I then draw it out on a self stretched canvas and paint an under layer of burnt siennas, whites, and blacks. Once that first layer is dry, I start painting into it with color and give it the final polished look.
How does Southern California inspire you? What about it inspires you? How do you see it reflect in your work, if it does at all?
California has always been a large source of inspiration for me and my work. There is an inherent beauty in the natural landscape – the stunning lighting, the sprawling landscape, the blue mountains in the distance, the swaying palm trees. But what really influences my work is the architecture and design found throughout the area, as well as the many talented artists who call California home. Post and beam mid-century homes, the sleek curves of an old Chevy, the colorful landscapes of David Hockney, the dramatic compositions of Julius Shulman’s photography – it all adds to a certain aesthetic only found in this region. There is a freedom to create without adhering to any trends, along with a feeling of endless possibilities that I think directly feeds into the architecture and art here, and I think that has been a real driving force behind my work.
How did you end up in Southern California?
I’m proud to say that I’m one of the few people who was actually born here. I grew up skateboarding around the sunny suburbs in the San Fernando Valley and become attune to all the design and art in the area as I got older.
What do you find to be the most inspiring part of Southern California?
Again, the natural beauty of the landscape is energizing – as an artist, you hope to capture some part of it on a daily basis. However, all the beauty I see from other creative people around me raises the bar and keeps me trying to better myself. The artwork in the galleries, the architecture in the city, the design work in homes – it’s a constant reminder of the greatness that has come before me and inspires me to create.
What do you, a Southern Californian artist, take from Pacific Standard Time?
The focused PST survey of artists and designers in the area is again a huge reminder of the overwhelming creativity this area produces. It gives an artist hope of rising to the level of talent that has come before, and carry the torch into a new era. It has also given me a chance to discover many artists that have been overlooked or under exposed in the bigger art/design world.
What is your favorite Pacific Standard Time show or event?
I’ve been fortunate enough to make it to a bunch of the shows, with all of them presenting something either new or exciting or both. But I would have to say my favorite has been the California Design exhibit at LACMA. It really captured everything I’ve been trying to share with people and spotlight with my own artwork. Hopefully it has had the same impact on the public that I’ve also hoped for with my artwork.
For more on Pacific Standard Time and Featured Fan Artists, check out the Pacific Standard Time blog!