For this week's highlight we talked to Dan DeSilva, the talent behind the Dan Design easel. In this exclusive, Dan talks about being chosen for the Fairmont Hamilton Princess redesign, why Bermuda has become his muse and the joys of teaching. Read on to find out more.
BYP: What is your background?
DD: I went to school in Bermuda – Warwick Academy through to Bermuda College and then went on to Ontario College of Art (now OCAD) in Toronto, for Illustration and Graphic Design. I eventually went to Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for Art Education.
BYP: Why choose acrylic on canvas?
DD: When I was at Bermuda College, I discovered that I loved the flexibility and forgiveness of acrylic. You can also speed up drying time with a hair dryer which means that I can build up layers of paint in a shorter amount of time and get work done faster. I also really enjoy stretching my own canvases.
BYP: What do you wish you knew before working with acrylic?
DD: That Liquitex – to me – is the best brand to use.
BYP: What has been your greatest artistic success so far?
DD: I would say my personal greatest artistic success to date was having prints of two of my paintings chosen to be included in the recent renovations at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. The fact that they chose one work typical of my established style – architectural/representational – and one of a new graphic approach I have been working on meant a lot to me.
BYP: Can you describe your creative process?
DD: I am usually attracted by line and composition. Whether it is a representational piece (meaning it looks like something obvious, for example, the 'Blue Shutter' above) or a graphic piece (it is simplified, like the 'Framed' piece below), I usually have those two elements foremost in my mind. As for the figurative Bermuda work, I am also drawn to actual places, because I prefer to render what I have seen as a record of my life in Bermuda.
There have been times I thought there was something in a subject I photographed, but after looking over the photos, I decided against it. I never really realize how much I like a particular subject until I see the photos.
BYP: How did Bermuda become your main subject?
Also partly because of the appeal that linear qualities and well-defined colour fields have always had for me from the very beginning. Bermuda has very intense light and well-defined subjects.
BYP: Is painting a full-time gig?
DD: No, I teach years 8-11 at Warwick Academy as well as two years of the IB course. I've been teaching for 19 years now – 18 were at Bermuda High School. I just recently moved to WA in September 2013.
BYP: Seeing their finished products must be your favourite part.
DD: Actually, more so than the end result, I enjoy helping students grow in their abilities. The best part is really seeing them apply what they have learned.
BYP: If you're pieces could speak, what would they say?
DD: They would say, “Get on with it!” Once I get moving on a piece it's a great feeling, but the initial setup is very draining at times.
BYP: What can we find you doing on your days off?
DD: You could find me trying to get work done around the house or working on paintings for my next show in May 2015, it's focused on St. George's. That show will be joint with my wife, Deanna DeSilva, who has taken up photography. Her pictures are already in print, but she's waiting for me to get my paintings done so that we can do the show!
BYP: What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
BYP: In addition to Harbour Nights, where else could we find your work?
DD: For now, you can buy at www.dandesign.bm, my site will be updated this summer. I work out of my home, so mostly I promote my work at Harbour Nights and at popular craft fairs.
Dan will be promoting his work at Harbour Nights every Wednesday from 7pm to 10pm until September 3rd. He is located across from Port O' Call Restaurant.
1. Daniel DeSilva, Artist by Deanne DeSilva
2. Blue Shutter, Acrylic on Canvas, Dan DeSilva
3. Framed, Acrylic on Canvas, Dan DeSilva