360: This is your 3rd gallery show at Gallery 360, how has your work evolved over the years? What’s stayed the same?
DC: I’m excited to say that this is my 3rd Gallery 360 show! My work has become a lot more detailed over the years but one thing that is a constant are my character’s snarly and charming attitudes.
360: This series looks to possess themes that hearken back to early Americana, how intentional are those references? Do they play into the stories embedded in your work?
DC: I like to create paintings that take onlookers on adventures. My illustrative style tells myths that simply come from my own life experiences and imagination. However, I love when the viewer creates their own narrative, that’s when the painting evolves into something more personal to the viewer and a connection manifests.
360: Your imagery is very dreamlike, what nourishes your formal composition?
DC: After mulling over an idea of a painting, I create a quick sketch before beginning the work to make sure that the composition of the piece will be successful. I realize that balance and organization of elements in the painting, before starting the work, is key to the general success of the piece. Although my work is dreamlike, I try to keep in mind those basic principles.
360: How important is visual texture in your paintings? Is that one of your favorite details to apply?
DC: Fur textures can be seen throughout my work. I enjoy creating those repetitive marks whether it be with paint or by razor blade. I think fur (along with floral elements) often soften my animal’s rough expressions. I like that balance, half sweet/half beastly.
360: Can you walk us through the steps in your painting process? At what point does the razor blade drawing come in?
DC: I adore working with scratchboard, which is a sturdy masonite board that has a layer of white clay on it. The clay is completely covered with black india ink. The first step is to create the razor blade drawing. Every line will show, even under paint, one can see grooves made with the blade. No erasing can ever be done. After I draw with a razor blade-like pen, I paint close up next to the line-work. After that paint dries, I seal the work with a high gloss topcoat so the scratchboard can no longer be marred. I like the odd mix of the clean, thin line quality of the drawing and the painterly application of paint.
360: How big a role do you feel your frames play in finishing a work? Is it hard to find all of them?
DC: My husband, Matthew, helps me hunt down beautiful old frames. We love going to flea markets and thrift stores together. We frequently go to antique stores in search of vintage frames too. They are a big part of my work. An ornate gilded frame can give significance to an otherwise lowly critter.
360: In your bio, you mention that these pieces are an emotional outlet for you, what are the most commonly captured emotions in your paintings? When you listen to viewers talk about your work, do they tend to reflect the same ones?
DC: I like to capture dismal and serious feelings in my work because I am typically pretty cheerful. It’s easiest for me to release these emotions and let them run wild in the confines of a frame. I think that every viewer reads a painting a bit differently, but I feel the emotions in my work are fairly obvious. One time I asked a woman if she would like me to tell her about the meaning behind the painting that she was about to purchase. She said NO. She said that the painting was about her dog that had just passed away and that was all she wanted to think about when seeing the work. I appreciated her honestly and loved that my painting could be a symbol of her beloved pet.
360: What do kids have to say about your work?
DC: Good question! The few kids I know are extremely nice and tell me they like it… haha, but who knows. Although my work is anthropomorphic, adults are more drawn to it than children. That’s probably due to the darker undertones and subject matter.
360: You were trained as an Illustrator, right? Have you ever or do you currently illustrate books?
DC: I received a BFA while majoring in illustration. I have been very lucky to have worked with some great publishing companies and have 14 children’s books published. My books are much brighter in color and theme when compared to my paintings. I primarily work with watercolor and gouache on paper when illustrating books. Someday I would love to work with a company to animate my work and possibly create music videos or ads with my art.
360: What advice would you give to an emerging artist trying to make it in the field today?
DC: I would say that it takes great focus and dedication to make it. If they have that, I would suggest going to many gallery openings, attending art events, really try to find out who their audience is while never allowing outside influences detract them from their personal style. Their own style is their unique identity and compromising that is never going to be positive in the long run. Stay true to your personal style and your niche will find you.