I first visited Daniel Brown because something he had said resonated with me. On his website I read that “finding a direction is one of the toughest things for an artist to do.”
Daniel’s direction is cars. For the last 11 years, he has been earning a living as a full time artist. All of his paintings include one or more cars.
Dan lives and works in a frame house in Troy, Ohio.
Entering the house on my most recent visit I met Daniel’s wife Patty and his three daughters. Patty showed me some of Daniel’s art that is currently decorating his home.
Patty told me she likes having Daniel’s paintings up where family and friends can see it. But then he goes to a show, takes the art, and leaves the walls bare.
Before entering the garage I grabbed a quick photo of Daniel’s dog Dasher.
The first time I visited Daniel most of the space was taken up by the car he is restoring, as the photo below shows. Now the car can be moved out of the garage during Daniel’s painting sessions.
I asked about the painting on Daniel’s easel. It was not the car painting I expected to see.
Daniel explained that this was a special situation, a painting for a local family. He said he didn’t paint cars 100% of the time – just 99%.
I asked Daniel about his academic background and learned that he went to college in Indiana. He wasn’t an art major but he took a lot of art classes. After college Daniel applied to art school in Boston. As the school was considering his application, they asked if he was willing to do paintings without cars.
“My advisor later said he didn’t know why they asked me to stop painting cars. He said that artists paint all kinds of things. Art can have any subject matter as long as it is not superficial.”
Creating paintings that include cars has worked well for Daniel. Many artists struggle to get showings of their art. Daniel attends 10-12 car shows annually and could attend many more if he had the time. At these shows his art is viewed by thousands of people who like cars and have money to spend.
Within the general category of cars, Daniel finds plenty of room for creativity. I love his series of paintings based on car photos found on Craigslist. The photos were meant to be practical – just showing the car for sale, with a garage or house or maybe a person in the background. But Daniel’s painting of that same exact scene somehow seems to have more content. Looking at it you feel there’s an interesting story you’d like to be told.
The painting below is from this Craigslist series. The car was listed at $ 700. Daniel’s painting of the Craigslist photo sells for $ 2500
Daniel tells me he loves some of this new work with everyday cars instead of the classic cars he generally paints. But painting classic cars pays the bills. In the next few months he needs to paint several commissions and build inventory for a large auto show in Las Vegas.
I love the way Daniel’s work space does double duty. It combines a painting studio with a garage with the equipment needed to restore Daniel’s old Plymouth.
Before leaving I asked Daniel to pose for a portrait in front of one of his paintings.