Raw Energy: An Interview With Painter Danny O'Connor.

Painter Danny O’Connor is making a statement with his gorgeous, Pollockesque canvases.

By utilizing elemental juxtaposition, Danny is able to create complex and hefty pieces that touch on themes like life, death, and growth with a unique kind of vibrancy. When his work isn’t touching on deeper existential concepts and motifs, it's paying homage to the beauty of femininity, pop cultural icons, and nature.

There is a captivating structure to Danny’s pieces that give them an unmistakable verve and aesthetic.

Danny's prolific output has helped to bolster his social media following and give his fans an almost constant stream of new media to absorb, analyze, and enjoy.

The Liverpool native has successfully translated his ethic and liveliness into a palpable sense of energy in his works.

"The sense of energy is a big thing for me. It just comes naturally. Although I like to think there is just enough serenity slipped in amongst the chaos to keep it from being a wild mess."

Danny tells us what's up with him and his work in this interview.

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Prox: Can you bring us up to speed a bit? What have been some notable changes in your life and work since our last interview?

Danny: My wife is due to have our second child in a few months. A new baby is always a major life change. I have less time but I seem to develop a bit more focus with less meandering on a piece of artwork when she is pregnant. I guess that's the responsible parent part of my brain kicking in. I'm still pretty awesome at procrastinating though…..

I work from home so as each new child is born it inevitably means the rooms I used as a workspace become a nursery. When our first arrived I had a shed built in the garden to use as my studio. Now the second is due my office will be moving into the loft. We have no more rooms left so if we have another I think we're gonna have to move house.

Prox: Please discuss your color schemes for us. How do you tell a story with the tones you select? Why do you feel like you gravitate towards vibrancy?

Danny: The color schemes I use just seem to manifest themselves during the painting process. It's as simple as putting a color down, seeing how it looks then adding another based on what I feel will work. Color seems to capture people’s attention and draw them in, so I use it as a tool to engage the viewer. Humans are instinctively drawn to vibrant colors, that's why we love flowers and sunsets so much. 

That's not to say I'm not partial to painting a monochrome piece. Every now and then I like the simplicity of stripping it all back to a purely black and white tonal piece.

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Prox: There is a lot of energy in each piece. What does this kind of energy say about you as an artist and human being?

Danny: The sense of energy is a big thing for me. It just comes naturally. Although I like to think there is just enough serenity slipped in amongst the chaos to keep it from being a wild mess. I was a pretty hyperactive child (or so I'm told) so my artwork as an adult might be channeling that part of my character. 

Prox: I didn’t notice how prolific your output was until I followed you on IG and Twitter. How do you stay inspired and motivated to produce works at such a frequent rate?

Danny: I am pretty quick at producing work. I seem to work in bursts. I can produce a few pieces one week then nothing the next. I share almost everything I paint on social media so that will give the impression I'm more prolific than other artists who are a bit more restrained with sharing their work. I can't help myself though, I love the fact I can get a response from people all over the world before the paint has dried. It gives me a real buzz. I very rarely use social media for sharing photos from my personal life, that doesn't seem to interest me, but for my working practice it's been a huge springboard for allowing me to be a professional artist.

It's easy to stay motivated when you love what you do. If I take a short break from work I'm always itching to get back into a creative flow again.

Prox: I’ve seen you mention that you dabble in digital art using Photoshop. What do you enjoy about the process and creative possibility with this style of art?

Danny: Whilst the vast majority of my work is purely hand painted, I do enjoy the speed with which you can play around with ideas using photoshop. I'm far from an expert but I know enough to make interesting things happen. I've heard some people suggesting digital art is cheating in some way and I can understand their point of view, but to me it's just another means to create images. Digital techniques, particularly the use of layering and bold vector graphics definitely influence the aesthetic of my hand painted work.

Prox: I always love to hear about how people expand outside of their area of expertise. What are some subjects and concepts unrelated to art that you have an interest in that helps you create?

Danny: I don't consciously go looking for inspiration. I just keep my eyes open, so to speak. Things can influence me in the most mundane of situations. Take for example being sat on a train which in itself is a very normal everyday thing to do. But there is an ever changing scenery out of the window. Everything from the countryside to city landscapes. Train stations are pretty interesting places in themselves, they tend to be slightly weathered over time and that brings it's own textures and beauty. Don't get me wrong.... I can see that a sunset on a golden beach in front of the ocean is a sight to behold too. My point is that you have to be able to soak in information like a sponge from anywhere, process it through your creative mind and let it spill out onto the canvas. When all of those different elements are all mashed up together you end up with something inspired by the world around you but also very personal to you.

Prox: Any new artists, books, music, or movies/shows you’d like to recommend?

Danny: The list of artists I could recommend is huge but I'll stick with 2 for now. The first is Street artist Fin DAC. His work is incredible, bold and striking with fantastic attention to detail. Both his street and gallery work is absolutely stunning and executed to perfection.

Second is Kris Kuski, if you want a treat for your eyeballs check out the amazing assemblage sculptures he creates. They are exceptionally intricate and look like something from another world. 

TV programs... I love nature programs. Those narrated by David Attenborough always seem to be the best. (Africa and Blue Planet spring to mind) The teams that create them are so talented and dedicated to the cause. They will sit for days on end just to get a minute or two of film. I love how close they can get to the animals and you really get to appreciate how amazing they are.

Also on TV, although It's been out for a few years is Happy Valley which is a British series which follows a police officer and criminal gangs. It get's pretty dark and sinister at times.

Also a fan of Better Call Saul I was a Breaking Bad fan so was happy to see the Saul Goodman character get a spin off. He's one funny man!

Books... I have to give a shout out for Confess by Colleen Hoover. It's a romance novel about an artist and I was commissioned to create the artwork to accompany the text inside. Also, Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher (Anniversary edition) I was commissioned to paint the cover image. I released that image as a limited edition of 100 and it sold out in 20 minutes.

Music... I'm trying to think of someone you may not know. Although he's been around a while Jamie T might be a new name to those outside the UK. Give him a listen.

Prox: Would you like to share some information on any upcoming releases you have on the horizon?

Danny: New stuff coming up includes Contrast Mural Festival in my home city of Liverpool in April and a solo show with Artifex Gallery in September. 

Prox: Final Thoughts?

Danny: To any art appreciators out there. If you see artwork you like on the internet/social media don't be shy to comment and share it. You'd be surprised how much it can help artists out spreading the word.

You can learn more about Danny, follow him on social media, and purchase his work, here.

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