Taos artist Daniel Brown said he believes artists are "the visionaries of our culture, the ones who are able to capture the invisible and make it come alive. It is doubly important in these difficult times to keep reminding ourselves of the beauty of heaven and earth, that this beauty is indeed the natural state of our world, not the aberrations of violence and despair."
Brown is known for his landscape paintings in oil, and acrylic which are vivid, bold adventures on canvas that soar straight into "the wild blue." He's also a photographer, a writer and a professional educator for over thirty-five years.
Tempo caught up with Brown and asked a few questions about his creative process and how he landed in Taos. Here are the highlights.
How do you "get out of your own way" when you paint or write, or do any kind of creative work?
I have three professional creative outlets; writing, photography and landscape painting. All three use a combination of craft, technique and intuition. Perhaps the most important lesson for me is to listen carefully to that subtle voice or nudge because creativity has its own particular language. A common mistake is to fall so in love with my own cleverness that I forget to listen and be willing to edit, delete or adapt. Creative writing has a rhythm and a flow of its own; photography makes one sensitive to timing, especially here in New Mexico where light and color change by the minute, and paintings have their own sense of direction.
What inspired you to move west?
Taos has been calling to me for decades. I first came here in October 1970 to explore the commune scene but found them too squalid. I returned in 1991 when dating a local artist. My wife, Lisa, and I honeymooned in the Southwest in 2006 with only three days in Taos. Nothing "spectacular" happened but we couldn't get Taos out of our minds. The next year, we stayed for a month and I was accepted into the Art Divas Gallery that accommodated "Women artists and a few good men." For the next few years, we came to Taos for our annual vacation and spent the rest of the year yearning to be there. Finally in the summer of 2013, we rented a cottage on a New Hampshire lake where one rainy day, Lisa and I decided to write down our values. Not our religious, political or spiritual beliefs but the core values that motivated us. Although listed separately, there were many in common. The most important was "Beauty."
What is your creative process after an image inspires you?
Each painting is a personal and intimate relationship where, more often than not, the unexpected comes into play. A perfect example is a painting I began in 2005 a year before our honeymoon visit. I had recently attended "The Goddess Conference" in Glastonbury, England and decided to paint a huge 24 x 36" canvas featuring Stonehenge, stone circles, and other appropriate images of the event. The painting, however, had other ideas. By the time I was done, the canvas contained mountains, mesas, a forest of cottonwood trees, huge multi-colored cloud formations and a long wide plain with a thin river running through it. I had learned not to interfere when my paintings unexpectedly changed course. I named it "En Pais de Dios." A month later, I discovered "Southwest Art" magazine in my local bookstore and realized that my colorful style was far different from the washed-out palate of New England.
Anything else important for our readers to know?
When Lisa and I first thought about moving to Taos, we resolved to do so with "Eyes wide open." We knew we were coming to an old and unique community vastly different from where we had previously been living. We also wanted to be an asset to our new community and add whatever we could. Besides being an artist, I have been a professional educator for over thirty-five years. Since coming here, I have been privileged to have taught at TISA, the high school, the Butterfly Healing Center out at the Pueblo and most recently, as a long-term substitute teacher at Enos Garcia. Last year, when Covid hit and closed the school, I delivered meals to our school kids with two bus drivers who grew up here and regaled me with tales from Taos' extraordinary past.
Throughout my life, I've been drawn to communities in transition so it's no surprise that I felt called to move here. I'm a big believer in the power of personal connection and since arriving in Taos, the personal connections I've enjoyed with people from all our many cultures have been warm, meaningful and heartfelt.
For more details about the artist visit his website intothewildblue.com.