Daniela Schweitzer’s Process
Representational abstractions, depicted mostly through the human figure, that I build by deconstructing real everyday stories are the predominant connection between my canvas and my inner feelings. My references are mostly photographs I take myself or live models. My inspiration comes from the Bay Area Figurative Art Movement (David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, Nathan Oliviera, Wayne Thiebaud) and big masters such us John Singer Sargent, Eduard Manet (contrasting colors and darks), Joaquin Sorolla (use of light, whites, and massive scale), Henry Matisse (colorful paintings, forms, and simplicity), Edward Hoper (contrast between light and shadow and every day scenes) and Diego Velazquez.
My desire is to reflect in my painting what I felt at the time I took that picture. The connection and emotion I felt toward the scene I picked to catch for my reference. The process of putting it into the canvas is a little more complex because I do not copy the photo. My mind is usually inclined to want to paint the main emotion the scene evoked in me. The idea is to focus on what attracted me to paint this narrative and for this I combine my feelings and a painting technique of simplification; almost like seeing less and delete the rest that is not as important to me: two people walking together and having a fascinating conversation between themselves. The rest of the people around them, cars, and buildings maybe not painted at all. I may even change the setting as I paint. Deconstructing a realistic scene that was chosen because of the emotions, simple gestures, light and shadow contrast, colors, and composition is my desire.
I select my scenes or part of the stories and subject matter I paint because they possess a simple, beautiful, and usually colorful human gesture that is energetic, calm, or harmonic. The balance and contrast between light and shadows, values and temperatures, and my loose and contrasting brushstrokes and lines all come together during the painting process to create my own style or point of view.
My painting’s main story or emotion sometimes takes a different or unexpected route because I let my present feelings and reactions to the process take over. Putting on and taking off paint, large simple forms against detailed small areas of paint, or show a little bit of what happened while I was painting, are all part of my process. I use large brushes, large canvases and a very loose brushstroke.
Many of my references are traditional human scenes and my ultimate objective is to deconstruct them into a simple contemporary story. The balance between the composition and negative spaces along with textured, colorful layers of paint, and the freedom for energetic spontaneity, bring my story or emotion to life.
The constant desire to keep growing and create something new keeps my interest open to different opportunities or approaches, either when I begin to paint or during the process of exploring what I want to evoke (or not) in a specific piece of art. Even though I have found my way to express my abstractions, I continue to love exploring the unknown, the “maybe,” the “why not” to play with my feelings.
I want the audience to feel a specific emotion or emotions, not just because of the story I create, but for what happened during the painting process: simplicity in its message, beauty, energy, movement, layers of history, contrast, and sometimes paradox.
My inspiration is mostly everyday ordinary stories, people in my travels, and dancers. Whether it be the bustling city life or a calm day at the beach, my surroundings and people’s daily lives always attracts me.
I also enjoy painting non-representational abstracts although many times figurative forms or objects will be part of my large expressionist works. I let my strokes build up and show a semi-hidden story. Contrast of colors and strokes is still a predominant inclination and the composition will evolve within a dynamic play between the balance and contrast: straight lines and more organic forms of color, what is left behind the layers and what is showing clean at front, all need to reach a sense of emotional balance, which lets me know the painting is done.
The inspiration for my abstracts is that particular day, moment, story behind my life’s events that week, the colors around me, an object, a person, or a general emotion I feel. My paintings can take several sessions and usually end with an interesting mix of emotions.
I keep my mind open to interests and inspirations by attending dance performances, musicals, concerts, reading poetry, visiting galleries and museums, and always taking my camera wherever I go. All these art experiences keep my hungry for new painting ideas!