Work by more than 100 Artisans inside new Carmel more

Acrylic Painting
Thorntown: Sugar Creek Art Center
Art IN Hand, Zionsville
Daniel Driggs

“I used to think everyone could paint if they would just put their mind to it. I still think there is a degree of talent in everyone, but I have learned that there is a special gift or insight given to some people called artists.”

In the case of acrylic painter Daniel Driggs, the music world’s loss is the art world’s gain. In the 1960s, in grade school, Daniel wanted to play in the band, “but,” he said, “my parents decided to buy me a paint set instead of an instrument. Maybe they knew me better than I knew myself. Either way, I found that I loved to paint.”

In high school, he met Oscar Sormani, a European artist who taught in Omaha. Sormani told Daniel’s father that he only taught adults. “Then he looked at my work, and told me to be in class the next week,” Daniel said. “I think he taught me more about art and the importance of really LOOKING at the subject than anyone else.”

Considering himself a professional artist after earning a BS degree in art and art education in 1974, Daniel says “I painted professionally until 1992, when I entered the ministry. God let me re-enter the art field in 2010 when I left the full-time ministry. Now I have the best of two worlds – I preach on weekends and paint through the week.”

Daniel’s work is illustrative in nature. “I’ve tried several techniques over the years to bring the subject into greater focus and eliminate the things I don’t want to focus on,” he said, “but I’m most excited about what I’ve been doing recently. It started as an experiment after watching a watercolorist throw paint. I wondered how it would work on Yupo paper and how I could work it into my current work.” What developed is the series Daniel calls “Out of Chaos.”

In his “Out of Chaos” paintings, he brings an isolated focus to just one part of the paper, canvas or board. “Our lives are filled with chaos,” he says. “This is reflected in the abstract backgrounds. Yet if we really LOOK, we will focus on the real theme of nature or history or life. That’s my challenge – to help people find that focus and see the beauty in front of them, yet lost in the chaos of life.

“I love to tell people what inspired me to do the ‘Out of Chaos’ style. I explain it as my interactive painting. Everyone has watched the clouds. One by one, they take shapes reminiscent of something else. One may see a duck, another sees an elephant. My painting is the reverse of that. To start, I simply throw paint. It isn’t scientific and it doesn’t require a lot of skill. Once the paint dries, the complicated part begins.

“Like the person looking at the clouds, I look at the blotches, turning them this way and that until I see what I believe belongs there. A long stretch of blue becomes a waterfall or a stream; a patch of red looks like a hydrangea or a rose; a dark spot at the bottom of a pale green looks like the shadow of a turtle. Once I see what isn’t there, I design the bird or turtle or figure and paint where I think it belongs.

“The viewer then looks at the finished piece, starts with my painted traditional portion and uses their imagination to change the red spot into a flower, the blue streak into a stream or the brown area into the shadow of the turtle on the bottom of the sea. My hope is that people will interact with the artwork to fill in the beauty.”

Daniel said he first thought Indiana Artisan was “another organization that would help me sell my artwork. Every group says they were organized to support the artist and promote their growth, but they usually turn out to be self serving,” he said. “Indiana Artisan truly is structured with the member artists in mind. It strives to build up, educate, advertise and improve each artist member to be the very best.

“It also is one of the greatest responsibilities, because it makes me aware of the importance of making each and every one of my paintings be the absolute best. Unlike winning a juried art contest where one is told a piece was named best in show, becoming an Indiana Artisan carries the responsibility of being the best in the state at your particular art or craft. It is not just one great piece, but the reflection on a whole body of work.”