This is an interview with professional artist and master landscape painter Dan Schultz. One of his high-key landscapes caught my eye a few years ago on Instagram and I have been following his work on and off ever since. He has taken the time to answer a few questions about his life as an artist, how he works, and how aspiring artists can follow in his footsteps.
Q: Did you have any formal training in art? Or are you self-taught?
“I have a Commercial Art degree from Pensacola Christian College in Florida. It was mainly an illustration and graphic design program, but I got a solid foundation in drawing and painting.”
Q: What subject inspires you most?
“Landscape painting has become my main focus, but I also enjoy painting figures and portraits.”
Q: How do you typically approach a new painting?
“I divide my time between outdoor painting (plein air) and painting in the studio. My plein air paintings are very spontaneous. I spend much more planning time on my studio paintings. Sometimes I paint larger versions of plein air paintings in the studio, and sometimes I work from photo references. Either way, I tend to design the painting first, then establish my darkest dark and continue by comparing all the other values and colors to the darkest dark.”
Q: I notice you often start with a rich-red underpainting. Could you explain this process for beginner artists?
“Using a colorful undertone is a great way to affect the look of a finished painting. Letting that undertone peek through can create harmony, color contrast or color excitement. The process is to apply a thin wash of color to the canvas, then wipe away the excess wetness with a paper towel. Then proceed with the painting in such a way that bits of that undertone show through. I wrote a blog post about this, that people might find helpful.”
Q: How would you describe your style?
“I like to think of it as “painterly realism.” It seems to vary between impressionism and tighter realism depending on the scene. But overall, I’m working toward saying more with less.”
Q: Which artists inspire you?
Q: If you were to start learning art all over again, how would you start?
“I would probably explore the idea of attending a small atelier program where I could really focus on drawing and painting. But I was so new to art in college that I didn’t yet know at that age which direction I wanted to take my art. The art field seems to be getting more and more broad with all the animation and film industries employing so many artists. I think that makes it even tougher to decide which area to focus on as an artist today.”
Q: What is your preferred medium and why?
“Oil paint for sure. I got my start with acrylic, but I always felt so rushed by how quickly it dries. Once I tried oil, I knew that I didn’t want to go back to acrylic. Oil also seems to allow for more textural effects and more color stability and of course the freedom to slow down with each painting because of the slower drying time.”
Q: Out of all the paintings you have created, do you have a favorite or one that is particularly special to you?
“My favorites will probably always be the paintings I’ve done of my wife and sons. I’ve done quite a few paintings of each of them, some of which we’ve kept and others that have sold through shows and galleries.”
Q: Which avenues have been most effective for selling your art?
“I’ve sold through galleries and shows since 2001, but I’ve had the most success after opening my own gallery in 2011. It gives me the ability to interact with customers (something artists don’t often get to do when showing through other galleries). I also have my easel in the back room of the gallery so I can paint there on-site, and show whatever paintings I want in the front room. I of course have to divide my time between painting and gallery business, but the trade-off has been well worth it. I also send a monthly (or so) email newsletter that allows me to stay directly connected with past, present and future collectors.”
Q: Have you had much success selling prints?
“I offer several print options and have had reasonable sales with them. But I produce enough original paintings that I don’t feel the need to make a lot of prints. People do seem to like the prints for gift-giving, or if they aren’t looking to purchase a higher-priced original. But I would much rather spend my time making paintings than making prints.”
Q: Any tips for aspiring artists?
“There is a lot of quality art instruction available online depending on which direction you feel like you’re wanting to go with your art. I have a selection of online video lessons teaching landscape and figurative painting through Sentient Academy. But I would also recommend exploring a lot of subjects and media to see what seems to feel like the right fit for you. Like I mentioned earlier, there are many directions you can take your art today from traditional to modern to digital. Try them all and see what resonates.”
Q: Where can we see more of your work?
The galleries that carry my work are:
Thanks for Reading!
I appreciate you taking the time to read this post. And thanks Dan Schultz for taking the time to do this interview. It’s always interesting to learn about the life and work of professional artists.
Draw Paint Academy
PS. Here are some of my favorite paintings by Dan Schultz: