Dan Bunn, Grand Central Atelier, painting class, palette, still life
Currently residing in Brooklyn, NY, Dan Bunn grew up in southern Wisconsin where he developed a deep love for the outdoors and observing nature. Over the last decade he has been digging progressively deeper into his personal artistic quest, which takes him on adventures throughout the USA and world. His mix of focus and play draws inspiration back through time and out of this world, from the Realms of Middle Earth, to Gothic Futurism of Rammellzee; mystery and magic of Andrew Wyeth, to the incomprehensible splendor of the Dutch Golden Age. With these examples as guiding stars, he strives to materialize a continually expanding world of fantasy and truth – pigment and perseverance the only hope to catch a bit of magic lit by a passing light.
In Conversation with painter Dan Bunn
Dan Bunn, an oil painter based in Brooklyn, New York, has studied with Jacob Collins at the Grand Central Atelier (GCA) and its crew of notable painters and instructors. Now a teacher at the GCA himself, as well as an active artist on the Brooklyn art scene, he sits down with Zadie Loft to talk art, beauty and still life.
ZL: Let’s start at the beginning: what first made you want to be an artist, and what interests you most now?
DB: I became enthralled with fantasy art as a child, and masterworks of the past as a teenager, which led me to the GCA. Now, I work primarily in oil paint, and like to conjure mysterious scenes replete with fruit, animals, people, and objects of curiosity. In my art, observations of nature meet a wandering imagination, as fantasy and truth melt into one.
ZL: It sounds enchanting! What is art, to you?
DB: Art is a fascination with change and dissatisfaction with what is.
ZL: And what are some of the most exciting things happening in the art world right now?
DB: Free international publishing via the internet and social media must be one of the most exciting things happening in the art world right now. I often wonder what would the art heroes of past eras feel if they time traveled to the present day? Perhaps the same cacophony of euphoria, bewilderment, hunger, confusion, connection, dismay all of us are experiencing. I also find the ebb and flow of power between hegemonic gatekeepers and independent outsiders quite fascinating.
ZL: I agree; it’s an exciting time of change. You’re a judge on our inaugural cover competition. What are your thoughts on the theme of “Beauty”?
DB: “Beauty in art” must be connected to craft and skillful execution, in a way that may be of little importance to “beauty in nature.” One must be constructed, the other just is.
ZL: We’re looking forward to seeing the results. You’re also leading a Crayon Masterclass next month: An Introduction to Still Life Painting. What can you tell us about that?
SB: We will take a look at several genres of still life from art history: the fruit still life of Wilhelm Kalf which you can see in the Rijksmuseum; the spanish food still life of Luis Meléndez which you can see in the Prado Museum; the floral works of Rachel Ruysch; and the illusionistic trompe l’oeil technique from the Dutch golden age. Students will have the chance to create their own arrangements, as well as draw or paint whatever you’re comfortable with, and I’ll be making my own example set-ups and demos along the way, as well as showing behind-the-scenes views of my larger paintings.
ZL: Finally, do you have a tip for our artists?
DB: Sure! Let’s say you’re working on a new piece and it’s getting a little overwhelming: maybe the colours are becoming muddy or not quite showing up how you want them to. One thing you can do is take a quick break, and have a look at your palette. Because sometimes when the painting is getting messy, it’s because the palette is getting messy. So, one thing we’ll talk about in the class is how to keep an organised palette, and how it can benefit the overall success of your painting.
ZL: Great tip. Thanks Dan!
An Introduction to Still Life Painting begins on the first Saturday of November and runs until the end of the month. Students can expect to be immersed in the subtle world of arranging items for a picture. They will play with color palettes, balancing shapes, and designing a narrative using common items such as fruit, foods, flowers, and objects of curiosity. Tutor, Dan Bunn, is excited to share his enjoyment of inspiring artworks, and help students with their own arrangements, sketches, and pictures. This workshop is for all skill levels, just bring your curiosity and interest in picture making. Sign up now to book your spot!