The Process of Becoming Intimate: Danielle Duer
About two years ago, I stumbled upon an artist’s website as I’ve done a million times before. I was seeking inspiration. It is said that art attains its full and true meaning in the eye of the viewer. The beauty as well as the enigmatic sadness of Danielle Duer’s paintings touched me deeply and gave me an idea on how this meaning arises. Reflection, awareness, understanding, are the fruits of this sort of encounter.
I knew I had to stay in touch with the artist’s development, and make contact with Duer one way or the other. I joined her Facebook fanpage, and soon I was buying pieces of her art. Out of my ongoing fascination and love of her work, I recently interviewed Nashville based artist Danielle Duer.
Klaus-Dieter Knoll: Hi Danielle, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Let’s start with sharing a bit about yourself . . .
Danielle Duer: When I was very young, I learned to play make believe. I couldn’t wait to get back to the place in my mind where I was smothered with the most delicious, bizarre scenery. I began describing what I would see there while coloring, drawing or writing. I craved the relief from real life, where cruel, scary things happened.
As I got older, I began to notice a rare beauty in the flawed “scary” world. I saw life differently. Sadness had more value to me and my new perspective seemed more interesting and just as alluring. My current work is a description of this perspective on life.
Beauty is an important element in all of my pieces and is accomplished with intense color, pattern, and many oddities and peculiarities. I want the viewer to be attracted to the piece and then find that there is more to see once inside.
KDK: Is there a certain message you are transporting within your paintings? What are your intentions?
Danielle Duer: While painting, I am not as concerned about the message, I am just trying to create and describe my version of strange and beautiful. Afterwards, I can almost always identify parts of the piece as a representation of what is happening in my personal life or what is stimulating me at that moment in time. After all, what comes out of us is a reflection of what is on the inside. I am extremely interested in what’s underneath, so I like to interpret messages in my own work. I am constantly looking for meaning and I think the search itself is remarkable.
KDK: Did you study art or are you self-taught?
Danielle Duer: I am mostly self-taught. I graduated from college with a degree in Commercial Art. I use what I learned in school every single day, but I never took a painting class. My grandfather was an artist, he hand painted signs for a living but he also made gifts and games out of junk and scraps, he could always create something really quick to sell and come up with money.
My uncle is also painter, and my grandmother worked in a marker factory during the week and had a little old house that she stocked with rarities from garage sales that she cleaned up and resold on the side . . . So I would like to believe that it is just in my blood.
KDK: What kind of techniques do you prefer? Do you use any specific materials?
Danielle Duer: I mentioned that my grandmother worked in a marker factory, so my earliest memories with my materials are sitting in the floor with boxes of markers that I had neatly sorted and color categorized. I spent hours drawing these little patterns that would fill entire pages.
Some of the first paintings I ever sold were marker on canvas. I feel totally comfortable with a pen in my hand. I decided that I wanted a more sophisticated look about my work . . . I wanted to paint and then to later incorporate pen and inks into my paintings, and that is where I am now. I use acrylic paints, sometimes oils, quill pens, tiny brushes, and liquid inks.
KDK: It seems in each of your paintings a story is told about the emotions, the inner workings of the depicted characters, their expectations, etc. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Danielle Duer: I am very interested in human behavior, specifically what motivates people to do what they do, and how we choose to cover up who we really are, with clothes, addictions, attitudes, performances . . . I like to uncover the truth. It IS emotional. It is intimate. There are many elements in my work that reflect my passion towards this subject.
KDK: You say your work is informed by “a tale of braided memories and romantic perspectives.” Well, I am really not an expert in this, but what is the romantic in your paintings? What does romance mean to you? Is it still in our daily lives in this highly technological world?
Danielle Duer: I am a romantic. I have a rose colored view point. I get to know my surroundings well, the room, the vibe, the expression on everyone’s faces, the black cat on the mantle with the crooked tale, the lady with the fat ankles and the sincerest of smiles, I’m in love. It may even be an uncomfortable place, reeking, frightening. Either way, I tend to use lots of adjectives to describe in detail this colorful life.
Romance is the process of becoming intimate (getting to know, looking underneath); it is the relationship. We all live in OUR OWN story, it’s how we see it, then, how we tell it that makes the difference. I believe that the color in my art is mostly where I can express a romantic perspective.
KDK: Seeing your paintings with German eyes, I notice not only your own unique, magnificent style, but wonder if perhaps it might be embedded in a wider, regional context. Is there such a thing as Southern art? And if so, would it be right to consider your images as a part of it?
Danielle Duer: Yes, there is such a thing as Southern art. A great number of things could be considered Southern art. Although I love where I am from, I do not think that my work necessarily reflects this region.
KDK: Being a fan of Danielle Duer, I’d wish the whole world might share the enigmatic beauty of your paintings. Do you have a gallery to represent you?
Danielle Duer: I have work at Art and Invention Gallery in Nashville TN, The Hive Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, Young Blood Gallery, Atlanta, GA and Anno Domini Gallery, San Jose, CA. I am not under contract.
KDK: Having a website, and especially a Facebook fanpage, offers you the opportunity to be in direct contact with your fans instead of being managed by a gallery. How important is this kind of social media marketing to you as an artist?
Danielle Duer: I care a great deal how my work is presented and managed. I am not under “contract” but the galleries that show my work do a wonderful job promoting me. Specifically, Art and Invention Gallery in Nashville constantly has a fresh collection of my work available, art sold and new pieces added.
Facebook has been a fantastic resource for me. I have been able to share my work globally and it has really opened doors for furthering my career; plus it is easier for me to give little bits of insight about my art and the entire process that may be overlooked otherwise.
I also receive lots of feedback through my traditional website. It is important for me to keep my online presence updated.
I am also constantly looking for new galleries to show my work in new cities.
KDK: Danielle Duer, thank you so much for this interview.
Klaus-Dieter Knoll, born in 1963, living in Berlin, Germany. Professional printer, he is a self-employed graphic-designer and web-designer, now. Being always interested in arts and writing, he combined the two and writes for the German online art-magazine Art&Events as art-critic and art-journalist. In his own blog he mainly writes about graphic-design and social-media marketing.