Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Daniel Folta, a student of classical oil painting at The Art Academy and Evolve Artist program. He apprenticed under master portrait painter Kevin Murphy, our guest in episode 197. He talks about his experiences of choosing the right art education, being an apprentice under Kevin, and becoming a full-time artist, making a living from making art. Enjoy!!
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Special thanks to Daniel for joining me today. See you next time!
All artworks by Daniel Folta, used with permission
Welcome to another episode of “Art Side of Life.” Today, we have Daniel, an incredible artist, joining us. Daniel’s story is truly inspiring, as he never imagined himself becoming an artist. In this interview, Daniel shares his journey, the challenges he faced, and how he found his passion for art. Let’s dive in!
Daniel’s Unexpected Path
Unlike the typical stories we hear about aspiring artists, Daniel’s journey began differently. As a child, he enjoyed writing stories and occasionally created drawings to accompany them. However, nobody considered his art exceptional, and he himself never had a particular passion for it. Everything changed when he was 15 years old.
The Turning Point
Daniel’s mother heard about an art school where Kevin Murphy, the founder of Evolve Artist Program an experienced teacher, was making a difference in his students’ lives. With encouragement from his mother, Daniel reluctantly attended Kevin’s class. At first, he feared that formal education might stifle his creative juices. However, his perspective shifted during that class when Kevin taught him the basics of holding a pencil and shading a square.
The Pursuit of Perfection
Daniel’s journey took an intriguing turn when Kevin challenged him to make a gradient perfect. It frustrated Daniel to no end, as perfection seemed like an impossible goal. However, Kevin’s insistence on excellence shattered Daniel’s preconceived limitations. It was a defining moment that opened his eyes to his true potential.
Discovering the Artist Within
Daniel’s passion for art truly ignited when he started seeing the world differently. The two years of following Kevin’s process and rules transformed his perception of reality. The seemingly mundane objects around him became a composition of values, edges, and colors. It was as if he had gained a new lens through which he could appreciate and understand the beauty of the visual world.
The Path to Becoming an Artist
Daniel’s decision to pursue art seriously came after he created a painting called “Troy” at the end of his two-year journey. This masterpiece marked a significant turning point in his artistic career. Not only did he follow a process, but he also started expressing his unique perspective through his artwork. It was then that Daniel decided to become a professional artist and share his story with others.
Embracing Challenges and Breaking Rules
Daniel’s artistic journey was not without struggles. Initially, he found it challenging to follow the rules, as he believed that art should be free from restrictions. However, he soon realized that understanding the rules allowed him to break them intentionally and with purpose. Picasso’s famous quote, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist,” resonated deeply with Daniel. He discovered that rules were not limiting, but rather a tool belt to enhance his creativity.
Finding the First Client: A Networking Adventure
Daniel’s first client turned out to be the Dean of the business school at his college. His journey began when he decided to take art seriously and started focusing on networking and building relationships. At a Cinco de Mayo event, he had the opportunity to connect with the Dean, who showed genuine interest in his artwork. What started as a casual conversation about Daniel’s art quickly transformed into a commissioned project. Daniel emphasizes the importance of being proactive and taking the initiative to explore potential opportunities.
Determining the Right Price – Valuing Time and Expertise
Initially, Daniel had the idea of doing his first commission for free to gain exposure. However, his client, being the Dean of the business school, insisted on paying. This led Daniel to consider the value of his time and expertise. Taking into account the hours he would invest and what he was willing to give away, he settled on a modest fee. This experience taught him the importance of gradually building the value of his work and valuing his own contributions.
Networking for Success: Building Relationships
Networking played a crucial role in Daniel’s journey as an artist. He emphasizes the significance of connecting with people he already knew, such as fellow artists, faculty members, and even individuals within his church community. Daniel highlights that while there are countless talented artists out there, people often prefer to buy from those they know and have built relationships with. By investing in genuine connections, he found new opportunities and recommendations for future clients.
Memorable Projects: Painting Stories
Among the various commissions Daniel has undertaken, one that stands out is a portrait of King David from the Bible. This particular project was significant because his client, who was both Christian and a history teacher, wanted the artwork to be meticulously accurate and representative of King David’s story. Daniel delved into research, studying previous paintings and immersing himself in the biblical account to capture the essence and complexity of the character. The challenge of bringing an ancient story to life through art was both rewarding and enjoyable for Daniel.
The Process of Creation: Research, Sketching, and Approval
When it comes to creating commissioned artworks, Daniel believes in a meticulous process. For the King David portrait, he conducted research on clothing, architecture, and the historical context. He explored previous artworks depicting King David and carefully read the biblical account. Sketching played a vital role in the development of the final composition, with input and approval from his client. Daniel’s attention to detail and collaboration ensured a meaningful and impactful artwork.
Dreaming Big: Future Projects and Inspirations
Daniel’s passion lies in painting scenes from the Bible, following a rich artistic tradition. He draws inspiration from renowned artists who have brought ancient stories to life through their brushstrokes. His dream scenario involves working on large-scale paintings with intricate details, capturing intense emotions and dramatic lighting. While he acknowledges the challenges of such ambitious projects, he aspires to create art that resonates with people and ignites their imagination.
Continuous Learning: Mastering the Craft
Daniel’s journey as an artist is marked by continuous learning. Currently, he is focused on honing his skills through live model portraits, exploring techniques to capture bone structure, flesh tones, and the interplay of light and shadow. By immersing himself in the process
Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am a full-time self-taught artist behind Art Side of Life® and a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I have 15 years of experience in the creative field as a concept designer, illustrator, art director, and now freelance artist, content creator, and art instructor. My goal is to help you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art through practical classes, tutorials, Procreate brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies and resources. About me »
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