Artist’s Choice: Dan Walsh
Oct 6, 2014

A man points to artwork on a wall

2014 Biennial artist Dan Walsh discusses his work with families in the galleries, May 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

On May 3, 2014 Biennial artist Dan Walsh joined families for an Artist’s Choice Workshop to discuss his unconventional way of painting. Although the perfect forms in Walsh’s large works appear to have been made mechanically, he painted every line and shape by hand through a painstaking layering process. Families were fascinated as Walsh explained the meticulous method that he uses to create his geometric shapes.

For his work in the Biennial, the artist used three different-sized sash brushes, working with larger to smaller brushstrokes as the painting developed. This process, which the artist described as meditative, could take up to six hours for just one layer of color. One kid said that she couldn’t believe how uncomplicated the paintings looked but how challenging it was to create them.

A man gestures towards a series of printed small images pinned to a wall

Artist Dan Walsh shares images that inspire him, May 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Walsh brought in a collection of art historical images that inspire him. He explained how he looks for a source of visual energy in these images, focusing on individual marks and translating them into his paintings. 

A young girl looks at a photograph in her hands

Families look closely at a photograph of Charles II, 1684, by Honore Pelle, May 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

He asked families to choose one of the images, look closely, and find a mark within the image that they found the most visually interesting. One girl chose a photograph of a marble portrait of King Charles II. She was fascinated by the tight, undulating curls of his wig. 

A child paints with a rich blue onto a blank canvas.

Families experiment with different sized paint brushes, May 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Families explored the qualities of their chosen mark, first with pencil, and then by making a painting on canvas with a range of brushes — some of which were the same ones that Walsh uses in his own paintings. Different-sized brushes allowed families to engage with the forms of their marks in new ways and experiment with the shape and aesthetic effect of each stroke.

As families painted, Walsh encouraged them to push their work in different directions by pointing out the sources of visual energy in their compositions.

By the end of the workshop, families had developed layered paintings that expressed their unique interpretations of the mark they selected. Families were delighted to make paintings on canvas and commented that they really enjoyed working with the variety of sumptuous sash brushes that they don’t usually get to use.

Check out our past Artist’s Choice Workshops or learn more about upcoming programs.

By Billie Rae Vinson, Coordinator of Family Programs