A Guiding Light

“I typically find my inspiration while walking my dog,” says artist Wayne Daniels. “It’s usually not the subject itself that attracts me, but the way the light hits it. It will be a certain time of day, and the light hits a landscape just right.”

Other than light, the Cazenovia native finds inspiration in other artists. “I will look at artists of the past, study one of their paintings and try to create a contemporary version of it using local subject matter,” says Wayne. He created “Cazenovia Alleyway” after looking at 17th-century Dutch paintings of townscapes. “Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Little Street’ is an example,” he continues. “He painted a street scene with a lot of brick buildings, and I wanted to get the same feel with that particular painting.”

Wayne says he can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t drawing. He was the recipient of several Scholastic Art Awards as a kid, and he focused largely on painting wildlife with watercolors. Once he reached high school, however, an art teacher showed his class a film about Rembrandt. He began experimenting with oil paints and subjects other than wildlife.

Before he leaped into landscapes – what he describes as “contemporary realism” – he focused on figurative drawing. “The portrait I painted of my girlfriend Jill is probably the best thing I’ve created so far,” he admits. “I love painting people. If I had more people to pose for me, I would probably do a lot more figurative paintings.”

Landscapes remain Wayne’s focus today, in part, because they “sell better than portraits of strangers.” He supports himself with his artwork, and has been doing so since 1990, when he quit his full-time job to hone his craft.

“When I was 30, I began to get really serious with my artwork,” he explains. “So I spent about five years, until I was 35, saving up enough money to have a little financial cushion. I have been working part-time ever since.”

His decision is paying off. In 1997, he began showing his work at Cazenovia’s Goodsight Gallery, and has since had work at the Beehive Gallery, the Gallery of CNY, Maresella Galleries of Cazenovia, and many local and national exhibitions. Most recently, his painting “Sullivan Street” was chosen as a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine’s annual competition. This is the fourth time he’s been honored as a finalist.

“People often tell me I should go to the Rockies or the coast for my artwork,” he says, “but I think that’s overdone. A few years ago, I took a trip to New England, and the best scenery I saw was along Route 20 on the way. Upstate New York has so much open space, so much farmland. Maybe it’s the familiarity for me, but it’s beautiful.”

If you’d like to see more of Wayne’s artwork, or if you are interested in purchasing his paintings, visit fineartamerica.com/profiles/wayne-daniels.html.,/i>

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Wayne Daniels is a member of CNY Arts, which “provides support and assistance to individual artists and arts and cultural organizations through access to grants, capacity-building assistance, education and training, and promotional services.” For more information about the organization, visit cnyarts.org.


by Alyssa LaFaro