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Meet the Artist: Dan Wheatley

31 March 2020

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The second in our series of artist Q&As throughout our month-long art exhibition at our Babbacombe development is with Dan Wheatley, who talks to us about his work and what inspires him. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I would call myself a Fine Artist who specialises in observational Figurative Portrait, Skyscape and Trompe l’oeil painting. I’m also a course leader in Art and Design in Plymouth’s South West Art Warehouse, teaching and lecturing in Fine Art whilst developing my collection and taking commissions.

Do you have a favourite medium and why?
I primarily work with oil paint. I’ve been working with it since I was 15 and love the richness of it. It’s also the medium of choice of the old masters and I’ve always been draw to their work. 

How do you begin a piece? Is there a particular method/creative process you follow?
I have quite a traditional approach to oil painting and drawing though I have also been exploring how to combine these with experimental film and sound work; mixing film and two-dimensional oil painting on canvas, exploring and progressing the possibilities of this fusion. 

What have you been working on lately?
I was recently commissioned to paint two pictures for the main room at Kitley House, a privately-owned stately home used for weddings and events. After a few discussions and brainstorms, I decided to draw upon Caravaggio’s works featuring angels, painting them into some big dramatic cloudscapes. The resulting pieces look quite striking within the setting of the room and I’m really proud of them. 

What inspires you to create your pieces? Are there any artists who have influenced your work?
I was fortunate enough to be mentored by Robert Lenkiewicz, one of the south west’s most celebrated artists in recent times. I worked in his Barbican studios and he both inspired and encouraged me in my work. I also love the work of the old masters such as Caravaggio, Turner and Rembrandt, and draw a lot of my inspiration from their pieces. 

What is your favourite/most inspirational place in Devon?
I’ve got two, Hembury Fort in Hembury woods on the east side of Dartmoor and the South Coast near Bantham. Hembury Fort is just completely unspoilt and has a magical, mystical feel to like, like you’re going back in time, while the south coast is wild and elemental. I spend a lot of time there, studying the clouds and how they interact with the wind.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Never ignore the old masters. A lot of the younger artists I teach focus on current, trendy artwork mediums like you see on Instagram or from tattoo artists, but there is so much to gain in learning about – and from – the old masters.