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Chopping Block: Dan May

While browsing through the dreamlike work of this week’s artist, I couldn’t help but feel like I was pulled into one of the crazy, whimsical storybooks I used to read as a kid. Each painting possesses a unique and captivating story of its own. The painter of these tale-like images, Dan May, is in high demand around the world for his mysterious imagery and flowing style. Currently residing in Michigan with his wife, Kendal and son, Max, Dan continues to create paintings, many of which  feature gentle creatures exuding deep, mysterious emotion.  Intrigued by his original style and highly detailed technique, we had Dan tell us a bit about the process behind his creations.

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POW: We’ve really been looking forward to the release of our first wood print with you, “April Showers.” Like a majority of your artwork, the painting features a creature and its encounter with nature.  Can you tell us more about the the symbolism behind this character, the leaf on his head and the rain drops coming down all around him?

May: Thanks! So happy to be working together on this release. While there is not any specific symbolism with this painting, I painted it as the snow is melting, uncovering leaves left behind from last fall. Thankfully, there are plenty of signs that spring is just around the corner. I would say that creatures tend to experience some of the things I see and feel!

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April Showers by Dan May

POW: I’ve found that some artists incorporate personal elements into their paintings, elements that aren’t easily recognizable to the viewer. Can you let us in on any discrete elements in your artwork that the average reader might not pick up on?

May: While my work is not entirely autobiographical, I do use the world that I have created to convey issues that I have personally experienced as well as my observations of the world at large. I do like to keep a certain degree of ambiguity with the work, but I can say that some of my work deals with the loss of my father. I think that most of us have dealt with loss on some level. My hope is that although the images have a personal meaning, they will also transcend my interpretation and seep into the viewers mind, inspiring stories that they can connect with.

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Where Time Beckons the Wicked by Dan May

POW: Viewing your work, I can’t help but to be reminded of children’s books like Where The Wild Things Are and pretty much every Doctor Seuss book. Now that you have a young son, have you given thought to creating and/or illustrating a children’s book? one? Any Ideas for a storyline?

May: Those were some of my favorite books as a child, I am certainly looking forward to sharing them with my son. I have a few stories in mind that I would love to turn into books at some point. I am enjoying watching my son grow, no doubt he will inspire plenty of stories/paintings in the years to come. Honestly, there are not enough hours in the day... I just really wish I could stop time so that I could write and illustrate a bunch of books!

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POW: Speaking of books, you have a book of your art coming out this year, can you tell us more about it and when it will be available?

May: Yes, my wife and I are collaborating on a book compiling the last few years of 'Gentle Creatures' paintings. The book will feature the paintings, sketches, short stories, etc. The birth of our son slowed down the process a bit, but we have been working on it whenever we find the time. We do not have an exact release date, but when we do you'll certainly hear about it!

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POW:“The Imagination of Dan May”, is a closed Facebook page one of your devout fans created as “a safe place to enjoy the art of one of my favorite artists. His imagination and the emotion it brings out is fascinating to me and many others.”  What an incredible compliment to say the least, what does it feel like to have that kind of impact on people?

May: This was very nice! The fact that people take time out of their day to enjoy an image that I created, share my work with friends and family, or invest their hard earned money to hang my art in their home is truly humbling to me. I am so grateful to have such amazing fans. As a child, I could not have even imagined that my work could have such an affect on others.

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Wish You Were Here by Dan May

POW: You offer an art subscription for your collectors which sounds like a great way to get an art collection started, how has the response been to the subscription?  Are there still spots available?

May: Yes, we offered a subscription featuring this years Gentle Creatures prints along with a few other bonuses. Figured it would be a nice way for collectors to secure all of the prints, build their collection, and get a little discount for their loyalty. We offered 50 spots at the beginning of the year and we currently have 9 spots remaining. Once the spots are full we will close it out for the year.

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Echoes of Existence by Dan May

POW: This winter was particularly severe through the mid-west and east coast states.  Do you think the weather affected your work more than usual this year?  How does it affect, if at all, the characters and their surroundings in your paintings?

May: Surprisingly, this year in Northern Michigan was not nearly as bad as last year, snow-wise. We had several days below zero, but there was plenty of sun. This was refreshing as anyone who has lived in an area that is grey and cold knows! The weather definitely affects my work and overall mood. It always has. Living in an area that has four distinct seasons (all very beautiful) it definitely seeps into my work. I love nature and outdoor activities and I'm constantly taking in my surroundings and making mental notes for future paintings.

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For more information on Dan May, please visit: http://danmay.net/