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12 Questions: Tim Day


I am a scientist and an artist. My science background tells me to experiment.

I cannot understand how a creative person, an artist, is bound to a single style, form, or type of art.

I strive to infuse my life and travels into my artwork. Images may include anywhere from Nebraska’s dirt roads to Kyoto’s Shinto shrines.

My subjects can also be culled from current or past media/photos.

I try to filter the influences from past art studies into my own.

Having an open mind to the use of new materials and methods in order to produce a new vision is important.

Remaining technically sound and producing in a professional manner is a must.

Compound the above with my passion for art and the final goal is to make creative works that will be worth looking at now and in the future.

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

- “The History Of Art” - EH Gombrich

- “Leonardo Da Vinci” - Raffaele Monti - this is a small college text book that always stuck with me - I still have it and have been lucky enough to see many of the paintings in the book over the years.

- “Late Twentieth Century Art" - A review of a small museum show that I saw in the late 1970’s which introduced me to many of the new artists of the time. This show and book have always kept me searching for new art.

2. What are you currently working on?

“The Jataka Tales” - stories (550) about morals taught through the previous lives of the Buddha. I just finished an oil monotype based on “Shaka Giving His Own Life to Feed the Hungry Tigress” ( see below). This is from a Japanese painting but the stories take place in Northern India from 300 BCE to 400CE. This artwork is titled “Compassion and Sacrifice”. I also finished a charcoal on Duralar piece that goes with this. It is of the Mankiala Stupa - built in around 200CE to commemorate the place where this tale took place.

Next up is the “Dog King” tale to be done on fabric.

"Compassion & Sacrifice"

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

My wife and I opened an art gallery in Milwaukee approximately 12 years ago. The gallery was popular but we found it very hard too sell art at that time.

We focused on Outsider and Contemporary art and showed graduate students, their professors and other emerging artists. We only survived 2 years but learned a lot about the arts field, display, framing, interviewing artists, and advertising. Most importantly we made many new friends in the arts and around Milwaukee.

I say that what we learned was that we should focus on our own artwork and take this experience to help us in the future. ( Also, not to take rejection too hard).

4. What is your most unusual habit?

I’m not sure this is unusual but I try to clean my studio very well between very project.

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

David Hockney in his earlier, sketching in color style.

David Hockney’s “Picture Emphasizing Stillness”

6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

Indispensable items would be, in order: Erasers ( for intentional erasing), charcoal powder and pencils, Gouache ( for color).

I built my studio myself inside of one of our barns. I feel very lucky to have a large heated space inside another more open space for woodworking tools, saws, storage, etc. My wife liked it so much that she had an exact space built next to mine in the same barn ( our work styles and music preferences are very different).

Regardless of the size, the studios still seem too small?

7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

Typically I draw or paint something completely different from what I’m working on. It can just be a view out the window, a photo I took walking, etc. I just do this to keep moving forward and practice new ideas or styles.

Sometimes I’ll copy another artist’s style ( like a Kiki Smith drawing) just to figure out how they work.

I’m always asking myself if my work means anything and what I can do to be different.

8. Who/What influences your work?

Oh so many.

Early Picasso ( red and blue periods). Andy Warhol - multiples concept. David Hockney - his early works like “Picture Emphasizing Stillness, 1962”. Which I accidentally got to see right before Covid.

Chinese and Renaissance art.

More recently: Rashid Johnson, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Marlene Dumas, Firelei Baez and Peter Doig.

9. Do you collect anything?

This is an issue which has led to many garage and on-line sales lately!

I’ve pared this down to art books, old cameras and vintage, painted wooden tool boxes. (I’m currently re-making some of these tool boxes out of fabric).

Another collection I started in my 20’s is buying or trading artwork. Typically I’ve been able to buy quality artists, some emerging, at very low prices. Some favorites are by; Carroll Dunham, Alec Soth, Christian Patterson, Prophet Blackmon, Martin Creed and recently Nalani Malani.

10. What words of advice would you give to your younger self?

Think Bigger!

11. In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?

Retirement from my previous career. I’m now able to spend at least 2-3 hours a day on art. The remainder of time I am usually working outside, which frees my mind up for art.

12. Share an inspiring image.

Tim Day is a part of our current group exhibition: NEAR & FAR LIGHT on ARTSY

James May Gallery Dousman, WI 262-753-3130

Please continue to support us by visiting our Artsy page or feel free to contact us: 262-753-3130


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