Daniel Burns' career has evolved in threes: three coasts and three pivotal teachers. Born in Western New York in 1972, Burns drew constantly as a way to create a world apart from the gray suburban environs.  Burns attended art school in New York, graduating from SUNY New Paltz in 1997. He has said that the only thing he learned in art school was disillusionment and excessive self- criticism. Ego took precedence over skill and craft. 

 

After graduation, Burns set out west to California in the tradition of Jack Kerouac.  He ultimately landed in Los Angeles by way of Portland and San Francisco.  He was working at an art supply store where he met artist Tom X who would introduce Burns to a world of free artistic expression.  Tom X was an artist known for a broad, gestural, fast and loose style that freed the artist to connect to deeper feelings. The setting where Burns chose to work was the western most edge of the continent where the sun shone and the palm trees swayed in the wind. The medium was charcoal on paper and the emphasis was on gesture, breath, expression, and having fun with the process. Burns discovered that he still had something left inside of him that needed to be let out. Working in this way, creating spontaneous drawings led Burns on a quest to connect his body, his spirit, and his art with the world around him. During this time, Burns took advantage of the California sun to create hundreds of plein air charcoal on paper drawings that explored the richness of shadow, contrast, and movement.

 

In 2006 Burns and his young family set out for New York City where his east coast art education came full circle. Focusing on experience over representation, Burns began taking classes at the Art Students League with Philip Lawrence Sherrod. However, after the fast, loose, and spontaneous style of Tom X and Los Angeles, Burns found these lessons stifling and boring. One day he decided to cut class and set out for Central Park for a morning of plein air drawing in one of the busiest parks in the world. He showed the drawings to Sherrod who then invited Burns to join his street painter group. The group met on the corner of 23rd and 6th.  Thickly applying paint to the canvas in quick and spontaneous strokes was a revelatory moment for Burns. He began painting everything and everywhere he could. His goal was to paint the way he drew- quickly, freely, and with expression. During this time, Burns produced a body of work that captures the beautiful riotous humanity of the city. Eschewing major landmarks, he chose unconventional subject matter- open doorways on the Lower East Side, fire hydrants, and bright bodega storefronts.

 

Constantly evolving, Burns has entered a new chapter in his artistic evolution. He lives and works on the Third Coast in Austin, TX and continues to paint plein air. He loves the immediacy of painting in the moment. As a plein air artist one is forced to face all of one's doubts and fears in full view of the public. The subject of the work is a moving target that is constantly changing and shifting and requires the artist to be present and open to changes and adjustments. In Austin, Burns is working under the tutelage of Edward Povey to harness some of the looseness and irregularity of plein air painting and combine it with deliberate studio painting with more studied and meticulous choices regarding composition, color, and subject.  Even though he is now working more from the studio, the important of place continues to figure largely in Burns' work.  Through more deliberate and more sophisticated choices in color, form, and medium, his paintings of the city around him- the buildings, people, and parks still reflect a dynamic and fascinating inner world.

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