Boulder is a small enough town that you begin to hear the same names over and over again, and one name I’ve heard a lot in the last few years is Will Day. Will is an contemporary abstract painter, and a very talented one at that; I’m thrilled to include him in this series because I end up learning as much as you do- these are questions you don’t really get to ask in casual conversation but are so important in how they inform the artist’s work and life. In Will’s case, his entire other life in New York City finance, pre-9/11. Below he reflects on his work, process, inspiration, everything to explain how he ended up creating beautiful art.
How would you describe your art? I describe my art as an opportunity to bring forth a story in the moment and not as a sequence of events. Many of my paintings have been commissioned, and for each, I try to connect to and relay the inner narrative of my patron. This has generated a body of work characterized by individual instances rather than series work with permutations of one concept or theme. Yet there is continuity to be found in my process of building a painting and experimenting with tools and techniques of applying oils and acrylics.
Each painting I approach with spontaneity and openness. The paintings are a reflection of my journey, representing the soul’s evolution and the expression of my spirit responding freely. There are no restrictions or rules.
Who or what influence you/your work? Where do you draw your inspiration? There have been many influences with my art. But I must thank my wife as one of the main influences to get me motivated and believe in myself. I have to tell this story because it changed the course of our family, our lives and me as an artist. After the trauma of 9/11 in which Aimee survived the collapse of the World Trade Towers, I left a career in finance and studied architecture, which turned out to be a way station for me to turn to painting. My architectural impulse carried over in the expressive actions of manipulating my implements, often those associated with construction — the cheaper the tools the better. With various surfaces serving as a field of operations, I create textures, layers, and effect layers, discovering relationships and using resulting edges to create structure.
Also, Wassily Kandinsky’s work has had a significant influence on my approach to painting. Kandinsky “devoted his art to inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and the spiritual desire of inner necessity;” it was a central aspect of his art. My hope is to disseminate joy and inspiration through my compositions/stories on canvas where every painting reflects an opportunity to search, pursue and live from the heart, contrary to the status quo.
Describe the process of creating your art? How do you begin? How long does it typically take to create a piece? How do you know when something is done? The process of creating art is unique with every canvas. Sometimes paintings take one day to create or four months. It is a special experience depending on the emotions and feelings of the day. In my heart, I will know when the painting is complete. Also, music is largely important to the creativity and flow for expression when I paint. I am always amazed when a painting has found its voice and balance on the canvas. It is a timeless feeling.
I enter each work as a path through the unknown to a self-overcoming experience. It is the act of painting that drives each piece to where it wants to be. I start with a lone mark. I apply paint directly on the surface. Then struggle with the canvas and relent to the viscous material accepting and resisting my strokes. When I was young, I enjoyed playing many sports, and so my natural inclination is expression through physicality, but now it is the means by which I seek a higher power to tell a soul’s tale. Ultimately, I aim to embrace the divine spirit, which lives in all of us, leading the viewer on a journey of beauty and truth.
Which of you pieces are you exceptionally happy with/proud of? Why? There are several painting experiences that have a played a major role in my life. The first one that comes to mind was a commission for the lobby space at The Balfour Senior Living Community in downtown Denver, Colorado. This was an 11 feet painting behind the desk, which is titled “Over the Rainbow.” The painting represents the idea that Life is still going on, and the rainbow is a metaphor that circulates color throughout everybody’s human soul, and try’s to remind us that God is with you.
The other painting is located in Steamboat Springs titled, “Heart” where I first got my start at the K.Saari Gallery by exhibiting my new work. It is a very important piece for me. It was my first horizon landscape painting, the first time I used different architectural tools like edges and squeegees and different materials like varnish. It was a new discovery for me. It was a painting experience where I discovered my heart.
What is your favorite part of being an artist? Least favorite? Waking up every morning knowing that I have the opportunity to create something new and make a visual impact on the world. Also, having the freedom to express myself on canvas without any limitations is truly a gift. One of the challenges and least favorite parts of being an artist for me is trying to stay motivated and not let the outside voices discourage you.
Fill in the blank: ‘I wouldn’t be caught dead putting ___ on my walls’? I wouldn’t be caught dead putting prints or fake art on my walls. I believe your space is a wonderful opportunity to use as place to inspire and rekindle memories. I don’t care what type of art you choose but I would say challenge yourself to include handmade and original works from your heart.
Which contemporary artists do you admire? I am always trying to learn about contemporary artists who are leading the way in new ideas and techniques. These are a few artists that I admire their work and story: Mark Bradford, Cecily Brown, Dan Colen and Christopher Wool.
What are some of your other interests/hobbies? Anywhere there is adventure, I want to be there. I love sports, hiking with the family, coaching lacrosse, playing golf and skiing. Also, traveling to new countries and learning about cultures keeps me young and motivated.
In a fantasy world where ALL the world’s art was available and price was no issue, what piece would you like to own? I would love to have Monet’s Water lilies paintings in my house somewhere. But if that was taken I would be happy to hold onto Leonardo DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa”.