In this Art Talk, we explore the themes behind the practice of one of our most unique artists, Daniel St-Amant. Read our interview with the artist below! Let us know what you think!
An artist based out of Toronto, Daniel St-Amant, creates his works with paint along with mixed media, including found objects from nature such as dirt and tree bark.
Daniel St-Amant currently works in Toronto, creating his mixed media artworks that utilize objects he has found in nature (such as dirt, moss, driftwood, or tree bark). He will also create unique textures from urban settings. One example of this is having vehicles drive over canvases to capture the tire tracks onto the canvas. His goal for his work is to raise questions about how current human activities are encroaching and affecting not only the animals and their habitats but also the people.
He holds a BFA from NSCAD University and a graduate’s diploma from Seneca College at York University in Visual Effects for film and television. His work is found in collections in Canada and internationally.
Daniel’s artistic practice represents a blend of wildlife painting and a medium he describes as a “modern surface.” He lays his canvasses on road surfaces in areas of urban traffic or construction and lets vehicles leave their impressions. Then, in the midst of those urban imprints, he paints wildlife that often seems poised in watchfulness, almost demanding the viewer engage with them. Modern Surface explores the way human encroachment, driven by consumption, leaves its impression on the landscape and wildlife around us. My paintings’ somber but resolute subjects stand out and confront the human gaze, forcing us to acknowledge our place within nature, not above it, no matter what indelible marks we might leave on the landscape.
Quebec-born Daniel St-Amant is right in the thick of forging his reputable path in the art world. St-Amant has accumulated a plethora of credentials, such as a Fine Arts diploma at Champlain College, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) from the esteemed Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), and a graduate diploma from Seneca at York University in visual effects for film and television. He combines artistic talent with strong design and technical skills as a visual effects artist at one of the top feature film studios in Toronto, where he has received multiple VFX credits on Hollywood features such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ben Hur, and most recently Wolverine “Logan”.
interview with the artist
CH: What would you say motivates your practice? Why do you create? Who encouraged you to keep painting?
DS: My main motivation for painting is a desire to produce work that has meaning and hopefully contributes something to someone’s life. I create because I have the desire to create; my mind is constantly coming up with ideas and formulas to create images. I think it’s something that I have nurtured since childhood. I try to encourage myself, and my family and friends all support me as well.
CH: You seem to work with animals almost exclusively as the subject of your paintings; what is your motivation behind this? What messages are you trying to convey with your work?
DS: I just really love animals. I grew up in the country and spent most of my childhood fishing and camping in the woods. My work is motivated and inspired by the environment and our relationship with it. I want the viewer to focus on the animal and their expressions. I’m attempting to create a narrative with the composition, in most cases, that is both visually interesting and conceptually intriguing. I love using texture and found objects in my pieces, whether it be elements of the forest floor or concrete, to help foster that experience in the viewer. I also enjoy painting studies of birds with no specific intent but for observation. These studies are a celebration of nature painted on recycled raw canvas drop clothes that have been stretched.
CH: our paintings all use unconventional techniques and materials. How does this affect your process? Why do you do it? In your opinion, what was the most interesting object you incorporated into a painting?
DS: The infamous tire tracks showed up in my work because I was trying to incorporate the presence of humanity without being literal. The idea that climate change was affecting the natural world had me thinking of different ways to represent it visually. We all participate, whether we like it or not, in this problem, and using tire tracks seemed like a great way to incorporate those concepts in a subtle way. The fact that people drive over my work unbeknown to them randomly and unintentionally is the perfect metaphor for industrialization. Not one individual is responsible, but we as a collective are. That was the impetus for my ideas of incorporating industrial tools (such as power washers), dirt, and found objects in the artwork.
CH: What are your goals for your art practice in 2022/23? Any particular direction you wish to go in your artistic practice for this year?
DS: I would like to experiment further with relief, adding more structural elements to my paintings. Exhibitions are starting to return with a vengeance, and I feel not only the art world but the community as a whole is ready to engage with artwork in person again. I am excited to share what I have been working on and show my growth over the last couple of years.
CH: Are you revisiting old motifs, old media, and techniques you’ve worked with?
DS: I am always revisiting old styles and motifs. I try to rework them to achieve the perfect composition, each piece informed by those that came before. I feel as though the work throughout my practice is constantly progressing, building on the body of work as a whole. I am always creating new iterations that comment on the theme of climate change which acts as a throughline in my practice.
CH: Can you describe a day in your studio life?
DS: I am a creature of habit and comfort, so my time in the studio typically begins with organizing the space. Then, I like to enjoy a cup of tea before I get into mixing colours, cleaning brushes, and sketching. However, I always let the painting lead me to wherever it takes me. I always trust myself even through blocks and struggles, which I think my experience really helps with. I will always figure out a way through it.
When it comes to the idea itself, truthfully, there is no beginning and no end to my work or the thought process. It is on a continuous loop in my head as to what I am working on and where it can take me creatively.
CH: What do you think brings you the most inspiration to start painting?
DS: I feel with every piece, there is always a moment when everything starts clicking. This is when I move to the studio. As I mentioned earlier, my brain does not stop, and I am constantly thinking about new work, so when I feel confident and have a solid plan in my head, I always look forward to the execution phase.
CH: What has been the most enjoyable part of your art career so far?
DS: Over time, seeing the evolution of my work from show to show. Seeing the refinement of the overall message. My growth and clarity as an artist and creating what is important to me. Which I hope translates to others and their enjoyment of the pieces.
CH: What does the term “art” mean to you? How does it identify with your practice?
DS: I think art is anything that evokes a reaction in the viewer or in the artist. I feel fulfillment as well as a purging of ideas that would otherwise crowd my brain. It is a very therapeutic process and a release of tension and thoughts. It calms me.
CH: Has anyone influenced you significantly in your artistic journey? If so, who and what did this change? Are there any other artists/artworks that you are inspired/influenced by?
DS: Anselm Kiefer, Picasso, Dali, Claus Oldenberg, Richard Anert, Elixr Technique, — motif, the scale of work, personality. As I personally know two of the artists, I love watching them grow along with their incredible body of work. It is truly inspiring.
CH: What do you do in your leisure time when you aren’t painting?
DS: Besides working my full-time job in Visual FX, I enjoy relaxing with a cup of tea, raising my two boys (plus our husky), and spending quality time outdoors.
CH: If a genie were to turn you into an animal besides a human, what do you think you would be? Why?
DS: I am more of a bear trying to be a bird
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