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Artist Check-in: Duncan McDaniel

Nashville-based artist, Duncan McDaniel, shares more about his artistic process, upcoming projects he is working on, and what he has learned this pandemic year. On April 3, his show ROOTED will open at The Red Arrow Gallery in Nashville.  Check out their website to learn more about how to see the show.


How are you feeling today? This week? This new year?

Overall, I’m feeling optimistic about the year ahead. The vaccine, social change, new president, and upcoming spring to name a few.


What are you looking forward to doing this year in your art practice?

I’ve been painting a lot since the new year as the Red Arrow Gallery is hosting a solo exhibition of my work April 3rd. The work will be mostly non-objective, abstract acrylic paintings of colorful stacked lines. I start passively painting lines at 6am every morning. The process is cathartic for me, the paintings almost make themselves. The challenge is to not allow my conscious mind get in the way. It’s taking me along to come to this realization. When I am standing in front of a canvas it is important for me to achieve a certain flow like state when making marks. If I try too hard to make it work then the end result often comes out overworked and contrived.  I love making this type of work, it is simple, direct and evokes a mostly Zen and positive response from the viewer.

I’m also in the process of completing a public art piece for a residential park in the DC area this spring. The sculpture is a botanical inspired assemblage of steel and plastic discs. It shares visual qualities that the paintings have in the way that I am stacking and presenting certain colors to achieve a state of harmony. Color is very important to me. Certain combinations create a visual effect like a tuning fork. They resonate with each other and have a language of their own.


How can people continue to support artist in their communities?

The pandemic has changed a lot of things in the art world. As all other realms of retail collectors seem to be keen on buying art online without having to see it in person. The galleries are certainly shifting their methods to accommodate this. Many of my peers are selling their work for affordable prices on Instagram and promising to buy work from other artists. I think this is a great way for artists to support one another.  On a side note I run a small art handling company here in Nashville. We deal first hand with a lot of people moving here from out of state that are hiring us because they care a lot about their art collections. We try and steer them into collecting local from the galleries.


Do you have any #protips or things you have learned in the past year that you would like to share with fellow artists?

This past year has been full of unique challenges for everyone. My greatest challenge this year has been learning how to be comfortable at a slower pace and be gentler on myself. I’m pretty well adapted to this new life now, however, I am definitely ready to see people in a normal capacity again. With that being said, this year without the usual social distractions has had a very positive impact on my art practice. And having the time to spend with my wife and now 2-year-old daughter has taught me a lot about myself and how to be more present in the moment. My art making now reflects this. Learning to slow down and be more present when in the studio has had a profound impact on my work.


What is your go-to food of choice these days? Any new recipes that you have tried that you are excited to make again? 

There is a new báhn mì restaurant next to our house that we are totally hooked on. My wife, who is English, has gotten into the habit of making a Sunday Roast each week, usually with a whole chicken. I take the remains and make a delicious broth for chicken tortilla soup using any sort of leftover ingredients in the fridge. This ritual has been going on for months and never gets old.


Artist Bio:


I am an interdisciplinary artist with a goal of promoting an awareness of place using light, color, sculptural design elements, and playful interaction. After Graduating from SCAD in 2006 I embarked on a creative journey through the exploration of my own personal aesthetic and how it spontaneously influences my interpretation of the world around me. Ranging from oil paintings, drawings, public art, and site-specific installations my process covers a wide range of techniques. Though these multiple avenues I am always searching for the better artist within myself. This open-ended journey always leads me somewhere new and uncharted with a plethora of images to show for along the way.


You can see more of Duncan’s work on his website:

Or on his Instagram: @duncan_mcdaniel


Sliced Paradise, 2020 Acrylic on canvas


Cloak, 2020 Acrylic on paper


Hatari, 2019 Acrylic on paper



MagnaWave #5, 2020 Acrylic on canvas


Concept drawing for public artwork in the Washington D.C. area to be completed in May of 2021.


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