Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Doug Reina Discusses His ‘Beach Party’

July 15, 2016 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Doug Reina
July 15, 2016 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Doug Reina

This week’s cover, “Beach Party,” a 2015 oil on canvas by Doug Reina, marks the artist’s sixth Dan’s Papers cover. “Beach Party” captures an idyllic summer scene—a fleeting moment in time, sunlight cast upon the faces of the group enjoying a barbecue on the sand—offering a reminder to savor the height of the season here on the East End. Reina works out of his studio in Setauket, where he also offers painting classes.

There’s almost a nostalgic quality to this painting. Is that a typical element of your work?
While it’s true that I’m attracted to older things that have some character, and this group certainly has that, I think what I’m really interested in are the off-beat scenarios that relate somehow to what I’m feeling in my life. I sometimes think that most of my paintings, at least the ones that have some weight to them, are really just self-portraits.

As I look at this cover painting, what I tune into is that everyone in the group is having a fine time except the fellow in the white shirt. His mind is elsewhere and that creates a subtle tension for me that I find interesting. I like it when a painting makes me start to wonder, what’s going on here? I also like it when a painting shares a quiet, truthful moment that we all can feel.

Do you paint from models or from imagination?
Normally I prefer to paint from life. However, the models for this panting came from an old book ,called How to Make Good Movies, published by the Eastman Kodak Company.

What’s your background in art?
I grew up in a family of artists, where I was constantly drawing funny pictures. I had some fine art classes in college. After that I tried my hand at cartooning and sold some work to King Features Syndicate as well as The New Yorker and other publications. Around 1995, I got into painting and for the next several, exciting years, spent most of my time painting landscapes on location. Of all the teachers I’ve ever had, painting from nature was where I learned the most. In 2006 I left my corporate day job and began painting full time. In 2014, I received a Pollock-Krasner grant, which enabled me to open my studio in Setauket. This was a wonderful opportunity for me and I’m very grateful to the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. I had a nice career moment recently as I exhibited in ArtHamptons this year for the first time. In addition to exhibiting and selling my work, I also teach painting out of my studio and also at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills.

How would you describe the art scene on the East End?
The East End art scene is in a sacred, creative land, filled with the ghosts of great artists who shaped the direction of art history. It’s also chock full of very talented living artists, whose work I find both exciting and fresh.

There’s also a creative community on the East End that I really enjoy. Making art in my studio is a solitary experience. When I need a break, I find spending time with other artists who understand what life is like as a creative professional to be really nice. I’ve made some wonderful friends with artists from the East End.

Who are some of your favorite artists or sources of inspiration?
Edward Hopper, Richard Diebenkorn, Fairfield Porter to just name a few. As for a contemporary artist, lately I’ve been looking at Enrique Martinez Celaya, as I’m curious about his creative thinking when it comes to making paintings. I also want to mention a really nice podcast that I listen to quite frequently called The Savvy Painter. Lots of interviews with talented artists.

To see more by Doug Reina, and for information on his classes, visit dougreina.com.

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