This week’s cover, “Only On Long Island,” is by the Massapequa-based artist Yvonne Dagger. Capturing the iconic Montauk Point Lighthouse, Dagger pays homage to the bounty of the land and sea on Long Island. The work nicely complements Dan’s Papers’ newest Taste of Summer event, ClambakeMTK at Gurney’s Montauk, the oceanfront food and drink fest, which premieres this Saturday, July 30.
For now, the artist gives insight into her work, background as an artist and the surprising fact that her dog is also an artist!
What led you to being an artist?
I have always had a deep desire to create. I guess my love for art was there from the time I can remember. Even as a young child I loved sitting at my easel painting landscapes and seascapes using a Grumbacher beginner art set housed in a wooden box with a handle…given to me for Christmas by my parents. I studied fine art in high school and was the President of Art Club for three years and then went on to college to major in fine art later on in life, after my kids were grown. With the encouragement and support from my husband, Denis, and my family I continued to excel as an artist. Even though art has always been a huge part of my life, it wasn’t until I had my first successful art show and won many awards that I considered myself a “fine artist.”
What’s a typical day like for you in the summer?
Besides working on my painting commissions, I have also been spending a great deal of time working with one of our pet dogs. Dagger II is a 3 1/2 year old black Labrador retriever release dog from Canine Companions for Independence. He knows over 35 commands. Last summer as I was painting at my easel in my studio, Dagger kept nudging me. Jokingly, I asked him if he wanted to paint. Immediately, his tail began to wag like crazy. So, I then set up a tabletop easel on the floor and placed a canvas on it. Using the commands he had learned while he was in advanced training for Canine Companions for Independence, I taught him how to paint. His story went viral early this spring. He is now a worldwide sensation. His paintings [by “DogVinci”] can be seen all over the world. The highlight of his art career thus far was when he was invited to appear on the Rachael Ray Show. That was a very exciting and special day. Dagger has sold over 150 paintings in less then a year with profits from every sale going to animal and people related causes. As a result, my studio is OUR studio now. A creative space where music fills the air and happiness is felt every minute.
Who are some of your favorite artists or sources of inspiration?
Some of my favorite artists are John Singer Sargent, Wayne Thiebaud, Mary Cassatt and Chuck Close. Recently, I’ve been inspired by Dagger, aka DogVinci. Dagger’s works are pure abstract. He paints without inhibitions or knowledge of art history. His mind is clear—his brush strokes land where they land. It’s total freedom with an absence of coercion or constraint in choice or action. It makes me a little jealous as an artist. I think it’s where many artists, myself included, yearn to be.