Readers of Dan’s Papers will likely recognize this week’s cover art, “Cardinal Winter,” as the work of frequent cover contributor Mike Stanko. Known for his bright colors and thick black outlines, Stanko has a style that’s unmistakable.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
The cardinal was my mother’s favorite bird. When I was growing up, she always kept bird feeders in the backyard. All types of birds would come, but she always called me to look at the colorful cardinals when they were feeding. Naturally, whenever I see a cardinal, I think of Mom, and I’ve made a few paintings of them in her memory.
How has living on Long Island informed your work?
All my life I’ve lived on Long Island with beaches and New York City, each only miles away, providing four seasons of inspiration! The south shore beaches, the rural North Fork, and the electricity of the city are all major influences on my work.
Aside from your own work, what are some of your favorite works of art?
I really appreciate the narrative Americana style of Norman Rockwell, in all of his works but especially “The Runaway;” Maxfield Parrish’s dreamy subjects and the colors he paints in are stunning, notably “Sheltering Oaks.” I love the simplicity of “Cakes” by Wayne Thiebaud, and especially love the pop works of Warhol, and the beauty of Tiffany…I could go on.
Your style is very bold and colorful. What draws you to this type of painting?
I love color and have always been attracted to bold images that just grab you. Perhaps growing up in the ’60s and ’70s made a large influence on me: a psychedelic outlook on the brightness of the outdoors, and everything under the sun!
If you had to choose a profession other than art, what would it be?
I just had this conversation over Christmas dinner! The answer is that I might have tried to be a chef! It doesn’t hurt that I’m a foodie, but, like artists, chefs take what’s on their palette to create a work that was not there before. The difference for me, as an artist, is that I can’t eat the grilled cheese sandwich in my painting!