Long Island native and our July 12, 2019 Dan’s Papers cover artist Yvonne Dagger has had her art featured throughout the East End, as well as nationally in a surprising place—The Ellen Show. Dagger also has the distinction of having a dog that can paint!
What was the inspiration for this piece?
When I was asked to create a cover for Dan’s Taste of Summer, I immediately began to think of the myriad things that make the South and North Forks of Long Island such a special place. The bounty of farm to table; the many windmills; the opportunity to bike from one fork to the other; boating and sailing; fishing; the South Shore’s white, sandy beaches and the vineyards dotted throughout the North and South Forks. All of these things and many more make Long Island one of the most desirable places to live and visit. I’m always inspired by the sights and sounds of the place I live, work and play.
To me, Long Island affords me the great opportunity to visit a local farm where everything is picked that same day, to be able to watch the boats come in with the catch of the day all prepared for dinner that same night. All of this happens when you’ve spent a glorious day visiting the magnificent sights here on Long Island. Now where can you get all of this in one spectacular place? All I have to do to be inspired here on Long Island is to take a look around and see how beautiful this place really is.
Talk a little about your artistic process.
When I am not working on one of my pet portrait commissions (I specialize in pet portraiture), my artistic process normally entails a narrative that speaks to me and my audience. It’s usually surrounded in nature and life’s experiences. Normally, I get an idea that I feel the need to record on paper or canvas. That’s the beginning of the process.
For the painting I created for the cover of Dan’s Taste of Summer, I was given several suggestions of what the South and North Forks offer to both the residents and visitors. There were so many possibilities. That’s what made it both challenging and exciting to me. I spent a great deal of time and research on just what I was going to create…I envisioned the cover in my mind. I knew what I wanted, but I now had to execute my vision. This part of the process was very time consuming and critical to what I was going to convey to my audience. The next part of the process was putting the ideas I had together—the history of the windmill, the activity of biking, the beauty of the vineyards and bounty of the local farms…all of these things afforded me a picture plane of what I call “A Day in the Hamptons.”
Once I achieved what I wanted to express on the canvas I started sketching. My sketches were small and independent of one another. Moving my ideas and sketches to the canvas was the next part of the process. As my ideas gradually came to life on the canvas, I felt a sense of excitement. Once I had achieved what I had envisioned, I began to paint my under-painting. Tweaking and modifying as I painted, I continued this process. As soon as I liked what I saw and I had achieved the narrative I had tried to convey on the picture plane, I continued to paint until I felt satisfied with the results. The entire process took several weeks until I was fully satisfied with my painting.
What most inspires you?
I think that what inspires me most is the ability to learn from nature, everyday life and my dog! Believe it or not, a little over three years ago, I taught my dog, Dagger, how to paint. He’s an amazing canine artist. His paintings are magnificent. He’s world-renowned and will be exhibiting in the first ever Biennale for Animal Artists in Paris in May 2020. Dagger has painted over 525 Paintings with all of the proceeds going to charity. To date, Dagger has raised over $125,000 for animal and people related charities. I’ve coined him “The Do Good Dog.”
Dagger and I run Dagger DogVinci Workshops at libraries, schools, senior living facilities and nursing homes, teaching the students about art and the importance to create, learn, inspire and serve the community. During each workshop, Dagger demonstrates how he paints for the students and then they have the opportunity to paint in his style of painting. I’ve named Dagger’s style of painting the “DogVinci” Style because it’s unique to him. It’s true, pure abstract art where every brush stroke is painted by Dagger himself. Since Dagger has attained his famous notoriety I have come to realize how inspirational he has become to my style of painting. I’ve noticed that my painting style has become freer and less restrained. Since Dagger started painting I enjoy my own paintings and style more then I ever did before.
Although my style is mostly a personal narrative representation, I enjoy the feeling that I get when people view my work and walk away with their own story. When someone can walk up to one of my paintings and become inspired or moved by what he or she sees, that gives me such a feeling of delight. My narrative paintings give me the greatest joy and satisfaction. To me it’s not only the process and technique, but what is conveyed on the canvas that moves the viewer to think and write his or her own story about what is viewed. This always keeps me creating and conveying ideas on the canvas.
What was it like having your work featured on The Ellen Show?
Having my work of art featured on The Ellen Show was the ultimate! It was such a surprise. I didn’t know that she was going to feature my painting. I remember I was at the veterinarian with one of my dogs and a friend called me to tell me that Ellen was talking about me and showed my painting on the show. When I spoke with Ellen’s personal assistant, he told me that she loved the work “Ellen Squared” and wanted to feature it on her show! WOW! How great is that? She liked it so much that she hung it outside of the producers’ office. She also has another painting called “Lost Soles” which she hung in her office. It’s a painting of socks without a mate swirling around in the picture plane. Ellen owns two more of my paintings, both are still life paintings. When I met Ellen, she hugged me so hard and told me that she loved my work! That meant the world to me!
How does living on Long Island inform your work?
From the minute I wake up in the morning until I go to bed, I’m inspired by all that surrounds me here on Long Island. I’m never, ever at a loss for ideas and information. We have the changing of the seasons, the beaches, the farms, the vineyards and the beauty of the land and sea that, I feel, makes Long Island a complete place to live and create in. All of this and more inspires me and informs me to continue creating and learning.
See more of Yvonne Dagger’s work at the Fitzgerald Gallery in Westhampton Beach and at yvonnedaggerartist.com.