Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Nicholas Cordone Asks ‘Do Animals Daydream?’

May 15, 2020 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Nicholas Cordone
May 15, 2020 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Nicholas Cordone

This week’s May 15, 2020 Dan’s Papers cover artist Nicholas Cordone talks about his process, the questions he poses through his work and more.

Nicholas Cordone
Nicholas Cordone

What was the inspiration for this piece?
This particular painting is part of a series of paintings entitled “Do Animals Daydream?” The question is very simple—do our pets possibly share or reflect some of the same traits and characteristics as humans? Do chickens wish they lived in a better chicken coop? Do fish consider their future? Do pigs enjoy humor?  Do animals daydream? I am asking the viewer to place themselves into each storyline. In many cases, humor prevails. The black lab in this painting, Jaeger, always seemed to be thoughtful and pensive. He belonged to my neighbor Jim Spiess. “What is that dog thinking about now?”

Talk about your art style.
My formative years, as an artist, were influenced by the surrealists René Magritte, Dalí and de Chirico, and later by the work of Gregory Gillespie and the writings of Ernest Becker. Their visual interpretations of human nature were inspirational and also reflect my realistic style. I’m sure that many of my friends would consider my constant reading of MAD magazine during my youth was also very influential in my thought process.

Tell us about your artistic process.
Each painting starts by my written thoughts on a particular subject/storyline followed by many thumbnail sketches for creating the composition. Once I like the composition, I create value studies to establish the lighting direction and then research and create color studies before I start working on the actual painting.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?
Whatever my alternate career would have been, I’m sure that I would be creating artwork whenever possible. I can recall, as a very young child, having a rickety easel in the corner of my basement, with a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. That was my first studio space. I can’t imagine not thinking and producing in a creative manner on a daily basis. It’s better than paying a shrink.

What inspires you the most?
I think the act of “people watching“ is an inspiration for many of my paintings. My other painting series of outer space images entitled “Imagery an Allegory“—the bigger the boys, the bigger the toys—as well as my “Beach Gossip“ series (color compositions) also reflect my thoughts on society and the nature of people within our society.

Visit nickcordone.com and Instagram @nickcordoneart. Cordone’s work is on view at the William Ris Gallery, williamris.com, and Custer Institute, custerobservatory.org.

May 15, 2020 Dan's Papers cover art by Nicholas Cordone
May 15, 2020 Dan’s Papers cover art by Nicholas Cordone


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