Dan's Cover Artist Mickey Paraskevas Creates a Painting a Day for a Year
The cover of this week’s Dan’s Papers features the work of an artist who’s practically synonymous with the classic Dan’s style: Mickey Paraskevas. Here, he discusses his charming space cat painting, his favorite subjects to paint and the Maggie and the Ferocious Beast reboot in the works.
A Chat with Mickey Paraskevas
As the January 27, 2022 entry in your “a painting a day for a year” challenge, what drew you to bring this space-faring cat concept from sketch to painting so soon into the run?
Painting one painting a day for a year was one of the most fun ideas I’ve ever had for a project. It certainly taught me a lot about painting. We love our cats. This one is Valentin and my wife (Maria) and I are both convinced it’s my mother, Betty. She’s not Betty all the time. We think she checks in from time to time to see how we are doing. We think it’s Betty because we often find Valentin staring at a drawing I did of my father for a Time magazine cover ages ago.
As for Valentin in a space suit, it seemed like a good idea. Valentin is a little out there. Before we brought him in from his feral life, Valentin disappeared for 10 days. He showed up finally on a rainy night, with his eye cut and his paw swollen. He looked a mess. We finally managed to trap him to get him to the vet for some needed help. We couldn’t take him back to our home and leave him outside. So in he came. Our first cat. I often wonder where he went those missing days when he was roaming around. I guess he might have gone to the moon. Maria agreed.
To answer the question, Maria was watching Gravity that day, and Valentin was watching with her. I’m not sure Valentin liked it but he was staring at the screen. So maybe he did go to the moon.
Do you typically craft narratives around the characters you paint, and if so, what can you tell us about this space cat?
A great painting should tell a story whatever it may be. I started the daily paintings with the idea that every painting paints a story. That was the tagline for the project. All the paintings from the year have some little Easter egg in the painting for the viewer to figure out. Sometimes the actual absence of one is the point. You have to look through all the paintings to really grasp the oddball storyline being told. I looked through them after the year was over and I decided I like cats, robots, spaceships, rockets, fire, mayhem, farms and Batman.
One of my favorite paintings was done Dec. 25, Christmas Day, and I painted my father-in-law’s work boots on an antique chair. That summed up a life on the farm providing a life for his family. I dedicated it to Artie Bruno, my father-in-law, and gave it to my wife for Christmas. There is a life story of hard work and a good provider in those worn-out dusty old boots.
Earlier in the year I had painted my mother-in-law, Priscilla Bruno’s, favorite antique chair. It’s in her house still. We keep it empty. She is still very much missed in all our lives. I look around our house in Southampton and see all the furniture she nudged me to buy at auctions. Even the antique sleigh that is sitting in our living room filled with toys. Not only do I hope that my artwork tells a story, but most of the furniture in our home holds a memory and a tale. As for the Space Cat, I covered that story in the previous question.
You can see all of the daily paintings at this website: paraskevas365.com.
What is your favorite subject to paint, and if not cats, where might they be placed on your list?
I seem to be answering these questions in the previous answers. One of my favorite subjects in the daily paintings was the Arthur and Priscilla Bruno Farm in Manorville. The light across the backfield is stunning. I also love painting Los Angeles. I’m fond of palm trees and the Hollywood Hills. My wife and sister-in-law always nudge me to paint the family four-legged members, Lili the Westie who stars in our comic strip, and Wrenford, the family German shepherd. We are all animal lovers.
Also, my wife loves to gift illustrated portraits of her friends’ children, dogs, etc. so as much as I don’t love doing portraits, I love to bring a smile to my wife’s face. She loves to use the collective “WE” as in “we will paint you a portrait of your baby or father.” Unfortunately, I am doing the work but I don’t mind since it brings joy to the recipients. The many paintings of my in-laws that adorn my walls in Southampton always bring a smile and happiness to my wife. So I am adding portraits at the top of my list.
What art projects or goals are you working toward for 2024, and is a Maggie and the Ferocious Beast reboot on the horizon?
The reboot is still being worked on. It’s like pushing a rock up the hill but the rock is getting a little less heavy every month. It just takes time. TV animation is a long process of convincing people something is a good idea. Meanwhile, my wife, sister-in-law and I are working on a prime-time pitch for an animated series. That is a different world from children’s TV. Really different, but very much fun to create and write for. Especially working with my wife, the lovely Maria, and her sister, Lisanne. I think we all write well together and each of us has a lot to offer.
Would you like to share any closing thoughts or info about upcoming exhibitions?
I don’t know what I’m going to start on January 1, 2024. I think I might do a project called a painting a week. As I stated above, we are working on several scripted projects. But I love walking around the farm and at least 52 paintings are rattling around in my brain that I might start in the new year. I will keep you posted.
You can visit Amazon to see our first graphic novel, Happy Ever Hereafter. It’s about a funeral home. It’s a bit dark. It’s not for kids. It’s funny — but trust us — it’s not for kids.