It is our pleasure to introduce an accomplished artist and teacher from Colorado, USA, and an author of the recent Rebelle Master Series, Daniel Ibanez. Learn more about the beginning of his art journey, his phenomenal success on social media, and how he maintains to balance the time between practicing new skills, teaching, and freelance projects.
Hi Daniel, thank you for letting us peek into your art world and getting to know you better. Let's start from the beginning...What inspired you to pursue painting as a medium, and how did your artistic journey begin?
I began painting as a very little boy. My mother and my grandmother were very supportive of my creative endeavors. Drawing and painting were my instinctive interests. Oil painting was quickly my favorite. My grandmother took me to a painting workshop with a famous artist in the Southwest Art painting scene. He and I became friends. I guess more than friends, he was my mentor.
What role does studying art history play in your development as a traditional painter? Are there any particular art movements or artists that resonate with you?
I love studying art history. I almost earned a minor in University. What resonates with me in art history is the powerful way art distills, represents, and challenges culture. I love the vibrant, delicate, and spiritual nature of art. I love how deeply personal and therefore universal the creative act is. The movements/individuals that are most impactful to me include the frescoes and Ceramics from Bronze Age Minoan culture. I also love Degas and Van Gogh. Of course, John Singer Sargent and Joaquin Sorolla are also favorites. My interests are very diverse. I love the paintings of Jean-François Millet and the street art of Banksy.
"What resonates with me in art history is the powerful way art distills, represents, and challenges culture. I love the vibrant, delicate, and spiritual nature of art. I love how deeply personal and therefore universal the creative act is."
Are there any painting media or specific skills you are currently working to improve upon?
Everything! I spend most of my time in digital painting or oil painting.
Traditional painting can present unique challenges, such as dealing with drying times, blending colors, and controlling brushstrokes. Having years of experience with both, traditional and digital painting, can you share some of the challenges you still see in digital painting?
That's a great question. My biggest challenge in digital painting is color mixing. I wish there was an intuitive way to mix on a paint palette like I'm used to with oils. The benefit of mixing color traditionally is getting to see the proportion and thickness of the paint and mixing each portion very accurately. I also love the way in which you can create brushstrokes with multiple colors that remain unmixed on the bristles. Mostly, it's color mixing that is the biggest struggle for me with digital. I started painting so young that when I see a sky I want to mix Cerulean, Cobalt, and Titanium White with a little bit of the pinkish muddy color that's in the middle of my palette!
You are not only a fine artist, but also an art teacher. What pushed you to become a lecturer? Do you feel like you are more artist or teacher?
I love teaching. I currently teach in the United States. I run a digital painting program for high school students. I also have coursework at domestica.com. I have a YouTube channel and Instagram and I do freelance work for film and video game companies. I do portraits and gallery work. I have a hard time not doing it all! I am definitely more of an artist than a teacher. Even when I'm a teacher I am still painting and demonstrating and working beside the students.
"With Rebelle, there is real magic in seeing the wet media mix together and the serendipity of that simulated water spilling all over your canvas. But there's also real potential to do things that (until now) only traditional media has been capable of."
When typing your name into a web search engine, we can quickly find a TED talk about your success on the Google+ platform from a decade ago. Could you tell us more about how you built such an enormous audience?
That was a very special time! I was a bachelor back then… With so much free time to create, imagine, and paint! I found a beautiful tool in Google+. I was able to utilize it to teach people about digital painting in a very unique way. Google saw this application of their tool and was excited to support that endeavor. Back then, digital painting was brand new for me. I was a novice, but I did have a strong background in traditional painting. That strong background in traditional art gave me a quick path to success in digital. I think the spirit of collaboration and sharing was most inspirational. I didn't monetize a single thing. I just shared it. It was a very beautiful time!
Do you have any advice for starting artists on how to build their social following?
The most important thing is to focus on becoming good at what you do. I think the hardest thing is figuring out what it is you actually love about painting. Finding that and sticking with it is the key! More important than anything is your authenticity. We have to work really hard to be honest in our work. There are things that we want to say and do with our paintings that are from very important parts of who we are. As we excavate what those things are, we also elevate our technique and our Mastery of the tools… It is where those two things come together that we find ourselves in our work.
A lot of my recent social media following came from portraiture. I love painting people and portraits. I love the individual beauty of each person. I love the human form and human expression. Although, portraiture is not the final stop on my artistic journey. I think, sometimes we become popular for things that may or may not be at the core of our purpose in our work. That's why popularity is important but is also a distraction! We have to respond to our audience. We have to remain focused on why we paint. The social media portion is best when it's used to cultivate connections with artists you respect and people whose kindness is inspirational.
There are always little cheats we can use to find some traction online. Things that are big and bold and red or traditionally beautiful. There are always little things you can do to give your work a little bit of engagement… But we have to be careful with that kind of thing because it can erode what we are doing with our work. It can distract us from that authenticity that makes our work so alive! Another thing that has given me traction online is my use of traditional methods and techniques to create digital artwork. This is one of the reasons I use Rebelle. That is an authentic interest of mine and people are responsive to that! I think these are the kinds of things that we need to remember.
Recently, you have started to work on a video Masters Series in Rebelle. What are some goals for the series and what would you like artists to focus on when watching it?
My big goal for the series is to introduce people to these amazing artists from our history. I also want to demonstrate methods for recreating some of the most beautiful artwork the world has ever known. There are so many things that are possible with this software that are just not possible with anything else, and it's a unique opportunity to highlight what Rebelle can truly do. There is real magic in seeing the wet media mix together and the serendipity of that simulated water spilling all over your canvas. But there's also real potential to do things that (until now) only traditional media has been capable of. This is an important thing to share! I just want to highlight a little bit of the potential of what you can do with this tool! I really believe in this program!
Are there any more resources where artists can learn from you?
My YouTube channel is a great digital painting resource. My Instagram portfolio can be also helpful. And my Domestika class is a great option if you want to have a really professional course for a great price. I also include all my brushes there.
Thank you, Daniel, for emphasizing how important Art History and constant practice of your art skills are. We are sure many creatives will appreciate your advice, whether it is how to translate traditional techniques to the digital painting world or how to build their audience on social platforms. Keep up the great work! We look forward to looking at more traditional artists and their techniques with you.
Escape Motions Team