Daniel Petrov has produced a large and consistent body of artwork. His paintings are executed in oil and acrylic and his drawings in pencil, acrylic and ink. Fascinated with the human figure, Daniel has developed a dynamic and sensuous visual idiom. He strives less for realism than emotional acuity. Characteristic are his long, fervent brush strokes and a penchant for vivid colors, whimsical gestures and heightened expressions.
Daniel was born in Bulgaria in 1966. The son of political exiles, he grew up in Munich, Germany. After a brief stint in medical school he turned to visual arts. He studied painting and filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and graduated with a BFA in 1992. In 1995 he moved to New York City, where for ten years he worked as a cameraman, shooting television news stories and documentaries for international broadcasters. With an ever-growing output of art, Daniel began pursuing a life as a painter. He has exhibited in ten solo shows and over sixty group shows across the US. In 2006 Daniel settled in the Tampa Bay area where he engaged in various creative activities. He worked on numerous art, illustration, graphic design, advertising, logo, and branding projects. He also taught expressive figure painting classes for adults and kids, wrote articles on contemporary art, and headed the education department at a community art center. Daniel is married to Japanese artist Yumiko Tateishi Petrov with whom he has a daughter and a son.
About my paintings…
People are my preferred motif. I paint people who stimulate me, forceful personalities. I also frequently portray myself. Painting a single portrait of a subject doesn’t satisfy me. Usually I produce an extensive series, examining various nuances in manner and mood. Ultimately I depict emotional states. Those of my subjects as well as my own.
I work from life or from photographs. I direct my subjects when I have a specific gestural geometry in mind. Otherwise I allow them to freely act out their impulses, to disclose a persona of their own choice, whether “true” or affected. My method combines discipline with abandon, finesse with physicality. First, I patiently outline the figure. Then, in a rapid onslaught of slashes and strokes, I let my instincts command my brush. The figure is usually alone and tightly cropped. It is either set against an abstract background or surrounded by plants or animals. These too have distinct personalities. Occasionally I include symbolic accessories.
Some of my paintings are aesthetically pleasing and some provocative. On one extreme are my urban psychological portraits. There’s a certain drama and grotesquerie in these works, a relish for exaggerated poses, twisted limbs and grimaces. They rely on light-dark contrasts, so the hues are somewhat muted. The brushwork is thick, vigorous and expressive. My tropical nudes, on the other extreme, are gentle and graceful with their elongated fingers and necks. They’re painted more sparingly in bright, exuberant color harmonies that radiate joy and warmth. I am not insensitive to beauty, as illusory as it may be.
About my illustrations…
Until recently I had restricted myself to “grown-up” art. But now I’ve also begun creating children’s illustrations. Kids’ art is extraordinarily fun and illuminating. With its innocent charm, it offers a glimpse of the hidden harmony that unites us all. It stimulates the imaginations of young minds and inspires them with the curiosity and courage to go out, explore new worlds, and find new friends.
In my illustrations I search for, and often find, beauty. I paint people and animals and, by extension, life, in all its contradictions. I either tell the truth, as I see it, or shamelessly indulge my fantasies, but with equal honesty. No matter whom I depict, whether a goat or goatherd, my work always somehow ends up being about myself. My brushstrokes and colors are a direct visualization of my soul.
My contours are very playful and are usually done in brush pen. I keep them to a minimum, trying to make each one count. I vary their thickness, expressivity, as well as the pressure I apply them with. It is not the heaviest lines that carry the most weight but those that are the most suggestive of volume, movement, and personality. I like to dramatize my outlines with graceful, melodic splashes of acrylic, allowing my brush to dance to the tune in my head. I always look for ways to counterpoint each stroke with value and color contrasts. My ideal composition is one which conveys beauty and emotion.