Artist of the Month: December 2018 – Sue Daniels

Painting of people outside

Each month we choose one of the fantastic artists represented on our website to be our Artist of the Month.

This month it is Sue Daniels who tells us about her creative journey and how her artwork aims to ‘paint memories’.

She also gives an insight to her many sources of inspiration; from industrial buildings to one particular lady she encountered at a Trolleybus Museum.

Painting of people outside

When and why did you start making art?

I was born in Widnes in Cheshire and I started making things drawing on the factories and industry, it is a very industrial place. I then went to Warrington Art College where I got very interested in sculpture before going to Leeds Polytechnic and getting the first year award. I wanted to branch out and include more figures, more people, so I did and went on to win the second year award. At the end I got first class honours, I had no O-levels and had gone to night school before that.

After that I went into horticulture and then into computers doing short courses. I ended up working at NACRO teaching ex-offenders about computers and the main thing was teaching them art. I left that and for years did nothing, I didn’t paint anything, before getting back into computers again – must have been ten years ago. I got packages (photo editing) and hey-presto, here we are.

Drawing of a power station
Sue Daniels: Power Station in Yorkshire

Has your work changed over time?

I did well at photography at Leeds Polytechnic, it all goes back to there really. I like it when there are lots of lines and a sense of perspective.

I’m also enjoying designing furniture, I’ve just done a picture storage piece and a spiral mug tree and my next project is a display cabinet which will be made out of wood and moulding.

Sue Daniels: Ferrybridge power station

Is there a process you follow or does it vary?

Sue Daniels: Valetta bus terminus

With my photographic work I can never see what the end result will look like. I do the composition, get that how I want it with the lines and windows then it is just a feeling. 

It is a wonderful feeling when you say ‘wow, that’s it’, and you know you have done it. That is the way it has always been – if it feels right. It has to have that aesthetic buzz to it.

How would you describe your current work?

Sue Daniels: ‘The Younger End’, part of the artwalk series

I am painting with feelings. If I am walking along and feel something about a place or person I will take a picture and then try to make it feel right.

With that in mind can you tell us more about the lady at the Trolleybus Museum who appears in a few of your pieces?

Sue Daniels: Lady at the Trolleybus Museum

We went to the Trolleybus Museum and I took my camera with me, I took lots of pictures but there was this one woman who came across to me as really enjoying what she was doing and that she didn’t care what she looked like – I just felt this energy so I took a picture then took it further.

I made one piece which measured about 15 foot by 12 foot, it was when I had a studio at Art House and produced it there. As part of that I had a five or six foot model of her and every time I walked in I thought that there was someone in my studio – I’d have to walk out and put the lights on.

What do you hope your viewer takes from you work?

Sue Daniels: Watchers Series – Brotherton Village

When I go around a gallery, like the one we have here in Wakefield, I feel things like that the artist was doing at the time and I can almost feel like what they were thinking. I want people to get that aesthetic buzz, for them to just enjoy themselves and for it to please them.

A lot of people will paint depression but I like to paint happy things. A lot of artists are out to shock or upset people but I just want to make them happy.

What appeals to you about creating art?

Sue Daniels: Bridge Over Steam Train

It is the challenge, it is me and that piece of wood or me and that computer and I just feel like I have to do something, I have to get there and when I do it is heaven. It happened this morning making the mug tree, sometimes projects take days of hell, where I am itching to do things but feel I can’t do it. But today, I went up there and it just all fell into place.

Locations seem to play a big part in you work, can you tell us more about that?

Photograph of Sue Daniels with one of her paintings
Sue Daniels with her work at The Art House, Wakefield

With the steam trains that was a trip to York as I wanted some pictures of the minster to make pieces. We went in to the railway museum just by chance, I took some pictures and just thought I have to do something with this.

I remember when I was eight or ten years old, we would go to the iron bridge over the railway lines and lean out so the steam went onto our faces – I can still smell that now. 

I am painting experiences, they are my experiences when I paint onto the piece or the canvas. I am painting memories.

Sue Daniels: Valetta from the strand

Do you have any advice for other artists?

Have confidence in your own work. Don’t be afraid of what other people say, there is nothing like constructive criticism – you have to be able to take it. But at the same time, if you like something it doesn’t matter.

What are your artistic ambitions?

I would like to do more photography, I want to go to Scarborough around the harbour and the fishing boats and take some pictures. Wherever it takes me.

Sue Daniels: Self portrait

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

What is art anyway? For me it is that aesthetic buzz. It doesn’t matter what it is; photography, sculpture.

 My life is art, I would have died for it years ago but I wouldn’t now, I have more sense.

I used to go to work and when I would take pictures some people would say ‘oh it is nice to have a hobby’, I would tell them art isn’t my hobby it is my life and that I was just there for the money.

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