Self-Taught Artist Daniel Rona Feels Supported by Columbus Community

By Lisa Steward, public relations coordinator for 934 Gallery

Daniel Rona is a Hillard-based, self-taught illustrator and painter. His upcoming show at 934 Gallery, Body Forms, will be on view Sept. 4 – Oct. 24. Daniel will also be contributing to 934 Fest, an annual fundraiser for 934 Gallery, by painting a massive 74 foot long mural on the side of the gallery.

Lisa: Where does the imagery for your work come from?
My work is made by pulling vivid pictures from my head. Full-blown war scenes, a made-up still life, a portrait made from weird objects and line work, or practicing a new pose for my character. I am always looking to create the next new idea for myself.

Lisa: The color palette you use is so pronounced. What draws you to the colors that you use?
Daniel: I feel the direct connection with color and how I am feeling when I paint. Working with a limited color palette allows me to achieve a sense of cohesiveness between every painting. It also allows room for experimental play when trying to achieve a specific shade or hue of a color besides the base red, yellow, blue, green. A middle value orange-tannish color is the base of all my skin tones. The process usually includes lots of muddling and mixing with black, white and dirty brush water.

Lisa: Graffiti plays an inspirational role in your art. What are your first memories involving graffiti?
Daniel: My first memories are of public tags in interesting or hidden spots and checking out the underpass near my house. Notably the individualism in each tag and idea of “style” in every piece stands out to me.

Lisa: Your work is mostly painted on canvas, but your subject matter is often figurative. Do you consider yourself a painter or an illustrator?
Daniel: I’ve had a hard time defining myself because I’ve never really focused on pursuing one or the other specifically. They seem to go together hand in hand for me. I spend more time painting than illustrating though.

Lisa: How has the art scene in Columbus supported you and your work?
Daniel: Whether it be through gaining new friends and future collaborators, to business with art collectors and patrons, the genuine intrigue of other people to my work has been pretty wonderful. I love showing people my ideas and what I’m working on, so to be as well received as it has been in person and on social media platforms is an incredible bonus. Among that there are many opportunities to apply, such as grants through the GCAC, that have provided financial support for art supplies and upcoming projects.

Lisa: Do you feel the pandemic will influence your work and subject matter?
Daniel: Not entirely at the moment, I’m still processing it daily. While it has definitely provoked new mental battles of fear and paranoia, the root of feeling better is always making. That has been pretty nonstop.

Lisa: What is one piece of advice you would give to an artist trying to get their first gallery show?
Daniel: Paint your ass off and start accumulating personal, passion-based work! Shoot your shot. Become passionate about your artwork and ideas then apply to all opportunities you see fit!

Lisa: How does it feel to work on such a large mural for 934 Fest?
Daniel: Incredible! This will without a doubt be the biggest mural I have done to date, and I am excited to be able to transform my ideas into a large-scale painting for the public and 934 Gallery.

Daniel Rona’s show, Body Forms, will open Friday, Sept. 4, with a virtual and in-person opening. 934 Fest, the annual art and music fundraiser for 934 Gallery, will take place virtually on Saturday, Sept. 12. Find out details about 934 Fest and all the murals on display by going to 934fest.org.


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