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Artist Spotlight: Joshua Daniels


"I intend my work to invoke a primarily visual response, rather than analytical or literary; the works are instinctive and, like a haiku, say everything they need to without repeating themselves. They are concise, efficient, but provoke thought through what is alluded to but left undefined"

In this artist spotlight we take a behind the scenes look at the artistic world of Joshua Daniels. Joshua is an artist based in South East London. He graduated with a BA in Fine Art and History of Art from the Univeristy of Kent. His works span painting, ceramics, printmaking and digital media and are a part of private collections in the UK, US and Japan.

What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

My work is pretty time consuming, so for the majority of my day it's just me and the canvas – often with my face right up close to it for the detailed work. I try to have at least a couple of paintings on the go at one time, it helps me to be more productive, so for example, if I’m not in the mood to do very intricate work, I can stretch and prime another canvas, or do some drawings to plan for future pieces.

I try to finish the day with cleaning my brushes as a favour to my future self, although I’m not always good at sticking to that!

Finally, I always make sure I take lots of photos of the paintings I’ve worked on that day as I like to look at them when I’m not at the studio, it helps me to be critical of what the paintings need or might be missing. I’ll often doodle over the top of the photos on my phone, testing out ideas or different directions the piece could go – I do find it hard to switch off!


If you could spend a day with any artist living or dead who would it be and why?

This is a tough one! When I was younger, I was heavily influenced by the surrealists and having a chance to hang out with Ernst, Magritte, Dalí or Tanguy would be amazing. But truly my favourite painter has to be Francis Bacon, hands down.

I would love to spend the day with him, although I’m not sure he would want to spend it with me. He always looked a bit fed up when asked questions. I would just want to see him painting and to see the process, the gestures, the planning and the emotion.

I’d also love to be able to tell Van Gogh how popular his paintings are now, since he didn’t get to experience that in his lifetime.

What are you reading at the moment?

Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry, and I just finished the audiobook of Strong Female Character by Fern Brady, which was great.

The tortoise features heavily in your paintings, do you have a favourite animal and why do you keep going back to the tortoise?

Good question and one I get asked a lot, so I’m glad to take this opportunity to explain my obsession! A lot of my work is inspired by my childhood, my father was (and still is!) a keen keeper of exotic animals and growing up my earliest memories were of tortoises, frogs, insects and spiders. I have rehomed two tortoises myself and I try to use my own photographs to work from for my paintings where I can. My tortoises (Olga and Zoltan) are great models as they move so slowly. I always think of the saying ‘write what you know’, and I’m trying to relate that in my own art practice - and I guess I know tortoises.

As for my favourite animal, I would say tortoises are definitely one of them but I like so many others too, so it’s always changing – just like my favourite colour changes from week to week.

I read once something along the lines of ‘to observe a tortoise is to live life in slow motion’, and I do feel like we all need to slow down and appreciate the quiet details in the everyday.


How important is drawing in your creative process?

Like most artists, it all started with drawing as a kid – we are just the ones who carried it on into adulthood. Honestly, sometimes I feel like drawing is what I can do, and painting is what I’m trying to do. I kind of feel I stumble through a painting, but drawing is more like riding a bike – you never forget it.

It’s easier to be freer in drawing and less critical of myself than in painting – which is why it’s so helpful for coming up with ideas. My sketchbook drawings have become a lot looser in the last 10 or so years, I used to be more precious about messing up a page or scribbling things out, but I don’t let that bother me anymore. Every painting starts with a dozen drawn variations in my sketchbook, these compositions are then recreated digitally before I even pick up a paintbrush.

In this beautifully crafted world of Joshua Daniels' paintings lies a whimsical touch—a fascination with the tortoise, a nod to childhood memories and the gentle rhythm of life's unfolding. Drawing serves as both compass and anchor in Joshua's creativity and painting serves as a space where creativity knows no bounds. Joshua's paintings are an invitation for us to slow down, to savour life's intricacies, and to find inspiration in the simplest of moments. Find your inspiration too; you can browse Joshua collection online!

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