Danny Jupiter lives and works in a spacious home in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans filled with painting of his family members. One such painting done by his late Father reveals where Danny may have gotten his talent.
Around a large wooden table that has likely hosted thousands of family meals, Kristof Corvinus discussed with this soft-spoken man his journey as an artist.
Kristof: How did you get your start as an artist?
Danny: I’ve been painting since I was 6. I was encouraged in high school and actually went to Southeastern Louisiana University for two years on a track and field scholarship. But I decided that I wanted to put my efforts toward painting and moved to Xavier University. Xavier didn’t offer a track and field scholarship so I went on an art scholarship.
It took me a while, but I graduated from Xavier in 1986. From there I moved to New Mexico, because I was told if you go out West, you see the light and it is great for painting. It was! I never thought of myself as a professional artist until I started painting in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Chicago.
Kristof: So how would you describe the difference in the New Orleans art scene as opposed to Chicago and New Mexico?
Danny: In New Mexico there’s more of a western feel. Some of it is good and some of it is cliche’. I showed my work in a place called Canyon Road Art Community. My preference for painting outdoors started while I was in New Mexico.
In Chicago, I don’t know if my style really changed that much because I paint mostly “Black life”. Many of my pieces focus on the souls of black folk.
Many times, in Chicago, I would go to Lake Michigan and set up and paint out there by the lakeside. I later became a licensed Special Education teacher and my paintings gradually trended toward kids and youngsters. I had some beautiful students. They inspired me. They would give me ideas and I would sketch them in my free time.
Kristof: You seem very family oriented.
Danny: Yes. I try to work an average of 5 to 6 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week, but my family does things together every Sunday. It is a rarity these days, but it is a chance to see everyone who lives here.
I did these two paintings of my mother and my father, had them framed and they really liked them. They also really liked the family portrait, which I don’t think is my finest work, but has a real sentimental feel.
Kristof: What genre would you say that you work in the most?
Danny: Generally figurative portraiture. I have painted landscapes in the past, but I prefer to paint people.
Kristof: Any animals?
Danny: Not really, but I’ve thought about incorporating dogs in some of the portraits of people.
Kristof: What artists influenced you the most?
Danny: Generally speaking Vincent Van Gogh. I like Karel Appel and his use of color. I also like Chuck Close and John Scott at Xavier University. But I would have to say that I was most influenced by my father who always encouraged me to paint. We would paint together.
Kristof: Do you only work with acrylics or do you use oils?
Danny: I mostly use acrylics. Oils are difficult because the messes are hard to clean up. And they take too long to dry. Its much more humid here. In New Mexico I had no problem. I also use watercolor and mixed-media. I like watercolor pencils. I use them on a hard surface or cardboard. I just jump around, depending on what is available. Art supplies are so expensive. I try to recycle stuff.
Kristof: What do you think differentiates your art from that of other artists?
Danny: I think my use of color is unique.
Kristof: How do you come up with a price for your art?
Danny: As an artist, I’ve always been able to present my craft to the world. If someone shows an interest, I always try to work out a price, especially if its someone who is going to take care of the work and appreciate it. I try to do a sliding scale.
Kristof: Where can people see more of your work?
Danny: At The Building on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in New Orleans.