Daryl Myntia Daniels is a painter. With her brushes and a ballpoint pen, Daniels transforms canvases into glowing, intimate portraits of the black women she interviews from her home neighborhood, Harlem. Daniels is an artist in the Harlem Arts Festival who has exhibited in Harlem and on the Lower East Side and has a budding career here in NYC. So what does it take to be a painter? As Daniels explains in our NYXT Original, it’s about finding inspiration, the right tools, and making connections.
For Daniels, inspiration comes from Harlem, a traditionally black neighborhood where she sees “black beauty” everywhere, and appreciates the diversity of the community she encounters there. Daniels takes particular inspiration from the women she conducted interviews with, asking them about their physical insecurities and the lived experiences of being black women. The contents of those conversations are translated directly into her evocative portraits.
Each brush in Daniels’ collection has a use -- the fan brush for blending, the detail brush for adding fine definition to her paintings -- but it is her ballpoint pen that provides the most inspiration and meaning. Ballpoint pens are used to create her portrait sketches, the faces of which are covered over with acrylic and oil-based paints, but her subjects’ hair remains beautifully detailed and raw. This tactile, unfinished quality mimics the textures and imperfections of natural black hair, and the coppery sheen of the ballpoint ink, when touched by the light, reflects Daniels’ perception of the hair as a bodily extension of our inner, spiritual self. Her practice reveals an attachment to her tools beyond their formal qualities, and her process is a reminder that to be a painter and an artist is to think deeply and personally about the process of creation.
Despite the personal aspects of her creative process, Daniels is clear that the purpose of her art is to form connections. “You want your viewers to feel something,” she says. Painting, for Daniels, is a medium through which to tell people about the things that matter to you. So, you want to be a painter? Pick up your tools and find the message that you want to share; a creative career is an opportunity to do work that connects you both to your community and your passion.
November is National Career Development Month, a time to think about your goals for your career and the tools you’ll need to achieve them. It is also a time to reflect on what is meaningful about the work you do - what about it inspires you? What connects you to your identity and your community? From painters to writers, musicians, filmmakers and more, creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. For more on developing your creative side and jumpstarting your career, NYXT suggests:
- Check out the work of artists in the Harlem Arts Festival and featured by Art21, a nonprofit seeking to inspire the world through the work of contemporary artists.
- Take an active role in your professional education with Creative Mornings, an organization offering monthly short, free talks to the creative community.
- Read our blog post on how to bring out your inner talent in 5 different ways.
And for more on the creative scene here in Manhattan, be sure to stop by NYXT Originals.