I grew up in a small, dusty town in eastern New Mexico without much exposure to the arts. But I spent a great deal of time outdoors playing in that dust, which transformed into a love for the southwestern landscape.
A family move took me to Colorado where my high school art teacher encouraged me to enter a national art competition. I was surprised to win first place, which steered my attention toward an art education. I chose to study commercial art at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. The program was based on a solid training in drawing and painting with a focus on illustration and graphic design.
I returned to Colorado after graduation and found work for a few years as a graphic designer. It didn’t turn out to be as creatively fulfilling for me as I had hoped. So I continued to paint for myself in my spare time. I hadn’t yet learned much about fine art, but two important turning points lay ahead.
The first was that I met some artists through a small, local art school who were painting and selling their work in galleries. This discovery that a career in painting might be possible was huge for me. Those artists graciously helped me get started in this new direction while I continued working in graphic design. Soon after my wife, Sarah, and I married in 2004, I took a leap of faith, quit my job and began painting full time. Success came in varying degrees for the next several years, which encouraged me to keep at it. But even after securing representation in six galleries across the U.S., I was still looking for more stability so that Sarah could quit her job and take care of our kids.
That leads to my second turning point, which was the idea to open a storefront gallery of my own. It was another big leap of faith, moving my family to Ojai, California, where we opened Dan Schultz Fine Art Gallery & Studio in 2011. We didn’t know anyone in the area and had only visited the town twice. But I knew it would be a beautiful area for landscape painting and hoped the traffic flow would make it a good place to sell paintings. It has turned out to be both, allowing me to dedicate my full focus to my artwork. I love being able to interact directly with art collectors and meet new customers who visit Ojai or those who make Ojai their home.
A typical day finds me balancing my workflow. Some weeks I spend painting every day, and others are focused on the business side. I paint the landscape outdoors as often as possible, while also keeping works in progress on my easel in the gallery’s studio area.
I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I love in such an inspiring place. In a roundabout way, my dusty childhood wanderings continue to define my adult life as I explore and paint my surroundings.
- Sentient Faculty
- M. Graham & Co