We had the good fortune of connecting with Dalton Carlson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dalton, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My work/life balance has changed dramatically over time, especially after my time in school. I graduated from Colorado Mesa University in the middle of the pandemic with my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts where I worked for hours on end and would never take time for myself. I would even spend more time in the studio than I would at home. As I began to work independently as an artist, I have found that my work/life balance was very unhealthy, and surprisingly thanks to COVID-19, I have begun to shift that balance to a more even place. I have found that without life, my paintings were becoming boring and harder to make. My work relies on the interactions between myself and others; and, if there weren’t any interactions with the outside world, I began to fizzle out. My passion is to paint, and my work doesn’t feel like work no matter how long I do paint. I do have to have things to paint though and my life experiences provide me with that.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a figurative oil painter primarily but also dabble with drawings and printmaking. While that does not necessarily set me apart from a very large and diverse collection of figure painters, I believe the way I paint people does. I am painting the observable identity of the subjects I paint. I define observable identity as the qualities of one’s personality that can be observed simply through interactions, viewing, and speaking with an individual. This idea in itself has its roots in figurative painters such as Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, but potentially not as consciously. I look at people’s subconscious observable identity, which is something I feel sets me apart. Whether it be the way a person interacts within a space, how they carry themselves, or even the habits and ticks that they have, all tell so much about one specific individual. I went to a traditional four-year University to reach where I am today to get the technical and conceptual skills needed. It was definitely not easy, but it felt natural. I knew I wanted to go to school to really get my career on a fast track towards becoming a selling artist. I have learned that track looks different for everyone, whether it is right after high school, years down the road, no secondary school at all, or even sticking in school forever. No one person is the same and we will all reach our end goals one way or another and I think that is truly amazing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Born and raised in Aurora, I am no stranger to the Denver Metro Area. One of my favorite things about Denver is the food. Some of my favorite places to eat are Yong Gung in Aurora and Tacos Junior Mexican Restaurant in El Mercado De Colorado on Colfax. Both are on my must haves when I get to go out and are staples of Aurora/ Denver for myself. I love spending time at the Denver Art Museum, all the galleries on Santa Fe, and ReCreative Denver. The amount of art in Denver is one of the things I truly love about it. I have missed it so much in the past few years and even more specifically, the last year being trapped at home. Denver has some of the best thrift shopping in the state and hitting up a few is always a welcome part of my day. A trip would not be complete without a fishing trip to all the small local ponds scattered around Denver or a fly fishing trip in one of the rivers around the front range.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to shout out Alison Harris-Ludlow. She was my drawing professor throughout my time in school and continues to be a great friend and mentor to this day. Without her, I don’t think I would have gotten the most out of my time in school as I did and be where I am at today. She pushed me to the limits constantly and made sure that the best for me was within reach.