Contemporary realism - Dan Simoneau acrylic paintings
Dan Simoneau, “I Dream, Therefore I Become,” acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 in.

Meet this week’s top Realism Today Ambassador, Dan Simoneau.

Dan Simoneau is a multi-award-winning multimedia Wisconsin artist. He works in acrylic primarily but also works in watercolor and oil. He holds signature status in several prestigious art societies for both watercolor and acrylic, including Signature Master in the International Society of Acrylic Painters, of which he is also the president.

Simoneau’s work has been published and exhibited internationally. He received his BFA with majors in painting, printmaking, and pottery and a minor in art history at the University of Southern Maine.

He states that the male figure and how light sculpts that figure are his main subject matter.

Contemporary realism - Dan Simoneau acrylic paintings
Dan Simoneau, “Every Thought We Think Is Creating Our Future,” acrylic on canvas, 40 x 16 in.

The factory building where my studio resides has many great locations with incredible lighting. This back stairwell always provides excellent light in the late afternoon. I wanted to capture a feeling of pensiveness with my model wondering what the future holds.

On “I Dream, Therefore I Become,” above: This is another in a series of work hoping to capture introspection of the model. While not sought out, I enjoy the challenge of painting the tattooed male. For many men (and women now), tattoos tell a story of the person wearing them, part of the person’s life journey. Each tattoo was most likely chosen and placed for a reason.

Contemporary realism - Dan Simoneau acrylic paintings
Dan Simoneau, “Who’s Next (#Whosnext),” acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 in.

I work with many African American models and, when we work together, I hear many stories of them being stopped by police while just walking down the streets in Chicago. This particular model, after the shooting of an unarmed black man, posted #Whosnext on Instagram, and I immediately was inspired to paint this piece. The striped shirt represents our unbalanced incarceration system. The red represents the lights from the police vehicles.

Learn more about the artist at

Related > Browse portrait and figure workshops in the style of realism here.