Classical realism - Daniel Graves art -
Above: Daniel Graves, "Pygmalion" (Detail; full image below)

From doorways found in distant travels to classic myths, discover what inspires the classical / contemporary realism of Daniel Graves, and be moved. (Learn from Daniel Graves at the upcoming Realism Live: A Global Virtual Art Conference in October 2022.)

What Inspires the Contemporary Realism of Daniel Graves
As seen in “Immaginare,” the newsletter of Daniel Graves

An avid reader and continual seeker of knowledge, Daniel Graves has recently been inspired by Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures by Steven Fry. This book centers on the adventures, the trials and tribulations of mortal heroes found in Greek Mythology.

From Amazon, “Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of – at our worst and our very best.” He finds it interesting to notice how these stories end up in his paintings.

Contemporary Realism in Figurative Art:
Beauty, Empowerment, and Freedom

Contemporary realism - Daniel Graves figurative art-
Daniel Graves, “Pygmalion,” 31.5 x 23.5 in., oil on canvas, 2020, Available

The story of Pygmalion and Galatea has been portrayed by many artists through history, along with being the basis for the movie, “My Fair Lady.” While the story traditionally is about an artist who falls in love with his sculpture, Daniel takes a bit of a different approach to this classic mythological story.

In a recent conversation, Daniel spoke of his deep respect for women who break free from the cultural confines previously placed upon them. He spent quite a few weeks considering stories from Greek mythology that gave voice to this heroic journey. When he considered how, in the story of “Pygmalion,” we see a beautiful woman emerging from the confines of her previous circumstances into a new life, he knew that was it.

This painting is in honor of women and all those who feel they were formed at the hands of others and chose a different path – one of freedom and empowerment to create their own story – their own life – their own destiny.

Related Article > Daniel Graves: Making the Past Present

New Oil Painting: “Doorway from Morocco”

Contemporary realism - Daniel Graves art-
Daniel Graves, “Doorway from Morocco,” 14 x 11 in., oil on canvas, 2020, Available

Daniel and I spoke recently about his appreciation for doorways – a subject matter he has been fascinated with for years, and the focus of this most recent study.

Previous paintings, along with memories of his travels in and around Morocco, are his inspiration. While painting doorways, Daniel enjoys finding the composition, defining the scale, and then using shapes, shadows, and light to create the mood.

When I asked why painting these appeals to him, he spoke of it as an interesting metaphor for our passages through life. As we journey towards the doorway, we find ourselves leaving one experience – stepping through the threshold – towards what we will meet within the next. It reminded me, while looking at his painting, of the unique doorways we find ourselves crossing through these days.

Contemporary realism - Daniel Graves still life art-
Classical / Contemporary Realism Still Life > Daniel Graves, “Grapes and Pewter Pitcher,” 31.5 x 23.5 in., oil on canvas, 2018, Available
Classical realism - Daniel Graves art -
Daniel Graves, “Still Life with Pears,” 14.5 x 20.5 in, oil on linen, 2019, Available

Jen Nash Kochevar is Daniel Graves’ Artist Representative. To see more of Daniel’s artwork, visit or contact Jen directly at [email protected].

Related > Daniel Graves: Old World Portraiture art video workshop Daniel Graves Old World Portraiture how-to video 040620
Video Length: 4 hours, 36 minutes

This DVD production includes:

  • How to grind your own paint…
  • Daniel Graves’ secret method for cleansing oil to prevent yellowing…
  • How to create painting medium…
  • How to draw from a live model…
  • How to create a complete underpainting…
  • How to create form in the figure…
  • Techniques for creating skin tones from a three-color palette… [LEARN MORE]

Learn more and order your copy of “Old World Portraiture” here.

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