“Why I quit painting ballerinas”
A change of direction produced one of Dan’s favourite paintings and put his career on the right path
After graduating from the School of Visual Arts, Dan dos Santos was determined to make a living from art. “I did advertising work, portraits, private commissions, gallery work,” he says. “Whatever would pay the bills.” He wanted to be an illustrator, but these jobs covered the rent while he pursued the “right kind of clientele”.
A year later he had found a niche and was selling paintings at a very good price. “They were mostly things like ballerinas. They were enjoyable, but not what I had set out to pursue. It would have been very easy to just keep painting ballerinas and cashing those cheques. But I realised the hole I was digging for myself and made a deliberate effort to turn in a different direction.”
His next painting, Shiva’s Crown, was, “The complete antithesis of the ballerinas”. The ballerinas were “large, loose and done quite quickly”. Shiva’s Crown was much smaller, more detailed and took months. It’s still a favourite. But more importantly, it helped Dan win his first illustration job.
shiva’s crown This image was a career-changing moment for the artist and a piece of work very different to everything he was painting at the time.