Meet the Artist: Daniel Folta
While learning to become a working artist, it can be encouraging and helpful to discover how other artists have reached this goal. Every artist's path is a little bit different, but each one can offer up guidance for artists just beginning.
Evolve is proud to be the home of many working artists and art students who generously share their experiences on how the program brought them success. We hope you enjoy learning more about our students and instructors.
Evolve Artist mentor and inventory manager, Daniel Folta, is a contemporary realist painter, specializing in narrative portraits. Daniel started as a student of Kevin in the early stages of the Evolve Curriculum.
Following his education with Kevin, Daniel attended Seton Hall University, making a mark at the school and leaving behind several winning paintings and commissioned portraits hanging on the walls of the university.
Along with trips throughout the world, Daniel’s work has included a portrait for the Freemasons of the State of New York, acceptance into the Salmagundi Club, and commissions for private clients. He credits his success to a quality education through the Evolve Program and a desire to improve with each painting.
Learning To Paint
When did you first begin painting?
I was put into a class with Kevin at the age of fifteen. To be honest, I wasn’t really interested in fine art itself, I was more interested in writing. But I really enjoyed the challenge of Kevin’s program.
From the very beginning, Kevin raised my standard of excellence for myself. He taught me quality control right from the start. And the challenge kept me coming back.
My first love of art was actually the challenge of it. I struggled a lot with the learning of it, as I didn’t really have any natural talent going in. But I just kept working at it, and then I looked up and realized I had something good.
Can you remember the moment when you chose to pursue being an artist?
Definitely. I was in an intensive painting program with Kevin, working on my painting Troy. It was my first big, real painting that I had conceptualized and put together. And I think that’s where I realized I could take something, create and express it in my own way and convey a powerful message. I realized I could communicate the things I wanted to communicate, just like when I wrote, and that’s when I decided to take painting seriously as a career.
How did the Evolve curriculum help you achieve your goal of becoming an artist?
Everything I know comes from this program. I learned quality control and fundamentals that shaped me as an artist. I was exposed to different ways of painting, but they were all based on the common principles that I learned right at the beginning of my education.
Becoming a Professional
Can you tell us a little bit about your transition from student into a working artist, selling paintings?
The transition was definitely a mind shift before anything else. I had to realize that even though I hadn’t sold hundreds of paintings, my paintings showed a professional quality of work. And leaning on that, I was able to confidently call myself a young professional.
Taking on that role with confidence helped me to get in touch with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have contacted about my work. Mindset and skills are everything.
How would you describe your own style and preferred subject matter?
It comes from my love of writing, but I enjoy telling stories. So when I paint, I very much seek out narrative pieces that convey a story. I enjoy taking scenes out of the Bible and bringing them to life in a variety of different, and sometimes modern, ways.
When I create a painting, I actually like to pose more questions rather than give answers. I truly want people to think, and I want to hear their thoughts on what my painting says to them.
Do you have a personal favorite piece?
Perhaps my favorite piece is Yearning for the Hand of God. Not only does it carry a personal story for me, but I painted it over three days, with only a few breaks. So the way I worked on it, the speed and intensity, coupled with the subject matter make it one of my favorites.
Tips for Artists
What are your suggestions for artists just starting out?
Surround yourself with people who are growing with you, a community. That's what helped kept me going when I was learning, painting with peers each day. Surround yourself with people who are where you are at and also where you want to be. I think that isolation can be the death of an artist in some cases.
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know one of our Evolve members, and are encouraged to surround yourself with community and begin to Evolve as an artist.
You can see more of Daniel’s work on his website, danielfolta.com