GALLERY ARTIST INTERVIEW: Courtney Danelle of Danelle Dark Arts

Through my illustrations, crafts, and entertainment, it’s my hope that I can bring the fantasies of every adventurer to life. My goal is to make this world as weird and whimsical as any we can imagine!

How old are you?
27

What is the primary medium you work in?
My work is pretty equally divided between digital painting and traditional mixed media! I feel like it’s important to work with both traditional and digital mediums, since you learn different lessons from each. Digital lets me experiment and produce my best work. But traditional mixed media forces me to make bold commitments when laying down colors and ink.

What is your favorite medium to work in?
My favorite medium is probably digital. I love the ability it gives me to make changes and try different things on the fly!

What is one medium that you would love to learn?
I would love to learn to work with watercolor paints more. I have so many watercolor paints, but it’s hard for me to use, and I’m actually not very good with it. Still, I have a masochistic love for it! Watercolor teaches you to accept an element of chaos that you can’t control. That works out sometimes, though! Nothing beats getting that perfect gradient, or a random blend of colors that just works so well.

What is your favorite subject matter?
My favorite subject matter is always people’s personal original characters created for roleplay. I love to hear every detail of their backstories, motivations, and struggles. I feel like roleplay is such a powerful tool for people who are trying to explore themselves. Being able to help bring those characters to life is the most rewarding subject without a doubt. Tell me all about your OCs!!

Can you tell us about your art style and company?
My art is pretty laser focused on dark fantasy! Mythology, magic, monsters… things like that are my lifeblood.

What art tools do you use, and do you have any tools or brands that you recommend?
I have tried a TON of supplies by a lot of brands. For sketching, you cannot beat the Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. They’re very affordable and forgiving! For adding touches to my art, I love using the Coliro Watercolor sets. That sparkle from their mica paints? Chef kiss.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what are the three art supply items that you would have with you?
Would it be cheating to say my tablet, my charger, and a solar powered generator to keep making digital art? LOL I just don’t think I could pick just three of my traditional media items. I mix all sorts of media for each piece. I could fill a suitcase just with pencils and markers!

What sources would you recommend for artists that are interested in pursuing your art medium?
Oh gosh, I’m the worst person to ask about this. I don’t really have any reliable resources. I’ve been cherry picking whatever I can here or there. I’ll be keeping a close eye on other’s answers for this, though~

How and when did you start creating artwork?
I have been drawing on and off throughout my life, but it was often actively discouraged. Only now as an adult have I really given it my attention and effort, and have been creating art for about four years now! I’ve come a long way during that time, but I have a lot of room to grow still. I’m excited to see where it goes!

Who or what are your biggest artistic influences?
Art nouveau is my fondest love from the mainstream art world, but more alternative works like art from old fantasy games, shoujo manga, and pinup all influence my work.

What piece of art do you most closely identify with?
If I had to choose a piece of art I most closely identify with, it would have to be the pink devil girl I drew not long ago. She’s the villain of my long running D&D campaign, so she hits close to home! That said, I would love to draw some art of my personal D&D character soon. That art would immediately take the place as my most cherished piece haha

Who are YOUR favorite artists?
I have so many favorite artists! But here are two that have some absolutely stunning work: ♡Bewitched Ink on both Instagram and Twitter: @BewitchedInk ♡ Jasmine Darnell on both Instagram and Twitter: @ya.hime and @JasminDarnell

If you could time travel to experience any art movement firsthand, what would it be and why?
I would love to slip back to the 1730s just to experience the Rococo movement firsthand. It was a beautiful rebellion against all that was formal and geometrical! I love intricately detailed things, and nothing embodies that quite like Rococo architecture and art.

If you could give any advice to your past-artist-self, what would it be?
If I could give advice to my past self, it would be to not listen to family who tried to discourage me. I was often told growing up “There will always be someone better than you. It’s not worth the risk of trying to be an artist.” I listened to them for so long, and I was really miserable. I feel like I wasted a lot of time trying to appease them. If I could go back I would tell myself “Be stubborn! Don’t get discouraged! Don’t listen to anyone besides your own heart!”

What is your absolute dream project? If you could create anything in the world, what would you create?
My dream project would be to create an illustrated comic book series based off of my long running D&D campaign with my best friends! I wouldn’t mind if no one else followed it besides myself and my players. But just having our highs and lows over the past 3 years drawn out would be such a constant joy. I can confidently say that would never get tired of it~

What is your ultimate goal as an artist? Has this changed over your art career?
Ultimately, I would love to publish the dark fantasy romance comic I have in the works! I want to write and draw my own stories, and share them with others. Also, making art for indie games would be a dream come true! This is certainly a change, since I used to hope to get into the larger video game industry. But after seeing how many large studios treat their creators though, I think it would be better to work with small teams.

Can you tell us about the pieces you created for this gallery? 
The first piece that I created was of a tattooed girl who has become the Ouija Board herself! I tried to give her somewhat of a “possessed” or “out of body” look. The spirits are making contact with her directly, and it makes it feel vaguely intimate.

The second piece is a slightly different take on a spirit board! It uses the runic alphabet instead of the Latin alphabet, and a hag stone instead of a traditional planchette. This one has more of a cozy fall feel compared to the spookier first piece.

Are there any messages that you’re aiming to convey with the art you created for this gallery? 
Besides just making something that looked aesthetically cool, I wanted to touch on the actual use of spirit boards and divination tools. I wanted to tell a story of something else that lies beyond.

Would you like to share any stories/experiences/special memories that revolve around the theme of this gallery? 
My grandmother is a practicing pagan witch, and has used divination tools around me all my life. Crystal pendulums and oracle cards were common sights, but she always warned about connecting with spirits and spirit boards. She even expressed a moment of caution when I shared the news about participating in this gallery! It’s sweet, isn’t it? I made sure to reassure her I was still heeding her warning. It’s ok grandma, it’s just a bit of artistic fun! Please don’t worry too much about me!

Can you tell us about some of the other artwork/products you will have available during the gallery run? 
During the gallery, I’ll also be offering a wide selection of stickers and handmade accessories on my etsy shop. I’ll also be open for a few traditional art commissions for anyone interested~

Have you ever used a Ouija board? If so can you tell us about that experience? 
While I think spirit boards are VERY cool aesthetically, I wouldn’t actually use one myself. My grandmother would absolutely end me. With zero hesitation she would put me in the past tense. Anyone who wants to should be sure to be incredibly respectful, though!

If you could use a Ouija board to speak to someone (anyone from your past or anyone that has ever existed), who would you speak to and why? 
Oh gosh, none! I wouldn’t trust myself with a spirit board. I’ll choose any other divination method I can, please haha

If you were a ghost would you prank people using Ouija boards and how would you do so? 
I don’t think I would be any smarter as a ghost than I am in life, so I would probably give a lot of vague, irritating answers. Questions would mostly be answered with “Uuuuh maybe?” “Not sure” “Worth a shot!” I would be so useless haha

Is Halloween your favorite holiday? 
By a mile Halloween and/or Samhain are my favorites. Halloween one of the few holidays that aren’t focused around family. You are encouraged to be your weirdest self, and that’s beautiful. Samhain is celebrated at the same time as Halloween, and is actually an important religious holiday. It’s considered “Witch’s New Years” to many, and when the veil between worlds is the thinnest. I’m always excited for it!

What is your favorite thing to do during the fall? 
Autumn is hands down my favorite time of the year, so I tend to go feral for it. I bake new things every week, decorate the entire house, and try to watch spooky movies every day. But, my favorite thing is breaking out my biggest and most over the top goth clothing. It can be difficult being a goth in the SoCal heat! But when the temperatures drop, so do my freshest looks~

Do you have any Fall/Halloween recommendations?
The Cozy Adventurer’s Mulled Wine: Not only is this drink amazingly cozy, but the simmering of the spices will act like potpourri, and make your whole kitchen smell amazing! Proportions and ingredients can be tailored to your personal preferences. Please feel free to make it more or less sweet or spicy. ♡ This can also be easily doubled or tripled for many drinkers! Please drink responsibly!

Yield: 4 servings.
♡ INGREDIENTS
– 2 oranges, zest skin peeled off, and juiced
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 8 whole cloves
– 2 star anise
– 1 tablespoons maple syrup
– 1 tablespoons honey
– 2 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1 750ml bottle of fruity red wine of your choice.
– 1/4 cup Grand Mariner (optional)

♡STEP 1 Combine the orange juice and sugar in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, bring them to a simmer to allow the sugar to dissolve.

♡STEP 2 Add in all other ingredients to the saucepan, but only half of the orange zest, and stir briefly to combine. Simmer over medium low heat for at least 30 minutes, and up to an hour.

♡STEP 3 Using a spider strainer or a slotted spoon, remove any spices or zest from the wine.

♡STEP 4 Fill heat safe mugs or glasses with hot water to preheat them. After they are warm, empty out the water, and ladle in the mulled wine. Garnish with remaining fresh orange zest. Enjoy!

Have you participated in the Artist Lodge Gallery before? 
This is my first time participating in an Artist Lodge event! I was accepted into the Jim Henson show in 2020, but it unfortunately had to be cancelled due to COVID. So I’m happy to be here now! I met an organizer at the February 2020 Isle of Magic, and she was amazingly kind to me. I had been eager to join in ever since. I hope to participate in future ones as well!

Where can readers find your work? 
Readers can find my work on my Instagram, Twitter, and etsy shop! They’re all under the same label of DanelleDarkArts. I hope to see you there!

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for taking an interest in me and my art! I’d like to wish all of you a wonderful autumn season! 🍂💛


YOU CAN FIND MORE FROM DANELLE DARK ARTS HERE:
Etsy
Twitter
Instagram

*Please note that all artwork is reposted with permission from the artists. Please do not use, alter, or repost the artwork without direct permission from the artists. Each artist may have a different Creative Commons license on their work/images and you will need to contact them directly in order to obtain permission for your uses.

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