Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spotlight Sunday - Daniel Young

Spotlight Sunday is a series of interviews designed to introduce and highlight Chicago Urban Sketchers individually.  Now that our chapter has over 500 members it has become more of a challenge to meet every sketcher in person and have a conversation.  These posts concentrate on individuals and speak in their own words and sketches.

Meet Daniel Young!

Interviewed by Alex Zonis

About a week or so back I sent Daniel my interview questions, a set similar to the one all our interviewees get.
Instead of answering my questions in sequence Daniel sent me a story. I know Daniel for a couple of years, so I was only briefly surprised: being unique is his normal way of being.

So I have for you - Daniel Young, his self portrait, his story and work.

Daniel Young self-portrait
Daniel Young:

One of my goals in biking across country was to return to Chicago (the best city in the country, IMO) and turn some of my photos into paintings. But upon returning I soon faced the fact that my vision for the paintings was way beyond my ability to paint them.

I had always been into the arts, but pencil was always my choice of tools and still to this day it's the medium I feel most comfortable using. Which is why I'm enjoying things like the ball point pen. If I'm comfortable, I'm not growing.

Okay - the solution was easy. Learn to paint. The first step for me in learning how to paint Well was to return back to the basics and learn how to draw well.

I already knew that meant practice practice, practice. So I was happy to read an article, posted by Alex saying that "Talent" was about 10,000 hours of practice. That equates to about 5 years, and at 57 years old I needed to get a move on it.

So I started drawing everything, all the time, even earning the name "the guy that draws all the time". Also after returning to Chicago, re-entry into a non-nomadic life proved to be a bit more challenging than I originally anticipated, so drawing became a great escape for me.

People are my favorite subject matter and I love coffee, so Starbucks was the perfect blend.. It was at a Starbucks that Hope Hanley first introduced me USK.

For me, sketching had become an adventure. An adventure very close to cycling; each moment was completely brand new and you never know who or what you'll run into around the corner or over the next hill. But up to this point I had never met another sketcher. Why was I the only one out there drawing? I chalked it up to not owning a TV or a smartphone. And kept drawing. But to have Hope give me hope that there were others out there too. I wasn't the only one! I have to admit I leaned against the table to maintain my balance which had all the sudden gone wacky due to my weak knees. And I'm not kidding. The ceiling to Starbucks opened up to angels sang Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah.

Need I say more? I've been hooked ever since.

This group has such a wide variety of artists, I'm constantly being pushed in new directions as I travel with them in their adventures  And that THRILLS me. You can't help but to become a better artist, just by being around them. 

USK has also changed my vision on what painting is all about.

Plein air painting in the park by the Zoo.
The artist in the painting is Charlie Critchelow

Alex Zonis: Thank you for sharing your story, your talent and your sketches with us, Daniel. I happen to know that you will be co-hosting our sketch meet next week, this is just great - our sketchers can meet you in person!


  1. I have personally enjoyed impromptu conversations with Daniel and his experimental mindset. One day he approached me and said he wanted to learn how to be a caricature artist. He thought I could teach him but I am not a caricature artist. So he says, "we'll learn how together and we will start with people we know--fellow Urban Sketchers." I don't know what came of that initiative but I suspect Daniel is still at it.

  2. Danial, we share many common interests put, bike riding, your caricatures, and urban sketching. I always enjoy your posts,
    It's been my pleasure getting to know you.

  3. He's is the most interesting person I know in this group. I still have my caricature made by him in one of our gatherings. Daniel is fun.


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