Inside the mind of an artist

Most artists will tell you they enjoy the creativity and creative freedom their work gives them.  Many of the same artists will also tell you how they were told to “get a real job” or do something a little more tangible and, let’s face it, predictable.
David Emmanuel Noel is a British visual artist, illustrator and graphic designer originally from London and now based in New York City.  He has been painting and drawing since he was a young boy, but admits being encouraged by loving parents to pursue something like accounting or law.
For David Emmanuel Noel, the rewarding aspects of creating art were too good to trade in for a “normal” job.
I met this artist through Twitter. In all transparency, he and I struck up a back and forth after his profile about my girlfriend @akhenryfinearts (which can be read here:
In my mind, there’s a reason why he reached out to her about her art.  They both receive therapeutic rewards creating pieces many others could only wish they could do.
David Emmanuel Noel’s favorite go-to mediums are acrylic paint, oils and mixed media. Besides creating art, Noel also has a wealth of experience collaborating with visual artists and musicians, particularly on projects promoting the therapeutic and social benefits of the arts.  In a statement on his website, he says  “Art is not a luxury but a necessity for maintaining our sense of the world particularly when our understanding of it can be flawed by those who easily influence and mislead us.  I believe art plays a powerful role in recording or even distorting history and our appreciation of ourselves and others.  In various mediums art is a significant tool to shape society and our future.”
Not only does David Emmanuel Noel create art, he has taught it as well, and has collaborated with a long list of theatres, charities and other venues.
But the best way to get into the mind of an artist, it’s best to just ask them.  I sent David a few questions about his background, his art and his hopes for the future. Below are those questions and his full and unedited answers.

Is there one piece, or series, of which you are most proud, or never thought you could do, but did?

Good question and something I can’t say I’ve actually thought much about. I guess I tend to create work or produce themes which impulsively I’m attracted to. This tends to be from life experiences, finding myself in situations or meeting interesting people. I’m into music as well as painting so I’m currently developing a music themed series entitled ‘ the art of music.’ The idea grew legs after my recent collaboration with New York based composer Darryl Yokley on the album ‘Pictures at an African Exhibition’ released through Truth Revolution Records earlier this year. I guess I’m also proud of my ‘Fusion Series’ of paintings which explore the use of colours and how they relate to mental health.

Most people have that moment when they know they were destined to do something. When did you know you are an artist?

I think I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist. To be honest, I think we all want to be an artist of some kind- confidently creative and able to express yourself via channels that are equally therapeutic and financially rewarding. I became aware of my sudden popularity at primary school when I started drawing. I used it to my advantage, charging other children lunch money for drawing visuals to accompany their homework. Childhood behaviour aside, I think I’ve become serious about my art over the last few years because it grounds me and helps make sense of the world around me. Every artist should see their art form as a therapeutic tool above or beyond anything else and that’s why you should do it. I’ve been fortunate so far but there’s a lot more to achieve, working collaboratively and on personal projects.

In your sketches/drawings, your characters show such emotion. How do you capture that?

Thank you! I think it’s probably a reflection of the exposure to life, awareness of the emotional rollercoaster called life and attempts to draft characters in every work. It’s actually a difficult question to answer because everyone interprets work differently and can potentially draw a different energy from work. I guess that’s the case with every form of art.

Your most difficult piece to do was….

Hmmmm, a few come to mind. It was probably a portrait commission. I don’t consider myself a portrait artists but a client wanted me to paint her husband and, after I completed the work, she wanted me to remove his facial lines and somehow paint her next to him! The difficulty came from her being the customer! I think the opportunity to work with two artists and a group of teenagers on a mural in the Washington Heights, New York was both difficult and exciting. Unfortunately the mural is no longer there but it comprised of two walls and the ceiling at the entrance of a subway.

What gave you the idea for the abstract series? The colors are so vivid?

I like to experiment with ideas, shapes and colors, creating work that’s influenced by my contemporaries. The narrative of some paintings is better expressed with a more unorthodox execution . Moreover, I do at times become a little bored with painting in a particular style or getting caught up in technical correctness before expression. As an aside, whilst I love the ability of artists to be technically gifted I’m also drawn to art and artists who unapologetically express themselves and ignore imposed boundaries. Art is about being creative, exposing, expressing and challenging.
If others appreciate your work that’s a plus!

Continuing with the abstract series, how do you know when that piece is done? It’s not like a a portrait that has a more finite stopping place.

Sometimes a painting isn’t complete and you’re likely to go back to it. I can’t vouch for every artist but some work you’ll produce will engage you to a certain stage where you feel the work is complete. It’s related to how and why you initiated painting it in the first place- something to do with how you’re connected with the piece and what it gives back.

One thing you have not yet done with your art that you would like to?
That would be telling and tempting fate! Let’s say I do have a number of personal projects underway, collaborations and shows planned in the UK and US. Perhaps I can say I’d like to have more activity in other parts of the world.

What is the most surprising reaction someone gave you to a piece of your art?

I had a solo show in Helsingborg, Sweden and a local journalist apparently commented that the exhibiting work was best suited in a sparsely lit jazz bar where the smoke would help tone down the colors! That aside, I think it’s
‘How much, you’re kidding me.. I thought it would be more than that?’

These answers give just a small view into the mind and purpose behind David Emmanuel Noel and his work.  To learn more, and to reach out to him, go to his website

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