By NATE THOMASON, January 2023
Whether it be in his massive warehouse studio or in the snowy mountains of Boulder, Colorado, artist Will Day absorbs inspiration from whatever surroundings he finds himself in to create the large-scale canvas paintings he has become known for. Day views these paintings as a metaphorical map to viewers' inner lives and evolution, allowing people to relate their own experiences to the works. Coming fresh off the success of his Hope and Break Out series, Day recalls the moments when he found his inner creative spirit releasing itself throughout his studio and where he’s headed.
“To me, the ultimate gift the universe can give us is a reset and to put us in a place to rediscover,” Day says, recalling the tribulations of the pandemic. “If you live in fear you’re never going to see the joy and the creativity that’s going to burst from this period.”
Change is one of the key components in Day’s outlook on the world. Growing up in a divorced household at a young age put him in uncomfortable situations, which he has now grown accustomed to overcoming. With this concept of being able to reset, and taking a moment to look back at his studio and envision new chances to create, Day often tries to physically immerse himself in his work. This has led to larger and larger canvases and envisioning his paintings in an evolved process.
“I ripped everything down. I ripped up my canvases and took different things apart. I wanted to look at these blank walls as a whole new Will Day and reverse the thinking of how I create and change my process because the world changed,” Day says. “I was just having fun. I was walking on my canvases, skateboarding, biking, I was trying to move differently. The word movement can be very loosely used, but I was trying to move emotionally through my canvases, not just through my hands, but all parts of my body.”
Day’s studio gives him the opportunity to move freely and chase these creative ideas while also housing the massive canvases he paints. Day explains how he often looks back at his canvases and can see faces, figures, and scenery take form in places he never imagined. It’s his pursuit of these abstract maps to inner fulfillment that lets viewers realize what he is attempting to convey in his work: he wants people to leave with an understanding of themselves.
“The studio changes constantly,” he says. “I have things on wheels, couches I can sleep on, computers I work on, open glass doors that can roll up so people can watch. I want to create a space that’s one-of-a-kind, that’s not cluttered but can make you feel big. I can look up at the stars from my studio. It gives me a chance to breathe and find those magical moments to start creating again.”
Throughout his youth, nature was a sanctuary for Day’s feelings of isolation. It has always been a key inspiration for his art as well as his personal journey. Now, living in the beautiful snowy city of Boulder, Day has chances to venture into the mountains for inspiration whenever he needs it. Much of his recent work conveys abstract imagery of certain scenes he finds while on these adventures, capturing the experiences of being out in nature during the seasons.
“I love being out in the mountains, because this studio sort of represents the grandiose feel of being outside,” says Day. “That’s why you’re seeing a lot of these paintings being a reflection of me out in the mountains. These are all colors and shapes subconsciously downloaded from me onto the canvas. It takes my breath away when I go outside and go on these hikes and see these natural colors. That’s the joy of these paintings: one feels like one’s walking through them. That all comes down with me from the mountains, and that’s the journey.”
With Day’s most recent Break Out series, he has looked to the past at some of his favorite painters and artists to reconnect with his work. Day explains that one of his favorite painters is Vincent Van Gogh, and it’s clear through Day’s use of colors and landscapes that Van Gogh’s vision plays a major, non-literal role in this series.
“I said to myself, what would it be like if Van Gogh lived today and saw what was happening, and had a chance to paint big,” Day says. “He used small strokes, he painted in small studios, using small canvases outdoors. I wanted to envision what it would be like if he was in my space and had the freedom to use these large canvases and use large movements.”
No matter how people view the art, Day explains that the most important aspect is this concept of letting go of fear and allowing the joys of life to flood into your inner self. He welcomes change as a crucial component of both life and art. Whether it be finding a familiar face in his abstract canvases, or resonating with Van Gogh-inspired shades of color, there is something hidden within Day’s art for everyone to discover.
“That’s the joy of when I work: I don’t know what I am going to create,” Day says. “You have to say, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen today, but whatever happens, it’s going to be unique and different, because today is a new day. This is a new me.’ Sometimes it’s going to be bad, sometimes it’s going to be good, but you have to have both to really see the joy and essence of life.”
Nate Thomason is a freelance writer from Richmond, Virginia. As a recent graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University, he studied Mass Communications and Creative Writing. Some of his interests include music, fine art, film, sports, and literature.view all articles from this author