A Passion for Life!
Like a lot of great artists, Daniel Hanifan knew what he wanted to do at an early age.
At about the age of seven he remembers spending a lot of time making “things.” Instead of an interest in playing sports or games, like most other children in his neighborhood in Michigan, Daniel used to spend much of his spare time creating all kinds of “forms” for whatever their use might be. As a noticeably creative young child, his mother would provide him with cardboard, glue and art supplies and he just began to create. “I remember spending a lot of time making all kinds of “things.” I knew I was a different kind of kid, kind of a loner, even at an early age, and all I wanted to do was make my vision visible to others.” Hanifan had a creative instinct without analyzing much about it. He just went for it as it came natural to him. Almost all of our greatest artists throughout history have become grandiose without “knowing it.” It is much more of a drive mixed with emotions, which then translates into reality, rather than a well thought out process.
“I also was involved in activities at school that was creative, including plays, arts and crafts projects,” says Hanifan.
Daniel was also very entrepreneurial, – yet again, the trust in one’s self that served him well on the road to success. Even as a youngster, mowing lawns and shoveling snow with a work ethic that wouldn’t quit to make extra money for his art supplies as he expanded his repertoire making continually bigger and better things was not foreign to Daniel. Instead, a way of life! This very mind set alone at an early age is a clear sign of determination and a sure pathway to success. A very rare quality indeed!
Hanifan eventually developed his skills to the point where he had become ready for prime time, and visited a number of local TV studios in Detroit, knocking on doors, asking them if they were interested in some of his “stuff.” It turned out they were, and young Daniel was able to sell them some of the creations he had made for use on local television programming. With his approach to life as an entrepreneur and his genuine talent, a genius was born.
I was once working on a feature film and the director asked me what I thought art was. I was grasping for answers. “Art is the expression of pain and all that comes out of that experience,” John Irvin, a British Director of many films said. It took me a while to understand it at the age of 26. But the truth is there is really no growth unless one understands and can express the human condition and through that inspire others. The art Hanifan started expressing has touched others. Not an easy task to achieve! Only a handful can do that. Especially in TV and Cinema.
“I made anything I thought they could use he says, from flying saucers to props to costumes, anything I could make with my hands,” says Hanifan.
He also found interest in things like magic, creating his own tricks and props, entertaining family and friends and high school companions. “If there was anything to do with performance or creativity, I was interested in it,” he says. “I learned from people who were pretty talented when I was young, and I later learned that they went on to being pretty famous in television.”
By the time Hanifan was in his mid-teens he had a full time business, and was an ambitious young man creating materials for television studios. “I started making all kinds of stuff for a variety of shows, all kinds of displays from cars to any oddball project they needed built, Hanifan says. “I learned a lot about hydraulics and pneumatics and other mechanical effects to make the stuff more effective and it all seemed to work pretty well. They also wanted me to do hats, costumes and props, anything bizarre or out of the box, and pretty soon I was sending things out for performers in Las Vegas and New York. That was all very exciting; it seemed like the big time.”
These jobs led to other work, building displays for corporations, mascot costumes for minor league baseball teams, almost anything that was creative and unusual. Hanifan was also attending the University of Michigan then, but he really wanted to get into the entertainment business, and took a job as entertainment director for a couple of theme parks. At the age of twenty-three he moved to a small town on the border of Georgia and Florida and devoted his talents to creating surprise and delight.
Once he got settled in, he decided to further develop these theme parks, expanding his creativity, making everything from “haunted houses to parade floats to you-name it,” Hanifan says. “I was a master of anything that blinked and twinkled.”
Then a pivotal event occurred, when a friend, who was an art collector asked him to create something on a pretty big scale, maybe 7-feet by 12-feet, a real big piece of fine art.
“When he told me this was an oversized project, I really had something bigger in mind, because a painting that size was small compared to what I was used to be doing,” Hanifan says. “I was used to painting huge murals and walls, so this was small compared to the kind of work I was doing. All along I had been painting large scale projects, walls and ceiling, but never something that was created to be hung and displayed on a wall as fine art. So I did the piece not knowing what I was doing, and it turned out great. To this day people still say these are some of my best works. They have been published in many magazines and design publications, so people must have liked something about it.” Daniel now has established in his work the definition of magic! When one sets out to do work that is not planned by the reasoning mind, but rather “translated,” the Universe starts to reveal itself! And, did it reveal itself for Daniel Hanifan!
Right out of the box Daniel Hanifan had found a medium toward which he had probably been pointing all along. The larger scale work became a specialty of his, works not only of width and breadth, but of great depth and energy, works that tell a story of emotion and spirit. In the years since that first seminal work, Hanifan has produced thousands of works, in many different styles coming from a variety of inspirations, all pointing back to the ultimate truth of creating art: being a messenger. Because ultimately all is up to the observer and Hanifan knows that. This quality is present only in the biggest artists in history.
“When people ask me what inspires me, I always tell them the ideas come from within,” explains Hanifan. “It could come from the dance of Agnes DeMille or the poetry of Sandburg or Frost. It might be from a dream at night, a vision that I will then try to capture in a large scale work. I like to use the analogy of a hunter who seeks his game, and enjoys challenge and spirit of the hunt, but then the final result is something static and final. My process of painting is very alive and exciting, and I get lost in it sometimes, and then when it’s all finished I can see what it turned out to be. The final finished piece of art is like the trophy.”
And, that, I would say is the creative process: the willing of the unimaginable into existence; the courage to let go of control, a contribution to consciousness. The dance of this everlasting beautiful, painful, passionate and short chance we get to make others happy, touch their hearts and make them see that in the sea of colors where everything happens at the same time your very presence is making all that there is! And YOU are all that there is! Daniel Hanifan has redefined art!
The abstract is the ultimate chess game: everything is up to you! Hanifan leaves you engaged. He is selfless. You can no longer escape. It touches you on the deepest level and it lingers until its forces allow you to feel! Until you become present, in touch, and vivacious.
Hanifan likes to work by going deeper into himself, using meditation and silence, listening from within, using an inner energy and transforming it into art. “These things that I see talk to me,” he says. “They tell me where to go. I follow the spirit I feel, the deep consciousness, and then portray that with the art. The celestial art, especially, works that way.”
The scope of his work is important too, since it allows Hanifan to encompass his entire vision. “You just step into the work and allow your vision to expand and allow yourself to experience it in the way that the initial creative impulse inspired me,” he says. “I like to improvise and work in various styles. I am the vehicle when I create these works, the expediter that makes the trip possible, but I am also just delivering what I see, and there are times I just can’t deliver what I see in the deepest levels of consciousness. I wish I could.”
This very humble statement alone however sets Hanifan apart from all other artists. He expresses what all artists dream of: the very real mysterious and unexplainable presence of the higher power that lives in all of us! The existence of the watcher, without whom nothing would exist. Something that is far greater than what could be painted, yet Hanifan puts us in touch with the untouchable on his canvas! All that which can only be felt with the heart, but not explained! Words are insufficient, as the present, past and the future are happening all at the same time in his unique abstract pieces that captures you and throw you in awe.
Hanifan says, “there are times I just can’t deliver what I see in the deepest levels of consciousness. I wish I could.” Yet he actually expresses all that we can know, see, touch and taste on some level through his work for the period of time we are engaged. He brings us into a different world! That is a God given gift!
A true artist is a translator between heaven and earth, reality and vision, the touchable and the untouchable, expressing a full spectrum of emotions all in one brush stroke. His work inspires you because it is but a mere reflection of you! It’s fusion!
There is more to art than we have come to know. THAT art is what Daniel Hanifan gifts us with. Beyond boundaries, awaking the soul, calling out for more! Transcendence? A connection to that which we cannot touch, taste or smell, yet will ultimately touch, taste and smell the most. He knows this and he is fearless! A complete transformation of the soul! The Phantom that speaks to you, the soul that you can actually feel a handful of times in a lifetime! Hanifan brings out what is hidden. He does not stop at “nice,” he goes for the truth. The truth that is hard to express even when you feel it, get it, taste it and badly want to own it! Hanifan expresses it.
The wise and lucky ones trust it; others try to explain it away, or discount it. They stumble. Daniel talks about the unseen, what is yet to come, the becoming of that, which we cannot yet see! This is why his abstract art is a must have. As Mark Twain said: “ I have the simplest taste, I am always satisfied with the best.”
Others in the art world have found a lot to like about Hanifan’s expansive works. Respected art critic Dean Polling says of Hanifan’s work that “Daniel’s art is Big, Bold and Beautiful. It explores the relationship of colors and how they interact side-by-side in complementary relief in dynamic contrast. These strokes and compositions can be striking as this relationship plays across vast canvasses, but these canvasses are not often large enough for Hanifan’s taste. Daniel Hanifan, after all, works larger than life.”
And, larger than life he is: The light and the dark, the joy and the sorrow, the colors that dance and the colors that sadden. All in one canvas. And, Hanifan gives you the key to unlock your own potential.
A brilliant artist who can change your perception on life! Who can make you realize in one mesmerizing piece that all you can see is who you are! And, that is what Hanifan expresses in a million different ways larger than life.
As with the most unique art, everyone responds to Hanifan’s work in a personal way, and the abstraction in Hanifan’s work leaves the broadest possible appeal.
“Everyone sees something different it in,” he says. “One woman came to one of my exhibitions and just started sobbing, and I was concerned and I came over and asked her if she was all right. So something was going on with that work, and she told me ‘That piece touched me so much,’ and I wasn’t sure if that was in a good way or a bad way, but it turned out very positive.”
There is no denying the dances of emotional states that real art can make in our lives, as it is an expression of a creative spirit, a penetrating energy and as such: transformational! “When I am working it just feels like a spiritual experience,” Hanifan says, “like there is a spiritual energy or consciousness coming through me. The feelings of love and compassion are very important to me, since, as an outsider, I can understand how others may feel when they are alone or isolated. I feel a higher consciousness when I create these works, and I’ve had people come up to me and say that they just have to have this or that piece, I don’t know why, but they just have to have it.”
We do know why. It touches the soul. Digital technology while ruling our lives, thankfully does not matter in the world of art! We are souls that feel, touch and love. Most importantly want to be loved and want to love at the same time. Daniel’s work shows that! Deeply seated emotions that abstracts can express when a true artists touches his canvas.
To appreciate real art, Hanifan feels, you don’t have to understand it, don’t have to understand the principles of composition, balance or depth or anything conceptual, you just have to have the work speak to you.
“You just have to give art a chance,” he says. “Don’t just walk away and say ‘I didn’t get it.’ Let it speak to you, maybe look at it from another perspective, maybe in a different light.”
The process of creation for Hanifan often involves a huge canvas and plenty of process layering, creating a work that can be a half-inch thick or more and weigh hundreds of pounds. Artist, writer and critic Earle McKey says that “Daniel Hanifan’s work involves exquisitely crafted tactile surfaces. Daniel’s palette is masterful with color that reflects the luminosity of ancient Thai silks.” In my opinion, Daniel’s color palette is Universal. Exhibits cannot call it their own, or label it in any way. It is the next chapter in human life: it is transcending what we know today. But, it never stays the same. You can stay with a Hanifan piece and never be done with it. There is always another layer. It is evolutionary.
There is always something new! And, THAT new, is what you wish to chase, discover, feel and understand. Excited to be trying to express it, but they are everlasting and there are no words just yet. You are on a journey, just as Daniel says:
“I love the big format, and they are just as easy to do for me as smaller pieces,” Hanifan says. “In the large work I can take people on a journey, my art represent a journey, depending on where I want to go with it.”
Those mixed media journeys have ended up in some very prestigious places, including many corporate lobbies and prestigious professional’s offices. “I had one hospital that loved one of my bigger pieces so much that they had the lobby rebuilt just to accommodate the size of the work,” he says. “There is also a neurologist who is a fan of mine who uses my pieces in his office space because of the healing effects he feels they have for his patients. I also had a high-end furniture store that dyed their entire collection in the showcase just to make sure the color scheme was coordinated with the colors in my work. That was pretty flattering to the work, I thought.” Hanifan’s works are also included in collections in the United States, Europe and Japan.
With a working style that includes painting every day, Hanifan continues to innovate his work, using wood as a base, adding layers or colors and resins and textures to heighten the expression. This year he is having a major exhibition in London’s private International Polo Club, and has been named the artist for their 30th anniversary event.
The exhibit has a theme of “Healing the Earth,” reflecting all the elements of healing the planet and awakening consciousness. This event will also include some of the world’s top cancer researchers, and there is also a charity for the Vatican, so this is a highly international showcase for Hanifan.
Ever the showman, Hanifan likes to make his exhibits something special and exciting for the guests. “I like to bring in models and performers, animated sculptures, add special lighting and other special effects to make it a multi-dimensional experience.”
The next phase for Hanifan? Obviously the Industry of Entertainment with its silver screen and big screen productions where Hanifan can easily win an Emmy or an Oscar award.
Another big splash this year involves a sculpture that Hanifan is creating for a music festival in London, in which a mélange of musical instruments will be sculpted from various materials, including plastics and fiberglass, melting and blending into each other, in a work to be called “Symphony of Color.”
As his work continues to evolve and grow, and exposure continues on an international level, Hanifan keeps on allowing us to experience his work in a very tangible, but mysterious way, which excites the soul. “The idea to take from my work, I hope, is the touch of textural flow, the taste of energy, the smell of richness and an excitement that resonates within a higher consciousness. Taste, touch, and feel – I’m just hoping I’m connecting with you in some special way. Art should be an experience, should make you think about it the next day, should touch you in some deeper, maybe even profound way.”
And, it does! After all, there is an extraordinary artist, who expresses every day in every way what it means to be human! Who can paint the colors of our souls, of every which emotion on the deepest levels where nobody has ever gone before.
Artists like Hanifan supporting life-altering causes are the new frontiers into the 21st Century. The old paradigm is gone, and the new one is just forming. One cannot exercise ownership in knowledge of what is not yet here, but those who see a “vision,” which is “nothing else than life’s coming attractions” – as Einstein said, are the ones taking us into the next Century. That visionary artist is Daniel Hanifan! Because what is sacred and noble cannot be spoken about, it can only be felt by the soul! From around the world I have met one artist, who can do that: Daniel Hanifan!
About the Author of This Article: Adrienne Papp is a recognized journalist, economist and feature writer, who has written for many publications including Savoir; The Westside Today Publications ; such as Beverly Hills 90210; Malibu Beach; Santa Monica Sun; The Beverly Hills Times; Brentwood News; Bel-Air View ; Celebrity Society ; Celeb Staff ; It Magazine; Chic Today; LA2DAY; West Side Today among many others. She is the President and CEO of Los Angeles / New York-based publicity company, Atlantic Publicity and publishing house, Atlantic Publisher. Adrienne writes about world trends, Quantum Physics, entertainment and interviews celebrities, world leaders, inventors, philanthropists and entrepreneurs. She also owns Atlantic United Films that produces and finances true stories made for theatrical release or the silver screen. Spotlight News Magazine is owned by Atlantic United, Inc. Atlantic Publicity just opened a new extension to it : PublicityLosAngeles. Adrienne Papp is a member of the International Press Academy.