Interview by Monika Bullette
Delaware Fun-A-Day is an all-ages and skill sets community project. We love it when families participate, especialy when they collaborate! Mandy, Dan, and their daughter Chloe will be contributing 2 projects to the 2016 group show at The Delaware Contemporary on 2/6/16. Thank you to the Fager Family!
What is your Delaware connection?
Dan: I lived in Stanton, DE till I was 10 before moving to Maryland.
Mandy: I lived in Bear, DE for about 6 month before moving to Maryland when I was 9.
Dan: Chloe knows that Delaware is where Don Pablo’s is located, since it is our favorite restaurant.
How did you find out about Delaware Fun-A-Day? Please describe your 2015 projects.
Dan: We heard about Delaware Fun-A-Day through our friend Sarah who works in Wilmington. We are both members of a local art co-op called Tom’s Garage.
Mandy: In 2015, we started experimenting with water colors, so we decided to play with that. Dan painted flowers and eventually started to do landscapes to switch things up and keep things interesting. I worked on painting trees, trying different techniques using a straw, spray bottle, and toothbrush. Chloe did drawings on Dan’s extra paintings. She would add mouths, ears, and eyes to flowers to create little monsters. She would even tell us the story behind each monster. When Dan switched to trees, she did little scenes that featured some of the characters from whatever show she was watching at the time.
How long have you been making art? How did you get started?
Dan: I have been an artist all my life. I started with drawing and focused on art all through school concentrating on ceramics for my undergraduate degree. After graduating from Towson University, I landed a job as a production potter at Eldreth Pottery in Oxford, PA. I’ve been there ever since and work on my own projects when time allows. Lately I’ve been spending most of my free time drawing. Occasionally, I work on my own pots and fire them in the kiln at my house. I also dabble in wood-working and various other projects.
Mandy: Most my art life has been more on the crafty side. I took required electives in college, played with origami, and dabbled in pottery as Dan was getting his ceramics degree. I would say that the 2015 Delaware Fun-A Day was the first time I started to be more confident in my ability to try more difficult things and put in the time and patience.
Mandy: Chloe has been making art all her life. We encourage her to draw, write, and have fun. We want to her to be proud of her work and continue to try new things as she grows.
Mandy, your 2016 project is "Sketches of fairies doing various yoga poses" Let's take on these two subjects one at a time.
Fairies - Lewis Carroll famously gave the best conditions to see a fairy - "The first rule is, that it must be a very hot day—that we may consider as settled: and you must be a little sleepy—but not too sleepy to keep your eyes open, mind. Well, and you ought to feel a little “fairyish”— the Scotch call it “eerie.” […] And the last rule is that the crickets shouldn’t be chirping. […] So, if all these things happen together, you’ve a very good chance of seeing a fairy. " Have you seen fairies? What were the conditions? Elaborate on what draws you to fairies.
Mandy: I have a 6 year old, so I have seen Tinkerbell many times. The conditions were snuggled up on the couch, under a comfy blanket in jammies, so I was definitely a little sleepy and totally “fairyish”. Not sure about the crickets though. What draws me to fairies is the same thing that draws me to yoga. The beauty and serenity. I look at both those things and want them for myself. For my drawings, I liked the idea of practicing different wing styles for the fairies. I still haven’t been able to choose a favorite.
Yoga - how did you start your practice? Do you have a favorite (most pleasurable and euphoric) and least favorite (most challenging and vexing) pose? What part of the figure do you find most difficult to draw?
Mandy: I’ve done various yoga classes/home videos over the course of my life. I became a fitness instructor 4 years ago and start teaching Yoga last February (2015). It was about the same time I was working on my 2015 Fun-A-Day Project. I listened to yoga music while I painted. That’s serenity. I’ve always been a pretty flexible person, and when I see advanced yogis, I want to be able to do that too. There are so many poses that I love and find difficult. Right now, my goal is to master the handstand. I can sometimes hold it for a breath or two, but I’m really trying to find the balance and strength, so I can hold it just as well as if I were standing on my feet. Part of the joy of yoga is knowing that it is a journey and every time I practice I get better and stronger, just like with art. The face is the most difficult part of drawing my fairies. Humans are so difficult because the look is so exact. If the nose is even a smidgen too high, too low, too big, too small, etc., she won’t have the beauty that I’m trying to portray. I go through my erasers pretty quickly. That’s why I love this project because it gives me the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.
Chloe and Dan, your 2016 project is "Daughter and father take turns coloring each other's monster drawings on black paper with color pencils." Can you tell us more about the process? Chloe, do you ever question the colors, textures or interpretations your Father chooses? Do you give each other free rein?
Dan: We decided to not take turns and do separate projects using the same idea. One of us draws the outline, the other colors it and adds detail, texture, depth, etc. Sometimes, Chloe gives me suggestions for how she wants something done. Sometimes, I listen.
Chloe: I think when daddy colors my monsters it looks really good. I never want to change anything in it, because I think that he’s a good drawer. I let him do whatever he wants.
Chloe, according to the Instagram feed you are drawing a lot of monsters. Do you have a favorite monster? What about his/her story or appearance do you like the best?
Chloe: My favorite monster is big foot, but I need to look him up, because I don’t know what he looks like. But he’s real, because a friend told me that. It’s just in a different country. I like him the best because he is the biggest monster in the world.
Dan, you get quite a 3D look from the pencils on black paper. Maybe because of your immersion in 3D in your work as a potter? What is your favorite part of your personal pottery work?
Dan: So far my drawing and ceramic work are on opposite ends of the spectrum. My drawings are much slower. I pay attention to detail. I try to communicate an intellectual message. Sometimes that can just be a clear representation of the subject. My pots are purely expressive. It’s a much faster process. It’s about what my hands can do as a result of repeating the process tens of thousands of times and not about planning each pot ahead of time. My favorite part of making pots is opening the kiln and seeing the results. I chose a firing process that largely leaves the end result up to luck.
All, who are your favorite artists?
Mandy: My favorite artist is my husband. His creativity has no limits. Every day he has a new idea and when he creates, it is always perfection.
Chloe: My daddy, because he’s been practicing a lot so he’s so good.
Dan: In the pottery world, I like Shadow May and Matt Long. Both are contemporary potters. The two-dimensional work I’ve been recently obsessed with are drawings and paintings by “new school” tattoo artists.
Where can people check out more of your work?
@danfager and @mandyfager will get you to our Instagram feeds or search our names on Facebook (www.facebook.com/danielfagerpottery and www.facebook.com/MFSignCompany) are pages we have on Facebook for some of our work.
You can see Mandy's, and Dan and Chloe's work at the Delaware Fun-A-Day Group Show at The Delaware Contemporary on February 5, 2016 - Facebook Event