Dan Wilson is an award-winning fine artist who grew up in Salt Lake City. From toddler to teenager, then even as a young adult, art has always been his passion.
After his mission, Dan got serious about painting and decided to get a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Utah Valley University. After graduation he began working with a mentor, William Whitaker, who taught him new skills and pushed Dan to become a better artist. A piece of advice from my mentor will never escape me, Dan said, If you want a color to sing, surround it in a sea of grey!
When asked what he couldn't live without in his studio, he said a freezer. He likes painting on a wet canvas, and because it takes many days to finish most paintings, to keep it wet, he places the canvas in the freezer so it's still wet when he comes back to it.
Some paintings take longer than others to finish, depending on their style. Some paintings will take days, and others can take years. I have worked on paintings for months.
The last few years, his attention has turned to more spiritual and emotional themes. I want to be a part of uplifting families in their homes with inspiring paintings that remind the viewer of their beliefs, values, and things that are truly important and beautiful.
A number of years ago a woman came to talk with me about a painting that she had recently purchased, this painting happened to be a very thoughtful, expressive piece (to be honest one of my first). As she started talking about this painting in her home she started to cry as she was explaining how that piece uplifted her family and the overall feeling in that room. And then the light bulb went off like it has never before. I knew from that point on that I only wanted to paint images that would speak to and uplift the viewer; pieces that would remind them of the beauties of life, the reasons for living and a loving existence.
There is a big difference between painting with the Spirit and painting without it, Dan said. He likes praying and getting inspired before he starts a composition that is related to the gospel.
When I am on my own, I struggle more and make more mistakes. When the Spirit is with me, I can see values and colors more clearly.
Listening to uplifting music is also part of his process. It is a huge tool and it is a good way to start. In Wilson's case, he likes listening to Christmas songs.
Below, we have included two of Dan's favorite paintings and the painting he did for President Kusch's inauguration.
Carrying Us Home by Dan Wilson
In so many ways, all of us are like children. We are so fearful, so weak, so quick to forget why we're here. We fall and bruise in our lives and don't truly get back up until our Savior picks us up. We trip and stumble until we realize our Redeemer can carry us. Will life always be easy in the Lord's care? Absolutely not. We are not here to vacation but to be tried, stretched and grown. For this reason, I did not want the child to look overly happy or excited because we all know life isn't always that way. I wanted him to look as though he were at peace with The One carrying him. The atonement of Christ can and must carry us back to our heavenly home!
Healing and Rest by Dan Wilson
All of us in some degree have been both the white and black sheep. The lighter sheep isn't bright white because all of us need cleansing. The dark sheep isn't pure black because there is no darkness that His light cannot reach. The white sheep has been healed and now is resting in the Lord. The noble black sheep has humbly approached our Savior and is finding healing through His atonement, as we all must. There are dark clouds nearing as there always will be in mortality, but He will see us through any storm of pain, sorrow, temptation or loss. Our Redeemer's arms are open to all. He is mercifully inviting us to be lead to His light and warmth where we will find healing and rest in Him.
Discipleship by Dan Wilson
Commissioned for the inauguration of Dr. Bruce C. Kusch, 13th president of LDS Business College October 24, 2017. Our mission as an institution is to develop capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ, and we must never lose sight of that.