Hello! I’m Daniel Trump, I’m from the UK, but currently live in Bangkok,Thailand (follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and visit my website!). I work as an international teacher. I don’t teach Art (as you can see from my paintings), I do teach Theory of Knowledge (which is a bit like Philosophy). I’m 45, never married, no kids.
I’m also getting used to the idea of being featured here as an ‘artist’. Many thanks for this honour Charlie, I’ve never actually thought of myself as an artist, but I do love to paint.
Two years ago, I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in 32 years. I had been working as a substitute teacher, and had been subbing an art class. I was blown away by how happy and focussed the students were, and I relayed the story to my girlfriend. The next day she presented me with a set of brushes, a box of paints, and some paper. She set me off on this wonderful journey of discovery, for which I am grateful to her every day.
Painting takes me to a beautiful, calm and harmonious place, a special place that I create and own. This is a unique place for me, it’s a meditative process which allows me to be authentic. I have never found this place in any other area of my life, but now that I have found it I am trying to develop it in everything else I do.
I don’t have a specific workflow, or creative process, which I use for each piece. I paint whatever inspires me, usually this is the memory of a moment, a feeling that arose from an experience, or a dream-like vision conjured up in more mundane moments. I am inspired more by emotions and transcendent connections than I am by actual landscapes, objects or people. From that initial awakening, I start to build a set of images, some of these will be from my surroundings, photos, or usually imagination. I’m not trying to replicate what things look like, I am trying to capture what they feel like, to me.
Thailand is an exhilarating, vibrant and colourful country with layers of meaning nestling beneath all that visual stimulation. I’m fascinated by the complex belief systems by which the Thai people live their lives. I love watching everyday life in Thailand – it’s the intertwining of the ancient and the modern, the tangible and the ethereal, the subtleties of relativism which shape this enthralling country. Thailand is a place that enlivens my soul, imagination and hope. As such Buddhist imagery is found in many of my paintings, there is so much to learn about Buddhist beliefs from painting, and so much to learn about painting from Buddhism (I’d love to write that book!).
However, some of my paintings have also been inspired by the residual feelings of my time growing up in the UK. A recent visit back there stirred many of those emotions, and recently I have found myself painting the moors of North Yorkshire, and the coast of the North East of England. That was my place.
I love to paint boats. Like an unmoored boat at sea, I’m set adrift from moorings and roots, my identity is hybrid and fluid. The sea weather changes as meanings change, the skies change as my fortunes change, and uncertainty is ever present. The coast opens us up to possibility, and knowledge that the horizon is ever distant. As such, we must focus on the journey, boats are our means of leaving, arriving, connecting and surviving.
There are few better feelings than the feeling of positive self improvement. If I let others define my improvement I become their tool, losing my autonomy would be a personal tragedy. Painting helps me to retain my agency, everyday I look forward to that beautiful moment when vision, process and outcome are merely subjects of my imagination. This is my place, this is why I paint.