Myles Danaher’s studio in Brattleboro, Vermont has the aura of authenticity from an artist dedicated to his craft and willing to work hard. Tubes of partially used oils oozing slightly around their caps are stacked haphazardly across a paint-stained table in front of a cluster of brushes standing upright in glass jars as if petitioning to be used. Multiple vintage stereo speakers – KLH, Advent – are stacked to the ceiling, pouring out pastoral orchestral music into the sunlit room. “This is how I get through,” the artist shared as we entered the studio. “I keep it at about this volume, and I can stand here, and just…”
Turning to a collection of monoprints, Danaher motioned to a compact press, acquired from fellow artist William Hays. Working the press is “another way I loosen up,” Danaher explained.
A longtime protégé of Wolf Kahn, Danaher began his formal studies at the Portland School of Art (now Maine College of Art & Design) in 1979. He credits his early exposure to such varied influences as Bauhaus, the works of Cézanne, Josef Albers, and Richard Diebenkorn through his professors at PSA with the development of his expressive approach over the following decades.
“My artwork is created in a present-centered moment,” Danaher said. “The primary focus of my work is making landscape paintings that hold the viewer’s attention. I may work from photographs and recollection, but the process is ‘unfolding’ in the present,” he added. “My ‘voice’ in the work is most important, stylistic concerns are secondary. That being said, I have worked in many different styles over the past 40 years. They appear to me in retrospect to be a type of artistic molting with each iteration moving me closer to my own voice.”
Danaher’s larger-scale watercolors hold a distinct tension between structure and dissolution, realism and the abstract. With traceable influences from later impressionism and the abstract expressionists, Danaher’s work embodies dramatic substance through contrapuntal use of delineation and fluidity. Realism is infused and enriched, never embellished, honoring the original landscape while expressing individuality through color and form.