Conversations With: Dan Henson

Art is a key element to any interior space. It can dramatically transform even the simplest white room into something with depth, meaning and interest. It is a way for both the owner and artist to express themselves and to add personality to their home or business and can trigger emotive reactions in the people who view it.

There are endless amounts of talented artists but for me art is extremely personal and subjective. One artist, I continue to work with both personally and with KLD is Dan Henson. From the moment I saw Dan’s paintings, they captured my imagination and pulled me in. The abstract quality appeals to me. It means that the subject is open to interpretation and every person who looks at it will see something different.  

His strong use of bold colour and intricate understanding of colour and texture add vibrancy, power and depth to any space. For me his work is captivating and creates the perfect statement in the homes and commercial spaces that I design. I very proudly added my first Daniel Henson painting to my own collection recently and it is one that I will treasure. 

I spoke with Dan about his passion for art and his story so far…


1. What is your first memory of art?

I remember the smell of poster paint in infant school, along with the smell of Play Dough. I couldn’t tell you what I made back then, but the smell is intensely nostalgic. I was addicted to Tony Hart’s ‘Take Hart’ tv programme. He really inspired young creatives of my generation to experiment with all sorts of different media.

In terms of specific paintings, I remember my grandparents had a reproduction of John Constables’ Hay Wain over their mantelpiece and a very dodgy portrait of my mum that looked like a prop from a Hitchcock movie! I also remember I had the most amazing storybook with some fabulous watercolour illustrations of animals from all over the world.

2. When and why did you first start painting?

I was an only child so I used to spend many uninterrupted hours with felt tip pens and pencils, drawing animals or space ships and their adventures. I always found painting a much harder medium to work with but at about eight years old I won a couple of competitions in cub scouts and school, and my confidence grew very early. I remember my Dad bought me a ‘painting by numbers’ oil painting set to encourage me and that was my first experience with oils.

3. Which artists have impacted you and influenced your work?

I really have a broad appreciation of art but in terms of painters that I feel closest to I would say. JW Turner, Claude Monet, Mark Rothko, Howard Hodgkin, Jackson Pollock and Kyffin Williams. They would be my ‘go to’ in terms of masters and more contemporary painters who I admire would be the likes of  Conor Harrington, Mark Lovejoy, Aaron Westerberg, Kelly Reemtsen and James English a mix of figurative and abstract.

The Secret

4. Which personalities in the world of art do you admire most or draw inspiration from?

I don’t know if I look for a ‘personality’ per se when it comes to painting but I do take inspiration from work that has a dialogue or an edge to it, work like that of Banksy, Tracey Emin or the Chapman Brothers that has a wit to it and is brave enough to challenge convention.
Also I take inspiration from the courage and passion of others. I remember attending a talk by the surfer Easkey Britton. She talked about surfing in Iran to empower women, teaching them that knowing when to fight the wave and when to surrender to the power of the sea will make them a stronger surfer. I went home afterwards and didn’t leave my studio till this painting was complete. She really struck a nerve with me at the time.
The fall and rise of Easkey Britton

5. Talk me through the creative process for you. How do you get from blank canvas to finished piece?

My process is inconsistent. Sometimes I start with many canvases and apply one thick colour at a time to all of them. Other times I could work with individual canvases perhaps putting them on the floor and pouring liquid oil directly onto them. I use rags, brushes of all sizes and palette knives to vary the mark making. I never mix much colour on the canvas, as I try to keep the colours clean and vibrant. I also try to restrict the pigment I use to around three colours. Everything is mixed out of these base colours and I never use black.

I rotate the square canvases I use throughout the process, to change the balance of the composition. It can take from 12 months to three years to finish a painting.

6. What inspires you?

My family are a constant source of inspiration, my wife and two daughters are all extremely creative in their own individual ways.

I work as Head of Activation in the advertising company Boys and Girls. boysandgirls,The bar for creativity is high there and I manage to engage in many other mediums of creativity in a much more commercial context. In contrast to my ‘day job’ my painting work becomes a form of meditation that looks for balance and an original aesthetic, which will hopefully exist long after I’ve gone.


7. How much do you plan before painting? I sense the rich build-up of layers over dimensionality, do you improvise or rather carefully plan your paintings?

I don’t plan anything. I try and resist the temptation to ‘finish’ a painting and sometimes I bring it home and put it on the wall for few weeks to fully understand what needs to happen to it, but it would be very broad strokes and nothing ever goes according to plan. It’s all a bit like creating a puzzle.

8. Have you experimented with other art forms or are there any that you would be interested in trying?

I have done many other forms of art from figurative, illustration and portrait work, installations and sculpture. I love print making. I do a lot of digital work with photography, audio, video and new technology. Painting seems to be the medium that I can pick up and put down the most easily.

9. In your opinion what is the value of art to society?

Art in today’s society is hugely significant, as much if not more than it has always been. Our creativity defines who we are now as individuals as well as how we come together as a collective. More importantly we continue to express that creativity in increasingly different ways and disciplines.

Technological advances are creating an explosion of digital creativity. It’s a very exciting time as the accessibility of education and the portability of technology is creating a whole new wave of creative expression from a very young age.

10. If someone is interested in buying a piece where can they find your work?

My work is up on my website

They can email me directly to see what’s in the studio or I have three galleries that represent me, they are: