Daniel Leighton image

Daniel Leighton is a prolific Los Angeles-based contemporary artist with a catalog of hundreds of digital paintings. His visceral, heavily archetypal works emanate from resurrected and persistent visions.

He is an artist who stands for the importance of feelings—both emotional and physical. Being faced with his mortality since childhood because of illness, the workings of his physical and emotional states have become revered roadmaps as he creates emotional landscapes. His simple lines and brilliant colors capture complicated states of the human psyche and allow identification and acceptance of varied emotions.

Daniel’s art combines his four primary areas of study: art, technology, film and the human condition. He uses cutting edge technology to create art that delves into the deepest parts of the human psyche.

Art critic Shana Nys Dambrot calls Daniel’s paintings “luminous” with “a quality of rawness and intensity that is both visual and emotional.”.

With certain paintings, Daniel adds Augmented Reality (AR). AR is a technology that combines Daniel’s backgrounds in filmmaking and computer programming with his paintings. Using the Daniel Leighton Art + AR app (which Daniel created in late 2013/early 2014), viewers can experience additional dimensions of Daniel’s AR-enhanced paintings. As Shana Nys Dambrot writes, Daniel’s app, “turns your device into a viewing portal into what it is tempting to describe as a parallel universe.”

Daniel began programming on an Apple II plus in 1981 at the age of 11 and felt an immediate affinity for what was then considered new technology. In 1994, he graduated Cum Laude from UC Berkeley with a BA in filmmaking and was awarded the prestigious Regents and Chancellors Scholarship. Immediately upon graduating, Daniel was hired by Internet startup CNET and reported directly to CEO Halsey Minor. In the mid-nineties he created award-winning Web sites for Intel, Sun Microsystems, Women in Technology International and Paramount Pictures. Daniel is an award-winning filmmaker whose films have been shown at the UC Theater in Berkeley and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Daniel’s Augmented Reality work has been gaining popularity and was selected by Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Getty Paul Getty Museum, for the POP ÜBER ALLES Show at the L.A. Art Association/Gallery 825 and was featured by Mat Gleason in the Coagula Curatorial Video Lounge at Art Basil in Miami in 2014.

Daniel’s first solo show, Opening Up was held in 2013 at WAAS Gallery in Dallas. His next solo show, Permission To Enter, will be held on October 17, 2015 at the L.A. Art Association/Gallery 825 in Los Angeles.

Artist Statement

My paintings emerge from an exploratory journey of physical pain and trauma. Guided by my biological and emotional nuances, I engage in a feedback loop of reaction between body, heart and image. Detachment from feeling leads to mental, physical and societal illness. My quest as an artist is to journey inward to free myself of these ills and return to express what I have discovered.

My tools are an iPad, a few select apps, a stylus and various brushes specially designed to work with the iPad. I can adjust paint and water load, brush and bristle shape.

I produce a final print by using extensive manual enlarging methods and color processing.

In addition to the iPad, I use another technology called Augmented Reality (AR) on some of my pieces to create an interactive experience for viewers to further immerse themselves in my work. In early 2014, I created my own app, which can be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. When the viewer opens my app and aims it at one my AR-enhanced pieces, additional elements play on the surface of the painting and in and around the frame. These elements, which include my video art and animation, allow me to create another dimension of visual, aural and emotional movement.