Art, Music, News, Promotion

Madchester interview by Carl Stanley with acclaimed MCR artist Daniel Pitts     

Words by Carl Stanley
Capturing not only some of Manchester’s most celebrated music artists and sporting hero’s but also the city itself in his own vibrant style, artist Daniel Pitts talks to Madchester on his art, inspirations and stories behind some of his best work yet.

Some amazing paintings in your collection Daniel, can you describe your style what its taken you to get to the level your now at?
I started painting about three years ago, it was always something I wanted to do, from being a kid and first seeing Tony Hart on TV, I thought ‘that is the dream job’, [the artist, not the TV presenter]. I look at the early paintings I did now and cringe, I remember feeling like my hands were tied, I was dying to create paintings I was happy with but was restricted by my ability. That was really frustrating, I’m really surprised I persevered as I’m very inpatient. In hindsight a lot about that early period surprised me, i.e. how I got so organised, focused and determined.
As with anything, the more you do it, the better you get. After about 18 months I was no longer battling with my ability,I knew what I was capable of, with that came confidence. I like to vary styles depending on the subject and also my mood. Sometimes I get an idea for something to paint that morning or the night before and passion drives the style, In these situations the brush strokes are quicker and more loose, the painting evolves in front of me and I’m excited to see what will come out of it. This to a degree can be a bit of an outer body experience, as thought is almost completely removed. If I’m doing a detailed one then I’ll spend a lot longer thinking about it before starting. I see the two ways of painting as completely independent of each other.

Covering many of Manchester’s hero’s from the worlds of music and sport, you’ve also made yourself a name for your street scenes too, what’s your inspiration for painting both subjects?

I didn’t realise how many famous Mancunian people and scenes I’d done until you asked me that. Some, people have asked me to do them, others I’ve done because I’m interested in them. I was always into the Manchester Music scene so painting anything to do with that was always something I would have been drawn too. An early one I did was of The Strangeways Riot, Danny Pitt StrangewaysI remember as kid being at the market across the road when it broke out. I was fascinated by it. I made my mum keep us there for ages watching, it’s still all clear in my mind, the hot Sunday and the colours of the bricks. I for the first time, took an interest in the news, for the following 25 days anyway. I found painting it cathartic, like doing something creative about the subject was a nod to that significant part of my childhood.

My main passion is the documentary stuff I’ve done of the people and streets of Manchester. I’ve done some of the city centre but not many, I’m more interested in the suburbs. It’s nostalgia for me as these are the places I hung around in as a child, I hope that when people look at them they can see the authenticity that the person who has created them has lived it. I want the paintings to smell and taste of Manchester, in the same way that when I watch Taxi Driver I can smell New York, it’s more than just surface deep. I don’t want to paint dramatic scenes or one’s with some kind of political statement, I want mundane, the backgrounds not the sweeping statements.
 Danny Pitt unamed
One of which owned by Coronation Streets Mikey North (plays – Gary Windass), have you sold pictures to other Manchester faces, actors, football players, musicians etc…in the past?

Yeah Mikey wanted two actually but one had gone. He’s really into art and was really keen to come to my exhibition, he was texting me in the weeks leading up about paintings I’d put on twitter. He had a painting of my mate playing pool in the pub at about 3am. Ian Puleston-Davis who played Owen in Coronation Street had two paintings. I was painting Juliette Lewis at the time and he was telling me about when he starred in a film along side her.

Charles Lawson who plays Jim McDonald and his wife had a painting of their shop in Presbury. Ian Brown had a painting too, one of George Best. I had about two weeks before he was coming so managed to do two paintings of him, which he signed. That one was surreal, opening the door to see Ian Brown in my garden. He was really sound, he’s the one people always ask me about.

The sport images, painting ppl like Cantona and other big MCR players…but which sports star or football player do you get asked to paint the most?

I’ve been asked to do Mike Tyson and Wayne Rooney a few times, Cantona, Best and Aguero are probably the most requested though.

You also cover actors and tv/film images as well as sport and music…what’s your most talked about image would you say?

Probably the George Best painting which Ian Brown has. It is a strong image, even City fans have said it’s one of my best.

Danny Pitt George Best
The painting of Juliette Lewis is so life like as too many of your other portraits, But what’s your own favourite paining from your collection, and why
Danny Pitt juliette-lewis

The Juliette Lewis one I did for two reasons, firstly I am a fan of hers, secondly I wanted to do a painting as close to a photograph as I could. It’s still not finished. I’ve since found out I did it on the wrong type of canvas for that type of painting, so I made life difficult for myself. I enjoyed doing it but it’s the job of a craftsman really, there’s no creativity in it, for me it was like doing a jigsaw. My favourite of my paintings is probably one I’ve done of a young girl leaning on a wall blowing a bubble with gum. I like the ‘working class-ness’ of it. For me that encompasses everything I strive to achieve in my street stuff.

An ‘evening with Danny Pitts’ you held earlier this year, tell us about these events

I’ll start by clearing this up, I did not come up with that title, it sounds like Jimmy Tarbuck will be introducing me. I was approached by a new art gallery in Levenshulme, Fred’s Ale House, to do an exhibition, which I was at first reluctant to do. I didn’t want the pressure or limelight and of course the worry that people may not turn up. In the end I did it as Levenshulme has been the subject to a lot of my work as have the people who live there.I exhibited several pieces I’d already done but largely paintings I’d specifically done for the show. It was a great turn out, I felt very blessed that so many people turned up.


Where can we see more of your paintings and what have you got coming up, future projects, events ect.., and for portraits/commissions how can clients get hold of you?

I’ve not got any shows coming up at the moment but hopefully I’ll get around to sorting one in the not too distant. I’ve just finished a big canvas for a boxing club, that’s nearly two meters square. I’ve always been attracted to anything from New York in the 1970’s, I’ve done a couple of paintings from that era. The next one I’m doing is a couple on a dirty subway train, it’s from a photo I found on the internet. You can view my paintings on my website and keep up to date with the latest stuff by adding me on facebook ‘Daniel Pitts Art’ and/or by following me on Twitter @danielpittsart  You can also get hold of me for commissions via any of these channels or by phone: 07989 708 085.

Danny Pitt Snooker