Daniel Angeles with his King Charles Spaniel: Photo by Kathy Tran

Daniel Angeles with his King Charles Spaniel: Photo by Kathy Tran

Before he says “Salvador Dali” you practically know how Daniel Angeles is going to answer the question: “By which famous artist are you most inspired?” before he says “Salvador Dali.” In his visually sharp and otherworldly paintings, Angeles reanimates the spirit of the great surrealist. A vintage-looking streetlamp with a glowing bird for a bulb, a set of Louboutin heels whose blood-colored bellies match dripping red flowers sprouting from one forest-green upper — Angeles’ subjects are the things of dreams, placed with exceptional precision and skill on canvas.

Before this watercolor series — exhibited in a sold out Craighead Green Gallery show — Angeles worked with acrylic on canvas, an “entirely different medium,” he explains.

During his acrylic era, launched about four years ago, Angeles was timid, and he feared putting his mind’s abstractions on canvas.

“Afraid that if I put those images on paper, people wouldn’t understand, wouldn’t respond,” he says.

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But after completing “Illuminate” (the one with the bird lamp) he knew he was on the right path.

“I loved it more than anything I’d ever created,” he says. Working in watercolors was different from anything he’d done before. “I don’t know exactly what it is — the way the paper absorbs the color, there is something finite about it.”

In four short years, the 28-year-old’s work has been well received in Dallas and around the country. Before seriously picking up painting, he worked a 9-5 job as an accounts manager at a motor club company.

Angeles’ partner, Ken Morris — with whom he shares a Lake Highlands home — encouraged him to pursue his art career. Business minded and sensible, Morris did not encourage this lightly.

“At first he thought I should keep [the day job], but after he saw my work he said, ‘you actually are a good artist. You should do this …’”

Each piece has a personal meaning behind it, Angeles says.

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“This is my journal … the dripping and illuminating subjects represent how I literally pour myself into my artwork or am enlightened by a life event that inspired the painting.”

One particularly sad painting called “The Gift” was for Ken, after his dog died — a red collar surrounded by butterflies with that dripping red flower sprouting from its center.

As part of an upcoming fundraiser for the SPCA, Angeles will sell 1,000 prints of “The Gift” and donate 25 percent of the proceeds to the animal welfare agency (visit craigheadgreen.com for details).

Angeles’ deep love of animals and nature is evident in most of his work — certain birds, butterflies, elephants, whales, eggs and flowers appear and reappear.

“Anyone who sees my art can tell I derive inspiration from nature and especially birds, which I see as free and not bound by the rules of gravity,” Angeles writes in his artist statement. “This speaks to my desire to free my mind of inhibitions, let go of logic and reason, and allow my imagination to come to life.”

See more of Daniel Angeles’ art here