Dancing On Canvases Is Part Of This Colorado Painter’s Practice


Will Day walking around a canvas spread out on the floor, dropping black paint on it

Abstract forms and instinctive lines abound in the large-scale work of artist Will Day.

Typically at his studio before sunrise, self-proclaimed “chief paint thrower” Will Day greets each morning with a lively exuberance that mirrors his zest for life. “I’m not setting up an easel,” he says. “I’m rolling out unprimed canvases and then I’m running on them, dancing on them, biking and skateboarding on them.” 

His process is one of physical interaction and total immersion, resulting in works filled with colorful shapes, impulsive marks and textured layers. In his downtown Boulder studio, Day employs a variety of tools to scrub, swipe and scatter his materials—which include oils, acrylics, pencil and spray paint. It’s a process that’s as experimental as it is chaotic. What emerges might conjure dawn over a storm-tossed ocean, the interplay of wind and light on sand, or the elemental shapes of Van Gogh-inspired sunflowers. “The whole point,” the artist reflects, “is to be curious, innovative and unafraid—with no rules or regulations.” 

person sitting on couch in art studio, with a paint splattered canvas spread on the floor in front of them

Seated within his massive warehouse studio in Boulder, painter Will Day leafs through his collection of art books.

stack of hard cover art books

The artist keeps a small library of history and architecture books within his studio, including books highlighting Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh, among others.

a curved line of artist's paint lids and various paint splattered tool

Day employs a variety of tools to scrub, swipe and scatter his materials—which include oils, acrylics, pencil and spray paint.

artist standing and using a broom to move paint around on a canvas lying on the floor

Various household objects are among the tools he wields to create vibrant multimedia works.

This mindset was sharpened by several major pivots that have marked Day’s life. After the collapse of the twin towers in 2001 (which spared his fiancée, and now wife, via a chance absence) he left the world of finance for an architectural graduate program at Pratt Institute. Then, when the 2008 recession interrupted his career as an architectural consultant, he began to paint. “The voice inside me was so loud, saying, ‘This is your time.’ ”

Inspired by early abstract expressionist “action painters” like Jackson Pollock and by the spirituality of such luminaries as Wassily Kandinsky, Day charts his own inner emotional terrain through his work, seeking to connect and understand the cyclical nature of life. His faith plays a role as well, helping him to let go of ego and be open to resetting and rediscovering. “Every March, I start painting with yellow,” he explains of his method of assigning a color to the idea of resurrection and rebirth.

Now in his 16th year as a painter and coming off a recent solo show in Florida and a group exhibition in Boulder, Day believes he’s found his path. He has become even more attuned to his inner voice—the very same one that pushed him to pursue painting—and hopes that his work and practice will inspire others to listen to theirs as well. “We’re meant to explore the universe in many ways,” the artist muses. “Our role as humans is to find our passion and purpose, and to learn to share and listen.”