Artist Spotlight Series: Dana Caldera

Sharing a talented Texas artist today in my latest Artist Spotlight Series

I love her mixed media work that is nostalgic yet modern.  

Enjoy getting to know

Dana Caldera

Houston, Texas

What is your training? 

I have an MFA in Studio Art, but my undergraduate degree and first career were in engineering. Looking back, I was always an “art kid” and took lots of drawing, painting, and other studio classes throughout my life before going back to school for my masters. The process of growing as an artist is quiet and slow, and every day you can work on art or think about art, you are training.

What inspires you and your designs?

Lately, I’m finding a lot of inspiration from found vintage photos and handwritten notes. I’m drawn to the fragile and yellowed pages as if they have a story to tell about the life of the person that made them. I layer them into my abstract art pieces and they bring a distinctly human element to the artwork and evoke feelings of nostalgia and connectedness as you explore the painting.

 What is your favorite piece? 

My art has grown a lot in the past few years and my most recent pieces are usually my favorites. The layered paintings I’ve been making since being home in quarantine are my current favorites. They are all relatively small and feature a vintage postcard among the other ephemera.

How has the your area influenced your work?

I love being an artist in Houston. The diverse community of artists I’ve come to know here has helped shape my early career by exposing me to new types of artwork and art opportunities. There is great energy here and support for independent artists and arts organizations.

What is your favorite restaurant in Houston?

Oh so many. Houston is a food town. One of my favorites is Coltivare in the Houston Heights. We went to Italy on our honeymoon so we treat ourselves to extravagant Italian meals for special date nights.

What is your favorite cocktail?

I like ‘em dark and boozy. One of my go-tos is an Old Fashioned.

How do you balance personal life and work?

I take it one season at a time and give myself a lot of grace. I have a toddler at home so I find that with less personal time, I’m more efficient when I do get into the studio. I definitely have a work hard, rest hard mentality, so I while set ambitious goals and work hard to achieve them, I also take breaks often and without guilt.

Dream trip?

My answer to this changes all the time, but right now I’d like to visit Bali. I dream of a place where I can totally escape and spend some time in carefree exploration and relaxation.

Dream commission?

I would like to make something for Grace Bonney, formerly of Design*Sponge. I used to read her blog daily when I had dreams of leaving my first job to become an artist. She has incredible taste and does amazing things to promote artists.

Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

I like to give chocolates from Anderson’s Candy Shop. They are a family run chocolate shop in the town where my dad was born and they are my family’s go-to hostess gift every Christmas. They even make small gift boxes that we gave as wedding favors.

Who is your style icon?

Farrah Fawcett. I admire her relaxed, sporty style and fresh-faced look. Plus, I’ve always loved the 70s trends from looking at photos of my mom when she was young.

Your favorite up and coming artist?

I am really inspired by Jessica Phillips’ conceptual ceramics artwork. She goes by They Named Her John on Instagram and online.

 What is your most treasured possession?

Sentimental jewelry pieces, including my wedding ring and other hand-me-down pieces and gifts from my mom and dad.

What are you reading?

Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel. I am learning so much about this time in art history and feel empowered by the stories of these women. It’s long, but I highly recommend if you like this topic.

What are you listening to?

Right now I can’t get enough Maggie Rogers.

What are your favorite blogs / publications?

Lately I spend so much time on Instagram, that I feel like those accounts are mini-blogs. I love to follow Cup of Jo, The Everymom, Kate Baer, and Elisejoy, among others. I also follow lots of artists. I keep my social media a very beautiful and positive place because I spend so much time there.


Follow Dana Caldera on her website as well as Instagram. She is also taking commissions

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