John Dalton is an Artist we love to describe as an ICON, inside out. We are in love with not just his Art but also his personality and how he uses Art for good. Beyond thriving as an Artist, John constantly paves new ways and platforms for other Artists to thrive. In the beauty of diversity, John combines drawing, writing, photography, animation and painting, yet he does all in awe-inspiring ways. He no doubt makes heartwarming Arts that speak to the heart.
Join us on this special annual ISSUE- As John shares a truckload of inspiration on how he communicates using Art and other glimpses of his journey as a versatile creative.
Enjoy and Stay Inspired:
It’s so beautiful how your work as a writer and painter arises at the intersection of consciousness and love. It’s so beautiful how str and build a community laced with compassion and growth. You’re indeed inspiration, personified. Can you please share some highlights of how you began your creative journey as a writer and painter?
And sure, yeah, I wasn’t very good at drawing or painting when I was a child. My sister was much better at it than me. So within the family, there’s six of us all together. She got kind of labeled as the artist. My drawing was never that great. So I kind of was good with my hand. I didn’t really think of myself as an artist because that’s what my sister was. And then I was very creative but didn’t really know it. I had different kind of jobs and was quite interested in photography and that led me to apply for a job in an animation studio that was just starting.
Then there was no history of animation in Ireland at all. So everybody was being trained from the ground up and I went with the portfolio of every single creative thing I did, including sculpture and anything. I just really wanted to get into it. I was trained up in the camera department and ended up being the head of the camera department. The things we did then you know, you wouldn’t have to do now. Computers can do them all. But I learned how to do them on film.
Like in the Star Wars movies. The edits there. I know how to do that on film. I was surrounded by all these fantastic artists, which just further kind of confirmed that I wasn’t very good at drawing. I wasn’t compared to them, because they were professionals. But I did pretty much everything in animation, except drawing and painting. So I did camera, did producing, and I did quite a bit of writing. And that sort of led me into writing because when I was in school, I’m left handed, and you know, if you’re left handed, you know that the way we write is geared and organized for right handed people. It’s very hard to write this way when you’re right handed. So my writing was never great, and I was probably a little bit dyslexic. I’ve switched around B’s and D’s and that kind of thing.
So I didn’t think I was that good of a writer either. But it turned out I wasn’t too bad, and I ended up doing quite a bit of writing for animation. But the animation industry kind of collapsed in Ireland for a while. So I ended up having exhibitions of my photography which kind of included some of my writing as well. And then I became a therapist for a long time.
I taught at Cranial Sacred Therapy, and I wrote a lot of books. I wrote four books. And so I only kind of circled back to Art until I was sort of in my late 40s. I just kind of got sick of this voice in my head that was saying, oh, I’ve got a drawing. Oh, you know what I’m just gonna learn. So I walked into a college that focused on classical training. I didn’t know it at the time, and I just walked into a very good one for me. They taught kind of classical academic drawing, back plates, very old school, perfect for me. And I sort of went from there, and from there I went into painting and, and yeah, so that’s it.
Can you remember the painting you made and what inspired it?
What was it about? Well, the most recent kind of ones came from a dream I had, I’ve moved to the country with my wife from the city and, you know, small town. We were going in and out and doing our grocery shopping, usual sort of things. And this dream, we were doing one of those really ordinary kind of things. Except when we got into town, everybody had these huge butterfly wings. And it was so strange. That’s very strange, but no, we were the only people who thought it was odd. Everyone else just was going around as if it was the most normal thing in the world. And these weren’t like fairy wings.
These were big, and you know, like if somebody kind of wanted to hit you with their wings, it would hurt. But by the end of the dream, Maggie, my wife and I, we just talked, we didn’t even think of this as unusual anymore.
So when I woke up, that was such an unusual image that I thought, yeah, I think I’d like to paint that.
So I ended up doing six paintings that were all kind of in that series. And they all was like local kind of fires and they had these big butterflies wings behind them.
And the series was called ‘What the Eye Can’t See, but the Heart Sensors.’
That’s so awesome! We are grateful to have you onboard this special ISSUE with the theme- Girt, in celebraton of inspiring men in the creatve industry, also to mark the 0v00 Internatonal Men’s Day. We understand the growing need to build a culture where men can express emotons like shedding tears without the fear of being looked down upon. The need to create spaces where men can be their most vulnerable selves with family and friends without the fear of being seen as or called a weakling. Do have any personal related experience to these? Can you share any quick tps that could help to normalize mental health related issues for both men and women?
Well, I still work with people. I’ve had quite a few different hats that I wear and one of the hats is my work with further emergence where I work with people all around the world on issues more to do with consciousness, but it does go into mental health as well because it does affect it.
So I kind of deal with that on a regular basis with people and men and yeah you’re right it is very stigmatized for men to show weakness and to show vulnerability. But what is remarkable about vulnerability is that there’s real strength in vulnerability. I kind of think I can’t show any weakness because then I’ll be attacked. But the strongest people I have found are the ones who can cry, who can be comfortable enough in their own skin to show that there’s sadness when they’re sad to show their insecurity, their fears, when they are there.
It takes a lot more courage to let people see that than to put up a front. So I’d say that there really are no quick tips for mental health. It’s something that’s very individual to each person. And it’s something that we all have to navigate ourselves.
But it seems that what is universal, universally helpful with mental health issues is talking. That’s whether it’s talking to a friend, trusted friend or someone that you feel safe enough to talk to.
It can be the hardest thing to begin to talk and to begin to say, you know what, I’m not feeling good.
Or when, you know, it’s like the cliche of when people say, you know, how are you? And we just sort of matter to go, I’m fine. Good. I’m fine. Yeah. Instead of going, you know, not so good today, but a bit shaky today.
So talking can feel like almost impossible when you’re in a difficult space to just bring in to just let someone in to just say something, anything, like, I’m not great.
And then, you know, they’ll hopefully will ask you some questions. But then also how we talk to ourselves on the inside. It’s very important to begin to kind of get a sense of the different parts of ourselves on the inside. To be kind to ourselves on the inside is so important because often the turmoil inside can be some part of us that is in pain and usually it’s some part of us that had the pain happen when we were kids.
So it’s like we’ve got these kids inside that are running around in pain and when it gets too much they take over and they start working the controls and they take over us, whereas if we can start talking with those and have a dialogue and let go of this idea that there’s one central person on the inside. You know like there’s that kind of idea it feels much more like there’s lots of different people on the inside and it’s just who’s got the microphone at the time. So we let go of that and begin to talk to those kid parts of us, get them to talk to us, get them to trust us enough so they don’t take over, then they’ll start working, you know, controls and we find ourselves at the fridge at two in the morning, we find ourselves at the whiskey bottle, we find ourselves doing whatever, that’s not going to help. What can you a long way is when we’re parenting, we’re filling the gaps, you know, we’re parenting those kid parts of us.
So talk to other people, if you can, and then how you talk to yourself and sort of having compassion for all these hurt parts that you might have inside.
And the other thing that’s very helpful is meditation. It’s very helpful for mental health. It’s hard to do when you’re having a difficult time. As a way of minimizing the difficult days, meditation is very good. I’ve got lots of meditation videos on the further emergency YouTube channel where you can meditate along with me and there’s a bit of instructions if you’re new to it and you have never heard of it. Your meditation is another one that’s very good.
It’s like going to the gym for your mind, for your mental health.
While sharing on how you have lived many lives within one, you also shared that you have loved deeply, cried hard, lost what was most precious to you and been given the greatest of gifs. This is no doubt quite relatable to many out there. Do you mind sharing any one or two specifc experiences here and how Art played a ma or role at a partcular phase of your life?
Well, I have a daughter who I was separated from for a long time and I found that very
painful, extremely painful. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, had to deal with in my life. And I cried deep, you know, deep, deep tears for that many times. Like, in the beginning, when we were first separated, it was just like all grief, it would just happen at the most inappropriate times. It would just come and hit you like a wave. I can remember being in the cinema one time and it was just whatever it was that was on the screen just triggered it.
And I was just sobbing uncontrollably. I think it was a kids movie.
I wasn’t at the point where, you know, I’m sure people were wondering why is that man crying? What’s wrong with him?
So, so, yeah, I’ve had that a lot. And Yeah I think writing has helped me with that kind of thing, particularly journaling, which isn’t really writing for publication, but the way I write and all my books are kind not fictions. I think journaling really helped me with that and then those practice of journaling would have informed how I wrote my books.
How was growing up like?
Well, I grew up on the north side of Dublin and I say the north side because in Dublin, the north
side is the rough side and the south side is the kind of posh side.
And so yeah, rough working class, concrete jungle, no nature. and traumatic. These are kind of terms I used to describe my childhood.
What inspired you to begin your Art Podcast and what do you consider most fulfilling about this journey of impact?
Well, I started the podcast to accompany a book I’d written at the time, which is called Maya
Noise. The book was published and everything was great. And then I thought, yeah, I think I could start a podcast to go with this. And there’s a couple of things I think I could talk a bit more about that. So there were videos at the beginning. The first 12 episodes were just me talking in different places. I have more like a blog, what would be a blog now, this was in 2013.
And the website that I had was a WordPress website, and when you make a WordPress website, it kind of asks you for a subtitle. So I put ‘Gently Does It’ and I thought oh, yeah, that sounds great.
Yeah, that sounds great! Let’s do that. I had a podcast, it just propagated into that, so that was the name of the podcast. And so I did that, had the first 12 episodes, and said everything I wanted to say, and oh, okay, that’s fine. And I was painting at the time, and it’s in my studio, I was listening to a lot of podcasts, and the ones I particularly liked were the ones with interviews.
And I thought, yeah, that’s nice. I’ve kind of said everything I need to do, but maybe I could chat with people. And when I initially started, I thought, well, I’ll chat with people who are interested in consciousness and spirituality because that’s interesting to me. Natural health also, because that’s another thing that I’m interested in too. And art because I’m interested in that too. And pretty much as soon as I started doing that, the podcast took on a life of its own.
And all the spiritual consciousness, mental health, natural health, those people just were very difficult to organize. The art people super easier!
So it just took off with the art people. And not just artists, but very specifically figurative artists. Which again, that just happened very naturally, very organically.
And it just pretty much took off from there. It hasn’t stopped since my episode on 254 or something now. I’ve chatted with like 250 artists.
The fulfillment comes with the feedback I get from the people who listen to it. It seems to me that all the people who listen to the podcast are artists. I rarely hear from someone who listens to the podcast who’s not an artist and the feeling of connection that the podcast has provided for people where they’re listening to artists who are their inspiration, who are their role models and they’re hearing them talk about pretty much the same difficulties that they too are having and it just helps them feel connected, hopeful that they can keep going, that what they’re doing is worthwhile and that’s when I get emails like that. It’s just very very cool.
Do you feel creatves in developed countries are at advantage than those in developing countries?
I’d say so. I’ve been to South Africa a couple of times and one of the times I was making a video there and I had some local young man help me and they was great. They were really good but you could tell that they had difficulties. And people in developing countries didn’t have different issues. So I think it’s pretty much just general, I think people who are in developing countries just generally have a harder and more difficult process. But my experience is very limited in that I’m sitting on a big mountain of privilege here.
Balancing work tme and rest tme is a struggle for many Creatves. Please share a few tps on how you try to balance work tme, rest tme and family tme?
Well, I’m going to go back to meditation there, because one of the real benefits of
meditation is that it’s a way of getting quiet so that you can hear what’s going on.
Often things go out of balance and build up and you just get carried along with the momentum of the day. So the fact that I meditate throughout the day regularly puts a pause in the momentum of the day. That’s very helpful. And then in that pause, I’m being silent and I’m not like listening to a message, but you know, even just when I close my eyes, I immediately kind of go, wow, I’m actually really uncomfortable. I thought I was really comfortable, but I’m not. I’m really tense. I’m holding a lot of tension inside. So that helps discharge a lot of that as well.
And then I do a lot of things that help to balance, because a lot of my work is quite sedentary.
So to balance that, I do yoga, eat most days. I do cold water immersion. So where I live is got a river. I’ll go into the river, breeze at the moment, so pretty cold. That’s very good for your body.
I go barefoot hiking all the stairs as well. That’s very good for your body as well. But I think that all came out of meditation, meaning it all came out of listening to myself, listening to my body and seeing what I needed. I think that’s kind of the key. And then every now and then, probably every once a month, I’ll take a day where I don’t do anything.
I just be idle on purpose. And I find that’s very difficult to do, but really helpful because it’s kind of like, I’m getting ahead of my body. So rather than, because sometimes people will take a day off because they’re sick. I’m kind of doing it the other way.
I’m kind of taking a day of rest, like in force rest, almost as if I was ill. Like I don’t do anything and sleep as long as I need to. And that’s very helpful for taking the rest that I need and balancing everything.
What does success mean to you?
I feel most successful when I recognize joy in the moment because often, the idea of success is some future goal or project and I’m not going to be successful until I get that goal or until I reach that.
And, you know, having goals and aspirations, that’s all lovely. But it can be a big space there for not enjoying the moment that I’m in.
So, for me, it’s about coming more and more into the moment and recognizing the joy that’s there to recognize. Joy not as a kind of euphoric feeling. Those kind of feelings go up and down but underneath that is joy and my experience anyway, so when I’m with that I feel very successful. I feel like yeah that’s it I don’t need anything else now I’m just I’m here. The joy and the peace soaks the entire hour.
Please briefy tell us something we do not know about John Dalton.
I started making NFTs about six months ago. That’s going well, and I got along through one of the artists I interviewed. It’s been lovely. It actually brought together a lot of different strands of my artistic expression.
Let’s go a litle poetc: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallete, what would that be and why?
Green. It will be green. And why green? Well, I’m from Ireland and I lived in Australia for a long time, but I’m from Ireland. And there’s something about green that I just find very soothing. I’m like, I live in a very beautiful part of Ireland and surrounded by a lot of green. And even though it’s everywhere, I love it. It’s the color of nature. The nature here, I mean, obviously, as I say, I lived in Australia. Green is not the color of Australia. And not certainly not in other countries. But it is here. And there’s something about it. I find really soothing. And I feel at home in a forest. I feel very peaceful, surrounded by lots of greenery.
What does Art mean to you?
Art for me is about communication. It’s really about communicating. For me to communicate
what is my internal landscape.
And if I do that well, it will resonate with someone else. I’m not trying to communicate. I’m not trying to make a message or tell anybody anything or anything like that.
My main goal, and I think this is true of all art, is that when an artist is authentic to their own inner landscape, they can take a message to communicate in whatever medium they use and it will resonate. We all can recognize it. Whether that person is a dancer or a writer or filmmaker or a painter, we recognize it.
We see it. We just know it for what it is. It’s kind of a pure expression of spirit or something. And but yeah, that’s what it is for me.
Massive Love John!
The ICONIC Team