Meet Daniel Van Gerpen – Fresno Painter Depends on Ag for Inspiration

My name is Daniel Van Gerpen, a Fresno based artist. I have been surrounded by agricultural landscapes my entire life. I grew up in the Midwest surrounded by corn and bean fields. The vibrating rows vibrated in my periphery as I endeavored on many a drive through the country. When I moved to California as a young adult I found the fertile fields of the Salinas Valley a source of artistic inspiration. It was not until my migration to the central valley in the throws of a drought that my interest turned to the relationship between the fields and their water sources.

While exploring this relationship I discovered that the best way to represent this relationship was from a higher perspective. I began studying and exploring the geometry of the agricultural region that I now call home. I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of the linear man made fields intersected and stirred by the organic nature of the river.

My inspiration really began to take flight when I was able to take a low altitude flight over the valley. As the plane and the sun began to rise simultaneously so did my love of this new perspective. Seeing the sun reflect off the winding river and the sun casting long shadows across the fields I attempted to capture as much inspiration as my camera could take in. I was also mindful to take in the scenery as well. There is something about the quality of morning light and atmosphere that the camera can never capture. Therefore, it is important to be present in the place of inspiration and try and remember how a place feels. I think this is why I love painting more than photography. A photo can tell you what a place looks like, but a painting can express how a place feels. I know I am on the right track as I am contacted on social media by people who now live across the country. They remark how my work feels like home.

I am often asked where each piece comes from. My typical response is that the pieces are often inspired by actual places but they are edited and simplified in an attempt to capture the feeling of a place. Therefore, while many images are familiar they are often not a place you can actually go to. I pull inspiration from photographs and merge ideas into sketches before putting brush to canvas. The sketching process allows me to work through many ideas, compositions, and changes in a more efficient manner and allows me to combine many scenes into one. Often color studies are also prepared before a major piece is begun. Even with all of this preparation the painting remains organic until the very end. Things can change in process and many paintings consist of several layers. This process adds to the texture of the final piece and is an integral part of the process.

Much of my inspiration comes from the areas following the San Joaquin and Kings Rivers as well as the canals that transport water to various locations.

While there are no figures in my work the human influence is quite present. The rows and roads bisect the compositions as gridded fields take shape on the canvas and shimmering rivers cut a cool wavy line through the verdant and sometimes arid landscape.

Daniel Van Gerpen, painterI have a studio inside of 1821 Gallery and Studios in downtown Fresno that is open during the week and also during Arthop. Arthop is the first Thursday of each month. You can also see more of my work on my website: and follow my process at