Emerging Artist: Daniel Michael Dobbins

Cape Cod Art  /  ART Annual 2019 / ,

Writer: Allyson Plessner

Daniel Michael Dobbins

“I’ve always been very mathematical, and that comes into play in my art,” says Daniel Michael Dobbins, whose preferred medium is watercolor. “A lot of people see watercolor as a very fluid, difficult to control medium, but for me, I’ve been able to hone my craftsmanship over the years and use it to slowly build layers of details.”

Having grown up in Bourne, Dobbins draws inspiration from his memories of a life built on Cape Cod. “I have this special connection to the landscape,” he says. “If I’m ever stuck I tend to go back to scenes of  rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, or lighthouses.” 

As an art teacher and a supervisor for the National Arts Honors Society at Sandwich High School, Dobbins is constantly surrounded by artwork. “I try to encourage perseverance above all else in my students,” he says. “For me, I’m inspired by creating a moment. Details bring to life the smell of the salt air, the textures of walking along a rocky coast, or a memory of hiking to a certain location. We all have those sensory experiences, and it’s something that is heightened by the diverse landscape of the Cape.”
Dobbins explains that his style over the years has evolved toward photo-realistic, exploring the ways in which his two tendencies—math and art—overlap, interplay and ultimately reinforce and improve each other. His  process begins, simply, with a photo,which Dobbins enhances electronically before putting it on canvas.

“Pemaquid Ascent” • 28” x 28” • watercolor

“It’s hours and hours of small detail because that’s what I’m fascinated by,” says Dobbins about his process. “My favorite part about painting is the ability to get lost in it. Details that a lot of people would feel stressed and frustrated over are the parts that just make me feel so relaxed and calm.”

Author Jerzy Kosinski once said, “The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” Speaking about art in terms of principles seems appropriate when it comes to the stunningly detailed works that Dobbins creates. Kosinski found art in fiction, and Dobbins finds it in the fine details of a painting, in the nuanced space where logic and passion meet. “It’s super rewarding to be able to share my work and professional experiences with my students,” says Dobbins. “I see young artists that are like me, that come at things from a technical standpoint, and it’s amazing to show them that there is a place for them in the visual arts too.”

“Aquinnah’s Ascent” • 19” x 25” • watercolor

See more of Dobbins’ work by visiting

Check out these other Emerging Artists:

Margot Keil

Nick Heaney

Ted Skirvan

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.