Artist Dana Powell's minimal, atmospheric paintings turn everyday objects--elevator doors, lone street lamps, a daytime moon--into haunting, beautiful symbols. She had a solo show this year, Smoke Screen, at New York's Allen & Eldridge gallery.

When (and where) are you most creative?

I usually have my best ideas when I am walking my dog or riding in a car.

What are you working on right now?

I am getting back into the studio after taking a little summer break. I have been reading a lot, currently "West With the Night" by Beryl Markham, which is delightful.

What is success to you?

Success is having all of my bills on auto-pay.

Obviously you've seen success in your career but can you tell us about a time you failed?

I have been rejected from every residency program I've applied to.

What advice do you have for someone looking to break into your industry?

Find a fun day job.

Did you ever give up (or want to give up)? What were the circumstances?

I don't think I will ever quit painting.

What was the first moment you knew you were going to be able to do this as a job – not necessarily your first big break or success, but the first time you thought, "This is it, this is my career"?

I'm still waiting for that moment...

What is your morning routine like?

I wake up early, usually 6, and take my dog for a long walk. I drink too much coffee and get started painting around 9.

What are you most excited about for the future?

I am really looking forward to getting out of this country. I have never been to Europe – I hope to make it there next year.

What are you most worried about for the future?

Every day is a different worry.

What makes a person beautiful? What makes you beautiful?

Kindness is the most beautiful quality in any person. I like to think I am generous with my friends and genuinely open-minded.

What are you most proud of?

Right now, the inherited dracaena plant I have managed to keep alive.

Photo courtesy Dana Powell