There are certain pressures in the art industry to become a factory, but you have to find the very best way to remain authentic or most people will see through it.
I met this wonderful painter- Darrell George at a music festival in upstate New York a few years ago. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and he is just now making his Left Bank debut (long time coming/sorry it took so long)! His work is fantastic, he is really driven and passionate about what he does, and that kind of character really influences me.
Without further ado, please everyone meet Darrell:
How did you get started making art/can you tell us a little about your background?
When I was in grammar school my friends and I collected images from the newspaper and traded them similar to how kids used to trade baseball cards. I would scour the local newspaper everyday looking for the best images. If you were lucky your parents went out and bought a USA today … you could find some high end pics in that paper. We all wanted to get the coolest pics. As a whole, the pictures of baseball, basketball, and football players were the most highly prized, but I kept a special section in the back of my folder of images that photojournalists would take on location from around the world.
Oddly enough the byproduct of this sort of weird image stock exchange grew the love of art. The images were held in such high regard, [that] we wanted to re-create them, mostly in pencil or color pencil and we would compare with each other the next day …
We held on to these images and collected them in huge scrap folders. They were valuable and not discarded. We were looking for the perfect image to add….to me the most valuable images were the pictures taken by photo journalists in what was usually some exotic location-those were the most inspirational to me and on a small level as a young boy started the process of contemplation. I wanted to know what was out there?
I took the basic courses in college, but didn’t start painting seriously until I got out of college. I paid my way through school with an athletic scholarship so I was kind of at the mercy of a schedule not conducive to the “artistic” lifestyle. After school I was able to work at a great art gallery in Holmdel NJ, James Yarosh Associates who worked closely with a number of Russian artists, most of whom were trained at the Surikov art institute in Moscow. Many of these artists taught at the Bridgeview school of Fine Arts in Long Island City. There I met Anna Rochegova and it was really her instruction that helped me become a better painter. She was so pleasant I remember enjoying the way she reprimanded me as I would always try to divert back to doing what was comfortable. It was her encouragement that made me see.
I would continue painting on my own but after the attacks on the World Trade Center everybody’s life changed. I would end up working with a publishing company in Anchorage, AK. They gave me the opportunity to travel and live in a new city every three to four months so I can still go back to those experiences and memories when I need an image for a new painting. I lived in the most beautiful and not so beautiful cities throughout the United States. I painted sporadically during this period but still had a decent size portfolio of available work that I was hoarding. The experience to me was priceless and certainly influences my work today. I left that position in 2013 and have been working full time as an oil painter.
What Is Your favorite medium?
Definitely oil. It was my first and only love. I don’t really experiment with other mediums for the very logical reason of not having an interest in any other medium. I love to paint, but I’m not really an “artsy” person. For some reason I was drawn to the texture in oil and its smearing effects. As life is not ever standing still I feel oil best communicates the action involved around the beauty, and discomfort of life.
Kind of hard but- who’s your all time favorite artist and what do you love about them?
Easily Francis Bacon. For the same reason I enjoy working in oil, Bacon was the first painter and (probably because I was not overly exposed to the art scene growing up) that showed me paintings did not have to be familiar images. He was always after the image academia could not explain or define.
Might be a difficult question, but what does success mean for you as far as your art is concerned?
Still fairly early in my art career it’s nice to see that I’m focusing in on a technique derived from my own trials and errors as a painter. The goal is to communicate what I hope is a world of my own, distinguishable from other painters.
I like to talk to people in depth about art and its great to be able to use your art as a beacon for individuals attracted to the same thing. Intrinsically, the most meaningful thing about creating something is having others stop, take it in, and really comment on it. It brings out a very specific human quality in people when they stop worrying about the rigors of everyday life and will contemplate how something makes them feel … deeply.
Sales are needed to continue as a painter, but I’m very careful about painting to make money. It does sometimes creep into the back of your mind. Paint faster, make more. There are certain pressures in the art industry to become a factory, but you have to find the very best way to remain authentic or most people will see through it.
Certainly, I feel the mark of a successful artist is to be able to do the art you envision and sustain in a competitive if not over saturated industry and monetary system we currently reside.
If you could show anywhere in the universe where would you and why?
That’s a good question , now that I’m really thinking about it. Painters probably have ideas built up in their head about where the hottest art markets are located, and then eventually you’ll read an article that tells you where to live if you’re a painter and who is going to buy it and what type of art they will buy … etc.
I did a lot of traveling in my old job that allowed me to gain a better perspective as to where my work would fit in. I’ve been able to sustain and work to produce my own work with a combination of gallery and juried art festival sales in Florida, New Orleans, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey where buyers are face to face accessible.
If you meant anywhere on earth probably at an international show in Sweden or something like that…im not sure why exactly. It seems like a place a lot of great artists would want to go and participate in a huge art show….
But if you’re speaking hypothetically “anywhere” in the universe … then definitely Saturn, for fun i can just imagine the rings of Saturn being a great rotating slide projector beaming your images out into space….which is where the ideas come from anyway, so in a way it all comes full circle at that point.
Do you have any upcoming shows we should know about?
July 22 (opening reception 6-9pm)- October 8th Bethlehem House Gallery, 459 Main street, bethlehem Pa.
September 24th and 25th, Sat &Sun 10am-5pm. Armonk Outdoor Art Show, 205 business park drive, armonk NY.
October 7th – Gallery Jupiter, 31 church street little Silver NJ.
Lastly, have you come across any artists lately that you especially dig?
Vachagan Narazyan is my favorite contemporary artist. Vachagan has certainly created a new mythology and is based in a somewhat romantic fantasy genre. Thanks to Instagram, I ran into a painter John Wentz whose technique i really like.
I am also on Instagram.. If you type my name Darrell George my account will pop up.(unstopgallery).