On Thursday of this week we are having the opening for Annie Darling's "Connections". We are busy at the gallery getting ready for the exhibition and are looking forward to the opening. In anticipation of the show, we asked Annie Darling some questions about her life and work and she generously shared some very thoughtful and insightful answers with us and we are happy to share our interview with you today.
Your upcoming exhibit at the gallery is entitled “Connections”. Can you share with us what inspired these pieces and what they represent?
A few years ago after my divorce I created a piece entitled Lonely World. It was a 30 x 48 encaustic piece composed of three large groups of small neutral circles spanning the 3/4s of the work. Each of these groups had multiple connections, not unlike a network. At the bottom of the painting one lone dot remained; disconnected from the rest. This work represented the feeling of isolation I felt during that time in my life.
As I began to heal, what I had lost—and wanted most—was a feeling of connection; to friends, family and the community. And from there, the first painting of the new series was created. Red Dot Rising explores the idea that we all ride around in groups and within these groups we are connected to others. Even if we are not feeling connected at the time we are still literally connected to a few, who are connected to a few more, who are connected the rest.
Circles represent the idea of cycles, wholeness, inclusiveness and community and in an effort to grasp for wholeness myself, I made a point to connect the circles that showed up in subsequent pieces. Energy and Intensity, the next two pieces I created, suggest cellular activity (life on a small scale) which as the body of work grew, expanded to into pieces like Aerial View which evoke the feeling of gathering and city life (life on a large sale). Throughout the series my focus remained on exploring the relationship between lines, forms, colors and objects, and through this process, I once again felt connected to the world.
Can you tell us a bit about the technique you use for your paintings?
These paintings were created using a technique I developed over a few years. I start with a heavy birch panel which I lie flat on my worktable. With a bar of colored wax in one hand and a snowboard iron in the other I drip the hot wax on to the panel and “iron” it on to the board. Once the board is covered in wax, I etch deep lines in the wax to create the base illustration. From there I rub dark oil stick over the surface of the work allowing the pigment to work its way into the crevices and create deep texture. Once the oil is dry, I mix a palette of colors which I apply to the designated shapes around the work until I feel that the work is complete. All part of the process are done intuitively (without planning) so that the work can speak for itself.
I see you divide your time between Maine and Texas. Does your creative process differ based on your location? What do you find that inspires you in each place?
For the last several years I have divided my time between Cape Elizabeth, Maine and Austin, Texas. Each place has its own flavor which definitely influences my work. My first encaustic pieces created in Maine reflected the color and beauty of the Maine landscape, whereas the work I created for my most recent gallery show in Austin consisted of a series of buildings and reflections. The contrast between the two states beautifully reflects one that also lies within me: my desire to absorb the beauty of nature and my love of the shapes, colors and pace of city life.
According to the biography on your website you come from a very artistically talented family! How did the work of your parents and other family members inspire you? Are there other artists you have felt particularly inspired by?
My father was a commercial photographer in Chicago when I was growing up. And besides the big bowl of M&Ms in his studio, I was always excited on the rare days he would take me into the city to spend the day watching him work. He cared so much about his craft and I watched him as he spent hours “dodging and burning in” the details of each image. I developed a strong work ethic—and ok, I admit it, a wee bit of perfectionism—in those early days in Chicago. His identical twin brother was a sculptor who taught at Cooper Union in New York. It was he who dragged me around New York City as a teenager, walking from the Guggenheim and Central Park to galleries in the East Village. He was sort of a philosopher when it came to art, and he taught me that art could be whatever you wanted it to be. Now my mom, she was an interior designer. Can you see her influence in my work? If not, you should surely notice Frank Lloyd Wright's. She worked at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and introduced me to an array of gorgeous wallpapers and the Eames chair, and to Frank, whose work I love. She was likely the reason I chose to pursue graphic design as a career.
As for fine artists I adore, Hilma af Klint, Kandinsky, Klee and Picasso top my list.
Do you have a favorite painting from the upcoming exhibition? If so, why is it a favorite?
I guess if I had to pick one, it would be Aerial View. It reminds me of childhood train rides in to Chicago where one would go from seeing silos in the expansive farmland, to low rise apartment houses on the edge of the city, to cars and buses and clusters of skyscrapers in the center. Everything seemed to build up (even the energy) as you approached the heart of the city.
Thank you so much to Annie Darling for this glimpse into her life and work. Please be sure to join us for the "Connections" opening this Thursday, August 1 from 5-7. You can also view more about the artist and her work on our website HERE.