Arts & Culture: Kerry Darlington

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Kerry Darlington‘s art is just magical, wonderful and fantastical.  If you are passionate about children’s fairy tales, love your alternative landscapes or are obsessed by fictional characters such as ‘Ophelia’, then Kerry’s paintings you must consume.  Winning the ‘Best-selling Published Artist Award 2012’, Kerry has built up quite a portfolio of pieces.  Ranging from original paintings of 80″ x 60″ to smaller ‘study’ pieces measuring 14″ x 14″, there is a collection to suit most tastes.

Inspired by Arthur Rackman’s illustrations, Kerry began with illustrations of stories, fairies and poetry and soon moved on to creating pieces inspired by her love of art in the 19th and early 20th century.  Using modern art techniques, such as overlaying her work with resin, thus making her style so unique and refreshing.

Choosing fictional and popular childhood characters such as Ophelia, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Enid’s Blyton’s ‘The Magic Faraway Tree”, Kerry puts her unique stamp on them all.  I discovered Kerry’s work in my local art shop and gallery, Rennie’s, and felt compelled to share her extraordinary talent. Read on to find out more about Kerry.

SP:  Can you tell us about the first piece of art you worked on?  Was it a landscape piece?  Did you base it on anything in particular?

KD:  I have been painting forever, my first pieces were illustrations of stories, fairies and poetry.  My first pieces for galleries were of forests and trees in an abstract manner, I would use metals and acid or anything that gave magical effects in my work.

SP:  I can see the influences Arthur Rackman has had on your work, especially with the fantastical character pieces of art.  What was it about Arthur’s work that inspired you?

KD:  As a child I read a lot and so would see his illustrations in books.  I loved the intricacy of his work, you can look at his pictures for hours and still find something different.  He was an incredibly talented, skilled draughtsman.

SP:  What’s your favourite landscape piece and why?

KD:  At the moment it would be ‘Wild and Free’, a very atmospheric piece that is both dreamy and powerful – it takes me to a special place …

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SP:  Could you tell us why you started with landscapes and trees?

KD:  I have always been fascinated with trees, I think everybody is really.  It maybe started with the book ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton (which I recently had the privilege of illustrating) then following on to Rackham again, and Art Nouveau, these authors and illustrators made them into such ethereal, enchanting creatures for me that it became entrenched in my art.

SP:  You say that the ‘Art Nouveau’ period and the Pre-Raphaelite artists have inspired your work.  Which paintings of yours do you think reflects these periods most?

KD:  I guess Art Nouveau has the edge, as I like to use a lot of decorative effects and metallic in my work to create atmosphere.  Millais’ painting of Ophelia has also bee a strong influence on my work, I have re-visited the subject numerous times in my life and my latest painting of her I doubt will be my last.

SP:  Where did the idea of overlaying your art with resin come from? The paintings become almost childlike themselves – they’re very unique!

KD:  I was searching for a really glossy varnish for a couple of years, something to enable me to embed my 3d objects in and I visited New York and saw some photographs that had resin as a coating.  It was a pivotal moment.  I bought some and have experimented with it ever since, I now use is as a medium rather than just a coating.

SP:  You have worked quite extensively on your new Peter Pan artwork of Captain Hook’s ship and there is quite a lot of detail on this piece.  What element did you find the hardest?  What element are you most proud of?

KD:  I am pleased with the water as I have never painted waves before!  The hardest part was painting the amount of people on board, it was very mentally consuming.

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