Monday, January 29, 2007


Remorse by David R. Darrow 6" x 8" (15.2cm x 20.3cm)
Oil on Panel SOLD Collection of Dan Medcalf
Indianapolis, IN – USA

About This Painting

I did this portrait of a friend and model, Stacey. I am calling the painting Remorse partly because it fits the mood of the pose, plus the style of the paint strokes. This is looser and more painterly than my usual work, but after being down for so many days, I just wanted to "get into the paint" again and just "feel" my way through the painting.

But Remorse comes to mind sometimes when I see Stacey. See, several years ago she was a waitress at a local restaurant — not a fancy place by any means. That was her living, between occasional modeling gigs she got.

One day she pulled up in our apartment complex in a brand new, black Explorer-type vehicle, looking somewhat stressed. "Well, look at you — stylin'!" I said, ignoring her expression.

She almost burst into tears. She told me she just bought it and cried all the way home from the dealership. "I don't know how I can afford this — but the salesman was so pushy."

I told her I was pretty sure she could take it back within 72 hours and get all her money back. She never did. I think she's still paying it off now, four years later.

But that day, she was the poster child for Buyer's Remorse.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Love Song

Love Song by David R. Darrow 7" x 5" (17.8cm x 12.7cm)
Oil on Panel SOLD Collection of David Walling
Garden Grove, CA – USA

About This Painting

For personal reasons, I just had to paint this still life. It brings back fond memories.

Music is such an important part of my life, and the piano is one of my favorite instruments. I, personally, do not play well at all, but I love a feeling pianist. If I could trade my artistic ability for any other talent or skill in the world, it would want to gain the ability to play anything I want on the piano.

With feeling.

I know a few remarkable pianists. They have put their lives into their craft, and have gone beyond the amazing skill of playing accurately to the higher, spiritual plane of expressing with music the very depths of their souls.

I know, because that's where their playing 'gets me.'

I sometimes make the mistake of watching in wonder the hands that are playing the keys, forgetting that the best music is from the heart.

I hope that I have reminded you of someone like that.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Immeasurable Worth

Immeasurable Worth by David R. Darrow 5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.8cm)
Oil on Panel SOLD Collection of Jeanne Armstrong
Savannah, GA – USA

About This Painting

At a glance, when I met this young woman, my eyes told me so many things that left an impression in my mind that within seconds I was deciding whether or not I would ask her for the favor of painting her portrait. My daughter was with me — we were shopping and had a deadline.

"Excuse me," I said to my daughter, "but I think I want to paint that woman that just walked by."

"What woman?" We both turned and looked down the aisle which was now empty.

"She must have gone around the corner. Help me look for her... she has big, beautiful eyes and gorgeous, golden brown skin." We found her a few aisles over.

After trying to convince her that I was not "hitting on her" (I gestured toward my daughter) I explained that I am a painter, and that I paint things that I find interesting or beautiful, and that I would like for her to consider allowing me to paint her face. I gave her my card, asked her to look at all the paintings on my website, and that if she would allow me, I would love to paint her sometime. I reminded her that I had not and would not ask her for contact information, but that I really would like to paint her and that if she would please agree to it, to please contact me.

Within the week she e-mailed me and told me she would like to pose for me.

After a few e-mails and calls, I asked if she would "mind posing in something kind of period or historical... like something a servant might have worn on a plantation?" I assured her that my purpose was to portray her as dignified, and with respect.

She arrived for the poses, and we tried several — all were fantastic — I kept getting distracted by all the rich colors of her face, and lavender reflections of the light off her smooth skin.

This pose stood out as the one I wanted to paint first. It conveys, to me, a sort of weariness, yet with hopefulness deep in her soul; an understanding that regardless of her circumstances, hope lay in her knowledge that to God she was of immeasurable worth.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Homework On Hold

Homework On Hold by David R. Darrow 4-1/2" x 5-3/4" (11.4cm x 14.6cm)
Oil on Linen Panel SOLD Collection of Kurtis Martin
Cincinnati, OH – USA

About This Painting

This cute blonde is my favorite model. She's the only model that takes my hand when we're walking through the mall together, or puts her arm around me while waiting in line.

Okay, you guessed it: she's my 14-year-old daughter Lauren.

On this particular Sunday afternoon, she had homework to do. I don't take any excuses for not doing homework — especially when her homework is for Art class, and her teacher is Keith.

Keith has been involved with all three of my kids in their high school years, and I can tell you that aside from my own high school Art teacher, Sam Uskovich, there is no one I know of that could do as fine a job. Keith is brilliant, tolerant, understanding, compassionate, funny, gregarious, (and tall), and teaches the kids very sound fundamentals — some of it is stuff I didn't learn until my Art College days!

That having been said, when I walked in and saw Lauren sitting on the couch drawing our flower vase in her Art Class notebook, I was struck by the light as it played across her face, and in her hair.

"You're just going to have to wait a while to finish your homework," I said. "I'm seeing a painting."

She's a very patient young woman.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007


Wanderer by David R. Darrow 5" x 4" (12.7cm x 10.2cm)
Oil on Belgian Linen on Panel SOLD Collection of Jeanne Armstrong
Savannah, GA – USA

About This Painting

This guy is fun to paint.

He has such distinct features that I wanted to see if they would translate to something small. And, to date, I believe this is the smallest oil painting I have ever done. If you didn't notice, the whole painting is 4" x 5" (10.2cm x 12.7cm) — a little bigger than the palm of my hand.

I painted the whole painting with a 1/4" (0.635cm) sable flat, with a 12" handle (I have to back away a bit so my bifocals work), so it is gooey and makes its own color from little globby tiles of color placed next to each other.

I was hesitant to show the "detail" shot on the auction listing, because it looks like such a sloppy mess and the displayed image of the whole painting is bigger than the actual painting! But the more I looked at it the more I enjoyed the abstract nature of the paint and brush strokes.

I'm telling you, this Dave friend of mine is just a walking painting. This is the second I have done of him. A face with a beard like this just makes me want to paint!

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Color-Balanced Lighting

One of my "daylight" fluorescent bulbs started flickering badly (annoyingly) as I was completing Simple Beauty the other day. I went to Home Depot to see if they had "Daylight" fluorescents at 48" — since the store I originally bought them from no longer stocked them. To my delight they not only had what I was looking for [Picture], but also screw-in style incandescent replacements that give off very bright light [Picture] (equivalent to a 100w light bulb in output) consuming only 27w — which is about 68% of what that little light in your oven consumes. And this bulb, which cost me $7 is guaranteed to last 9 years, and save me $73 in energy costs. How they figure that, I don't know, but I fell for it. Flipping over the packaging for the $6 Philips "Natural Sunshine" 48" tube (they also come in 24" and 18" at Home Depot) I could see that the color rating was 5000k. (Kelvin) Kelvin is a color temperature measurement; color accuracy can be seen best in the 5000k to 6500k range, with 6500k being similar to direct sunlight. By the way, Home Depot also sells 6500k "Daylight Deluxe" tubes also by Philips ($7 for 2!), but I elected to use the 5000k Natural Sunlight, presuming it would be more like indirect sunlight, and perhaps ever-so-slightly warmer. The package shows that on a 1 to 100 scale of the light providing the most accurate color perception, the 5000k Natural Sunshine bulbs were the most accurate, with a rating of 92 [Picture]. So now, with a combination of four 48" bulbs on my ceiling running above and behind me and parallel to the painting surface, plus my new 5000k palette light in an old Luxo [Picture] spring-arm lamp, I have good color-accurate lighting for painting. The addition of the color-balanced lamp near my palette has eliminated the problem of the palette seemingly in the dark as I mix, since it was noticeably farther from the ceiling lights. All the pictures taken for examples in this case were shot with the digital camera set to point-and-shoot (automatic) and absolutely no color corrections were made. I find them to be extremely, pleasingly accurate. Click here to see My Annotated Palette.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Simple Beauty

Simple Beauty by David R. Darrow 6" x 10" (15.2cm x 25.4cm)
Oil on Panel Canvas SOLD Collection of Alexandra Carey
Belmont, CA – USA

About This Painting

There is nothing more enjoyable to paint than a woman's face that is simple, elegant and beautiful.

I prefer a face that is beautiful because of the shapes of her features, not the make-up, jewelry and sprayed-up hair that may turn a few heads, but which disappear in a rainstorm.

Classic beauty such as this is all around us: serving your restaurant meal, checking your groceries, bringing your mail. People worthy of being painted for their natural beauty are everywhere.

Alexandra's specialty is Unix.

Go figure.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007


Braids by David R. Darrow 5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.8cm)
Oil on Panel SOLD Collection of Shinichi Matsumoto
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa – Japan

About This Painting

This may be my favorite way to paint... not all the time, of course — artists can have different painting moods — but when I can get into the free state of mind to do a nice carefree portrait in a studio or class setting, brushes swinging, turpentine in the air, with my resulting palette looking like a food fight on a dance floor, you know I have had fun!

And this model was fun. Sweet gal, with a cheerful personality. The little, thin braids made me think of my 14-year-old daughter who developed the skill of weaving thin braids like this all over her own head — front, sides and back — while watching TV or doing homework. Amazing.

This style of painting known as alla prima (all in one sitting) is the essence of studio learning. The same kind of lighting is used for intermediate to advanced students at the beginning of a painting course, such as in the workshop I will be teaching later this year, so that the shadow and light patterns can be more easily detected, and the abstract shapes they form can be more easily reassembled on the canvas or panel.

The trick is to imitate light with values in paint, diminishing detail in the shadows, letting the viewer's mind make up the missing parts and form a whole, becoming a recognizable object. In this way, an original oil painting becomes almost dynamic, with movement and life.

For more information on my upcoming 2007 workshop click here.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Silver Locket

Silver Locket by David R. Darrow 5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.8cm)
Oil on Panel SOLD Collection of Jan Geist
Tigard, OR – USA

About This Painting

Women have it on us guys.

They wear their secrets right out in the open. You see them everywhere... a dazzling gold or silver "personal safe," usually in the shape of a heart, with something inside you can only see if they let you.

There's no equivalent for men.

Don't get me wrong, I am not lamenting anything, nor am I trying to start anything between the sexes. I simply find it intriguing that women have jewelry that contains precious, sentimental or secret items. And they have purses, too.

This painting started out as a 15-minute charcoal drawing on grey-gessoed hardboard
Guys? We have wallets, with barely enough room for a few credit cards, pictures of our kids, wife, a few denominations of currency and a discount card to the local art store.

But a silver locket, with all its meaning, depth, and almost Da Vinci Code secret holdings is a timeless accouterment worn by the softer gender from childhood throughout the rest of their lives, and as if by some magnificent blessing, the adornment graces them with beauty.

And one more reminder that there is such deep mystery inside.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Storm's Brewin'

Storm’s Brewin’ by David R. Darrow 9" x 6" (22.9cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Canvas on Birch Panel SOLD Collection of Deborah Moore
Celebration, FL – USA

About This Painting

I'm a Southern California native, born and raised here, so the only connection I have to the Old West, or even modern cowboys is from Westerns, books, paintings and stories my journalist buddy tells me — real working folk he's met on his travels down the back roads of Texas, Missouri, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Something that the stories portrayed about the finer men of the west is their inner sense, built on experience, mistakes, and triumphs. I always loved how the tough, quiet characters would look out at the seemingly clear horizon and just know that they were in for something overwhelming.

But beyond that, these are men who simply did their job, sunrise to sunset, heavy labor for hours, sometimes without uttering a word all day. Their conversations were with themselves. If they had concerns, worries, fears, they just worked them out in their heads, over time, day after day.

Maybe the storm brewin' inside is what taught them, giving them the sense of what nature had in store.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Celebrate Life!

Celebrate Life! by David R. Darrow 6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas SOLD Collection of Jeanie Schlump
Laramie, WY – USA

About This Painting

There's nothing like changing a couple of digits in the year portion of a date to let you know that the past is the past.

For me, 2006 was a difficult year in some ways, and absolutely astonishing in richness in others. I failed to reach some important personal goals, yet I'm blessed to have achieved as many as I did. God has been good to me.

We celebrate the New Year with traditional champagne and merry making — but this painting is not about the New Year, even though it is my first of 2007. It's about celebrating Life! Every morning we wake up should be celebrated. It is another gift. Nothing is set in stone, the past is behind and nothing will ever change it.

God willing, the new day set before us is ours to do with as we please, and we can waste it or use it well.

I chose the symbol of two glasses of champagne to universally represent celebration. One alone would be sad, for it is with another that celebration is most at home. I invite you to join me and Celebrate Life!

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Fresh Start

New Year

Well, there are certain markers in life that tell you to just move on. One such marker was displayed on my computer this morning as I rubbed my bleary eyes. The beginning of a New Year, with all its promise, marks also the death of the former. Nothing says yesterday is gone forever quite like the change of a digit or two in the year.

In February of what is now last year, I decided to see if I could paint one new painting every day. In fact, initially I set it as a goal. Today, I have no intention of trying to catch up. I am just going to let 2006 fade away. In many ways it was one of the worst and hardest years of my life. That having been said, I also accomplished — even amidst some personal failures — painting nearly 60 oil paintings and selling all but one of them. I will always look back at 2006 for what it brought me, and less about what it took away.

2007 carries with it a burden of uncertainty which at the moment feels greater than that of January 1, 2006. And as with most of my later years to date, I have the past to look at and see God's grace in it all, and His love and care for me, and for that I am grateful for where I am. Thus far, I have always made it through.

Now, on to the future!

I do find it interesting that my very last piece of legitimate, year-2006 e-mail (going by time-stamp) was from the Daily Painters mailing list. Is that a message for my future?

Oh, and if you are wondering what ever happened to that painting of the Christmas Cookies I announced two weeks ago... I completely lost enthusiasm for it, and so it remains "half baked" in my abandoned paintings pile. Said pile is only 2 paintings deep, however, and does not equal my unfinished paintings pile in size. The difference between the two piles is probably all in my head, and I know that these started works of art are free to travel to each other's neighborhood at any time. So, who knows?