Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bethany in Green

Bethany in Green by David R. Darrow 8" x 14" (20.3cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas
SOLD Collection of L. Grace
San Diego, CA – USA

About This Painting

I'm not as good at math as I should be.

And I am really lame at guessing ages.

In 1991 a little girl came into my life that would change my heart and my mind, and sway my resolutions, the subsequent blessings of which I could never have foreseen.


Because of Bethany, I have a wonderful daughter.

See, in 1991, my daughter did not yet exist, because her mother and I (mostly me) had decided a few years earlier to stop at 2 children. We had two fine boys, and were having plenty of fun, and absorbing the challenges that come with raising two boys on an artist's income.

That year our little family of 4 had season passes to what is now called Six Flags Magic Mountain and decided, for reasons I cannot remember, to take some of our friends' daughters with us. Bethany was 5, and her mother instructed her simply, "Now you hold on to Mr. Darrow's hand the whole time, okay?" Right there in her driveway before we even left for the amusement park, she looked up at me and smiled and grabbed my hand.

Like Superman too close to Kryptonite, I began to melt... little by little throughout the day, this warm, sweet, smiling little girl brought down the giant I thought I was.

At the end of the day, I didn't want to return her to her mother.

But I did. (It's the law).

Later that year we decided to expand our family and "try for a girl." And in 1992 God blessed us with a sweet daughter of our own who has been the subject of many of my paintings, and has her daddy's heart forever.

Well, in 1994 we moved away from that area, and I have never seen anyone in Bethany's family since. Fast-forward to 2007, Tuesday in fact, and I get an e-mail from Bethany assuming, of course, that I remember who she is.

I'm picturing a little smiling cutie looking up at me holding my hand, and I am mentally trying to stretch her image into an older person that has the facility to write e-mails (I told you math escapes me at times).

She attached to the e-mail a picture of her now... posing with a melancholy expression in front of a green wall... and that's when reality smacked me across the face.

She's in her early 20s now, married and just found out she's expecting a child of her own.

How did Bethany turn into a woman in — what's it been —three weeks? All I could write back to her was "Wow! You've grown up!" and then, "This picture looks so much like a work of art with that pose and lighting that I want to know if I can do an oil painting interpretation of it," to which she enthusiastically agreed.

I showed the finished painting to my oldest son when we got together for Thanksgiving and asked him if he remembered Bethany.

"Do I remember her?" he said, as if I asked him if he likes to surf. "If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have a sister!"

The Legend of Bethany, the 5-year-old girl who melted a man's heart, lives on.

And now she is immortalized.  ◙

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Distracted by David R. Darrow 14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD Collection of L. Grace
San Diego, CA – USA

About This Painting

My daughter is one of my favorite models.

Every now and again I see her face in a certain light... the highlights glancing off her cheekbones in some way, or the pattern of the shadows bringing out her natural beauty...

In this case, I happened to catch her looking simply beautiful while she was watching a fascinating show on TV... while I messed with the lights she kept her eyes on the story from which I could not steal her.  ◙

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Slice of Life

Slice of Life by David R. Darrow 7" x 5" (17.8cm x 12.7cm)
Oil on Panel
SOLD Collection of Robin Neudorfer
San Marino, CA – USA

About This Painting

There's a "farmer's market" in a large Carlsbad, CA parking lot each Wednesday. Vendors — most of them the actual farmers of the produce the sell at the market — set up white-topped tent booths and hawk their wares for one day a week.

I think the tomatoes from local growers beat the taste of store tomatoes 365 days a year. So, when I can, I buy them from local growers.

When setting up for a new display at a local art gallery a while back, it looked to me like there was a little bit of room for another painting, and so I asked the owner if I could bring in a 5 x 7 to add to the upcoming show. Permission granted, I told her I'd "be right back" and headed home.

When I arrived in my studio, I got out a blank 5 x 7 panel and dashed to the kitchen to find something to paint.

I couldn't resist this gorgeous, red tomato I had purchased a couple of days before at the farmer's market. Slicing into it, juice spilled out either side, but the firm tomato fruit held its shape perfectly as I removed this aromatic wedge and posed the parts to compose my painting.

An hour later, I returned to the gallery with this finished painting, framed and wired, ready to hang.

"Careful," I smiled. "It's still wet."

"You just painted it?"

"Yep. I told you I'd be right back."

I probably priced it too high for my little known name at the time, so eventually it came back home.

It's time to let it go.  ◙

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Bodice by David R. Darrow 7-1/2" x 11" (19.1cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
SOLD Collection of Maria Boustani
Beckley, WV – USA

About This Painting

I just finished my 2007 Portrait Workshop in Carlsbad, CA this past weekend. This painting was the last of the four I did as demonstrations for my painting style. In the short time allowed for demos, everything I teach gets crammed into a very rapid painting — and sometimes, these demos come out pretty rewarding.

I talk while I paint, so the workshop attendees can "hear what's going on in my mind" — to see what I see, and understand the decisions I make with paint.

At one point, I was trying to describe the edges and value differences between the light of the model's flesh and "that blue... uh... that, uh vest thing?"

The model who was sitting as still as a mannequin piped up. "Bodice," and went 'back to frozen.'

I will never forget, now.   ◙

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Workshop 2007 was a blast

workshop 3I had a great group of people at my workshop this past weekend. Everyone seemed in very good spirits, eager to paint and to learn, and filled with enthusiasm despite the challenges of painting from life in front of other people. We had a lot of fun together. The models were great. Good character to their faces, and just fun people, too, as we all got to know them. It is such a pleasure to paint from life from professional models who take their work seriously (I have painted from pros who are nonchalant, and I can tell you the energy is much different!) workshop 3I started the first session with a 1.5 hour demo quick study in getting the light and shadow patterns down; thinking abstractly about the vague shapes you see while squinting, and putting this little patchwork of a puzzle together on the canvas. This was a purposely rapid portrait demo, using only 4 colors and white. Raw Umber, Yellow Ocher, Alizarin Crimson and Cerulean Blue) because I was trying to demonstrate the importance of value and shadow patterns over color issues. Color seems to bog most students down, when in fact Value and Drawing are far more critical. I spent a good deal of time in each session, except the last, helping attendees get a better feel for how I approach a painting. The individual attention one-on one with the students that wanted it seemed to set them in a new direction and get them approaching the task in a new way. workshop 3I didn't get much time to paint in Saturday's morning session. But when I did get going, I did a discussion about drawing the features in abstractly, how I measure, what I look for in line and proportion and rapidly banging in the shadows in bulk. This is the result of an hour's work. I also discussed how light and shadow describe form to the viewer's brain... how one shadow describes the forms of both the object that is casting the shadow and the object onto which it is cast. The characteristics of the edges of the shadows are critical in striking recognition within the viewer's mind. It was a great weekend, and I am already being asked when my next workshop will be. If you are interested in getting information about my next workshop by e-mail, be sure to add your e-mail address to my private mailing list. All info on my mailing list is confidential.