Spotlight Interview with Laura Darling discussing how words, colours, maps and landscapes inspire her and her love for Scandinavia and the Northern Lights!

Thank you for speaking to us about your art journey. Where did it all begin for you?
There was always a nod to art through my father who went to Farnham Art College back in the ’50s and only got round to painting again in his eighties. But, apart from always doing a lot of drawing, I didn’t take art at school and studied geography at Manchester Uni then worked in publishing and events. I don’t know why I ended up in an office, it was always the last thing I wanted to do. I became a freelance writer when we moved to Brighton and in between writing business copy I wrote novels. I started painting in 2016 to get away from the laptop. I took a brilliant Introduction to oil painting course in Lewes (on a whim – it was nearly going to be ceramics) and my love of oils and painting started on that first day. I’ve just graduated from the Art Academy in London where I studied a certificate in painting.

From who or from where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Words, colours, maps, landscape. I love Scandinavia and northern light; this is a big inspiration in my work. Urban landscapes, but not the pretty bits. I’ve gone back to my geography roots and become very interested in how landscapes are formed and the way we move through them. Colours; it’s what I think about when I go to sleep at night. How they sit together, what happens where they meet. And of course other artists – I love Nicolas de Stahl’s paintings and would love to see an exhibition of his work. If I’m in London I spend a good while in Tate Britain’s British Art 1930-Now rooms. My favourite Paul Feiler painting ‘Morvah’ is there.

Do you like to experiment with what you use to create art and how would you describe your artistic style?
Finally going to art school made me experiment more. But in my studio it’s just brushes, the same palette knife and fingers for mark making. As for style, this is something I struggle to define but I think quite minimal and pared back, obvious brushwork and mark-making. Lines of intense colour that define the light. I like aspects of the initial mapping lines made with graphite to show through – the workings out of the painting. I like things that are painted to look painted. Someone said recently that I paint silence and I think that’s probably true.

Why are your designs so different to other artists within the industry?
I don’t know if they are. I paint what I feel like painting. I think there’s room for all of us!

How do you stay relevant and current in a world full of creatives?
I think if you read a lot and listen a lot, you’ll think a lot. And if you think a lot, it’s bound to come out in your work. If you think you’re relevant as a person and your opinions are at least valid, then your work will be relevant. The answers and solace I seek in the world will be the same as for other people. I have no idea if I’m current!

How has social media impacted on you as judging by your online presence you seem to embrace this?
Instagram is effectively a shop window. There’s a lot I don’t like about it these days but I can’t deny that during lockdown especially, I made sales and contacts and friends. I try to avoid the compulsion of looking every ten minutes after posting a new work, but it’s hard to resist. If I’m busy, I can forget about it.

How has your brand grown to where it is now? What has contributed to your success?
A lot of work, and saying yes to opportunities, even if they’re a bit out of my comfort zone at the time. I’m an only child and I think there’s that sense of, if I don’t do it, then no one else will do it for me. I loved college and miss it now – it was the thing that made me push to develop as a painter rather than get stuck. I hope.

Have you worked with any galleries or brands or completed any important commissions you can share with us?
I show work in Sussex at a couple of galleries and at the open houses. We have a joint show coming up at the Regency Town House in Brighton which is very exciting because it’s the most beautiful setting to show work. I’m lucky enough to be showing with other artists whose work I really love. I’m working on an important commission – to me anyway – for some very good friends. It’s the biggest thing I’ve painted and I feel honoured that they asked me to do it. I spent some of the summer in Cumbria and the Scottish Borders and collected colours and shapes and ideas for it, so I can’t wait to get cracking.

Which projects are you really excited about for 2021 and are there any future plans you can share with us?
The exhibition and commission I’ve just mentioned are my key projects for the rest of this year. My final term at college was about urban space and environment and I did a small series of paintings for my grad show around the journey from Brighton to London – the nostalgia of seeing places I used to work or live – the scruffy beauty of plants growing up around the railway lands, graffiti and all those unknown lives. That’s the project for 2022 – and finding somewhere to show them.

See a selection of work from Laura Darling HERE

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