Smile Politely

Artist of the Corridor with Beth Darling

For the next six weeks, the public can enjoy garden scene paintings by Urbana artist Beth Darling as her artwork is featured in the Artist of the Corridor series in the Urbana City Building located at 400 S. Race St.

Last week, I had the chance to speak with her about her process and experiences as a painter.

I met with Darling at her studio in downtown Champaign. Located on the fifth floor of the historic Lincoln Building, the studio offers a charming view of downtown and campus. It’s a perfect spot to immerse yourself in a painting. Focusing largely on garden scenes, landscapes, and still lifes, Darling uses acrylics and oils to do just that.

A particular favorite of mine is modeled after an almost all green garden. Darling showed me the photograph that inspired this particular piece; looking at the photograph and painting side by side, I grinned at how much the painting resembles the real thing. But what makes this piece intriguing isn’t how accurately Darling was able to translate the real-life scene, but rather the colors she chose to add to it to make sure the scene catches your eye.

“To make it work, I had to invent some of the color because just all green is not interesting. I have to choose colors that lead the eye from one area to the other, or for design, or to define and delineate things that run together, rather than the actual colors in the landscape or in the photo. I described this as using ‘arbitrary color’ to which my writer friend Norma Marder replied, ‘No, you don’t use arbitrary colors. They’re chosen, like writing memoirs. No matter what really happened, events bow to the needs of the page; same with your colors.’ I thought that was so interesting, that a writer understands what’s needed for the work. It’s not always the truth, but it’s what’s required of the piece.”

After talking with Darling for over an hour, her passion for making art is indisputably clear. Relying on vivid colors, patterns, and simplification of shapes, Darling takes on a multitude of natural sights and interprets and represents them as her own.

The Artist of the Corridor series featuring Beth Darling is free and open to the public. It will be on display in the City Building lobby at 400 S. Vine Street in Urbana for six weeks starting May 4th, 2015.

More information about Darling and her work can be found on her site here.

Photo credit: Felice Kauffman, Robert Chapman, and Beth Darling

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