I first saw the artwork of Darren Haper online, and decided he was a Dayton artist I wanted to meet. Shortly after that I met the new Facility Coordinator at Rosewood Art Center, also named Darren, who was nice enough to help me carry my work into the Rosewood Gallery. I didn’t realize that these two Darren’s were the same person until I attended a show at the Dayton Visual Arts Center showcasing five young artists to watch in 2015.
Darren’s studio is in one of the Front Street Warehouse buildings.
Well known artist Mike Elsass rents most of the third floor of that building. Darren and several other talented artists rent space from Mike. Darren’s space is amazing, with light from a large window that overlooks the Dayton skyline. I arrived just as Darren was getting his paints out.
I asked Darren how this space affected his art.
“Before moving to this studio, I painted in a small space in the basement of my home. The most obvious change since moving here is that now I have room to paint larger pieces. In my home, my largest works were 30 X 40. This canvas is 72 X 84 and some of the paintings I have done here are even larger.”
This large space also gives Darren room to display his art, so I was able to see more of his work than ever before. Below is a group of smaller works, and my favorite painting from Darren’s show at the Dayton Visual Arts Center. I asked Darren about the yellow figures in that work.
“My children draw figures like these which I have been incorporating into some of my paintings. I love the freedom children have when they draw, and my work sometimes mixes child-like drawings with more formal elements.”
Darren told me that he loves to include a range of textures in his work, and he showed me some examples in his smaller works. But he explained that these same approaches to creating interesting textures on small works are not always effective when used on a very large piece. As the painting surface scales up so should the marks and texture. He’s tried a number of new approaches since he started doing large-scale work. Darren showed me places where he had used mica flakes, sandpaper grit, and even filler from a beanbag chair to create unique textures.
I noticed these shoes, and Darren said that he typically wears them when painting. I wonder if Darren’s full painting outfit – the one he wears when he’s not expecting a photographer – is as interesting. I think I will stop by unannounced and find out.
Before leaving I asked Darren if he would let me take one more photo in front of one of his paintings, a portrait of this 2015 Artist-to-Watch.