In the early '80s, I moved from my hometown in rural Michigan to study art in Northern California. My education includes an MA degree from Humboldt State University and a BA from Chico State University. I also attended the College of the Siskiyous and Monterey Peninsula College. I lived in California until 2021, and in 2022 I moved to Oregon. While attending college, I gained extensive experience in figure drawing and painting mediums, but my focus was mainly on sculpture techniques and the female form. My graduate show consisted of life-sized, expressionistic, figurative sculptures of cement and steel. I graduated in 1989 and continued building sculptures with steel and cement, adding wood and clay to my repertoire until 2009.
At the end of 2009, I took a break from the art world. A year later, I transitioned, left sculpting behind, and began painting in Pastel, then later with oils, then acrylics. Also, at that time, my subject matter changed from the human form to nature and landscapes, including wildflowers, trees with birds, marshes, and creeks. By 2016 I needed a new muse and began painting the horse, which brought renewed inspiration and excitement to my creative process. I discovered I love the bold shapes of horses and capturing the horse spirit and horses in motion. Eventually, I decided to add other animals to my portfolio that I find fantastic to paint, such as bears, bison, and wolves. I admire these animals and consider them excellent totems.
Creating is about exploration and discovery, and when my work feels like it is stagnating, I like to try new ideas. In 2019 I began to layer squares and rectangles of handmade papers on my canvases before applying paint. With this collage technique, I create a textured, grid-like pattern that adds interest and depth to my paintings. The layering of colorful paper inspired me to create non-objective paintings that are just about; color, tones, shapes, curves, and texture. I began looking at the meanings and symbolism of colors, shapes, and numbers. Like my figurative sculptures, I continue to be spontaneous and intuitive during my process until I feel my art is visually balanced and complete. Without references, I rely even more on my intuition and inner voice, which is one of the reasons why my abstract paintings are fun for me to do.
In 2021 I began a series of circle paintings. Since I enjoy and get excited about the symbolism and meanings of shapes, circles seemed like a natural progression from what I had already painted. Circles are fun to paint, and I find that many circles bring a sense of joy to a painting. It is important to me to paint paintings with characteristics that delight and bring joy to the viewer, and I sincerely thank those who find my artwork evocative.
Dara's work is currently on display Art Presence Center in Jacksonville, Gallery One in Grants Pass, Geezer Gallery in Portland, and the Southern Oregon Guild Gallery & Art Center in Kerby. To see more of Dara's work, visit https://www.darasfineart.com/