Darlene Dautel- Artist Interview

February 2021


'Simply put, ART or

creating things is my passion.' 

~Darlene Dautel


Darlene Dautel headshot Q. Please tell us about bit about yourself. Anything you’d like to share, perhaps where you live, where you were born, your family.

I am an artist/crafter, whether that is a painter, sculpture, potter, weaver, house builder, cabinet maker, seamstress; a desire to do something different and artistic prevails. Also I am married and a mother of 3 adult daughters, and grandma to 4. I grew up in Grand Forks BC. Moved to the Peace in 1980 and spent the next 30 years homesteading a little farm in Goodfare. Came back to Grand Forks in 2012 and opened a little Gallery/Art School here called Moonflower: studio of fine art. 

Q. Can you tell us when you first realized that you enjoyed creating art and wished to become an artist. Is there a particular person who supported your decision to pursue your goals? If so, in what way did you feel supported? If so, how did you feel?
I have always been an artists/crafter.  I am a crazy do-it-yourselfer.  I am very much compelled to know how things are made, and then to roll up my sleeves and try my hand at it.  As a child I was always busy not so much painting or drawing but making. When I was 10,  I would make examples of all of the new craft ideas for my local craft store "Pollies Follies" She loved me and I loved her. I would get paid in craft supplies so  it was a perfect match. I was that kid that would enter something in every kids category in our local fall fair, plus many of the adult categories as well.  I was the Grand Aggregate winner 3 years in a row which was great fun but also came with cash. Hence more craft supplies.  Then I discovered I could expand to several other fairs near by and more cash- more craft supplies.  When I was 12 my mother begged my way into a cake decorating class,  By the time I was 14,  I had a great business and was doing most local wedding cakes. Again perfect situation my mom baked, and cleaned up and I decorated.   In high school I was an athlete and quietly pursued my crafting at home,  but with a longing to paint.
However it  wasn’t until I arrived in Grande Prairie that, the dream began. Fall of 1984 I took an introductory oil painting class in the old church basement beside the curling rink  with Gordon Perrot.  The start of a whole new wonderful adventure.  Shortly after I met Jean Wagner and happily went to her home on Wednesday afternoons for many years.  To what we affectionately called the “Wagner School of Fine Art”  Such good memories there.
Q.What is your motivation for creating art?
Simply put ART or creating things is my passion.  Firstly my parents always supported me in what ever crazy idea I was working on.  No matter what I did it was celebrated.  Then my husband Michael has always supported me both emotionally as well as fiinancially.  I was a stay at home mom/farmer/artist for 30 years.  I could have worked off the farm like many farm wives but I was always encouraged to pursue my talents as an artist.  Luckily through my art I have contributed both to my family as well as my community.  A win, win  in my books. 
Q. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?
I work in many mediums, and love them all for different reasons. WC for it fluidity.  Oils for their lovely buttery sculptural feel.  Batik for the building process involved.  Encaustic  for the depth of colour and because it is so loose and transformative.  I always said, I loved them all but Acrylic, although I  have recently learned to enjoy them as well. 
Q. Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?
Most of my work is deeply personal to me. Basically people places and things that I love.  It is all done to challenge myself to expand and learn something new. Mostly to celebrate the very simple things life has to offer.
“In My Minds Eye" This piece was just magical for me I feel it is the best encaustic I have done to date.  They are a favourite flower of mine and it just makes me smile.
“40 winks” Celebrates my Granny Mary Moffat.  It is rather an old work of mine but one that I treasure as it truly represents her.  Never wanting to miss a bit of what life has to offer.

 "In My Minds Eye" by Darlene Dautel

   'In My Mind's Eye' by Darlene Dautel

40 winks

   '40 Winds' by Darlene Dautel

Q. When you create art do you listen to calming music, are you thinking of anything in particular or have any emotions at all? 
I listen usually to the radio as I paint.  CBC or CKUA.  I usually have a title in mind before I start. I have imagined the whole process, start to finish.  I can be very emotional while I am working. As I mentioned most of my subject matter is very personal to me.
Q. In our busy world, time can be an issue. Do you have any tips or tricks to find time for your art? 
I am very generous with my time promoting the arts. It would often be difficult for me to have enough time to pursue my own work. Then I started going through the calendar and just blocking in time.  I fill each square will my whole name on an angle so there is not a bit of space to add another commitment.  Then when the phone rings and I'm asked to volunteer to do something I can look and just say sorry that date is absolutely full. Couldn't possibly squeeze another thing in. No excuses necessary, and I don't feel bad doing it.  
It works wonderfully
Q. Is creating art your main profession? 
Creating and or, teaching art has been my occupation for over 30 years.  
Q. Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?
There have been many small awards along the way,  lots of media coverage and numerous solo exhibitions.  However my last two shows have been my favourites. "83 at 83”  in Beaverlodge.  Because it was just so different and was so beautifully received, and my best sale ever.  As well as the most recent here in Grand Forks.  "When I grow up"  featurred work produced over 1 year repesenting 12 different mediums.  It had been orchistrated as sort of a way for me to focus and decide which ones I really had to pursue, however it sort of just reinforced how much I love them all.  Diversity is not always celebrated in the Art world. Gallery owners usually want one medium and one subject matter from you.  I just don't know how to do it.  Perhaps I haven’t found just that one thing that captivates me beyond all else. Or probably I am just bored or have a very short attention span.  But there is nothing better and more exciting to me than learning something new and challenging myself to master it.
Q. Do you have any major goals for your art career? 
Gosh that one is a tuff one. Yes, I did have very lofty goals.  Now you even have me teary eyed.  Life sometimes sends you crap that just has to be dealt with.  At the moment I am a full time caregiver and I am choosing to focus on that.  But I will be back with both feet, one day :) 
Q. What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be?
I find this a strange question,  Why would anyone possibly set out to be anything but the best at whatever they are doing. I say something in my artist statement about when each piece is finished; it being the best I could do in that moment. Whether it has come easily or been a struggle from the first brush stroke. Enjoying and marvelling at other artist's work  definitely inspires me to try harder. I am in awe of so many other artist’s work.
Q. Is there  anything else you’d like to share about your art journey or inspiration so far to inspire others?

Be confident,  and work on things that captivate you.  I am often asked while teaching how I know what colour to use etc.  For many years I think I would reply with “ experience”,  but it came to me one day that it is CONFIDENCE. Pure and simple. I just try it, if it doesn't work I change it, or start over.  There is nothing you put on your canvas or paper that can't be undone, or replaced.  It is just supplies and and some of your time.  Now when I am teaching I measure the success of each student,  in  whether or not they leave my studio smiling and with the confidence to continue.

Thank you so much Darlene for telling us about your life and art!  

Darlene can be reached via email- studio.moonflower@gmail.com