Who are you?
My name is Darrin Hartman and I am a 51 year old male artist from Saskatoon Saskatchewan, now living and painting in Calgary Alberta Canada!
Why do you do what you do?
I think that we all have inherent predispositions that draw us to our passions and professions. I feel fortunate that I know what I want to do: Immerse myself in art and music, self-expression, attempt to paint a masterpiece., and strive to be better and help others along the way.
What does your work aim to say?
I think my painting expresses in a more robust and articulate language, that which I usually can’t find the spoken words to say. My intention is to create organic, visceral imagery from a spontaneous origin, that combines intention and thoughtlessness. Creating paintings that embodying a diverse beauty is the goal.
What is your background?
Canadian born in Saskatchewan, with formative years spent drawing and plastering my walls with artwork. Early recognition when I drew Iron Maidens mascot “Eddie” on the back of my jean jacket. I remember copying political caricatures from the newspapers and loving Frank Frazettas artwork. I spent my twenties working in printshops in all aspects of print production and graphic design, until the age of 29 when I decided it was time to go to art school. In 1996 I enrolled in a Visual Communications program at Medicine Hat College, which kicked off my love of painting. I completed this and then furthered my education by obtaining a BFA at the University of Calgary in Painting. Since Graduating till today, I’ve maintained a working studio downtown Calgary.
Tell us about your process?
The process is fairly consistent, I proceed from loose ideas which might just be a color combination or a memory of some visual sensation. The current painting on my easel was born from a memory of time spent sitting on a little walking bridge watching the sun dance on the water over a moving stream. The finished paintings resemble landscapes derived from spontaneous origins recycled from past recollection, and moulded with imagination. I call them ‘Mindscapes’.
Describe the feel of your work in 5 words.
Ethereal, Visceral, Nuanced, Inclusive, Organic.
As an artist, who are your biggest influences?
Early influences: science fiction fantasy art by Frank Frazetta, Leonardo DaVinci, 70’s 80’s album cover art.
What art trends, collections, or works are you really into right now?
My tendency now is to hone my craft and advance my technique as an oil painter combined with acrylic painting. Therefore, I am looking at painters who combine a highly developed sense of craft with an expressive looseness. I think diversity in all aspects of painting, loose and tight is the right combination. I can learn so much from looking at art history and contemporary artists, local and international.
What are a few things that continue to inspire your current work and how has it changed since you began?
My art practice is less interested in objective rendering, more in search of imagery and compositions unknown. The paintings begin with a spontaneous expressive elaboration which slows into an additive and subtractive process of layering and editing based on instinct and aesthetic perception. Content of the paintings is self-aware and referential to our natural world, full of color, pattern, and raw beauty. Aesthetic harmony coupled with deep feeling and visceral emotion, as a form of self-expression, inspire my work.
How have you changed as a person since you began to create? Would you say art has helped you grow? If so, how?
Yes, a great question with a big answer. From a personal perspective art has provided a reliance on focus and an object of meditation. A shift from a tendency toward self-destructive behavior to a new awareness and appreciation for creativity in all its forms. In talking to other artists and people who meditate, the idea of “flow” permeates, as means to a happier life. Limiting thought or deterring the mind from repetitive, often self-destructive messages, comes from having an object to focus on. For me that object is the painting, or the “sun dancing on the water”.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio? Is there an artistic tool you can’t live without?
Leroy my dog, cappuccino maker, fluid medium, script liner brush, music box.
What role, would you say, does the artist have in society?
An undervalued role as a creator, observer, and innovator, artists record contemporary history, learn from the past, and look to the future, by focusing on the present.
Is there a piece here you are most proud of? Why?
I think the piece I am most proud of is perhaps my next painting not yet painted.
Is there an element or subject you enjoy working with most? Why?
Striving to be “better”. I think my latest series, which is becoming more sculptural, is on a good direction. “REALM” is a current series being shown in downtown Calgary as a painting exhibition based on the first painting I called “Essential Realm”. It envisions a celestial forest with cathedral trees, hummingbirds, butterflies and a forward reaching winged female as the focal point. Emerging from a previous series called “mindscapes” spontaneously produced landscapes become metaphors for ethereal states of mind.
What brought you to SeeMe?
I was first turned on to SeeMe by a local artist friend who had been following SeeMe since its inception. I recently rediscovered SeeMe under new leadership and out of curiosity I entered its first activation, a contest called SeeMe Takes Times Square. To my surprise and delight, I was selected as the Grand Prize Winner to be announced at The Chashama Gala in Times Square with a follow up collaborative show in Aspen Colorado. I attended the showing in Aspen during the Food and Wine Classic with an exhibition of two of my paintings that had been selected to be reproduced and displayed as limited edition archival pigment prints.
How has being a SeeMe member helped you as an artist?
The experience of being selected out of a semi-finalist of 50 artists has been valuable on many levels. Firstly, as the name suggests, SeeMe is mandated to provide exposure to artists through their vast social media network and through contests which provide financial remuneration and strategic locations to have an art show. I was afforded the opportunity to have a show with a New York artist and a local gallerist and painter, in the lobby of a popular hotel during a popular Food and Wine event in Aspen. This aside from being a great first-class holiday, has increased my momentum and enthusiasm, and ultimately lead to increased art sales and new-found friends.
Any advice for young artists?
Seeing is believing! Sounds corny but really itǯs all about attitude and persistence. Do what you love. Having been living as a creative for 20 years, the realities of maintaining a studio and a studio practice can seem daunting. Deliberately creating a lifestyle is reciprocal to the strength of your belief and the clarity of your vision.