Darlene Watters transcends back to a childhood of bucolic memories of walking streambeds, following deer trails and camping in the woods with her father. It was a time in her life where she learned a lot about herself, about her family and about the natural world around her. She happily traipsed along beside him, often stopping to draw a picture of what they encountered in the woods. It was time that was interrupted too soon when her Dad was diagnosed with cancer. She was 15 and he was 56 when he passed but she remembers his last words to her, “take care of your mother…and be an artist.”
She grew up in southern Ontario but she was never far from her Nova Scotia roots. Her Dad was originally from the Stewiacke area. After sojourns in Toronto and Los Angeles, she and her husband Dave set their intentions on the east coast. They found themselves in Colchester County six years ago where she has learned she is a direct descendent of the Wright Planter Settlers who were an influx of pre-loyalist pioneers who came to Nova Scotia prior to the American Revolution.
With such genealogy it is no wonder that Darlene’s work has such a natural reference to wildlife and the outdoors. She responds to the subtle details of her subjects whether it is the feathers of a chickadee or mossy forest path. Her mediums change like the Nova Scotia weather. She works in watercolour, acrylic, pastel, graphite, pen and ink. A rarity she says for an artist to dabble in so many mediums. “I am not a master of anything but I am developing a style that is recognizable. Some people who know me see my art in a show they can usually pick me out.”
Despite being known and appreciated for the precision in her painting Darlene says that she would like to be able to loosen up her work. “Art is supposed to be messy. It’s taken a while but I am beginning to break out of my shell.”
If her art is recognizable so is Darlene herself. Standing a strong 5’ 10 with tight bronze spiral curls. She describes herself as “Amazonian.” She seems resolute in all of her endeavours and passions. But for many years she had to put her creative pursuits on hold and drew on her strength to take care of her mother who had been grasped by the unrelenting sufferings of Alzheimers Disease.
It has been a journey back to her personal art while caregiving and building a career in pre-media as a graphic artist. Her years in Los Angeles, although she loved the abundance of sunshine were especially pressured. There eventually came a day when she and her husband knew that it was time to make a change.
“It has been a process for me to put aside the trappings of a busier life and change my focus to include me. The biggest challenge has been re-learning how to play. Remembering that it’s okay to be that 40-something kid that stands in the rain with her eyes closed and just listens to everything. To pick up her paint brush or pencil just because I want to.”