Darrell Roberts – Chicago, Illinois

RedFort, oil on canvas, 14x11, 2013

RedFort, oil on canvas, 14×11, 2013

Briefly describe the work you do. 

I am an abstract painter. I create small scale works dealing with lots of color and texture based on my experiences of my environments.  In my studio I have five places I work at and and a spot for sitting and observing. One place is dedicated for my oil paint. I have an old window I squirt oil paint on from my tubes. Another table is for mixed media drawing. I love creating hundred of works on paper with gouache, pastel, graphite, oil pastel, watercolor, ink, color pencils, and watercolor crayons. Mark making and layering, I love it. Color too of course. 🙂 Two other areas are used for drawing and working on multiple media projects and one place for working with plaster cast, breaking, assembling and painting them.  

At what point in your life did you want to become an artist?

I always created stuff.  I started taking art classes when I was in high school.  I did not think of art as a career until after I finished my BFA.  I never even knew what a gallery was when I started out. I went on the graduate school for my MFA, it taught me what I was not interested in and what I did not want to be a part of in the art communities. From then on I have stayed true to myself, listening to my inner voice and subconscious while working in the solitude of my studio.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I grew up in rural Iowa. I went on daily walks for hours through the fields and woods. It was there I questioned my meaning and existence in life while growing up.  This deep connection with nature and my surroundings is where I derive my inspiration from in my painting today.

ChawriBazaar(Delhi), oil on canvas, 16x12x1, 2013

ChawriBazaar(Delhi), oil on canvas, 16x12x1, 2013

What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?

The colors of the oil paints I use reflect the locations and seasons I work in. I am not conceptually concerned. My work is driven by my relationships of color to create beauty. I want my paintings to be beautiful. I get the most vibrant luscious colors by using oil paint.

We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?

I believe scientist, artists, performers are born with a genetic code that drives them to submerge themselves in their work.  There is nothing else I can do. I must be in my studio working.  I am driven by the creative need in my hindbrain to make things.

TajMahal, oil on canvas, 16_x12_x1, 2013

TajMahal, oil on canvas, 16_x12_x1, 2013

What artists living or non-living influence your work?

I love Soutine and De Kooning. I rush to look at their genius us of paint and juicy paintings all the time. I think Nicolas De Stael would have been a great influence but I never go to view his paintings in person. I love the California figurative painters, David Park just knew how to paint! Also Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff rock my world with their thick textural paintings.

When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?

I go for lots of walk. I take many photos and sketch while I am by the lake and traveling throughout the city.  I love the architecture. I also drive around and walk through the countryside taking photos and sketching. I travel a lot too, I love to go to new cities, countries and experience different cultures. I am always making art as these places are where I find more creative energy. I go to art museums and galleries. Other times I watch a few films. I go out to eat and drink with friends and then rush back to my studio to make more art.


DarrellRobertsheadshotDarrell Roberts MFA and BFA; The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, BA Art History, The University of Northern Iowa.  Darrell has participated in the Leon Levy Archaeology Expedition in Ashkelon, Israel, and artists residencies in Johnson, Vermont, Delhi, India, and Kushtia, Bangladesh. He has been supported by the Dedalus Foundation, Sugarman Foundation, Vogelstein Foundation and Tanne Foundation. He is represented by Thomas McCormick Gallery, Chicago.

In the Studio

In the Studio


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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