Featured Talent: Lauren Darby

One tiny sketchbook holds endless pages of watercolor scenes, each individual painting peeking through when its pages are flipped. The owner of this sketchbook, City High paraeducator Lauren Darby, compiled the majority of these pastel scenes when she taught abroad in Germany.

“Someone said get a hobby,” Darby said. “I bought myself a little kit of travel watercolors and I just [traveled] around Germany and elsewhere painting what I saw and not putting a lot of pressure on myself to be any good, but just having fun with it…Mostly I just do it based off of what I can learn on my own in books and online.”

Darby has been doing art since she was a little girl, starting in second grade and continuing it as a hobby through the rest of her life. After experimentation and improvement, she found watercolor was her favorite medium to work with.

“I like how forgiving it is,” Darby said. “You can just keep building layer upon layer and find new things as it dries, the way shadows can work and making things look different textures. I like drawing people, but I found that that can get kind of boring after a while, just doing a lot of faces, so I like to do architectural drawings and paintings as well.”

It’s not so much about what you produce from it but the process of doing it and what that allows you to do.”

— Lauren Darby

Darby has displayed her art at informal shows and does commissions for friends on occasion, but refers to her art as mainly for herself to enjoy. Drawing inspiration and prompts from artists on Instagram and local artists, Darby develops her talent by learning about the processes of others.

“The thing that has been really helpful to me is seeing people post about where [their] art was five years ago, four, three, two years ago, and knowing that the people who I really admire started it out in the same place,” Darby said. “All that it takes is practicing and playing with it and finding your own style.”

For students and adults alike who share a similar casual passion for painting or drawing, Darby pulls on pointers from experience and her process in growing up and developing her own artistic voice.

“[Don’t feel] like you have to be so committed to making things look realistic,” Darby said. “That can be limiting. There’s also something so fun about going outside and watching people, just noticing different things around you and taking the time to sit and draw them. It’s not so much about what you produce from it but the process of doing it and what that allows you to do. It’s a great way for me to focus and relax.”