Picture yourself sitting in a studio looking out at a forest. Live-edge wood surrounds the frame of your view. There is original artwork on the walls, finished jewelry in a case, and other projects in varying stages of creation scattered about you. This is where Darlene Klister puts her visions into form and where she can teach you to release your inner artist.
When asked to describe her art, Darlene’s response is “Transformational. When you start out at an early age as an oil painter, transition to watercolor painting, to beading, then metalworking, throw in a love of art history and scientific illustration, how else would you describe that creativity?” She loves color, and someone once told her that when they see her, they think of jewel tones. She tries for vibrancy in her work, be it painting or jewelry. She loves creating custom commission pieces for people because there is usually a story behind why they would like a work completed; she tries to honor that story and bring it to life!
I asked Darlene what inspires her. Many artists who come to Guemes Island share the response “the beautiful surroundings”, and Darlene counts herself among them. “When going for walks I take my phone/camera and snap different designs I see in nature, specifically the vibrant colors and shapes, so that these can be incorporated into my work.” She enjoys including different techniques in her work. Many people don’t know that painting was her passion for a good number of years. That painting now involves including leaves and other natural elements by flattening, adding paint to them, and rolling the paint-covered impression of the elements onto the paper or canvas. Darlene also finds inspiration from a Facebook group – “Celebration of Female Artists in History”.
Her art studio is next to her log home and it’s where all of the creativity happens! This is also where she holds her classes. Metalworking takes center stage including fold forming, cold connections, texturing, and soldering. Classes in wire wrapping, wire weaving, patina, rings, etc. also happen here. She is currently developing new classes which may include drawing and painting, so stay tuned!
Her teaching style is to focus on sharing techniques to complete a piece of jewelry, or dish, or whatever! The goal is to get creative juices flowing so students can take the techniques and make them their own, change them to suit their projects. It isn’t as important to complete the project in class, as it is to learn the techniques and have fun with them. In addition to classes, she also holds jewelry parties for adults or for children and provides one-on-one instruction. Contact her to set up a class, instruction, or a jewelry party.
When she is not creating her art, she is busy as a member of the Anacortes Arts Commission. It has been challenging during the Covid pandemic for the Commission but having “storefront” art viewing downtown for a couple of months hopefully gave folks something enjoyable to see. They are currently working on some ideas including a broad range of all things art including poetry (possibly including a video), sculpture, dance, and painting.
In her downtime, she enjoys reading biographies, mysteries, and books on – you guessed it – art! Working out in the yard and trying her hand at growing vegetables and flowers along with some traveling and enjoying music have rounded out her time.
It’s fun to learn what brings people to Guemes Island, so I asked Darlene for her story. She and her late husband had lived in Anacortes for about 9 years. One day they decided that they wanted to find a different sort of house and place to live: not a “cookie cutter” house. “We were sitting on the deck outside The General Store (then called Anderson’s) on a warm, sunny afternoon gazing over the Guemes Channel at Anacortes saying that being on Guemes was like being in a different country! Bingo!” When they first saw the log cabin 8 ½ years ago, it was love at first sight. The log cabin is still undergoing remodeling and has become a log home. “I am thankful for living in such a beautifully peaceful environment, with caring friends and wonderful inspiration. It is totally the opposite of my city upbringing (San Francisco Bay Area and just over New York City’s George Washington bridge in New Jersey) which probably makes me appreciate Guemes more.”
Darlene’s art can currently be found on her website – www.firelightdesigns.art where you can purchase her art as well as sign up for one of her many classes. You can also follow her on Facebook; just search for FirelightDesigns.