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"For me, creating art is like reading Turkish coffee grounds. A story is revealed as I look at the surface, texture, and color. Moving around the canvas, I can see the past, present and future of the creation."


As philosopher Joseph Campbell has told us, the saga of the hero in myth and folklore traditions across time is a journey of discovery leading from the real world into the primal depths of the unknown. Along the way, obstacles present themselves, challenging the hero to rely on training and instinct. At the point of revelation, it is the job of the hero to return to the real world and share this newfound understanding with the rest of the community—to give vision to the union of head and heart.

Throughout her career Darlene Olivia McElroy has combined head and heart in her journey of creating evocative mixed-media paintings. Trained as a painter and illustrator, she has an obsession for materials, passion for dreamlike imagery, and love of new technologies, which she uses to immerse herself in richly textured surfaces, mixtures of old and new, and brilliant and subdued tones. And always, there is a face or symbol of humanity that serves as a guide into mysterious layers which challenge reason and draw upon emotions.

Trained in the fine arts at Cal State University Fullerton, McElroy added illustration, graphics and design skills at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA. Throughout her career she has made art for herself, while creating award-winning illustrations, packaging, and collateral for small companies to large corporations. Never content in withholding her knowledge, she continues to teach art, design, and computer graphics across the country.

Her books, which were published by F&W Publications, are testaments to her inherent need to experiment. In Image Transfer Workshop, McElroy explains the image transfer process and offers tips for fixing mishaps. Her second book, Surface Treatment Workshop, outlines the mixed-media techniques that add depth and texture to her own artwork. Mixed Media Revolution examines ways to evaluate and reconfigure a work of art, taking it to the next level while Alternative Art Surfaces deals with work on alternative substrates. Her last book, Mixed Media in Clay, is about working with alternatives to kiln fire clays and how to cast molds.

McElroy's exhibition record, which began in the early 1990s in the Bay area and Newport Beach, CA, includes numerous solo and group exhibitions. Among her suggestive show titles are Stigmata, Odd Thoughts, Scattered, Beneath the Temple, Novellas, Modern Myths, and Lost Thoughts and Ancient Cultures. A participant in Santa Fe's annual juried Contemporary Hispanic Market since 2002, she received the Best of Show award in 2010 and continues to serve as a CHM board volunteer, as well as for other arts organizations. Her work is represented at La Posada in Santa Fe, NM, Muse Gallery, Columbus, OH, Galleria Pez Gordo, Cabo San Lucas, MX, and McElroy has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, since 1995.

She works in a great-room-turned- studio with large windows that let in New Mexico's ubiquitous sunshine, while looking out to a rustic yard, complete with ponds, waterfalls and wisteria-covered arbors. Her "Casa de Chaos" overflows with furniture parts, antique frames, ephemera, and cabinets filled with what she identifies as "S.H.I.T. (second-hand interesting things)."

Working in her favored square sizes, ranging from one to four feet and beyond, she applies media in myriad techniques that incorporate acrylic paints as well as gold leaf, stamping, alcohol, stenciling, transfer painting, water slide decals, collage, gel transfer, and more. Drawing her back to reality from the floating worlds she affixes to canvas or panel are the love of her partner Dave and the heartbeats of three studio dogs who span size, age, and personality.


Questions & Answers


Want to know more about me, my inspiration and my thoughts? Just open the Q&A download.

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