Light and Shadow
Light is my favorite form of paint,” says Darryl Audette of Winnipeg. “Light is an element used to tell a story. When I do a miniature, it’s a scaled down version of the real thing, so I scale down the light source too.” He enjoys working with light, “whether it be an electrical or painted effect. Whenever I paint something, it has darks and highlights and shadows.”
Darryl’s skillful use of light and its shadow counterpart create the dramatic moods that he feels his pieces should have. “I try to make whatever I do very approachable. I want the viewer to share what’s going on in the scene. If the figure is sad, I want the viewer to feel that. If horses are on a mountain, I want the viewer to be there with them.” And in his “The Tibetans,” the viewer does seem to be on that mountain with the wild Asian horses, feeling the cold sting of snow in blowing wind. “I think that if you don’t come away with a feeling that you experienced something,” Darryl continues, “then the scene didn’t work out.”
Darryl’s studio and living space reflect the direct simplicity of this sensitive artist. Books and works of art adorn the walls and tables but his work space is surprisingly small, with no great amount of tools or supplies in evidence. “I’m very happy with an X-Acto knife and a filed down metal sculpting tool,” he says. He bought his X-Acto knife against his mother’s wishes when he was 14. She thought it was too sharp. This is the tool he still uses. “All my tools are in my heart and mind. I know what they can and cannot do.” His paint supply consists of artist’s oil colors, a few acrylics, and some lacquers. “I want my work to be permanent.”
Darryl sculpts his original figures of varying scales on a brass wire armature, using epoxy putty, and recently, casting in metal alloys. Because some materials are difficult to obtain in the prairies of Canada, Darryl has become mor resourceful. Small bits from an auto shop, twigs and rocks from meadows, and the occasional Houseworks doorknob will find their way into his works of art. It takes him six months to two years to complete a scene. Most of his works have been commissioned. Even though he has a large backlog of orders, Darryl still accepts commissions from private collectors and companies because people are willing to wait for his work. “Most of the pieces I do are historical because that’s what people have requested, whereas most of my own ideas are as contemporary as today.”
One of his most recent pieces, “Sunrise in Salzburg,” depicting Mozart in his home, won First Place and Best of Show in 1992 at the annual juried show of the Miniature Enthusiasts of Toronto. It came about because Darryl has always admired artists and composers.
“I thought he should be at his harpsichord, surrounded by his music, his environment. To me, he was the instrument of God, a 32-year old man who did wonders with music, so I wanted to include the atmosphere around him, with the early morning sunlight coming through the windows.”
Research consumes a major part of Darryl’s time. “I research until I’m satisfied that I have enough and can go on. I started the Mozart in 1988 because I wanted to go to Salzburg and get the feeling of the home Mozart actually lived in.
“For the scene of the martyrdom of Thomas Beckett I’m doing, I have enough architectural knowledge of the cathedral. Now I’m working on what I want it to look like, together with the emotional and atmospheric elements. I don’t think I would be comfortable starting such a piece with less than six months’ research because I like to pore over things and do a lot of sketches.”
“I’d love to think for a living”
Thinking about a piece, visualizing it, is his favorite part of working on it, Darryl says. “I consider myself a visualizer and designer. The labor involved is secondary. I enjoy it, but it’s very, very time consuming. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I love to imagine the piece finished. I’d love to think for a living.” His work as a dental technician, however, has made him, he says, “more visually aware – I see the whole face as a picture frame and I try to carve the teeth and model the gums in harmony with the face.” How, then, does Darryl classify his miniature work? “Art says it all,” he replies after a moment’s thought. “I see it as art. I treat is as art.”
Darryl was inspired initially by three artists: “Sheperd Paine, the finest miniature figure artist in America; Yousuf Karsh, the great Canadian portrait photographer; and Rembrandt, the greatest painter of human soul and spirit. I thank God I know Paine and Karsh personally. Their comments on my work are very constructive. They are very inspiring people, and it’s wonderful to learn from the best.”
At present all of Darryl’s work is in private collections. He hopes that someday it may be in museums and galleries for more people to see. “I just want to be the best I can at what I do.”
For information, write Darryl Audette , PO Box 2782, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 4B4, Canada.
NUTSHELL NEWS, JUNE 1993