Darlene Kaplan www.darlenekaplancom, is an award winning professional artist, owner and CEO of Soft Brush Studio, and instructor living in Virgina. She has been captivating art lovers worldwide with her energetic Oriental Brush Paintings for over 40 years. She paints in the Ling Nan style of Oriental Brush Painting, which is a combination of Western and East Asian art, on acid free rice paper using Chinese watercolors. In this interview with Darlene Kaplan you’ll learn about her artistic philosophy and get advice on how she built her art career and her success as an instructor. You will be inspired to view more of her art on her website and watch her Koi painting demonstration, and more.
RP: Darlene, what inspires your art?
DK: Nature inspires my art. There is nothing better than waking each morning listening to the birds singing and walking around in my garden to see what surprise awaits me. I also get inspired by walking in the parks and looking at the lotus ponds. I always find a subject to paint by following the seasons. If it is snowing, I paint snow scenes. If flowers or flowering trees are blooming then I will paint those. Nature is my teacher.
RP:Do you have an essential philosophy that guides you in your creative expression?
I try to paint the essence of my subject. It is easy to paint what you see, but not so easy to leave out details and still make the subject look recognizable. The viewer will fill in the blanks with the mind’s eye. That creative expression of using “Chi” is what I strive for in every painting.
RP: What is the best comment you’ve received about your artwork?
It looks like Henry Wo’s art. It is a great compliment to be compared to Henry. Henry is my long term teacher.
RP:What is the one art supply or tool you rely on the most to create your art?
DK: Handmade brushes with natural animal hair. A top quality handmade Chinese or Japanese brush will have the greatest impact on the success of an artist. A great brush will hold its tip making it suitable for dealing with a wide range of subjects and for producing the variations in line required by different styles. These brushes are designed to hold water in the upper half which pushes out the color or ink in the lower half of the brush during a stroke.
RP: What valuable art business lesson did you learn in the past year that took your career to the next level?
Be persistent. Don’t give up.
RP: What do you recommend an artist do to move their art career forward?
Join all local art organizations. When I first started to take my art seriously I joined every local art organization that I knew of. Attending meetings and socializing with members helped to get established in the art community. All of the art organizations held juried and non-juried art exhibitions which I entered.
(Darlene belongs to 13 arts organizations including National Sumi-e Society. She is the President of the National Chapter.)
RP: As a highly successful instructor, how did you first attract students?
From being a member of many art organizations, eventually they asked me to do demonstrations of my art which led to attracting students.
When people see that you are proficient and enthusiastic in your art they will want to learn from you.
I now teach two classes a week in addition to an annual 6-day workshop usually held in August.
RP: What advice do you offer to an artist who wants to excel as an art teacher?
DK: Don’t forget how hard it is to learn something new. Be patient. Learn your subject well if you are going to teach. Show the students that you have done your homework by furnishing ample examples of the subject that you are teaching.
Keep a professional attitude. Keep your students engaged and focused as if in a school classroom.
RP: What career accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
DK: I have been fortunate to have many accomplishments. I was a guest on local TV program demonstrating my Koi.
(Watch Darlene Kaplan’s demonstration of Koi painting at https://youtu.be/Y5SXrIjGPN0)
I’ve also been featured in many publications such as the Times Newspaper, Luxe Beat magazine, Washington Post, Southwest Art magazine, and Home & Design magazine, among others.
A few recent events include being accepted in an art exhibition in China 2016, exhibiting in museums, and being juried into Manhattan Arts International‘s “The Healing Power of ART 2016” exhibition in which I won an Award of Excellence.
RP: Which social media platform do you like best for professional reasons and why?
DK: I use Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, and Twitter, just to mention a few. I use Facebook the most. There I have a personal page, a business page, and have created a group for oriental brush painters. My business page is where I post information about my classes, exhibitions, awards, and workshops.
(You’ll find links to Darlene’s social media pages below.)
RP: When you aren’t painting and teaching what other activity do you enjoy?
DK: I present Chinese Tea Tastings, Gong Fu Style in my studio. This ceremonial tea drinking style is meant to focus one’s attention and relax the mind and spirit in a convivial, shared experience. Guests are served several different Premium or Estate Teas that come from around the world. They learn how the tea is harvested, what makes tea green or black, and the many health benefits of tea. For example, Pu-erh has been medically proven to lower cholesterol.
RP: What’s your favorite article on this website and what did you learn from it?
DK: All of the articles are very informative and helpful for all artists. I particularly enjoyed reading the recent article “Top Art Collectors in The World and What They Collect”. It is very interesting to learn that at least two of the top art collectors live in New York and New Jersey. And, The Benefits of Having An Art Blog is an excellent article and really makes me glad that I spend time on my blog.
Visit Darlene Kaplan’s website at www.darlenekaplan.com.
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