About the Artist

                                                                 DARA DODSON

     Born in the mountains of West Virginia,  Dara was privileged to have a large extended family and spent her summers on their farms running free and enjoying the beautiful countryside as well as animals both domestic and wild.  Her parents loved to travel and as a result, Dara got to visit over 30 states before entering middle school. Those experiences and sights fueled her desire to become an artist.  "I wanted to paint everything; mountains, deserts, forest and oceans" she says.  "At the age of five, I moved my bed away from the wall and "painted" a mural the entire length of my bedroom using crayons," recalls Dara.  "My mother however didn't agree it was beautiful so I had to scrub it all off., and I cried the entire time, thinking that I was destroying a masterpiece!  But then and there, I knew that I wanted to be an artist."

     From that day on she drew on anything she could get her hands on, while asking her parents constantly for paints and brushes.  At the age of 10, they bought her a John Gnagy "Learn to Draw" kit and she got busy!  "My teachers usually laughed at the artwork all around the edges of my schoolwork until I got into middle school, where they suggested I take art classes instead. I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back."

     At the age of 12, Dara's family moved to Kentucky.  When her new teachers recognized her devotion to art, they immediately put her into art classes.  Always drawing and painting kept her happy, and she was singled out for special tutoring and an art camp, winning awards often.  In the 10th grade, that training helped her earn her first Art Award outside of school.  "My art teacher encouraged to enter the Bourbon County Art Show and I took first place with "Granny" a drawing of my maternal grandmother."  "Granny" still hangs on the wall in her home today.  By this time, Dara was selling paintings.

     The family continued to travel throughout the country, Canada and Mexico where all the beautiful sights and the wonderful people moved Dara to focus on landscapes;  "the colors, shapes and atmosphere of our earth were just begging to be painted, the variety was endless!"  Unable to go to art school after graduation, Dara became largely self-taught, and eventually was able to study under professional artists and attended workshops.

      Dara married the "love of her life" and while raising their children, she painted murals professionally for offices, homes and schools in both Texas and Kentucky where they lived.  When they became "empty nesters" she returned to canvas work.

     "My work has always been strongly influenced by the Hudson River school of artists, I loved the realistic, yet romantic quality of their paintings and wanted to be able to create that romanticism while having that level of skill in my artwork. 

      In 1989, they moved to Florida with her husband's work.  The sun, sand and ocean were so beautiful that she was moved to start looking for ways to depict it using a different style of painting.

     "My inspiration became our earth's oceans; depicting the movement, emotions and moods of the water while aiming to bring attention to the life and beauty of the oceans and the need to keep them clean and healthy."

     "Finally, I discovered the new method I was searching for, using fluid acrylics, mixed media really, pouring and pushing the paint to depict the movement, and then torching to bring out the hidden personality, I create paintings of the ocean, using beautiful blues, greens, bold colors, and metallics.  I call them "Ocean Meditations" and "Oceans on Glass".  This work is at once exciting, maddening, calming, and yet exhilarating and I'm happy to say they have become very popular.  I often hear comments such as 'I can feel my toes getting wet just looking at them', 'I can almost feel the ocean spray', and 'I want to dive right in!'"  Interestingly, working with this style of painting has influenced Dara's traditional landscapes. 

     When her husband retired, they built a small home with a studio for her art.  "Now, I paint pretty much full time, we travel, and I learn as much as possible.  I believe strongly in ongoing art education.  I also teach acrylic/oil painting regularly, sharing with others the skill of painting as it was shared with me."

     Recently, Dara had the opportunity to study the classic atelier (pronounced uh-teh-lee-ay) method, especially portraiture in the style of the old masters, Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent; both trained in the classic atelier method.  There are very few atelier schools in the world today and they are very expensive, but "thankfully, it can now be done online, which is perfect for me and it's a dream come true!" says Dara.

     Dara's studio is located in St Augustine, FL, the oldest city in the country, where they love the "old world" feel, the ocean, the history and beauty. A member of the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society, the International Society of Acrylic Painters, and Acrylic Painters, USA, Dara shows her art regularly at the St Augustine Art Association, in doctor's offices, restaurants, and other locations. Her poured art is available at local shops, restaurants, and offices.  Dara's work is collected internationally.  



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