How art became therapy, and overcoming the challenge of being a disables artist in the art world

How art became therapy, and overcoming the challenge of being a disables artist in the art world

Interviewed by Kyle Dow & Marques Hardin

May 14, 2020

Darren Hall is an established painter based in the UK. We talk with Darren about his path that lead him to painting, using art as therapy, and his processes.

Darren, you and I connected over LinkedIn sometime near the end of March, and your story compelled me immediately.

Can you tell us a little more of your story and how art became involved?

I had always made drawings from a young age.

During a recent mental health treatment & brain injury diagnosis I was told that my first concussion was at 9 years old. I struggled with learning and concentrating all through schooling, but if you put a pencil and paper in front of me I would behave. With drawing, I was calm & praised. In most cases during schooling I could not cope with it all and praise was never really present except for sports & my art.
I left school with an A+ qualification and became a professional footballer. My football career ended at 19 years of age due to spinal and pelvic issues. It would end my art for 15 years or so as I found alcohol and everyday busy working life. I was mentally ill but did not know it and the alcohol hid my issues and also allowed me to sleep.

I found art again in 2010 and 2011 was the catalyst for my art to blossom.

Did you go to school to study your craft? Are you self taught?

I am self taught and I started drawing very intricate ink sketches.

I started painting in 2016 due to issues with my brain whilst drawing. I like to experiment with styles and keep them loose. Intricate detail is never going to be an option.
I became an artist in 2011 due to problems with my mood and confusion at work, I was an IT expert.

I would be diagnosed with a brain injury following an RTA whilst cycling in 2012. I have not worked since and in 2019 I was told that my brain injury was so severe that I could not go back to mainstream work. Art became my work full time and I started selling. With my brain issues and many other medical issues it is not easy to get noticed when registered as disabled.
The complexity of fairs, attending gallery nights, phone calls, social media, websites, etc. is simply put as hard work for able minded and bodied, try doing it with medical issues.

A Look Down the Thames
Do you have any keys to your own personal inspiration and motivation? Is there anything specific that keeps you going everyday?

Life and my wife.
I love life, producing my art with the enjoyment it brings me and so many others, is really worth the struggles. I get lost in art and for a few hours per day I am away from my pain, mental torture and confusion.

What was your typical work routine before the quarantine? Strict schedule or very go-with-the-flow?

My sleep is disturbed with horrific nightmares, breathing problems, etc. and I am often awake very early in the morning.

I will have breakfast and then get to my studio, dismissing the ruminating thoughts that are present. One bonus with a brain injury if there can be one, more specifically short term memory loss to start with, is that I now tend to know I have had a nightmare but I cannot remember if I did or the dream itself.
The quarantine has not really affected me as I am reclusive so being stuck indoors is my everyday unless I go out with my wife or a change of scenery for a short while.

I currently have my wife home 24 hours per day is the biggest change but it is lovely for me.

The Further We Go

Where do you find inspiration for your art?

Inspiration comes in many forms.
I have a vivid imagination with deep thoughts which is fantastic for my brain and for all of my art. I will often paint conceptional scenes or additions to my work.

Do you have any outalndish ideas that you would like to make or be a part of someday?

I see established artists with their work and want to be part of it all. I want to prove I can become an established artist even with my challenges. I would love to be in an exhibition with established artists being highlighted alongside them.

What are your feelings about the art world becoming more digital?
In the recent pandemic crisis we have seen many virtual exhibitions go up, Artgence has our very own virtual gallery. Do you think that collectors and gallerists will start to switch to a more digital way of viewing art?

Everything needs to change to the way of life that is coming after the quarantine is relaxed. Life will not be the same until a vaccine is found if ever. My only issue with digital art is the quality and viewing of the art. I am told that my detail is only seen when in person. It could be my photograpy that is to blame, however most clients say that my art in person is so different than in a photo.

I would be very happy to see my art in this enviroment and like what I see on the Artgence website.


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